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A Park Grows in Portland

School: King Middle School

City/State: Portland, ME

Grade(s): 7

Format(s): Field guide: Natural science

Subject(s): English Language Arts, Science and Technology, Visual Arts

Project Overview

This field guide was created by 7th grade students at the King Middle School in Portland, Maine, in 1998. A Park Grows in Portland is a guide to the trees of Deering Oaks, a park located across the street from the school; it was created as part of a Learning Expedition called, “A Park Grows in Portland.”

The creation of the field guide involved the science, math, language, social studies, art and computer teachers. Parent volunteers also assisted.

Students engaged in multiple fieldwork visits to the park, during which they observed trees, recording with notes and sketches. Each student was paired with a particular tree to document for the field guide. Students worked with a city arborist, and gathered information from books and internet research. Their work went through many revisions.

The book contains black and white drawings of the trees found in the park. Each illustration also includes a detailed drawing of a leaf from the tree. At the end of the field guide, students included a glossary and a list of the references they used to create the guide. 

How This Project Can Be Useful

  • A high quality product, inexpensive to produce due to black and white illustrations
  • Strong example of line and dot shading as an illustration technique
  • Includes excellent information about a large number of tree
  • Includes an introduction to the field guide and a historical overview of the park
  • Exemplifies a product with an authentic audience and one with a real purpose
  • Illustrations are lovely – accurate with much detail. See Broadmoor Juniper on page 8; American Hornbeam on page 25; and Carolina Silverbell on page 32
  • Follows professional field-guide format but still allows student voice to shine through

Common Core State Standards

Standard Long Term Learning Target
  • I can write informative/explanatory texts that convey ideas and concepts using relevant information that is carefully selected and organized.
  • I can produce clear and coherent writing that is appropriate to task, purpose and audience.
  • With support from peers and adults, I can use a writing process to ensure that purpose and audience have been addressed.
  • I can use a standard format for citation.
  • I can use correct grammar and usage when writing or speaking.
  • I can use correct capitalization, punctuation and spelling to send a clear message to my reader.
  • I can use resources to build my vocabulary.
  • EL has not created long-term learning targets for WHST standards.
  • EL has not created long-term learning targets for WHST standards.
  • EL has not created long-term learning targets for WHST standards.
  • EL has not created long-term learning targets for WHST standards.
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