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Pond Life Posters

School: Alice B. Beal Elementary

City/State: Springfield, MA

Grade(s): 3

Format(s): Poster: Informational

Subject(s): Science and Technology

Project Overview

These interpretive posters were created by 3rd grade students at the Alice B. Beal Elementary School in Springfield, Massachusetts, as part of a learning expedition on pond life.

Students researched animals and plants from a local pond, located in a fairly wild part of an urban park. Students did multiple fieldwork visits to the park during which they made observations and collected samples that they brought back to the classroom. They worked closely with park officials and park naturalists.

The student’s classroom came to resemble a research lab (or a pet shop), with more than a dozen aquaria filled with local pond life. Students used the live specimens for observation, research and scientific drawing. All of the pond creatures were later returned to the pond.

Students transferred their understanding of the pond life they were studying into interpretative signs for the pond. Student work went through multiple drafts and rounds of critique. The work was originally done in a smaller scale and then enlarged and printed on the school’s color printer.  The posters shown here are prototypes for actual interpretive signs, to be fabricated on metal or plastic as for an outdoor installation at the pond site.

How This Project Can Be Useful

  • Highlights a product with an authentic audience and purpose
  • Interpretive signs represent a project opportunity for schools everywhere, documenting natural or historical sites
  • Highlights an expedition with extensive fieldwork
  • Unlike a field guide which can only be viewed page by page, these signs allow a “larger than life” view of a natural area
  • Shows a product with good attention to detail and quality. Notice the drawings of the dragonfly and the cattails
  • A product with carefully done writing by 3rd graders. For example see the entry on the Snapping Turtle: “Instead of teeth, the snapping turtle’s powerful jaws have a hooked, razor sharp beak for slicing.”
  • Although intended for outdoor installation, these signs also lend themselves to hallway display and showcasing of student work within the school

Common Core State Standards

Standard Long Term Learning Target
  • I can write an informative/explanatory text.
  • I can write informative/explanatory texts that convey ideas and information clearly.
  • With support from adults, I can produce writing that is appropriate to task and purpose.
  • With support from peers and adults, I can use the writing process to plan, revise and edit my writing.
  • I can sort evidence into provided categories.
  • I can use grammar conventions to send a clear message to a reader or listener.
  • I can use conventions to send a clear message to my reader.
  • I can accurately use 3rd grade academic vocabulary to express my ideas.
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