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Rock and Mineral Trading Cards

School: Alice B. Beal Elementary

City/State: Springfield, MA

Grade(s): 4

Format(s): Trading card

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

Project Overview

These trading cards were created by 4th graders at the Alice B. Beal Magnet School in Springfield, Massachusetts, and were part of a Learning expedition on rocks and minerals.

This district-mandated topic was expanded and deepened into a full Learning expedition. The expedition included fieldwork to local geological sites and to museums. Students worked with local geology experts and did hands-on lab work in the classroom.

Each student created a card based on her or his research. The information contained on the back of each card is similar to what one might put into a typical report, but the format is unique and has broader purpose with different in-class applications. The format taps into student interest in collecting cards, building a deck, trading cards, and playing games with cards; it allows each student to get a full deck of the work of all other students in the class, which is not the case when students create individual “reports” for a teacher audience.

Student work went through multiple rounds of drafting and critique.

The format used here allows for multiple ways to use the individual cards put together in a deck. For example, with multiple decks, students could play games of “war” in which the hardness of each rock or mineral is used. Students also could create categories and sort the cards according to established criteria. Cards also could be used as a way to review material.

See product #341 for another product that was generated from the same learning expedition: a guide to running the rock tumblers that students used during this study to produce polished stones for sale and for jewelry-making.

The dimensions of the original cards were about 3 ½ by 2 ¼ inches – standard size for collectible cards. Keeping the size standard allows students to purchase commercial display materials (notebooks, cases, stands) sold through sports/hobby shops for use with baseball cards. Though on different pages, shown here are the illustrations and the writing students did for each rock or mineral.

How This Project Can Be Useful

  • High quality drawings that went through multiple rounds of drafting and critique. It’s hard to draw rocks and these students did it well.
  • These cards have a collectable quality that is illustrative of all good sets of trading cards.
  • The cards convey accurate information while providing a means for many different types of activities.
  • Exemplifies the use of a common template for each entry (which adds consistency), while retaining students’ unique contributions.
  • A creative and effective format to address and deepen content required in state curriculum frameworks and district science requirements.
  • Highlights a format in which the work of each student can be individually assessed.

Common Core State Standards

Standard Long Term Learning Target
  • I can write informative/explanatory texts that convey ideas and information clearly.
  • I can conduct a research project to become knowledgeable about a topic.
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