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Rocks, Gems, and Minerals

School: Rocky Mountains School of Expeditionary Learning

City/State: Denver, CO

Grade(s): 2, 3

Format(s): Field guide: Natural science

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

Project Overview

Second and third-grade students at Rocky Mountains School of Expeditionary Learning produced this beautiful hardcover field guide as a result of their learning during their first expedition at RMSEL. Students traveled to the University of Colorado campus at Boulder and Dinosaur Ridge in Morrison in addition to spending two nights camping near Florissant Fossil Beds National Monument where they went hiking through the petrified forest, and visited a quarry where they mined for fossils in shale rock.

They created their Field Guide almost completely independently. From the index to the introduction, and conclusion, students spent many days drafting pictures and writing samples in their field guide template while getting feedback from their peers and making revisions. The crew culminated their expedition with an exhibition night where each second and third grader read their page or pages aloud to their friends, family and the rest of the EL community.

How This Project Can Be Useful

  • Highlights informational nature writing by young students
  • Shows 2nd graders and 3rd graders working with outside experts and doing fieldwork
  • Nicely done sketches/illustrations/ photographs that correspond to student writing
  • Highlights young students working on writing and drawing skills through multiple rounds of drafts and critique
  • A product that allows for a range of skill in student work – both in the drawings and the writing

Relevant Resources

Common Core State Standards

Standard Long Term Learning Target
  • I can use information from the words to understand informational texts.
  • I can compare and contrast the main ideas and key details in two texts on the same topic.
  • I can write an informative/explanatory text.
  • With support from adults, I can produce writing that is appropriate to task and purpose.
  • I can conduct a research project to become knowledgeable about a topic.
  • I can sort evidence into provided categories.
  • I can speak clearly and at an understandable pace.

Additional Standards

  • Colorado State Science Standards Standard 3 - Earth Systems Science
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