In the fall of 2004, a mixed grade-level class of fourth, fifth and sixth graders from the Santa Fe School for the Arts and Sciences, in Santa Fe, New Mexico, created this unique field guide. Students produced this field guide for guests staying at a local spa/resort, Sunrise Springs, as part of a Learning Expedition on local animals. The expedition included original research, fieldwork and work with local scientists and other experts.
The field guide describes plants and animals that are found near a pond at Sunrise Springs. Sunrise Springs paid for the production of the field guides, which were left for guests in their rooms as a means for introducing out-of-town visitors to the animals they may encounter on the resort grounds, and in general to the fauna of Santa Fe. As a means for learning about the business-side of Sunrise Springs, students interviewed the employees of the resort. Because guests often took the field guides home with them, the students were able to create a small business providing the resort with copies.
Through multiple fieldwork excursions to the resort, students used careful observation to determine which plants and animals were present and to learn about their characteristics.
Students studied different types of field guides and used that information to decide on a format for their guide. Each page was created by an individual student, who became an expert in the context displayed on her or his page.
How This Project Can Be Useful
- A unique example of an authentic audience with an authentic need – tourists who are unfamiliar with the plants and animals of the area
- A clever idea to pay for production costs and provide something for a captive audience: a number of resorts, hotels or businesses may be willing to underwrite the production of a field guide to the flora and fauna of their grounds
- An example of student work produced through multiple drafts
- Uniform format allows consistency across the pages, though also permits flexibility on how and what each student chose to include in his or her entry
- Format allows for multiple levels of writing – some students choosing fuller, complete sentences and others sharing information in bulleted phrases
- Illustrations show a range of sophistication
Common Core State Standards
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