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Trees for Everybody - Meridian Hill Park Tree Field Guide

School: Capital City Public Charter School

City/State: Washington, DC

Grade(s): K

Format(s): Field guide: Natural science

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

Project Overview

This field guide was created by kindergarten students from the Capital City Public Charter School in Washington, D.C. as part of a Learning Expedition on Trees in 2002. It is an example of a Local Field Guide – created for a site that had no existing guide.

Students worked with local experts, including an arborist, to learn tree identification and care, and made multiple visits to a park near the school to create this guide. Groups of 5 to 6 students adopted a particular tree to study, and they observed it during fieldwork in different seasons. Students viewed models of professional and student-created field guides to decide what features and qualities they wished to include in this guide. They chose to include some standard features such as descriptions, photographs, drawings and locations; they also included unique features, such as “How to Live with Trees” and “Why Are Trees Important?”

Text in the book is a combination of student descriptions dictated to teacher typists and scanned images of hand-written captions by students. Photographs and drawings are by the students.

This project was featured in an exhibit at the Harvard Graduate School of Education in 2010 featuring exemplary student work, Books for Kids, by Kids.

How This Project Can Be Useful

  • A strong example of the local field guide format at the kindergarten level
  • Consider including this example even when working with older students and teachers of older students, as it brings warmth and stylistic contrast to a set of field guide exemplars
  • Engaging product size (5”x8”) and production quality (staple-bound; quality printed images in color; glossy paper)
  • Strikes a particularly effective balance of showcasing both advanced student thinking (through dictated, typed text) and the emergent writing and spelling of students through selected scans of student handwriting
  • An elegant visual model of layout, combining typed text, student handwriting, student photos, and student drawings in a professional-looking format that preserves the voice and feel of young learners
  • The project is an example of kindergartners engaged in work with adult scientists
  • The project is an example of fieldwork research in multiple trips over time by young students
  • Highlights the practice of having students “adopt” a tree to build an emotional bond for students engendering both engagement and environmental stewardship

Common Core State Standards

Standard Long Term Learning Target
  • I can show how words are organized and used in a text.
  • I can teach my reader about a topic using pictures and words.
  • With support from adults, I can use digital tools to publish my writing.
  • I can participate in shared writing projects.
  • With support from adults, I can answer questions about things I’ve done or learned about.
  • I can use pictures to send a clear message to my listener.
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