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School: Genesee Community Charter School

City/State: Rochester, NY

Grade(s): 3

Format(s): Book: Nonfiction/Informational

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

Project Overview

This book was written by 3rd grade students from the Genesee Community Charter School in Rochester, New York as part of a three-month learning expedition on astronomy. It was written to help introduce other students to these topics.

During their exploration of astronomy, students worked with a local physicist from the University of Rochester. In addition to researching astronomy from multiple sources, students also kept “Sky Journals” to record their questions and observations from day and night viewing of the sky.

In this culminating product, students brainstormed questions they had about astronomy – ones that deeply interested them. Students researched the answers to their own questions and then shared their answers via both text and illustrations. They worked with the school’s visual arts teacher in the conception and composition of their illustrations.

The questions that students ask are quite compelling, representing topics that most adults do not understand well. The answers that students provide are thoughtful and show a good depth of understanding. Answering complex questions with clarity and accuracy is a challenge and these elementary students do it very well.

This book was produced on glossy paper and center-staple bound on in-house equipment at the school.

This book and other products from the school are available for purchase from the school. 

How This Project Can Be Useful

  • Superb model of a student-written children’s book
  • Information on astronomy is excellent – as clear for young readers as any commercial book on this topic
  • Models the importance of good questions - students’ questions are very thoughtful. For example, “What kid of rock is the moon made of?” and “How do astronomers know what they know?” and “Why don’t we feel the earth spinning?”
  • Compelling illustrations that help clarify the text, and are clearly the freehand work of a child – the fact that they are not traced, done with circle templates or cleaned up by adults adds their charm and power
  • Format shows the thoughtful work of each individual student and through the compilation of all of the students’ work, a comprehensive overview of topics is generated
  • Provides an “Expedition Explanation” at the beginning, which helps orient the reader to the students’ work and the scope of the overall project
  • Highlights a format in which the work of each student can be individually assessed

Relevant Resources

Common Core State Standards

Standard Long Term Learning Target
  • I can describe steps in a procedure, in the order they should happen.
  • I can write an informative/explanatory text.
  • I can use grammar conventions to send a clear message to a reader or listener.
  • I can compare how people use language when they write versus when they talk.
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