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posted: Wed, Dec 10th, 2014
Kellie Carpenter shows off her informational poster on the boa constrictor

They only come out at night 

Kristian Dobbek holds his Lynx poster

Some third-graders at Tinc Road recently completed some fun and informative projects about nocturnal animals. It was all part of a four-week-long unit on animals, habitats, and ecosystems.

Students in Kathy Diefes' and Laura Iacampo's classes read the non-fiction story "Bat Loved The Night" and learned about the different species of bats and their habitats. Using words associated with bats, they created bat-shaped word clouds on tagxedo.com. (Word clouds are related words printed in various sizes and fonts that form shapes that usually hint at what the words have in common.) 

Then the students were paired with students in other classes to complete research projects together.  

Each pair of students selected another nocturnal animal to learn about. Using the Internet and textbooks, the students collected information about their animal's ecosystem, habitat, prey and food sources, and enemies. They also had to identify three fun and interesting facts about the creature. 

For the third-graders, this was their very first research project and an introduction to the process that they will be doing for the rest of their educational careers and beyond.

"Students will utilize these types of research skills for the rest of their lives," said Ms. Diefes. "With so much information and misinformation on the Internet, it's important for them learn where you can find reliable information and how to put it all together. Since kids love animals, this was a fun way for them to learn without even knowing they were learning."

All the research was detailed on informational posters that the students designed and created. 

"I liked it, it was really cool," said third-grader Victoria Morris about the assignment. "It was fun making something educational and creative."

This research project is a prelude to a larger language arts research project that the third-graders will work on later this spring. That assignment – in which a student will research one of the 50 states and design a travel brochure to encourage tourism – combines language arts, social studies, and technology.

Roshni Desai, Gianna Ditta, and Angelo Dattoli begin the performance of their Thanksgiving play

Thanksgiving dramas

From blank page to stage in just four days. Wow, this was playwriting and theater production at warp speed.

As a final writing project in their study of narrative fiction, fifth-graders recently worked in small groups to write and then stage short plays. It was an opportunity for the students to use everything that they had learned about character, plot, setting, theme, and dialogue. 

To set the ball in motion, students chose from a bag of Thanksgiving-related words that had to be included in their dramas. From there, the students brainstormed and outlined their plots then wrote the plays in a word processing program.

The plays were written in professional play format and included stage directions and character lists. Stories ranged from Thanksgiving Day mishaps to a Thanksgiving bully to dramatizations of the very first Thanksgiving.

“My kids loved the project,” said Lynda Daly, fifth-grade teacher. “And if you asked them, they would tell you they didn’t even think it was work. They were already strong narrative writers so they didn’t require that much help at all.”

Just like in real life, the production process included a table read of each play so that students could identify strengths and weaknesses then revise their work as necessary.

Students performed their plays in front of a Smart Board, which each mini theater company had set up to display the appropriate scene backgrounds. The play chosen by each class as its best was later presented in another classroom as a way for students to share their work.



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Tinc Road School
24 Tinc Road Flanders, NJ 07836
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