Third graders in Noele Mead’s classroom at McKay Creek Elementary recently worked on a project combining reading, writing, and a little bit of science. The students had to choose an animal to read about and research and then write about the animal.
On the wall outside Mead’s classroom are the resulting reports created by her students, with animals ranging from a koala to a Gila Monster to ocean creatures.
Third grader Gwen said she read and wrote about the Blue Marlin, one of the largest, fastest, and most recognizable fish in the world due to the long bill that grows from the front of its head. Gwen said she chose the marlin because her teacher said to pick an animal, probably nobody else would, so she searched in the fish category. Gwen discovered a Blue Marlin could weigh over 1,800 pounds and live in the Atlantic, Indian, and Pacific oceans.
A main part of the assignment was to research adaptations of the animal you chose. Andrew, a third grader, said, “An adaptation is one of their special body parts that helps them survive.”
The sharp, spear-like nose on the Blue Marlin is an adaptation that helps it catch its prey, and it’s also a very fast swimmer, Gwen said.
Andrew chose to report on the King Cobra since he likes snakes. He said he learned that the hood of the snake, an expansion of their neck skin, makes it look threatening, and the snake’s bite can kill an elephant. It lives in forests and deserts and eats rats, squirrels, and frogs. The King Cobra’s adaptation is its threatening hood, and one type of cobra can spit venom into a predator’s eyes.
Both students explained that after reading about their animals, they completed pre-writes of their report, which their teacher reviewed and edited to be ready for publishing. Mead, their teacher, said the process of reading a variety of information, in addition to incorporating what they already know, helps them determine the most important items to include in the report. “This is a skill students need to develop that will help them be successful for future third grade lessons, but also as they progress through school,” Mead said.
In addition to their own animals, Andrew said he liked fellow student Noah’s report on the beaver, because he is a big Oregon State University Beavers fan and he also liked the Glass Frog. Gwen said she liked the report on the Gila Monster.
“In this project, I liked learning more about the Blue Marlin,” Gwen said. Would she want to see one in the ocean? Yes, she said, but “I would like to have a safe distance from it.”