Making the Transition from Learning to Read to Reading to Learn

  • Academics
Jennifer Kubik

One of my favorite things about Aspen is the exemplary curriculums used throughout the school! The language arts curriculum uses project-based units to encourage student ownership of learning.  I have been a long-term substitute for the 3rd grade Communications and Literacy class and I am so excited that my last project was the Research Unit!

Students in third grade are transitioning from “learning to read” to “reading to learn.” Students are learning how to be thoughtful and analytical readers. During this unit, students worked collaboratively to build “reading to learn” skills by thinking deeply about nonfiction texts.

Students showcase their animal research book in outdoor expo.

During the first part of the unit, students work collaboratively to research an animal. They learn how to organize nonfiction texts, identify important subtopics, and take detailed notes. They use cross-text synthesis as they combine and grow the information they gather about each animal. As their comfort with research grows, the students divide research jobs among themselves. Pretty soon their notebooks are filled with lists of expert lingo (vocabulary), notes on subtopics, diagrams with labels, and their own wonderings and ideas.

Students showcase their animal research book in outdoor expo.

With a new toolkit of research skills, the clubs take on a new challenge. Each student selects a new animal to investigate. This time they are “reading to learn” so they can “write to teach.” The research they compile is incorporated into a collaborative nonfiction book. Using published nonfiction mentor texts as examples, they write the content of each chapter, plan the layout of the book, and format each page. The teamwork and excitement around this project is contagious!

We were all excited to be able to meet in our outdoor learning space and share our newly created books with the second grade this year (shown in the photos above)! Being able to keep these mentorship relationships going throughout the 2020-2021 school year has been valuable for students to stay connected and to engage in their roles of the larger at-school community.

For more on Third Grade at Aspen Academy, click here.


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About the Author

Jennifer Kubik photo and bio

Jennifer Kubik, Longterm Substitute

Jennifer Kubik has been involved in education as a teaching artist in music and drama for many years. Learning the value of arts integration, she has brought her approach to learning to other academic settings. She has experience working with all ages. Most recently she worked with high school students in college/career readiness as an intern coordinator. Bennington College is her alma mater from where she earned her Bachelor's of Arts degree. Jennifer enjoys taking her dog, Moose, on adventures through the CO landscape in her free time. She is excited to join the school and is looking forward to working with the Aspen Academy community to make sure everyone is having fun learning.