Making the Transition from Learning to Read to Reading to Learn
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.
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.
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.