Marie Curie Math & Science Center

STAC Project MC-Extend: July 1997 Utilizing NYS STANDARDS in a Curricular Design for Grade 3 3-4 Week Collaborative Introduction to the Study of the Broad Leaf Forest

Joanne Barg-Group 9B-1 Technology Ramapo Central School District Cherry Lane Elementary School Suffern, New York

The following unit has been designed for use in the fall of the third grade school year as a collaborative effort between a classroom teacher and several supplementary special teaher projects. Although this is primarily an exploration and investigation into the life of several local trees it is also the development of a thinking process of inquiring, gathering, organizing and relating information for a useful purpose utilizing a variety of technologies and strategies.

  • Commencement Standard (MST 1)

Students will use mathematical analysis, scientific inquiry, and engineering design, as appropriate, to pose questions, seek answers, and develop solutions.

Benchmark Content Standards(Elementary-Grade 4)

Scientific Inquiry - The central purpose of scientific inquiry is to develop explanations of natural phenomena in a continuing and creative process
Performance Standard     Students will:

  • question the explanations they hear from others and read about, seeking clarification and comparing them with their own observations and understandings
  • develop relationships among observations to construct descriptions of objects and to form their own tentative explanations of what they have observed use of what they have observed

 Commencement Standard(MST 2)
Students will access, generate, process, and transfer information using appropriate technologies

Benchmark Content Standard -(Elementary)

1. Information technology is used to retrieve, process, and communicate information and as a tool to enhance learning.

Performance Standards     Students will:
1.1 Use a variety of tools to enter, process, display, and communicate information in different forms using text tables, pictures, venn diagrams and sound

1.2 Tele-communicate a message to a distant location with teacher help

1.3 Access needed information from printed media, electronic data bases, and community resources

Social Studies Commencement Standard -Geography
(National Council for the Social Studies)

The study of geography allows learners to develop understand of the spatial context of people, places, and environments. It provides knowledge of the Earth’s physical and human systems and the interdependency of living things and physical environments.

 Benchmark Content Standard (Elementary)
Maps and other geographic representations, tools, and technologies are used to acquire, process, and report information from a spatial perspective. Students will:

Performance Standard
1.1 Use simple directional map terms to create a map of a local area where designated trees are located

Performance Outcomes --- The students will:

1. Keep a Field Journal and enter the following information: Cover with name, team tree, and digital picture of group
3 Reflection pages

6 Observations, a labeled tree, and leaf classifying guide

2 Compare and Contrast worksheets

1 Research Findings worksheet-Hard copy of final presentation

Scavenger Hunt information worksheet

3. Complete a final presentation project which introduces the TEAM TREE to others
4. Work in a team of 4 students

5. Class Participation
Enabling Activities and Student Outcomes (10 Days)

Support Staff Involvement

1. Our librarian will coordinate (2) lessons by reading a related story and conducting an scavenger hunt using library and location tools
2. Our art teacher will coordinate her lessons(2) on trees

3. Our remedial reading, resource room teachers will reinforce the "tree" vocabulary and provide at least one reading and writing experience with students ans possibly a reader's theatre experience

4. BOCES Technology Specialist will assist with Word, and Hyper-Studio or PowerPoint assignments as well as Email access

5. Our music teacher will coordinate (2) lessons with music and sound

Dat #1-(Lesson) 30-40 minute segmnet
Establish purpose and motivation for unit: Total class presentation

  • Hyper-Studio Demo Guessing Game...What do you think I am? Why? (A leaf tree)
  • What you already know about trees ... what you want to know (prior knowledge assessment)
  • What do you need to know?-Post these outcomes prominently
  • Set parameters for setting  and working in teams of 4(4 computers/room)
  • Tools that we will use:

            Field Journal/pencil(provided)
            Email/Word used as a refelection of classroom activities

             Selected Internet Sites-in classroom/library

            Resource People as possible contacts

            Collection Samples Bag and leaf presses


            Video Camcorder

            Hyper-Studio applications

            Digital Camera

            Magnifying glass

Students will be able to:
State what his/her responsbilities will be as a class member, team member and as an individual-post this list in front of the class

Write what tools he/she will need from home

Write at least one refelection of what he or she has learned today about trees in the field journal

Day #2 Field Work/Classroom Work

  • Outside in the school yard: Groups of 4 -each group) will cooperatively select a team tree (from a simple map) with its given name
  • Individually record as many observations about the team tree
  • Collect samples of leaves as specimens (collection bag and press-1 per child)
  • Take photo of each team and tree with digital camera
  • Classroom list each team's observations and begin noting similarities and differences
  • Draw a picture of "the adopted tree" on the cover of the Field Journal (include the digital picture too…)

Students will be able to:
Record at least 3 observations in a Field Journal while outside

Visually depict team tree on the cover of Field Journal

Spatially place team tree on a given map

Write one reflection in Field Jounal

Day#3-Classwork -total class presentation

Model the COMPARE and CONTRAST strategy for organizing information
Compare and contrast a tree to one student in the class

  • Use simple chart to record infortnation(provided)
  • Brainstorm to find ways in which man and trees help or hinder each other
  • Use their gathered information from direct observations to construct a CHART as to what a tree looks like with labeled parts -(use vocabulary chart and spelling words for the week

Students will be able to:
Complete the compare and contrast chart with the teacher

Describe at least 3 similarities between man and tree

State at least 1 inference about the relationship with man and trees

Label at least 5 parts of a tree

Day#4-Application of model

Use COMPARI and CONTRAST model to organize leaf samples(I leaf from each team) to answer questions like ... What does a leaf look like? feel like? smell like?  Why do you think leaves are important to the trees?
Observe the edges, veins, stem, waxy coating ... use a magnifying glass

Record, findings on worksheet provided

Report findings to the entire group

Generalize leaf characteristics by size, shape, texture, color, smell

Infer a many characteristics of leaves as can

Work at Home: Bring in 4 leaves from trees in your neighborhood (Can you identify it?)

Students will be able to:
Apply the compare and contrast strategy to organize thoughts

State at least 3 identifying characteristics of their leaves

Verbally answer at least I of the questions above

Day#5 Field Work: What is soil? (Digital camera and camcorder)

  • Share the results of the Work at Home assignment (earlier in the day)
  • Inside-brainstorm for characteristics of soil
  • Outside-gather (2) soil samples from tree areas (top) and (lower) and examine ... may need magnifying glasses
  • Inside/outside -write observations in journal about the soil ... looks like, feels like, smells like etc.
  • Compare original list of what we thought soil should be with the observed one


  • Research Teams: What is the definition of soil (dictionary)

            What is soil? (Computer application-Encarta-Explorapedia etc.)
            What kinds of soils are there?

            What may determine the kind of soil in an area?

Students will be able to:
Collect soil samples

Record at least 3 observations in field journal

Navigate as a team in one research application to locate information about soil (classroom and library computers)

Write at least 3 generalizations about soil

Day#6 Lab/research(Digital Camera)

  • Finish up research on soil from previous day

Each team will choose a series of questions(2 each) relating to "What we wanted to know... i.e.
Possible topics might include the following:

How (do trees get food?  What is the name of the food making process?

How old do trees get?  How do we tell the age of a tree?

How do I trees manage in the winter?

Why do their leaves often fall in the autumn?

Why d w leaves change their color?

What uses does man have for trees?

What uses do animals have for trees?

What is a forest? Is there a forest close by? In our state? In our country?

Interesting facts about trees ... the tallest, the oldest, the widest

What use are the plants, roots?

Where in the USA could I expect to find maples, oaks, birches, etc????

What are some of the dangers for trees?

What are tree rings?


  • Utilize Encarta,Explorapedia,WorldBook,or Internet sites(depending upon availability)to locate information about trees given a specific entry

 (Distribute) a template in WORD for each student)

Students will be able to:
Navigate through the computer applications to locate information

Record at least I finding on WORD template from one resource

Day#7 Sharing Findings from Research

  • Finish up  research projects
  • Team reports-one team select a question and another answer it

Students will be able to:

Locate information using a computer application
Complete the research task

Clearly state findings

 Day#8 Outdoor- Tree Scavenger Hunt (Digital camera/camcorder)

  • Review topics taken from lessons

What is a tree?
What are the parts of a tree and what purpose (to they serve?  How can you identify a tree"

What is soil?

What does a tree need to live?

How does man help or hinder the life of the tree?


  • Tree Scavenger Tree and Leaf Hunt-using simple map-outside teams

Students will be able to:
Verbally respond to the topics above

Apply knowledge about trees to be successful in the tree hunt

Day#9- Begin Presentation Work on your tree for the rest of the class

  • Presentation -Introducing YOUR tree to an audience (5 slides or I stack or 5min video)
  • Brainstorm what information is needed and which format is best for you
  • Select format and begin work(Hyper-Studio, PowerPoint or Video presentation format)

Which ever format is used each team member will have a role to play

Day#10-Presentations on Trees(for the class and perhaps even share with the other 3rd grades)

Culmination will be the presentations of work on TREES for an audience( the other teams and possibly for the other third, I grade classes) Extension for future work

Plan to plant a tree on the school grounds(next project)

  • Discuss what kind of tree
  • Discuss where to put the tree
  • Discuss how to raise the money to purchase the tree

From trees transition to the next unit on Broad Leaf Forest (Later in the year 2 maple trees are tapped for a culminating maple syrup pancake breakfast)

Content Standards assessment for this unit will include a summative assessment rubric for each team's final presentation and an authentic assessment problem solving scavenger hunt

Summative Team Assessment Rubric for 2 Week Unit on Trees

Level I=Exemplary(explores independently, seeks more information and provides creative solutions)
Level 2=Proficient (met the standard with confidence and could provide another application)

Level 3=Acceptable (met the standard with assistance)

Level 4=Unacceptable (did not meet the standard, required continuous assistance on tasks)


Outcomes  Level 1  Level 2 Level 3  Level 4
This tree team has met the standard(MST2) and demonstrated learning by their  . . . .
Use of a media presentation tool  . . . .
Following directions . . . .
Providing a clear organized message  . . . .
Use of accurate data  . . . .
Use of graphics (scanned/digital/paint) . . . .
Working together  . . . .

Other materials to be included:

  • Sample final presentation format(basic slides or cards will be distfibuted by the teacher)
  • Introductory presentation using Power Point
  • Sample Field Journal with inserted pages for use by the students
  • List of appropiate Internet sites for student us


St. Thomas Aquinas College, 125 Route 340, Sparkill NY 10976-1050