Second-graders Aryana Payne and Deonte Gehring are “both pretty much interested in owls,” Aryana said. She saw one once, at the zoo. “It was on someone’s arm, and everybody had to be very quiet.”
For classmate Lily Yost, a fascination with manatees began “when I was in Chicago for a wedding, but it was, sadly, an ‘adult party,’ so I went to Shedd Aquarium instead,” she explained.
“Manatees are so adorable,” Lily said. “I love how their tail is like a gi-normous shovel, basically.”
Aryana, Deonte and Lily were just three of some 150 Stoney Creek second-graders who recently got to use their fascination with certain animals to show off newly acquired nonfiction writing skills.
Second-graders in five classrooms worked in pairs to select an animal to research, and then created a computer slideshow to share with their classes.
Students had been introduced to the characteristics of nonfiction writing via penguin research they did together. The project built on their study of the parts of speech and proper sentence structure.
“With nonfiction writing, you get to really explore something that is real,” Lily explained. “My brain was thinking, ‘Hey, you know about manatees, but not a lot about them,’ so books on manatees were calling to me to learn more.”
This is the second year Stoney Creek second-graders have done the project, said teacher Angie Freeland, but the first year their reports were created using the computer slideshow. It was just the second time the students had used the technology.
“I was very impressed with my students’ work, with how well they worked together and the things they taught themselves,” Freeland said. “I think the technology piece of the project kept them motivated, (and) students were excited to be able to go home and share it with their parents.”