Bush Third Graders Become Frog Experts

“We have been studying four frogs: water holding, poison dart, glass and Amazon horn frog. We read information on each frog but now we need to become experts on one of them,” said Amy Anderson, Bush Elementary School third-grade teacher. “We will break into smaller groups and create frog trading cards with all the important facts and research that we have done. We need to have an image or illustration of our frog, physical characteristics, life cycle, habitat, predators and food and behaviors. Every third grader is learning about frogs in ELA and I’m hoping we can share our frog trading cards with second graders so they can see what they will be learning.”

Anderson, along with fellow teachers Barb Senn, Mary Neumann-Ceminilli and Amy Langworthy, are completing an English Language Arts module all about frogs. In this module, students use literacy skills to become experts – people using reading, writing, listening and speaking to build and share deep knowledge about a topic. The focus on research intentionally builds on the previous module where students explore the superpowers of reading.

The module begins with a class study of the bullfrog that exhibits quintessentially frog characteristics based on the text Bullfrog at Magnolia Circle, a Smithsonian Institute promoted book that embeds the life cycle of the bullfrog in a picture book fashion. The focus of the unit is context clues, text-based details, getting the main idea of a certain section of the book at a given time and writing in response to a given prompt using details from the text. Students learn about the life cycle of the bullfrog through literature, about the bullfrog’s habitat and about some of is adaptations to its habitat. During this unit of study, the Jamestown Audubon also visited with a lesson on habitats.

Students form research groups to become experts on various frogs with unusual adaptations that help them to survive in extreme environments throughout the world based on a Discovery Kids book. Students do a “close read” on a specific frog and answer text-based questions. Students keep a vocabulary logbook with scientific terms such as adaptation, learn weird but true facts about fascinating frogs and explore nonfiction text for the first time.

“I learned that the glass frog’s skin is clear and that’s why they call it that name,” said Liam Conroe, third grader. “I like both non-fiction and fiction books but it’s fun to learn about stuff that is true. And with science and English, I learn all about animals and their habitats that I don’t know about.”

“The topic of frogs has been a huge interest for our students,” said Anderson. “Connecting science to the ELA curriculum not only allows for multi-disciplinary learning but allows students who are interested in science to engage more in the content and thus learn ELA skills at the same time. Bottom line – all learning occurs through reading and writing – thus teaching science or social studies as part of the ELA curriculum just makes sense.”