“I know this is a peaceful place where I can feel like I can be myself.”

IMG_3066For months, we’ve visited our same spots at Rock Creek. Second graders have written and drawn observations, carefully noting the changes with the seasons. At the end of each visit, they reflect on how they feel when they are there. Many share that being at Rock Creek makes them feel energized, relaxed, or calm. During our last visit, Giovanni shared, “When I’m somewhere else, I think of this place because it holds all of my memories. I know this is a peaceful place where I can feel like I can be myself.”

Throughout our expedition, we learned about how our special place is damaged by wastewater and stormwater pollution. Our second graders realized that prior to this expedition, they did not know about stormwater pollution, combined sewer overflow, or stormwater runoff. They all agreed: if more people knew about how people in D.C. pollute Rock Creek, maybe they, too, would be moved to take action. And so our water pollution book projects began.

During Daily Five, our second graders do Listen to Reading with One More Story, a website that has a library of children’s books that are read aloud page-by-page. We decided to make our own books and to record them just like those on One More Story.

This chronicle of the eight weeks we spent researching, drafting, critiquing, revising, elaborating, researching further, editing, drawing, analyzing, critiquing again, coloring, reading, and recording is brought to you by Emerson, who helped to document the work for our showcase.


To begin our wastewater and stormwater book project, we had to do a lot of research. We already knew a lot about wastewater and stormwater pollution because we had researched about pollution in the Anacostia River, the Potomac River, and Rock Creek in expert groups. We split our class into groups: one group went to Ms. Burkett’s room and one group stayed in Ms. Thesing’s room. Each group was going to write a different book: one book about stormwater pollution and one book about wastewater pollution. We read an article to get information. While we read the article we took notes. Then we made timelines to show the process of wastewater and stormwater pollution. We used these timelines to plan our books.IMG_2786


We studied books by Gail Gibbons to see how to she writes her books. Gail Gibbons is a children’s book author. Her books are teaching books. We studied these books to see what we could use from her writing and drawing to make strong books like hers. We noticed that her books have big pictures that have different layouts. She puts the words under the picture. There is a front cover and a back cover. There are many details. She also tells about a process step-by-step with one step on each page. There are also pages that have fun facts.


To plan our books, each group made a storyboard for how our book would go. We talked about the pollution process and planned how to teach it bit-by-bit, page-by-page. We sketched pictures and wrote key words for each page. Then we organized them in order. Then friends chose which page they would write.IMG_2813

Drafting Our Words

We studied Gail Gibbons’s book From Seed to Plant. We noticed how she teaches with her words. For example, she tells information bit-by-bit, uses and defines scientific words, and uses sequence words. Then we drafted our own words for our pages.


Drafting Our Pictures

We studied From Seed to Plant’s pictures as well. We noticed how she teaches with her pictures and tried to make our pictures like hers. For example, Gail Gibbons uses different types of paper to show different parts of things. She uses small boxes to zoom in, squares to show a process, or full pages to show what something looks like inside. We studied the different pictures in the book to think about which type of paper we would use for our page, depending on what we were teaching. Then we drafted our own drawings.

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Peer Critique

We learned what peer critique is. We watched a video called “Austin’s Butterfly.” We saw that when you give feedback, it makes people’s work stronger. We practiced giving feedback as a group with a friend’s draft. We gave feedback on what they should keep in their next draft and what they could work on in the next draft. Then we tried out that feedback in our own drafts, making a second draft.IMG_2854IMG_3245 IMG_3246 IMG_3247

Gallery Walk for Peer Critique

The next day, we did a gallery walk with each other’s pictures. We wanted to give feedback to each other. We walked around to each other’s tables. We wrote feedback on post-it notes. The feedback was kind, specific, and helpful. We used the feedback that we received to make our third drafts. Each time we made a draft, we made small changes to make our drawings more realistic so they could teach our reader. Friends made almost ten drafts of their pictures!

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Final Drafts of Pictures

We studied From Seed to Plant again to look at the pictures. We noticed that the pictures were outlined in black. The colors are realistic. For example, clouds are not blue; they are white. She makes sure that everything is in color and there is no white space. Then we made a final draft of our picture. We outlined it in black pen and then erased our pencil lines. Then we used colored pencils to color our drawings. Sometimes we had to blend colors together. For example, friends blended blue, green, and brown to make polluted water.


Final Drafts of Words

We used what we knew about Gail Gibbons’s writing to critique our writing as we wrote our final drafts. After we finished our final drafts, we used the informational writing checklist to see what we had done and what we needed to change. Then we wrote our last drafts. Our teachers typed our writing after we finished our final drafts.

Recording Our Books

We wanted people to learn more about water pollution D.C. That is why we made these children’s books about water pollution. We wanted more people to read the books so we could get more people stop polluting the water. So we made a recording of our book so that people can put it on their websites and share them.

First, we practiced reading our pages aloud. We practiced reading them with expression. We made our voices loud and proud. We paused at punctuation like commas and periods.IMG_3168

Then we met with Mr. Chase, our school’s technology expert, and he taught us how to use iMovie so that we could record our pages. Some friends recorded two or three times to get their voice just right. Then we added the photos to the sounds so that could people see our pictures while listening to our words.


Our Final Products

Finally, Ms. Thesing took our books to a printer to publish them into real books! Please watch our videos to learn more about water pollution in D.C.


2 thoughts on ““I know this is a peaceful place where I can feel like I can be myself.”

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