Documenting student discoveries is a terrific assessment tool in determining student comprehension of subject matter. In addition to journal and independent writings by students throughout this unit, I recommend the group creation of Big Books at the conclusion of each section. Our class created two non-fiction Big Books entitled We Know About Digestion, documenting our classroom experiment and discoveries about the human digestive system, and Our Opinion Counts, based on viewpoints gathered during our Opinion Poll. The third book, written in rhymed verse entitled Do You Know, conveys student understanding of the foods we eat and their origins.
All students were encouraged to contribute to the work. Initially, their input was recorded in written form during 30-minute interactive writing and oral language sessions. During center and or free time, small teams of students (two to four children per team) had an opportunity to illustrate a page. Each book was completed within an approximate two-week span. 18” x 20” poster boards were used to create them. Final text was printed using a 60-pitch font, giving our work a professional quality.
Our children were pleased with the outcome of our studies, and their understanding of subject matter was evidenced in these completed works. Their Big Books are used during Sustained Silent Reading (SSR) and shared reading group sessions. They are housed in our classroom library, and the students eagerly and repeatedly read them whenever time permits.