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Artifact 3: Ghost Town Research Graphic Organizer for Trip to Public Library


Students used this document to work toward the Colorado Department of Education 4th grade Reading, Writing and Communicating Standard: 4. Research and Reasoning Concepts and skills students master:

1. Comprehending new information for research is a process undertaken with discipline both alone and within groups.

        a. Students can conduct short research projects that build knowledge through investigation of different aspects of a topic.

        b. Students can recall relevant information from experiences or gather relevant information from print and digital sources; take

        notes and categorize information, and provide a list of sources.

                iv. Read for key ideas, take notes, and organize information read (using graphic organizer).

        c. Students can draw evidence from literary or informational texts to support analysis, reflection, and research.  (Colorado

        Department of Education, 2010)


Our 4th grade teaching team decided to visit the Old Rock Library again this year for our Ghost Town PBL research but we felt like we needed a simplified graphic organizer for students to paraphrase the information they find and cite the sources. I created this Google doc and shared it with my teaching team. All classes visited the library and most students used this tool to organize their research notes. This document shows how my teaching team modifies our lessons, projects, and curriculum to best support student learning and creates and shares tools to help all students be successful with 4th grade learning objectives.

Artifact 3
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Artifact 4

Artifact 4: Email to team teachers, literacy interventionists, STEM teacher, librarian and Special Education Assistants


This email is an example of how I share my reflections with my teaching team and prioritize time for collaboration.


Thu 2/14/2019 11:27 AM

Sent Items


Hi all.​

We are planning for our upcoming PBL! Colorado Ghost Towns: An Interactive Museum! 

Collaboration time: Would Tuesday or Thursday planning work for some of us? February 26th or 28th 11- 11:35.


I have been reflecting on what went well/what could improve from last year. A few thoughts:

  • ​I loved the museum entrance/mining tunnel.

  • I loved the open response student reflection piece. These are helping me reflect today!

  • I appreciated the characters/costumes for the students who chose to be in character.

  • The rubric helped my students reflect on what components they had/were missing. I'll re-share this through Google.

  • 2-4 kids per exhibit worked well.

  • Students were creative - no two exhibits were identical.

  • Most of the work happened at school versus at home. I believe in this.

  • The field trip to the museum to learn how to create an exhibit was amazing. 

Room for growth:

  • ​Many sources were not at the appropriate reading level. We may need to preview/have sources available at a "just right" reading level for students or get more help with paraphrasing the info from challenging sources.

  • Some students did not meet writing expectations. We need to do a better job teaching the BAW non-fiction writing through this PBL and allow time for revision/editing of exhibit pieces. I will re-share the attempt I made to align the BAW unit to this PBL - open to revision.

  • One of my groups had no technology/STEM component. Oops.




Brynn O'Connell

Fourth Grade at Crested Butte Community School

(970) 641-7720 ext. 6316

This message may contain confidential or privileged information.  If you have received this message in error, please advise me by replying to this email and please delete this message. Additionally, under the Colorado Open Records Act (CORA), all messages sent by me or to me on this school district-owned email account may be subject to public disclosure.  Thank you.


Our STEM teacher’s response to this email included, “I appreciate your reflections on this, Brynn. Looking forward to creating an even more impactful experience this year!” Our team followed through with this planning meeting and a very successful kickoff event for this PBL unit. My 4th grade team met about this project again last week to reflect on student progress and next steps. We decided to bring all our classes together for a collaborative brainstorm on what we want our final project (an open house for families and community members) to look like, sound like and feel like. We regularly talk about these projects and build on each other’s ideas in person and this email gives a concrete example of what some of those discussions include.

Artifact 5

Artifact 5: Opportunities for Family Involvement in 4th Grade


This list shows the many opportunities I have provided for families to join their students in 4th grade.


  • Volunteer opportunities for during math on Tuesday, Wednesday, or Thursday (from late October until end of April).

  • Volunteer opportunities during writing or literacy on Tuesday, Wednesday or Thursday (from late October until end of April).

  • Fall Field Trip to the Rocky Mountain Biological Laboratory

  • Fall Ecology Field Trip to the Slate River  (Picture of parents and students in the river.)


  • Fall Native American Celebration

  • Fall Six Station Science – 6 parent volunteers made these science experiments possible.

  • Winter Nordic Skiing – Class Trip

  • Winter Ghost Town Project Open House

  • Winter Field Trip to Crested Butte Heritage Museum

  • Winter Field Trip to Old Rock Library

  • Spring National Parks Service Field Trip

  • Spring Mars Project Open House

  • Spring Author’s Chair Celebration


In addition, I am always open to family members joining us as an expert in their field. For example, last spring two parents who work for NASA joined us as experts and guest teachers for our Mars project work time. My regular classroom volunteers start after our October break so I have the first part of the school year to establish positive classroom routines and identify our support needs. These volunteer opportunities end in late April because of the many schedule changes that happen during the last month of the school year for class trips, assessments, and celebrations.


Artifact 6: Examples of Student Learning Plans

In my 4th grade book club (literacy skill group) collaborated and developed a learning plan for their novel of choice. These two examples show how students worked together to come up with a meaningful weekly lesson plan for their group.


Student group 1: Reading The Trumpet of the Swan by E.B. White

Monday: Read one chapter alone and write an inference on a sticky note

Tuesday: Read one chapter aloud together, visualize and draw a picture

Wednesday: Read one chapter aloud together and one chapter alone

Thursday: Read one chapter aloud together, write interesting discussion questions on sticky notes and discuss

Friday: Read one chapter aloud together, read one chapter alone Homework: Read two chapters and write down challenging vocabulary words


Student group 2: Reading Loser by Jerry Spinelli

Monday: Read two chapters, visualize, and draw a picture

Tuesday: Read one chapter, write an interesting question, discuss, and then read more (if time)

Wednesday: Read two chapters and then write down a prediction for what is going to happen next

Thursday: Just read

Friday: Write a short play and act out what is happening in the story

Example of first script:  




















These book club plans and the example of student work illustrate how students are collaborating with their peers to come up with meaningful learning plans for their daily book club. Students have learned how a book club can look and are now taking responsibility for their own learning. They are coming up with their own plan and holding their peers accountable for group discussions and learning. Students are supporting each other during meaningful literature discussions, helping each other to decode challenging multi-syllabic words, and working together to apply reading comprehension strategies and define new vocabulary. Just as teachers collaborate on their lesson plans to best meet the strengths and needs of all student, these students are collaborating on their lesson plans to help their peers succeed.

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