About This E-Book

What most excites eager seven-year olds as they enter second grade? At the Conservatory Lab Charter School, the answer is SNAKES!

This digital book is the final product of the 2nd grade class created at the end of a six-month learning expedition on snakes. What went into its production? Scientific research, creative writing, drawing, drafts and drafts and more drafts, music rehearsals, the joy of discovery, a life-changing appreciation of the natural world and its creatures, perseverance, teamwork, and fun. Here’s how we did it.

Phase 1: Research

Students chose a snake to research. They spent weeks selecting multiple sources, creating bibliographies, and taking notes about their snake’s physical appearance, habitat, prey, predators, and life cycle.


Phase 2: Writing

After listening to a mentor audio eBook, Susan Korman’s

Box Turtle at Silver Pond Lake (Smithsonian’s Backyard Series), students decided they wanted to create their own. They listened carefully to many examples of narrative nonfiction-writing that tells a story while giving the reader accurate information and facts about a topic. Before beginning their own stories, students created criteria for what would make an outstanding nonfiction narrative about a snake. After weeks of peer feedback, revising, and editing, their stories were done!


Phase 3: Illustration

While students were writing their stories, they were also creating scientifically accurate drawings of their snake. Throughout the drafting process, students became skilled at giving honest, helpful, and detailed feedback and at using feedback to improve their own drawings. Draft after draft, critique after critique, students’ snakes began to emerge in meticulously crafted detail. Once completed, students applied color and patterns with watercolor pencils and painted backgrounds of desert, forest, and sea habitats with watercolor wash.


Phase 4: Audio Narration

Practice. Practice. Practice. Students rehearsed reading their stories with fluency and expression before traveling to the Rec Room, Gabriel Sarango’s recording studio in Charlestown, MA, to record their narrations.


Phase 5: Adding a Soundtrack

Second graders rehearse and perform regularly in Conservatory Lab’s Bernstein Orchestra, conducted by Resident Artist Levi Comstock. Mr. Comstock helped select the musical pieces for our digital book. We recorded students performing these selections and students chose where they wanted each selection to appear in the narration. Here are the musical pieces you will hear before, during, or after each story.


Phase 6: Publication

A 2nd grade parent, Adaleta Maslo-Krkovic, generously offered to design the book, which was produced by eBook Architects. We are inspired by the talent, creativity, hard work, patience, and perseverance of these young scientists, writers, artists, and musicians. We hope you have as much fun reading and listening to this digital book as we had making it.