About My Classroom
Hello and welcome! Please read about the major areas of third grade curriculum and our classroom routines.
Science and Social Studies
These subjects are domains of focused study in third grade. In our first unit, we will learn about different forms of energy, and the path of electricity through circuits. We’ll build and test batteries, insulators and conductors, and wire mini structures in a grid. Later this year, we will examine the properties of water in the “Water Unit” experiments. We study its cohesive ability, as well as its properties in different states of matter and at various temperatures. The “Fast Plants Unit” is one of careful observation of changing plant structure and life cycles. After forty days under bright lights, our brassica seeds will sprout, flower, be pollinated, and harvested. Next January and February, the study of astronomy uncovers some of the vast reaches of the solar system, constellations, and planets. Emphasis is placed on the development of content area knowledge, as well as scientific methodology (procedures, hypotheses, trials). It is a very full curriculum.
Our first social studies unit is an introduction to history. Students learn to conduct research by means of primary sources, artifacts, interviews, and technological tools. Other units include “World Communities,” a study of the economic and social structures of two international cities, New York and Tokyo; and “Native Americans of New York.” We also follow current events. Your child will be asked to search for current events in the news concerning specific topics we are discussing. We also read “Time For Kids” and talk about news stories. TFK issues will sometimes come home to be shared and discussed with your child as homework.
The reading program emphasizes the development of strategic, independent reading habits and comprehension skills. Students read constantly in class and at home, and record their choices in logs. They will be instructed in several genres, including poetry, biography, short stories, feature articles, memoir, and realistic and historical fiction. Much of our reading is selected from children’s literature; however, we also make an extensive study of nonfiction. We teach the children to navigate both Internet and print sources by comparing their organizational features and understanding the advantages and limitations of each medium.
Students receive individualized and group instruction in reading. Often, they read individually with me to develop specific strategies. They combine in flexible reading groups called literature circles for discussion and shared literacy lessons. Readers will write often in response to comprehension and discussion questions. We will consume thousands of pages of text this year. Please keep your child “well stocked” with books, magazines, and books on CD or tape. Selections from home are always welcome at school. I hope you will take full advantage of the Scarsdale Public Library as well as our school collection. And remember, I love book recommendations!
Writing, Spelling & Handwriting
We use a workshop approach to writing. That is, we structure the process of gathering ideas, keeping observations, drafting pieces of writing, and refining them as a continuous cycle of production. Students are responsible for generating most of their topics, although several writing projects will be assigned to the class as a whole. Some will be selected for publication by our Room Fourteen Press. Please save one good story, drawing or poem for the school anthology Kaleidoscope that comes out in June.
Using the mechanics of writing (spelling, punctuation, grammar) with accuracy is a fundamental goal for third graders. Students practice spelling sixteen unit words and four bonus “killer” words every week. Killers are vocabulary words from content area subjects or misspellings taken directly from children’s work. Students are expected to routinely scan ALL their work for correct mechanics. They correct mistakes and tally them on post-it notes attached to their papers. This is the BBH, (boo-boo hunt) our proofreading step for every assignment. Remind your child to boo-boo hunt every homework assignment. We congratulate students for finding the boo-boos before they reach the teacher’s eyes.
This year the students will make good use of reference materials such as dictionaries, encyclopedias (in text and online), thesauruses, and atlases. We will also review manuscript and cursive writing. From January until June, the use of cursive writing will predominate. It is time- consuming labor at this stage, but legibility, visual recognition of forms, and good small-motor coordination are worthwhile goals.
Computers & Library/Media Center
We make constant use of the library and computer lab to carry out research across the curriculum. Students will work with our computer specialist, Mr. William Yang, to learn new applications for their thinking. Several projects and extensions of classroom topics are collaborations between the students and Mrs. Phillips, our goddess of the library aisles. The library is a second home to third grade. Blocks of research and writing time are set aside so that we can work intensively as individuals or groups.
“Singapore Math” serves as the core of our math instruction. This program seeks to develop a deep understanding of mathematical concepts, and strong skills in reasoning and computation.
A tremendous amount of learning occurs in math before the year is done. We need to memorize addition and subtraction facts to 20 now. Multiplication facts 0-12 follow immediately. Division is introduced and practiced in the first half of the year. You can help your child by reviewing math facts and vocabulary. Ask her/him to tell time; to count ahead and backwards in minutes and hours; to calculate fractions of sets or single objects; and to give measurements in standard and metric measures. Encourage your child to solve mental math problems without using paper and pencil. For example, “There were two dogs and each dog had a dozen puppies. How many puppies were born?”
I also plan many enrichment activities in math. I introduce challenges in guided lessons with the entire class. Students work on challenges that interest them, either with a partner or by themselves. Topics include visual and abstract logic, arithmetic applications, spatial puzzles, wordplays and brainteasers, pattern recognition (semantic, pictorial, and mathematical), recognition of mathematical relationships, and riddles.
Homework is assigned Monday through Thursday. Students are responsible for taking complete, accurate notes and packing supplies. All work is due on Friday morning unless otherwise noted. Twenty minutes of nightly reading is also assigned, and students must complete one log page in their home reading folder, which is turned in once a week on Friday. Please return reading folders on time so that your child can share what s/he read with me. I write a weekly note to each reader.
Please help your child to make homework a priority. Work on it at your earliest convenience at night. Don’t wait until s/he is tired. Expect quality: use good handwriting, complete sentences, and clean papers with neat (not ripped) edges. Please use pencil only.
Use your judgment in helping your child. I think that it is important to discuss assignments with your child, and then check results for accuracy. It is essential that your child receive immediate corrective feedback from you about homework, rather than to persist in error. I take no grades from homework, although I check everything. I make many comments, which I expect your child to read and discuss. Any assessments for grades are taken in class. Please contact me to talk over any homework situations if you need help. We can arrange meetings in person or by phone.
Bedtime, Nutrition & Brain Gym
What helps a student achieve to potential? A third grader needs healthy food and plenty of sleep. Please get your child to bed at a reasonable hour. Breakfast and nutritious snacks, however small, ensure better learning. Please send in a sport water bottle daily to keep on our desks for rehydrating without leaving the room. We keep our mental stimulation going through Brain Gym exercises throughout the day.
Return of Finished Work
I tend to keep work for about 4 weeks at a time. Please look for a folder of work to come home approximately once a month. I write many comments on the work. Please go over the work with your child. Tell her/him about all the growth you notice since last time. Then return the empty folder ASAP.
A Positive Approach
I stress the positive with every learner. Each one is treated as a respected individual. To take the next step in learning is a courageous act. That is why my grades are always expressed in terms of number correct, rather than number wrong. To know that one is gaining mastery over all the things to be learned in this world, little by little, is wealth indeed.