Our Language Arts program is modeled after the Balanced Literacy Approach. Much like we need to consume a balanced diet to remain healthy, your third grader needs balanced portions of literacy daily. Our model consists of a ‘workshop’ approach to reading, writing, and word study that enables each student to be taught at his/her instructionally appropriate level.
Our reading workshop is divided into two components: guided reading and shared reading. During guided reading, the students meet with the teacher in small groups to read and comprehend challenging text with the teacher’s support. Our guided reading instruction is based on the Jan Richardson model and the “push-in” approach. Both of these methods have proved to be very successful with our third graders. Shared reading is also an important part of our reading workshop in which we utilize the Making Meaning program to strengthen our students’ comprehension. During this time, the students are engrossed in a read aloud as they actively participate in developing, practicing, and monitoring their comprehension. Other important literacy building activities that are incorporated in the shared reading block are vocabulary development and fluency. Both of these areas are essential components to our students reading growth.
Our writer’s workshop is a special time of day in which students eagerly await its arrival. During this time, students embody the “life of a writer” by learning to notice small things, wonder about big things, and question everything. They are taught to jot down their thoughts, ideas, special words, dreams, and anything else they can conjure up inside their writer’s notebook. The students learn about the writing process firsthand as they collect ideas, plan their writing, draft and confer, revise, edit, and….PUBLISH. Yes, your third graders will publish many pieces of writing of their choice. As you can see, this is an exciting part of the day for students.
During our word’s workshop, or as we refer to it, “Word Study,” the students study patterns found in words, including beginning sounds, ending sounds, vowel sounds/patterns, affixes, and syllables. Through sorts, the students are able to understand and apply the spelling features to other words, which in turn, helps to improve both their reading and writing skills.
In Third Grade, the math instruction will have a strong focus on problem solving. Students will learn a range of skills and strategies to help them solve a variety of types of problems. The process of problem solving and logical reasoning will be integrated within all areas of the math curriculum. Students will deepen their understanding of whole numbers through the hundred thousands, fractions, the concepts of multiplication and division, measurement, geometry, and graphing. Math instruction will consist of whole group lessons where students are introduced to a skill or strategy, followed by guided practice of the skill, through partner and hands on activities, and concluding with independent practice for students to apply their knowledge of the skill. Teachers will also meet with small groups of students often to support and assess students’ mathematical growth. Communicating through “math talk” and connecting mathematics to the real world are emphasized and are crucial to the overall understanding of the mathematical concepts.
The third grade science curriculum emphasizes the investigation skills such as developing questions, forming hypotheses, making predictions, gathering data, and drawing conclusions. Students are expected to use information gathered to make more precise inferences and conclusions of their investigations. They will also learn about simple and compound machines, energy, and matter. Through hands on activities and technology integration students will also develop a deeper understanding of the patterns in nature; moon phases, tides, seasonal changes, the water cycle, and animal and plant life cycles.
Third graders begin the year reviewing how to be good citizens, and begin discussing the basic principles held by all Americans. They will study five ancient civilizations: Greece, Rome, and Mali, Egypt, and China. We will discuss the interrelationships among these civilizations. Students will further develop and apply their geography and mapping skills through the exploration of the ancient civilizations and the land and water features of North and South America. Third graders are expected to understand economical concepts such as natural, human, and capital resources, and goods and services, and use these concepts to make economic decisions.