December News 2018
The third grade just finished “The Big Dinner!” This is a comprehensive, challenging, and fun unit that helps the children develop an understanding of multiplication. It requires them to use what they already know to discover and learn more efficient strategies to solve problems. On the first day, the students were presented with the context of planning for a big turkey dinner.
The students were presented with the problem of figuring out the cost of a turkey (and all of the fixings on subsequent days). After being presented with a price chart and the per pound value, they used various strategies with their math partner to problem-solve. They were then required to show their strategies on a “poster” (a map of their thinking), and then explain their thinking. It is amazing what the children have learned from each other! Their strategies included repeated addition, skip-counting, partial products, ten-times, and doubling and halving. Children thought about ways to stay organized when presenting information to the class and worked on using a T-chart (ratio table) to show work. Most often, the children used more than one strategy when solving a problem. As they try various strategies, they develop more sophisticated concepts such as unitizing (recognizing a group as one whole), the distributive and commutative properties, recognition of place value patterns and proportional reasoning. They have seen the benefit of finding more efficient strategies, and have all further developed their understanding of multiplication. This dinner was delicious!
Our next unit focuses on more multiplication and division strategies within another context unit called Muffles Truffles. Muffles is a candy truffle maker who is challenged with packaging pricing his boxes of truffles. Again, the children work with their math partner to solve these daily problems using various strategies. They create their posters and share their strategies with the class. The children love to teach and learn from each other.
We are concluding our narrative writing unit, “Crafting True Stories.” Our third grade authors did a wonderful job taking their “seed stories” through the entire writing process and are developing them into published personal narratives. Students have been working to use a “storyteller’s voice” in their writing (as opposed to a “news reporter’s voice”), creating effective “leads” and endings, enhancing the “heart” of their story, using paragraphs, and describing internal thoughts and feelings. Finally, they are focusing on writing mechanics, as well (sentence structure, capitalization, punctuation). Please ask your child to share his/her seed story with you!
We will soon launch into our persuasive writing unit. The children will learn that persuasive writing can be used to convince other people of their opinion or view. They will see “problems” and imagine solutions. Their intention will be to make the world a better place, whether in their school, home or neighborhood.
During Readers' Workshop, third graders have been learning about non-fiction reading strategies. The children are “reading to learn.” We have been examining the various text features that help readers navigate non-fiction texts. This non-fiction unit nicely complements our Social Studies unit.
During Social Studies, we have been learning about the Wampanoag people, the Pilgrims, and the "first" Thanksgiving in 1621. Our essential question throughout this unit has been: How can history help us understand Thanksgiving today? The focus of the unit has been on the different perspectives held about Thanksgiving.
In partnerships, the students conducted research to answer important questions such as: What was life like for the Wampanoag people? What happened when the Pilgrims came? What really happened in the fall of 1621? They read informational texts, conducted online research, and visited Drumlin Farm (Wampanoag life in the 1600s). The students learned about aspects of daily life in the mid-1600s for the Wampanoag people and the Pilgrims, the main reason the Pilgrims came to America, and some details of their voyage on the Mayflower. Additionally, we explored the interactions between the Native Americans and the Pilgrims, as well as the historical consequences (the many ways both the Pilgrims and the Wampanoag changed as a result of their interactions with each other).
Every partnership is in the midst of finishing a project of their choosing. They had various options to choose from: a picture book, video, slideshow, a story from the perspective of a Native American, a graphic novel from either perspective, or an article. All projects are being created with the intent to inform others about at least two different perspectives of Thanksgiving and where those perspectives derived from. As it turns out, the children all chose to create a slideshow using Google Slides. It is fascinating to watch them create their projects and design slides simultaneously and collaboratively with their partners using their own Chromebooks.
Finally, we need to share our slideshows with the parent and school community. Please keep an eye out for an invitation!
We will soon begin our unit on Water and Weather. Through hands-on experiments and observations, the children will learn the different parts of the water cycle: evaporation, condensation, precipitation, and collection. The students will explore how the water cycle impacts our weather, and the importance of protecting this precious natural resource! They will record all of their scientific discoveries and understandings in their Science Notebooks just as scientists do.
Please continue to ask your children about what they are learning and doing in third grade. Of course, reading every day (at least 20 minutes), and playing games together regularly, will help your child practice and enjoy so many of the skills that are learned in school.
1) Doing XtraMath for about 15 minutes 3-4 days per week will help your child develop their math fluency.
2) Practice typing using TypingClub.com 3-4 days per week. This is a typing program we use in school, which your child can also use at home. Developing typing skills will also benefit your child in the long run as more and more of their writing will be done online as they progress through the grades.
As a parent, you will need to decide what is manageable and beneficial for your child. We need to remember that the children are only 8 or 9 years old. Sometimes playing with friends and family is most beneficial of all!
Thank you for all of your continued support! Please never hesitate to contact me with questions or concerns.