Third Grade is a time for children to continue to grow both academically and emotionally. Students become more independent and can use knowledge gained in first and second grade to explore and expand new and challenging material. It is in third grade that students begin to switch from “learning to read” to “reading to learn.” The emphasis begins to move away from attaining “phonics skills” and moving more toward applying “comprehension skills.”
Teaching methods, which vary depending on the activity and the students participating, include whole group, small group, and one-on-one instruction; directed and open discussions; the use of teacher-created and student-created materials, role playing, game playing as a means to reach skills, art projects, and other activities to demonstrate or deepen comprehension; note taking, highlighting, and webbing; the incorporation of music and games; and a variety of hands-on projects and activities.
Homework is regularly assigned, especially in the areas of spelling, math, and weekly reading. Third graders receive comments of their work that roughly approximate grades. In this way, we will move slowly toward grades and helping students get used to the concept of grades before they actually receive grades on their report cards. Field trips vary, including experiences which are based on environmental awareness, plays, art museums, releasing into the bay oysters we have raised, and a trip to Sandy Point State Park to paint images of the Bay Bridge and surrounding area.
Language Arts: Reading and Literature
The main text in reading is Scott Foresman’s Third grade “Reading Street.” True picture books make up the text of this basal reader. Comprehension skills, vocabulary, grammar, and spelling are integrated weekly with the literature selection. Novels are also used throughout the year. Whole language activities such as choral reading, poetry, music, art, and role playing are used to enrich literature selections. (Texts: Third Grade Reading Street, Scott Foresman; novels such as A Lion to Guard Us, Because of Winn Dixie, and non-fiction texts on bridges and social studies related text.)
Language Arts: Writing
Writing is practiced weekly. It is used throughout the curriculum in the form of dictation, composition writing, journal writing, book reports, current events, reports, and cross-curricular activities. Writing Workshop is also a part of the writing experience. There is a strong focus on paragraph writing with a main idea, supporting details, and wrap up sentence. The children use the writing process to explore topics that matter to them, topics that are related to the environment, topics that are related to social studies concepts, and topics related to character. All writing focuses on improving spelling, grammar, dictionary, comprehension, and handwriting skills. We also use the 6 + 1 writing traits: ideas, organization, voice, word choice, sentence fluency, conventions, and presentation.
Language Arts: Spelling
A phonics-based program tied to our reading series is used to teach children the necessary tools for becoming a competent speller. Students also develop lists of bonus words based upon the weekly phonics skill, or taken from their literature and social studies readings. (Text: Reading Street Spelling Practice Book, Scott Foresman’s Reading Street)
Language Arts: Grammar
Grammar skills are focused on our “Daily Fix Its” and also during Writing Workshop mini-lessons through our literature and grammar text. Skills include study of structure and types of sentences, parts of speech, language usage, and mechanics. (Text: Grammar & Writing Practice Book, Scott Foresman’s Reading Street)
Language Arts: Handwriting
D’Nealian handwriting is reviewed and practiced throughout the year. Students learn cursive in 2nd grade and continue this skill throughout third grade.
Math skills taught include the review of addition and subtraction basic facts, place value up to 7 digits, addition and subtraction using multi-digit numbers both with/without regrouping, basic multiplication facts using one digit numbers, division with a one-digit divisor, beginning long division, remainders, decimals, fractions, time, money, geometry, and measurement. Numerous opportunities are given to use graphing, estimation, mental math, calculators, and problem solving skills. We incorporate our recycling of Capri Sun Juice pouches with our weekly count and the skills of place value, graphing, and adding. The use of manipulatives, games, and problem solving also enhances the learning process. (Text: Scott Foresman Math 2008, Scott Foresman)
Students begin the year by analyzing the historical importance of tapestries and metaphorically comparing them to timelines. As the year progresses, the class adds historic details to the class timeline around the room. Studies follow the Core Knowledge curriculum for grade 3: timelines, rivers, Canada, (the election is studied during an election year), Ancient Rome, the Byzantine Empire, the Vikings, Beringia (the land bridge between Asian & Northern America), early Native American tribes, Early American Exploration, and the 13 original colonies. “Bridges” tie in with the science-oriented Bay Week in mid-April. We also touch on the Westward Movement and expansion across America. Weekly, we focus on geography using a text to investigate landform, transit, climate, and other maps. Other maps and media are used as well. (Text, Scholastic Success With Maps Workbook Grade 3)
With a strong emphasis on creativity, individuality and self-expression, the art program helps students learn more about color relationships, spatial relationships, positive and negative space, composition, and light and shadow. Master artists and current artists are introduced as part of lessons in media, technique or concepts. Students work in a variety of media, including clay, fiber, paint, pencil, and paper.
Students continue to expand their knowledge of computer operations and software. They write and illustrate stories, create brochures for class presentations, work with two open programs simultaneously, and learn to save their work to both floppy disks and network drives for later editing. Text and images are copied and pasted between programs, and the Internet continues to be explored as a source for information and graphics.
Student use of the Library catalog is reinforced as students search by author, title, and subject. The students begin to use encyclopedias, locate information using tables of contents and indices, and discuss folk tales, myths, and award winning books. The Library program continues to promote an appreciation for literature and a life-long love of reading.
Students continue to explore basic music elements such as pitch and tempo as well as more complex rhythmic patterns and music notation. They can sing as a group or solo. Most of the music is two-part singing with movement. Another focus is expanding the four major instrument groups and exposure to different music genres through a composer of the month and multicultural music. Cross-curriculum approaches such as having the students take notes about important musicians are integrated into music lessons in cooperation with the homeroom teachers. Exposure to performance opportunities occurs in class and during the December Holiday Program and through Assembly Programs.
The students participate in activities that include use of locomotor skills, movement exploration, body mechanics, and rhythmical routines. Teaching methods vary depending on the activities of the period. The fundamental skills of throwing, catching, dribbling, jumping and bouncing balls are reintroduced and practiced. Playground games, sportsmanship, cooperation and safety are emphasized. We continue team games (skills, strategy and rules). Students participate in the Physical Fitness Assessment Program. Students are introduced to specific, more detailed muscles.
Students are introduced to the scientific method and are involved in a variety of hands-on activities and experiments. Skills addressed are: thinking skills, forming hypothesis, interpreting data, problem solving, observing patterns, and identifying similarities and differences. Students use previous knowledge and experience in developing inquiry-based questions and content learning goals. They build upon these authentic questions using the appropriate steps of the scientific method.
Students investigate the earth sciences, sun, moon, as well as the human body, senses and nutrition. Students classify plants and animals, study their cycles and habitats, and focus on Bay studies. Field trips have included a visit to a Waste to Energy Facility and the Chesapeake Bay Environmental Center. Science curriculum often takes cues from the Third Grade’s social studies program including trees, earth forms, and the water cycle. The third grade will participate in a restoration project with the help of the Chesapeake Bay Foundation. They will grow oyster spat off of the pier and monitor the water quality in which they are growing. At the end of the year the third grade will take the spat to an existing oyster reef in the Magothy River.
Students continue to learn, review, and expand areas previously presented. Students are introduced to time on the hour, professions, sports, shops and stores, health and body. They build a sight vocabulary and begin to write the words and phrases that they have learned orally, read and write short “stories”, make “libros pequeños” (small books), and create picture/poster projects on areas of vocabulary.
Students also learn more about the customs and culture of Mexico and Spain, make a book, and create a Christmas bulletin board. They learn an appreciation of language, people, and the cultural similarities and differences of Mexico, Spain and other countries, including their own, through books, discussions, and visitors.