Third grade is an engaging year where students are exploring the world beyond their local community and enjoying an arts-rich curriculum. Our workshop approach to teaching means that third graders spend most of the day working partnerships, small groups, or independently, and that instruction is differentiated. We spend considerable time developing strong classroom communities and work hard on social and emotional skill development.
Teachers conduct ongoing and interim assessments in literacy, sitting side by side and listening to each student read, discussing books, assessing high frequency words and spelling, noting what skills they have and which they need, and looking closely at their writing. Running records help teachers track student progress toward benchmarks and guide instruction. Consistent with the Common Core Standards, we have increased the amount of nonfiction/informational text in both reading and writing. By the end of third grade, children are expected to be able to read with understanding level O books. Examples of level O books included Aldo books by Joanna Hurwitz; Boxcar Children books by Gertrude Chandler Warner; Ramona books by Beverly Cleary.
In math, we are strongly committed to a concept-based, problem-solving, hands-on approach to mathematics. We believe children need to be involved in constructing meaning in math, deciding on which strategies to use as they solve complex problems. We also know that children need to learn and practice basic math facts so that they can calculate quickly and efficiently, and so we do that as well. The Common Core Standards outline end of year expectations in math on each grade, and our pacing calendars are designed with that in mind. We draw on TERC investigations, Math in Context replacement units, units developed by Metamorphosis, and more, and emphasize differentiating math instruction.
Some of the key end-of-year 3rd grade math benchmarks include:
In Social Studies, students study Cultures Around the World. All classes do an Amazon Rain Forest study and at least one other study, such as China, the Arctic/Inuit, Ghana, or Tibet. The curriculum incorporates inquiry and engaging trips throughout the year.
All third graders have computer, art, music, science, physical education, library, chess and dance. The day incorporates many opportunities for movement during transitions and recess.
Teachers are always informally assessing students to guide their instruction. Report cards are distributed in November, March and June.
All third graders take state math and ELA tests in the spring.We believe that the best preparation for these tests is great teaching every day, and we are not a school that emphasizes test prep to the detriment of instruction in a wide range of subjects. We provide children with many varied experiences in the arts as well as in the tested subjects and we teach children to be critical thinkers and problem solvers. We do some explicit test prep in the two weeks before each statewide test so that children are prepared for the format and type of questions.
For a detailed listing of the Common Core Standards for ELA and Math, please click here.