Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Happy Thanksgiving!

  November 26, 2013

Dear Families,
       As we move into our Thanksgiving break, I am especially conscious of how thankful I am to be working with your children. They have come so far already in the few short months we have been working together.  As a class, we have come together as a community - supporting one another without fear of judgement and celebrating each other's successes.  I am so grateful everyday to work with a group of individuals that are so naturally kind hearted, creative, and hard working.
     As you know, we have been continuing our author study, focusing on Kate DiCamillo.  We have completed The Magician's Elephant and The Tale of Despereaux.  We had the opportunity today to watch the film version of The Tale of Despereaux and compare the similarities and differences.  We found that most of us preferred the book to the movie, due to Kate DiCamillo's incredibly descriptive language and the ability she has to draw the reader into the story.  We shared a special treat of popcorn that made our viewing experience even more exciting!  Thank you for also making our comfy/cozy day a success!  The kids had a blast and all looked adorable in their PJ's.
     In math, we have finished up our unit on area and perimeter.  We are putting the final touches on our dream houses, which showcase all that we have learned about area and perimeter up to this point.  Our class has done a nice job of adjusting to the challenges set before them in regards to this skill.  They are ready to apply this knowledge to the process of multiplication.  I have seen many students already recognizing the relationship between area / perimeter and multiplication, which is very exciting!  As we return from break, we will begin the process of learning our multiplication facts in addition to learning a variety of strategies to solve multiplication problems.  Get ready to practice fact fluency at home!
     Social Studies has brought us to the study of the regions of the United States.  We just finished our investigation of the Northeast region and have discovered many things about the area in which we live.  We have learned about important landmarks, products, cities, etc.  We will continue this study of regions when we return from  break.  After we have studied the remainder of the regions, we will move on to our study of earth sciences.
     On Monday, we will be sending home permission forms for our very first field trip.  Our grade level will be attending the Bow High School production of Peter Pan: A Musical.  We will be examining story elements as performed on stage!  We will focus on character traits/motivation/impact on the story.  It should be a very enjoyable time! I will be looking for parent volunteers to join us at the high school that day as chaperones as well.
    We are also continuing our PJ drive.  All donations are due by Dec. 12.  We have already had a wonderful bunch of PJ's donated and look forward to seeing the other additions to our collection.  This is a wonderful gift given to those in need and we appreciate any and all help that has been given already!
    Report cards will be going home on Dec. 12 as well.  A reminder letter will be sent home about the new report card rating scale. 
    Please be aware that we do not have school tomorrow, Wednesday 11/27.  Enjoy your long weekend.  Spend time with family, friends and good food! I hope you all share in things you are thankful for and enjoy your time together.

Thursday, November 7, 2013

Third Grade Welcomes November!

Hello All!

     Parent - Teacher Conferences are in full swing at BES.  This is always a wonderful opportunity to touch base with families on the progress of each and every child.  I learn so much more about our students through meeting with all of you.  Thank you all for your continued dedication and commitment to their success at school.

     In literacy lately students have been working on a variety of topics.  We have heavily practiced synonyms and antonyms, work with adjectives, comprehension strategies, and homophones.  We have also started our author study on Kate DiCamillo.  You can check out her site here - Kate DiCamillo's Website.  Students have learned a little bit about Kate as an author.  We have read The Magician's Elephant and we are currently reading The Tale of Despereaux.  Students have shown a great interest in the writing style and suspenseful adventures Kate's characters take in her stories.  We have focused on character traits and character analysis as we discuss these books.  We will continue working through Kate's works throughout the year, which is very exciting!

     A large part of our work this year will focus on fluency (accuracy, rate/pacing, reading with expression).  Many of our students could benefit from reading aloud each night.  Reading to self is wonderful, but reading aloud allows them to practice the components of strong reading.  Through specific instruction of fluency strategies, I hope to increase their level of fluency greatly over the course of the year.  In an effort to increase their interest in improving their fluency, we now have kindergarten book pals from Gallup, New Mexico!  We will be buddying up with students from NM to read to over the course of the year.  We had our first successful Skype session yesterday, where our classes were introduced.  Students will have a chance to write back and forth, as well as read aloud to students via Skype.  It is a very exciting time in third grade!

     In math we have moved on from our addition/subtraction unit.  We have completed our unit assessments and have learned that all of our kiddos can benefit from slowing down, double checking their work, and assessing the reasonableness of their answers (aka "does this make sense?")  We are now moving into our unit on area and perimeter.  You can help students remember that perimeter is the outside edge of a shape by pointing out the word "rim" in the middle of perimeter.  We measure this in units.  Area is the space inside of a shape.  We measure this is square units.  So far, students seem to be loving our hands on exploration!  We use square inch tiles to design a variety of shapes to solve problems and have started to apply our knowledge to real world problems.  We even used masking tape to create shapes with an area of 10 square feet after we discovered the tiles in our room were each 1 square foot.  Look for pictures coming soon!  You can always help reinforce fact fluency at home - it is greatly appreciated!

    In Social Studies, we have taken our assessment on Continents and Oceans.  We have now moved our focus onto North America.  We are discussing the different countries that make up North America and major traits and languages of the area.  We will then focus on the United States, including the various regions.

   We have also continued our work with the 7 Habits of Happy Kids.  Ask your children about the habits they've learned to become self-motivated and effective students.  7 Habits Site

    As always, if you ever have any questions or concerns, please email me!  I sincerely hope you enjoy your long weekend and I look forward to our continued progress as a class this year!

Monday, October 7, 2013

NECAP Testing and a 4 Day Week!

Dear Families,

Your children have done an outstanding job continuing to work and focus on NECAP testing.  It is always tough when you have six days of testing (not only on the students, but on me as well!).  They have handled it with grace and maturity. Last week, students took the Reading portion of the exam, while this week the focus is on mathematics.  The best thing you can do to support your child is make sure they get plenty of rest and have a chance to eat a good breakfast before coming in every morning. 

It has been an exciting time in our classroom recently, as we have really started to delve into our curriculum.  The days of focusing on our routines and procedures to get back into our school rhythm are over.  

In literacy, students have continued their work with metacognition, reader's responses and fluency (accuracy, rate, expression). They have been practicing their ability to look back to find evidence in the text to support their thinking.  Students have also been practicing their ability to ask and answer two part inferential questions based on the text. Another exciting development in third grade is the addition of a grade wide author study project! Third grade teachers got together last week to develop a common unit on an author study.  Though the authors may differ from class to class, or group to group, the elements studied throughout the unit will be a shared experience.  This work will help students to better analyze work with common themes, characters, settings, etc. throughout a variety of texts/genres.

In math, students have worked on many strategies to solve addition problems.  Ask them about decomposing numbers, the partial sums algorithm, the identity property, the commutative property and the associative property. They have also used their knowledge of math terminology to help them justify and explain their solutions.  These same techniques and skills will be used as we continue into subtraction.  Continued practice with fast fact fluency at home can greatly assist your students' success here at BES.

In social studies, we have continued our study of geography.  We have learned about the seven continents, the major oceans of the world and basic map skills.  We will be moving towards a focus on the continent of North America.

Please remember to check out our photo gallery to see pictures of your students hard at work!

Enjoy your long weekend and enjoy the two, four day weeks we have ahead of us!

Ms. Allison

Tuesday, September 24, 2013

September 2013

Hello Families,
       This is our new third grade website! We are having so much fun this year. We are learning a lot of new information.  
      In literacy we are learning how to do reader's responses. A good reader's response starts with a summary of what we have read and then we respond to what we have read.  To respond, we use our metacognition stems.  You should ask us about those! We are also learning about what it means to be a real reader. A real reader does more than just reads the text fluently, they think and infer.  A real reader thinks deeply about the text.  When we read at home, you could ask us some deep thinking questions.
     In math, we are working on our addition fact fluency. We need to know how to add numbers quickly in our heads! We are also working on how to solve problems multiple ways. We need to be able to explain and justify what we have done too! We need to continue practice our addition and subtraction facts at home to help us at school.
    In Social Studies, we are learning all about the 7 continents and the major oceans! We sit at tables and carpets labeled by continent and ocean. This helps us to remember their names.  We have also learned about the cardinal directions and how that can help us to read a world map.
     We are working VERY hard on our cursive too.  We are all the way up to lowercase letter r.  Please challenges us by having us write the letters we know at home.  You could even start writing in cursive and challenge us to read the words.
    We have also been working on the 7 Habits of Happy Kids!  So far we have learned that we need to be proactive, begin with the end in mind and that we should put first things first.  Using these tips has helped us to take ownership over our learning in our classroom.  We realize we are in charge of our decisions and are excited to use this language throughout the whole school.

Your Third Graders