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!