Wednesday, September 21, 2016

As we approach the conclusion of the first, abbreviated month of school, our third grade class community is really coming together. Students are becoming familiar with their new classroom spaces, expectations and systems. That means children are being given greater responsibility and independence as they dig into the work of being thoughtful third grade learners.

In math, the class is focusing its efforts on building their place value understanding and strengthening its computational fluency in addition and subtraction. We are currently working on numbers within 1,000. Students often use "break numbers apart" as a strategy, which requires them to add numbers by their place value. For instance, 342 + 129 = _____ becomes (300 + 100) + (40 + 20) + (2 + 9). This is an effective and efficient strategy that builds understanding of place value...a key step prior to teaching any sort of algorithm (shortcut).

In reading, we're working on creating habitual readers in our students. Toward that end, the focus thus far has been on them understanding what kind of readers they are and how they can create a "reader's life" at home and school. They have nightly homework at this stage which includes 30 minutes of independent reading and the completion of a reading log entry. Yellow reading log packets were sent home Monday, September 19. Your child should fill out the log at home Monday - Thursday and then return it to school on Friday for a teacher review. They'll be handed back to students the following Monday for students to resume the weekly routine.

Third graders have been building writing stamina by looking to their personal lives for small moment stories and writing long and strong about them. They are encouraged to think of important people, places, objects or animals for inspiration. Some of these first draft stories will become polished, published narratives.

Our integrated science and social studies unit using the Ottauquechee River as topic to dig into sense of place, mapping, life cycle and ecosystem concepts is well underway. After walking the village numerous times, students drew maps of our study area with the important landmarks found along the river identified. They will be replicating some of these landmarks using the Tinkercad online program and printing them using the STEM Lab's 3-D printers. These structures will then be placed on our classroom river model in the appropriate location. Our first trip INTO the river took place last Friday with students working in teams to inventory and draw as many different things as possible that they found in the river and along its banks. Many unique and mystifying creatures were found lurking on the underside of river cobbles. These are the critters we'll be using to teach the concept of life cycles. Though they start their lives in the water, almost all of them live their brief adult lives as flying insects!

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