Thursday, October 20, 2016

It seems hard to believe that we are already approaching the close of the first marking period. Parents will be invited to attend a parent / teacher conference in mid-November to discuss their student's strengths and identified areas for growth. You can expect to see a sign-up scheduling sheet come home next week.

The class was fortunate to have our first 4 Winds workshop of the school year this week. Scarlett McDermott and Beth Harper led the class in an investigation of the processes of erosion. Students watched a puppet show, participated in stations modeling erosion forces, and were involved in a design challenge to mitigate the effects of water erosion on the landscape. It was a great and highly engaging session.

Please remember to help ensure your child reads for a minimum of thirty minutes a night on weeknights and completes a Reading Log entry. The yellow log is then returned to school on Fridays for a quick review by Ms. Bahlenhorst.

In math, third graders are beginning to explore the concept of perimeter (the distance around the outside edge of a shape) and learn the skills associated with accurately determining a shape's perimeter. This involves understanding how to use measuring tools appropriately and the difference between U.S. standard units (inches, feet, yards, etc.) and metric units (centimeters, meters, etc.).

Students were introduced to three different ways they can determine a word's meaning from context clues when reading.

  1. antonyms or contrasts as clues
  2. synonyms or definitions as clues
  3. examples as clues
We are sneaking up on completing the final drafts of our small moment stories. Today we used whisper phones (ask your child what these are and how they work) to check for meaning. Tomorrow we'll look at how to write an ending, and then students will begin the final phase of editing prior to publishing.

In science we've been working on the idea of the shared life cycle of all organisms (birth, growth, reproduction, death). Additionally, we've zoomed in on complete and incomplete insect metamorphosis (change). The class played some matching and card games to help them understand and memorize the different stages of metamorphosis.
  • Incomplete Metamorphosis--egg, nymph, adult
  • Complete Metamorphosis--egg, larva, pupa, adult
Finally, our read aloud Jeremy Thatcher, Dragon Hatcher is wrapping up this week. Ask your child to give you a summary of the important parts of the book in order. This is an important skill we'll begin working on in the near future. It's something you can practice, too, at home. Students should think about who the main character is, what the big problem or issue in the story is, how the main character goes about solving the problem, and the overall resolution at the end. You can even practice this skill with TV shows.

Playing the Go Bug! metamorphosis game 
Matching metamorphosis game

More life cycle work
4 Winds wind erosion
4 Winds water erosion
More water erosion

Engineering a way to prevent erosion in 4 Winds

Friday, October 14, 2016

Although only four days, we've accomplished lots this past week.

Our classroom river is up and running with water circulating through it and live macroinvertebrates populating it. We had a successful expedition to the banks of the Ottauquechee on Tuesday and collected a host of creatures at different stages of their life cycles. We'll be using these up close and personal glimpses of the critters as a springboard to studying the life cycles of organisms. Most of the landmarks students created using craft materials or the Tinkercad program are complete. They are pretty amazing projects and are very realistic representations of the actual landmarks found in the village. All that remains for us to do is paint on the roads and place the buildings in their correct locations along the river. Swing by to check it all out when you have a chance.

We are deep into drafting our personal narratives inspired by true, small moment stories from the lives of third graders. At this stage students are concentrating on the following:
  • adding the exact words people used (dialog) 
  • establishing who the story is about, where it takes place, and when it happened (setting)
  • including the inside parts of the story (characters' feelings)
  • writing in a way that allows the reader to picture what is happening (description and elaboration)
  • telling the story bit-by-bit
The class wrapped up its first math unit today which focused on addition and subtraction strategies. Our next unit of study is a significant shift in concepts. Beginning next week our concentration will be on geometry, specifically measurement and 2-dimensional shapes.

Reading mini-lessons have focused on the mind work of giving oneself comprehension checks along the way. Students should periodically ask themselves Who is this part about?, What just happened?, and Does this fit with something that already happened or is this new? Of course, independent reading for thirty minutes a night along with an accompanying Reading Log entry is still weeknight homework.

Everyone was given his or her own personal, portable, silent pencil sharpener today as a means of maintaining productivity and independence. Along those lines, please check in with your child to see if there is a need for any personal classroom supplies like pencils, colored pencils, erasers, etc.

Finally, if you could fill out the poll to the right it'll help me figure out if and how the Blog is being used by parents. Thanks in advance.

Enjoy the pictures below and have a fantastic autumn weekend!

Adding material to create the riverbed
Painting on the landscape

Searching for macroinvertebrates

Private homes and a church
Businesses, houses and the Town Hall

Obviously it's . . .

Tuesday, October 4, 2016

Today's trip to SculptureFest was a big hit with students viewing diverse artworks in a beautiful outdoor setting. Thank you to Ms. Piana, our new art teacher, for coordinating such a worthwhile event.


This afternoon the class piloted using the website Socrative as a means of reinforcing key concepts and content and quickly assessing for understanding. With each student having his or her own dedicated Chromebook, integrating technology into daily activities is becoming easier and easier. This was the first time we've tried this particular teaching tool here at WES.

Anonymous student data using the website Socrative
Students answer questions on Socrative after reading an article about river macroinvertebrates