Wednesday, November 30, 2016

Thank you parents for making the time to come in for our Parent - Teacher Conferences. We found them informative and beneficial. Please remember that your third grade team of teachers is always available to meet with you to discuss your child's growth, successes or challenges as we move deeper into the academic year.

We have officially kicked off our multiplication (combining or adding equal groups) and division (splitting a quantity into equal groups) unit. The first portion of the unit involves understanding multiplication as equal groups, writing story problems, using skip counting as a tool to find the product (answer to a multiplication problem), and using multiplication symbols. We plan on enlisting your help as parents to assist with the mastery and automaticity of multiplication facts. When the time comes we will provide a list of resources, strategies and websites that you can use with your student to help with this very important task. Our first job, however, is to build a deep understanding of what multiplication is and why it works. Along with cursive, this is one of the major accomplishments students know is associated with third grade!

In literacy we are developing topic ideas and potential chapter titles for our informational (non-fiction, factual) books. Students will settle on the final subject matter they feel they are an expert on and then create a plan for teaching the reader all they know about the topic in an organized way. While this is happening in writing, students are learning the ways curious readers approach an informational text. The class has practiced non-fiction reading, organizing factual information, and teaching a peer about what was read and learned.

The class began its spelling class this week. At this age we will be moving students from invented (a close approximation to the spelling of a word) spelling. Invented spelling does have a place in a writer's life. It is useful because it helps with fluency, word choice, and speed when drafting a writing piece. However, there are many instances when a word can be spelled correctly if just a tiny bit more brainpower is employed. We call these one-second words (misspelled words that can be correctly spelled with the aid of a quick trick).

  • Would -- say, "O u lucky dog" to remember the silent 'l'
  • They -- spell 'the' and then add 'y' to avoid spelling 'thay'
With simple tricks like these students can overcome their most frequently misspelled words. The class will also look at more personal spelling strategies along with universal spelling patterns.

Today we had our two Four Winds volunteers, Scarlett McDermott and Beth Harper, join us to explore concepts related to sunlight and shadows. It was a great hands-on workshop with lots of information packed into our hour and a half period.

We will hold a holiday class book swap on the last day before December break which is Thursday, December 22. Please help your student select a third grade appropriate book in good condition from your household collection that you are willing to part with. We do not intend for families to go out and purchase a book for the swap.

  1. Pick a book (used, good condition, third grade appropriate)
  2. Wrap it in wrapping paper
  3. Bring it to school between now and Monday, December 19

Thank you for continuing to support your child in their completion of thirty minutes of reading a night and filling out the Reading Log. You are helping to build a habitual reader!

Finally, ask your student if they are in need of any classroom supplies: pencils, sharpener, erasers, etc. Supplies are running low for some of the class.

Drafting away in our writer's notebook
Sharing ideas and providing feedback

Writing in a quiet space

Student starting to share all she
knows about a topic 
Representing multiplication visually

Wednesday, November 9, 2016

At some point over the next few days you should be receiving your child's report card in the mail. We suggest you read over and take time to digest the information contained in the report card prior to sharing it with your student. When reviewing the scores with your child it is our hope you will identify areas they have had success with. Maybe ask them why they think they earned the scores they did by asking him or her to say, "I got a ___ in ___ because I ___." Additionally, students often have room for growth in academic disciplines or personal development areas. These will most often be represented as 2s on the report card. A 2 is interpreted as a student who inconsistently meets the third grade standard or needs adult assistance to do so. If your child receives a score of 2, help him or her understand that this is simply an area where there is room for improvement in the coming quarter. We look forward to see you all for conferences next week. Here is the link, Conference Sign-Up, indicating the time you have signed up for.

WES wrapped up its schoolwide Everybody Engineering Week challenge with a whole school assembly. Your child worked on a student team and was instrumental in the design, construction and presentation of a popsicle stick tower. Teams were comprised of seven or eight students from grades 1 - 6. The towers are on display in the lobby if you want to have a look.

During math class we have been working on area (the amount of space a shape takes up) and practiced measuring using square units. The class is also exploring the attributes (characteristics or traits) of squares, triangles, and rectangles. We'll begin looking at different angle sizes and categorizing them as right angles (90 degrees or square), less than 90 degree angles, or greater than 90 degree angles. This unit should wrap up by the end of next week.

We've begun our next reading unit, Reading to Learn, focusing on reading non-fiction texts. Many of the skills associated with this unit will be applied in our writing as we embark on our Art of Information Writing unit next week. Students are energized by the opportunity to read a different genre and learn something along the way. So far we've looked at what text features are (the elements that are not part of the main text) as well as searching for examples in classroom books: table of contents, glossary, bold words, images, captions, etc. When students begin writing their own informational texts they will be expected to include many of these text feature elements in their personal writing.

Our Student Council is sponsoring a Food Drive to restock the community food shelf. Any contributions your family can make are appreciated. The most needed items are:

  • baked beans
  • hot and cold cereals
  • canned soups and stews
  • boxed macaroni and cheese
  • coffee and tea
  • spices

See you next week and enjoy your long weekend!

Getting the tower just right
Finishing touches

The finished model river
Determining area using squares and triangles

Playing hard
Hanging out

Building triangles of different sizes and shapes