November/ December 2014 Edition

Reading

Nonfiction Reading: Reading to Get the Text

This  reading unit marks the time of the year when your students will leave the adventures of their characters, their struggles and changes, and move into the world of the water cycle and whales, spaceships and skateboarding. At the heart of this unit is the notion that teaching kids to notice the underlying structures of texts will help them to hold onto the main ideas and key details of these texts. We outline a unit of
study in which you give children stretches of time to read whole texts, reading not to answer a specific question or to mine for an interesting fact, but rather to learn what the book has to teach. The unit spotlights skills and habits essential to a reader of expository nonfiction: determining importance and finding main ideas and supportive details; questioning and talking back to the text; figuring out and using new content-specific vocabulary; and applying analytical thinking skills to compare and contrast, rank or categorize.

To support your children at home:

-model being a non-fiction reader

-point out topics that are of interest of you and how you go about learning about them

-point out various ways you learn about topics (media, newspaper, social media, books, etc)

Writing: Changing the World Through Petitions, Speeches and Editorials

This writing unit is meant to give our third graders an opportunity to write for a real world purpose, to create the changes they wish to see in the world. This unit is written specifically for third graders to help them channel all of their opinions into writing that can truly make a difference for themselves and those around them.

In the first part of the unit our third graders will learn how to gather bold and brave opinions by imagining how the world might be better while also looking at what is already beautiful. They spend time gather quick persuasive speeches in their notebooks and then choose an idea to take through to publishing.

In the second part they will work on gathering facts and details that support their opinion. Time will be spent on organizing these facts in a way that will persuade. Once they have completed these things they will publish their work through giving a speech.

The third part of this unit also ends with a published piece. However, this time we will study mentor texts (editorials, petitions, etc.) and determine how we can utilize some of these authors’ crafts in our own writing. The students will be the “captain” of their own writing, setting goals and working through the writing process to produce another opinion piece. We will set goals and plans to work on these goals to set the expectation that students should always want their work to be the highest quality possible. They will publish a written piece by the end of this third part.

Finally, students will form “Cause Groups” with other members of our class. They will work as a group around a cause, like recycling, animal rights, etc. These groups will decide on various projects they will have to create for this cause (speeches, petitions, editorials, etc.). The culminating celebration for this unit will include a digital publication.

To support your children at home:

-point out problems you notice in your everyday life (there is trash on the ground and you wish that more people would take the time to throw their trash in its proper place, people don’t hold the door open for you when you are right behind them and you wish they would, or how people don’t always return their library books on time so they aren’t there for you to check out, etc)

– notice great things in your life that you wish you could see more of (when your child offers to help you with a chore at home, a co-worker helps you out with something you are struggling with, or neighbors smiling at you when you walk by them on the sidewalk, etc)

 

Math

Collections and Travel Stories

Click here to learn about the objectives of this unit, as well as activities to support at home.

Social Studies: Countries Around the World, Starting With Our Own

This first unit in Social Studies is meant to launch our students into a year of studying what it is like in far-off places and what makes life different in one place and another. Eventually, we will expand our research to answer the question, “How do geography, culture, and natural resources shape how people live their lives in diverse parts of this world?” but during this first unit we will keep our work close to home.

Our students will begin this unit by thinking about the country where they live to bring to the forefront of their minds the ways of life and the land they know best. They will also begin to develope the skills needed to be a researcher. During this unit, they will focus on ways to take and organize different kinds of notes for various sources.

The Unit is broken down into three parts. The first part focuses on the students making sense of all that they already know about their lives and the country they live in. Through the mode of questioning, they will discuss and research in books, information about a place they’ve been before. They will begin to develop their own ways to take and organize notes, while also begin to develop an understanding of different types of maps that can help them in their research.

The second part of the unit supports the students in the work of revisiting information and layering on new information. The will meet in groups to put together all that they know about a shared place and talk through differences to come to a consensus. The will create one master set of notes about this place guided by the question, “What is life like in this part of the U.S.?” We will also begin to examine maps more closely pondering how different maps can help us better understand different aspects of life in one place.

In the final part of the Unit our students will be forming new groups to support them in growing ideas about not just a particular place, but a region. This will move them towards making generalizations about their place through small group discussions by agreeing, disagreeing, adding onto others’ ideas, using specific vocabulary related to their place, and ultimately growing ideas together. To wrap up and support them in synthesizing their ideas, we will go out into the school and share what we have learned, both about ourselves as a researchers and about the country in which we live, with others.

September 2014 Edition

Reading: Building a Reading Life
In this first unit we are focusing on the routines of reading workshop.

In the first part of this unit we spend time building a reading life. First, we spend time thinking about the best times and worst times of our reading lives to help us think about goals we can set for ourselves as readers. Just-right books are discussed and reinforced through out this unit to ensure that these third-graders start the year off on the right foot. We discuss strategies to help us read longer, stronger and faster.

In the second part of the unit the students are learning how to make sense of what they are reading (ie. stopping to think about changes in characters’ actions). They will learn how to actively problem solve while in the midst of reading (ie. reread the text when they lose the story).

In the last part of this unit students will utilize their reading partners to how to have a conversation about their book. Over time, their partners will support them in deepening their thinking.

We will celebrate the end of this unit by reflecting on how they have changed as readers over the past month.

Here are some things you can do at home to help support your readers:
-Help you child find a quiet space/time to read for at least 25 minutes at a time that works for them each day
-Help remind them that they should be recording in their reading log every time after they read
-Remind them that they should be reading the same book at home and at school
-If they are forgetting their book/log at home or at school talk to them about how to organize their materials so they do not get forgotten
-Talk to your child about the reasons why you choose a particular book for yourself (What makes it just right for you?)

Writing: Crafting True Stories

We are working to get our young writers to be invested in writing workshop. We are spending time establishing the routines of third-grade writing workshop.

In the first part of this month the students are looking through examples of third grade writing to imagine the kind of writing they want to write and set goals for themselves. They will learn ways to generate personal narrative stories. We will use mentor texts, checklists and rubrics to help us ramp up our own writing. This will help them improve their volume, stamina, and attention to craft and conventions.

The second part of this month will be spent helping students see the differences in keeping a writer’s notebook versus a writing folder. They will select one of their stories to develop by story-telling over and over again. This will support them in trying out different ways the story might go, including drafting different leads. Time spent furiously writing on their drafts will allow them more time on revision (which is very different then in 2nd grade). Through the use of Karen Hesse as a mentor the students will investigate how to glean ideas (dialogue, thoughts, feelings, etc) from her writing to add to their own drafts.

The third part of the month emphasizes independence and initiative. The students will begin drafting a new story applying all that they just discovered during the last few weeks of writing workshop with independence this time. This time they will be going through the writing process more quickly to become more fluent in the process. They will then choose between the two pieces they write to determine which is the best to be revised and edited for publication.

We will end the unit with a writing celebration where they will invite other students to our classroom to read and admire their hard work as third-grade writers.

As parents, here are a few things you can do at home to support them during this unit:
-Help them see stories in their every day lives. Point at small moments that happen that they could write about during writing workshop (ie. when the dog ran away with your shoe, when your child’s ice cream falls off the cone).
-When reading together point out crafts the author uses that you appreciate that they could include in their own writing (ie. the way the author describes the setting using metaphors or the word choices the author makes).

Math: Groceries, Stamps and Measuring Strips (Early Multiplication)

The focus of this unit is the introduction and early development of multiplication. By making use of realistic contexts, the unit invites students to find ways to mathematize their lived worlds with grouping structures. The unit uses many contexts: inside the grocery store; postage stamps; city buildings, windows, and buses; tiled patios; a baker’s trays; and sticker pages. Initially, formal multiplication notation is not the focus; efficient grouping is, as students are encouraged to make groups (and groups of groups) to find efficient ways to deal with repeated addition and determine totals.

Traditionally, multiplication has been introduced by representing quantities of things that come in groups (such as four wheels on a car or twelve eggs in a dozen) with the formal multiplication symbol (X). For example, the total number of wheels on five cars would be represented as 5X4. The multiplication tables are then emphasized and learned as lists of unrelated facts, usually with flash cards. Although this traditional method connects multiplication to repeated addition, the connection is fleeting, and for many students multiplication very soon becomes a world of it’s own, existing parallel and unrelated to subtraction and addition. In this new world, students use a symbol that can look to them like the addition symbol turned on it’s side, yet it has a very different meaning, and they need the multiplication tables to figure out the answers.

Multiplication introduced this way can be very difficult for young learners to understand. They have just learned to count large quantities and now they are expected to count groups of objects using the same words-words they must now use to count the individual objects in the group. Making the group a unit to count-unitizing it-is a major developmental shift in perspective. Students are able to make this shift, but only if reasoning with groups serves a purpose. Human beings cognitively structure their reality as a way to understand it. We make groups, and groups of groups. We even have the innate ability to perceive two, three, and maybe four items in a group as a whole without needing to count or establish one-to-one correspondence- an ability known as subitizing.

With respect to multiplication, the purpose of making groups, and groups of groups, is to find the total in an efficient way. Multiplication for students, starts with skip-counting and repeated addition, but structuring the situation leads naturally to strategies such as doubling, using partial products or benchmarks (ie. five-times and ten-times), and doubling and halving. This unit is designed to build on students’ natural ability to group and to develop efficient strategies for repeated addition. It prepares students to learn the multiplication tables not as lists of isolated facts to be memorized, but as number facts that can be related to each other in a multitude of ways.

You will be seeing your children continue to use the number line as a model because it stimulates a powerful mental representation of numbers and number operations that encourages students to become cognitively involved in their actions. You will also see them using using repeated addition, skip-counting, doubling, partial products, five-times, ten-times, and doubling and halving as strategies for solving problems. All of these strategies and this model will be used to encourage them to construct the meaning behind unitizing, the combinative property, the distributive property, place value patterns that occur in multiplication, and composition and decomposition of groups of groups. (excerpted from Cathy Fosnot’s Groceries, Stamps and Measuring Strips)

In order to best support your children at home :

It is best to allow them to do the work they are doing independently. You can then ask them questions about the strategies they are using and why. Encourage them to apply these strategies in real-life situations that occur (ie. doubling or halving a recipe, counting large quantities, calculating totals of groceries, estimating length, etc.)

Social Studies: Countries Around the World, Starting With Our Own

This first unit in Social Studies is meant to launch our students into a year of studying what it is like in far-off places and what makes life different in one place and another. Eventually, we will expand our research to answer the question, “How do geography, culture, and natural resources shape how people live their lives in diverse parts of this world?” but during this first unit we will keep our work close to home.

Our students will begin this unit by thinking about the country where they live to bring to the forefront of their minds the ways of life and the land they know best. They will also begin to develope the skills needed to be a researcher. During this unit, they will focus on ways to take and organize different kinds of notes for various sources.

The Unit is broken down into three parts. The first part focuses on the students making sense of all that they already know about their lives and the country they live in. Through the mode of questioning, they will discuss and research in books, information about a place they’ve been before. They will begin to develop their own ways to take and organize notes, while also begin to develop an understanding of different types of maps that can help them in their research.

The second part of the unit supports the students in the work of revisiting information and layering on new information. The will meet in groups to put together all that they know about a shared place and talk through differences to come to a consensus. The will create one master set of notes about this place guided by the question, “What is life like in this part of the U.S.?” We will also begin to examine maps more closely pondering how different maps can help us better understand different aspects of life in one place.

In the final part of the Unit our students will be forming new groups to support them in growing ideas about not just a particular place, but a region. This will move them towards making generalizations about their place through small group discussions by agreeing, disagreeing, adding onto others’ ideas, using specific vocabulary related to their place, and ultimately growing ideas together. To wrap up and support them in synthesizing their ideas, we will go out into the school and share what we have learned, both about ourselves as a researchers and about the country in which we live, with others.

Second Steps: Skills for Successful Participation in Learning

In the first lesson, your child is learning and practicing two Skills for Learning: focusing attention and listening. Focus attention and listening help children be better learners. Students will also learn what self-talk is, talking to yourself in a quiet voice or in your head. This will help them learn to stay focused, stay on task and manage distractions. In the third lesson, students will learn to be assertive, asking for what they want or need in a calm, firm, but respectful way. They will practice using it for what they want and need at school. Finally, they will learn the criteria of a good plan and use the criteria to evaluate a three-step plan for learning.

May/June Edition

Reading: Social Issues Book Clubs

This unit is unabashed teaching toward social justice. All of us know that sometimes, when we read a wonderful book, we find ourselves welling up with a passionate commitment to everything we believe. Stories remind us that we care very much about justice and injustice, and about living lives of meaning and significance. We will be teaching children to take their books and their lives seriously.

You may wonder about the term social issues. You may ask, “What are they, exactly?” The term social issues refers to issues that affect a lot of people, not just one person, one character. A character may worry that she needs to wear torn, ugly, ill‐fitting hand‐medown clothes. That is a personal struggle. But we can also think about her unique problem as a problem that applies to lots of people—that is, as a social issue. Lots of people worry about fitting in, and about peer pressure, so those are social issues. Poverty is a social issue,
and so are homelessness, joblessness, bullying, racism, and bias against older people. It is helpful for kids to see that by reading, we can watch characters deal with social issues, and we can learn to deal with those issues (and other issues) in the world from books. This is
important to do as characters play more complex roles in stories. This unit can make each child feel less alone. It can also give kids reasons to read. The educator Alfred Tatum says that particularly for disenfranchised or reluctant readers to keep reading, the curriculum
has to answer the question, “How can I live my life every day?” This work helps children take more to from their books, and bring more to them as well.

By this point in the year, students are well‐used to interpreting stories for underlying messages and themes. Typically they have begun units by making inferences and then moved to making interpretations. In this unit, you will push them to, from the start, begin to consider what underlying issues are present in their books. In the first part of this unit, students will learn to use social issues as lenses, not only identifying what issues are present in books but reading through those lenses, collecting evidence to support their thinking and analyzing what the evidence shows that the author wants to say about that issue. In the second part of the unit students will begin to consider issues which may tend to be overlooked (power, gender, race, class) and read through the lenses of these more difficult issues,
bringing in nonfiction to increase their understanding. By Bend Three of the unit students will likely be focused on a particular issue and they will likely begin to see evidence of this issue everywhere. They will open the front page of a newspaper, for example, and see how
an article might connect to the issue they have come to care about deeply. In this last bend, students will consider ways in which they might engage in social action around this issue. With any hope, they will head off for summer considering their place in the world, the
complicated issues shaping the world around them and how they might be more active in taking social action.

Social Studies: Animal Habitats and Adaptations (See May Edition)

April/May Edition

Reading: Narrative Nonfiction

Our third graders will be returning to nonfiction but in a different structure. This time, the texts will be stories—about real people who have done remarkable things, many of whom have changed the world. They will learn that when readers study biography, they will read to learn about the adversity these people faced and how they handled that adversity. They will read to learn not only about the one person the book is about but also the group of people that person represents and the groups of people that person impacted. That is, we read biography not only to learn about specific famous figures, but also to learn about the world in which we live, which will connect with the work we are doing in social studies around communities. Once they have learned about narrative nonfiction through biographies, they will also be spending some time reading narrative nonfiction texts on other topics.

As with all units of study, the primary goal of this unit is to help children become stronger readers. The main objective is not to learn content, but rather to learn how to read the genre of narrative nonfiction. Reading skills will be emphasized above all else. That is, this unit is not about memorizing every detail of this remarkable person’s life, but rather using story grammar to determine importance, to synthesize, and to analyze critically across long stretches of text, ultimately growing theories about them.

To support your children at home you can use prompts the previous series unit to assist them in explaining their thinking clearly about these extraordinary people.
•“I think ______ is ______, because _____”.
•“I think______ is ______ because in this part, he/she ______”.
•“Then later, in this part he/she ______”.
•“This evidence (from the above statements) shows that ______ is ______ because ______”.
•Perhaps it’s because . . .
•Or maybe it’s . . .
•Another thing it could be . . .
•This connects to earlier when . . .
•That reminds me of . . .
•A stronger word to describe that is . . .
•This seems significant because . . .

Towards this end of this unit, using these prompts will allow them to think about life lessons:
•I learned from (person) that sometimes people . . . but instead, people should . . .
•I learned from (the person) that in life, it is important to . . .
•(Person) changes from . . . to . . .
•Even if you . . . , you should . . .
•Don’t forget that even if you . . . , you should . . .
•(Person) teaches us not only about . . . , but also about . . . .
•When I first read about (person), I thought . . . but now I realize . . .

Writing: Finishing Fairy Tales (refer to March Edition) and Poetry

A poetry unit is an exciting time in the writing workshop. No other genre
grants young writers quite the same amount of license to explore, play with, and celebrate language; to be silly with words; or simply to give raw images and emotions a chance to fly off the page. No other genre allows young writers to infuse as much rhythm and beat into their writing. The playfulness of the poet pays off: well-crafted poems deliver deep truths, capture stirring moments in time, evoke images that readers carry with them forever.

A unit of study in poetry writing can usher our third graders into a new world of language appreciation: a world that fosters deep connections between reading and writing and a commitment to repeated revision. This unit offers a unique opportunity to zoom in on craft—from both the reader’s and the writer’s perspective. For although poets write to find and communicate meaning, just like any other authors, they also regularly “shift attention from the what (subject/meaning) to the how (language).” “Playing” with language in poetry, if channeled, can make children feel like insiders in this world of literary meaning making and craft.

In this unit, your children will explore the effects that are created when words are strung this way and that and repeated—sometimes even invented in response to some onomatopoeic need. Just as they learn to manipulate play dough or rearrange blocks and Legos, children can learn to take words and manipulate them to create new, interesting things: wisps of thought, a captured image, a difficult-to-describe feeling.

They will begin to see poems, itching to be written, in the playground trees, in the recess bell and the math test, in the best friend who’s moving away. They will learn to find the poems that are hiding in the details of their lives. These skills are important not only because poetry is its own powerful genre but also because the habits children develop as poets—specificity, comparative thinking, understatement, hyperbole—will serve them well in any genre of writing. It’s also true that an understanding of poetry from the inside out will help them build a lasting mental framework for how poetry works and support their ability to read poetry with comprehension and appreciation.

They will start off learning that “Poets write best when we write about what we know,” which already supported them in writing their first personal narratives. They will move quickly from collecting to revising and rewriting so that they will understand that in poetry, poets, more so probably as a group than any other kind of writer, care terribly about each and every word, comma, line break—even the white space, where there isn’t any writing, is thought through and revised! The will come to realize that the revision is the harder but more rewarding work that must be done.

To support your child at home, immerse them in poetry. Read a poem or two at night to or with them. Post poems around the house. I have attached a few poems here that have some significance to events that go on at home. Talk to them about why you liked a particular poem. How did it make you feel? What did the author do in the poem that made it so wonderful?

Math: Muffles Truffles- Multiplication and Division 

The focus of this math unit is the development of the open array as a model for multiplication and division. This unit uses a series of investigations based on the context of Muffle’s Truffles shop.

The questions posed in the first investigation give students an opportunity to explore place value-the multiplicative structure of our base-ten system and quotative division. In the second and third investigations, students build two-dimensional blue prints and use these arrays to explore some big ideas in multiplication, including the distributive, associated and communicative properties. In the fourth and final investigation, students word with open arrays in the context of labeling and pricing wrapped boxes of truffles. To figure out the dimensions of the wrapped boxes (open arrays) and the cost students need to apply a number of big ideas previously developed in this unit.

Science: Animal Habitats and Animal Adaptations

Our third graders will be studying habitats around the world and in their own backyard through center work and independent research. Once they have immersed themselves in the world in which we live through thinking about climate, geography, and vegetation, they will begin to use that information to determine how animals adapt to survive in these varied places.

March Edition

We are continuing the work we started in February. We will update as we wrap up the units outlined below in the January post.

Math: Surveys and Line Plots

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Writing: Once Upon a Time- Adapting and Writing Fairy Tales

When you were little, did you ever stop about, calling, “Fee fi fo fum, I smell the blood of an Englishman”? Or did you ever stand at the door calling, “Little pig, little pig, let me come in”? What is it about fairy tales that makes them so participatory and so gleeful (even in their gruesomeness)? We are not sure of the answer to this, but we do know that your children, after months of writing information and opinion texts, will be enchanted by the invitation to write adaptations of fairy tales.

You’ll be enchanted, too, once you see the ways your children’ deep connection to fairy tables functions as a very beautiful scaffold, enabling them to write stores that are beyond anything they can have done otherwise. Texts themselves can teach writing. Fairy tales, in particilar, can teach on to the page, to create the world of the story, and to bring characters to life. In short, we believe that fiary tales can, in alrge part, help us to teach children to write fiction.

This unit makes clear story arcs, archetypes, and lessons through the use of classic fairy tales as a model. They are terrific models of the craft moves that youngsters can use in their own stories. These moves include the use of dialogue and description to develop events and language that signals event order. The students will also learn to use transitional phrases to glue the scenes of their own stories together. As well as form an ending that provides a sense of closure to their stories. All of these moves are called for in the Common Core State Standards for Narrative Writing.

Children move through three narrative writing cycles in this unit; writing two adaptations of fairy tales as well as their own original tale. At the end of the unit, they pick one of these three stories to bring to publication. These multiple writing cycles allow children to practice many important writing lessons- structuring stories so that the reader can’t turn the pages fast enough; find the precise words and phrases to capture a moment, an image, an emotion; above all else, writing with a storyteller’s voice. This unit design of multiple writing cycles will help our young writers see the value of hard work and become more willing to revise their writing, because each fairy tale draft improves upon the last.

To support your children at home, read fairy tales together and:

-discuss what moves the writer made to make their fairy tale so great

-to discuss what the writer does to make it sound so “fairy-tale” like

-compare fairy tales

-debate characters in fairy tales

-close the book and story tell the story aloud

-make up your own versions of fairy tales together

February Edition

Reading: Learning Through Reading-Countries Around the World

Students come to this unit with their previous learning in reading informational texts. In the unit before this one, they devoured high interest nonfiction, building nonfiction reading lives and strengthening foundational skills in fluency, stamina and word solving. They also learned that nonfiction takes a special kind of reading and began to pay close attention to the underlying structures of texts in order to determine main ideas and key details. Students worked to synthesize their learning across pages and across books and to grow ideas. In this unit they will build on and extend that prior learning about reading informational texts as they engage in reading nonfiction on a topic (in this case, different countries) to learn all they can about that topic.

In this unit, students see that they can read to learn and undertake
inquiry through reading. At its heart, this unit is about helping students read with purposeful intention, deciding what information is most important to hold onto, comparing and contrasting information from different texts and finally, how to organize and synthesize their learning to teach others.

To support your child at home, while reading non-fiction ask your child questions like:

How is this the same or different as…?

What do you think the main idea of this paragraph is? Why do you think that?

What questions do you have after reading this part of the text?

Ask them to read a passage and then teach you about it.

Writing: The Literary Essay: Equipping Ourselves with the Tools to Write Expository Texts that Advance an Idea about Literature

This unit builds the groundwork for the fourth-grade unit The Literary Essay: Writing about Fiction, as well as the work third graders will be asked to do on the state tests. This unit stands on the shoulders of the work children did in second grade– writing to defend claims about literature. The unit aims to make reading a more intense, thoughtful experience for children by equipping them with tools they need to write simple essays that advance an idea about a piece of literature. This unit relies on children’s prior experience with opinion writing, suggesting that instead of writing about opinions such as “It is important to recycle,” they can now write about claims such as “Winn Dixie teaches people to care for each other.”

To support your children at home, 

-go to goodreads.com and read essays written by others about books

-discuss what made a book that you read a great read or not such a great read (be specific with evidence from the book)

-ask your child to explain why or why not they enjoyed reading a book (ask them to be specific)

-ask your child what they think they learned about life from reading a book (life lessons)

Mathematics: Finding Fair Shares

In this unit students develop ideas about understanding, representing and combining fractions and decimals. This unit focuses on understanding the meaning of fractions (halves, fourths, eighths, thirds, sixths) and decimal fractions (0.50, 0.25) as equal parts of a whole (an object, set of objects, and area). It also focuses on using representations to combine fractions (halves, fourths, eights, thirds and sixths).

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To help your children at home,

-encourage them to represent their thinking with pictures

Second Steps: Empathy

In the first lesson, your child is learning and practicing how to identify other peoples’ feelings. Understanding that everyone has feelings and that people can feel differently about the same situation help children be more empathetic. Students will also learn what perspective taking means. This will help them continue to build on the first lesson, but also understand that peoples’ feeling can change. In the third lesson, students will learn about noticing conflicting feelings.  Finally, they will learn about accepting and appreciating differences in feelings.

Social Studies: Countries Around the World, Brazil and China

This next unit in Social Studies is meant to continue our students study of what it is like in far-off places and what makes life different in one place and another. We will expand our research to answer the question, “How do geography, culture, and natural resources shape how people live their lives in diverse parts of this world?”

The Unit is broken down into three parts. The first part focuses on the students making sense of all that they already know about the country they are studying. Through the mode of questioning, they will discuss and research in books, information about this place. They will continue to develop their own ways to take and organize notes, while also begin to develop an understanding of different types of maps that can help them in their research.

The second part of the unit supports the students in the work of revisiting information and layering on new information. The will meet in groups to put together all that they know about a shared place and talk through differences to come to a consensus. The will create one master set of notes about this place guided by the question, “What is particularly interesting to me about this country? How do I research that topic?” We will also begin to examine maps more closely pondering how different maps and other resources can help us better understand different aspects of life in one place.

In the final part of the Unit our students will be spending time teaching what they’ve learned. This will move them towards making generalizations about their place through small group discussions by agreeing, disagreeing, adding onto others’ ideas, using specific vocabulary related to their place, and ultimately growing ideas together.

Literacy Curriculum Presentation

Cory Gillette, the District Literacy Coordinator, will discuss the reading and writing programs in our elementary schools and how we have made adjustments based on the new state standards and assessments

Topic: District Wide Literacy Presentation

Date: Wednesday, January 8, 2014

Time: 9:30am

Location: Royle School

If you cannot attend this presentation it will be repeated on January 29th at 7pm at Royle School.

January Edition

Reading: Mystery Book Clubs

This month your child will call on their inner detective. They will spend them month solving mysteries alongside Cam Jansen, Encyclopedia Brown, The Boxcar Children and Nancy Drew. While spending time learning the ins and outs of a mystery they will continue to build on the knowledge they have gained through previous units they have engaged in. They will be asked to take notice of the traits that enable the main character(s) to solve the mystery as well as evidence behind those traits. Towards the end of the unit we will also focus on the skill of interpretation by figuring out the life lessons that can be learned from studying the characters’ and plot. For example, in the Boxcar Children, an overly friendly character often tricks or fools the children. This is also true in many Cam Jansen mysteries. After reading these mysteries, we might say that both books teach us that you can’t always trust people just because they are nice to you.

This unit also invites intertextual work. In third grade students need to be able to compare and contrast themes, settings, and plots of stories written by the same author about the same or similar characters. As children read one mystery and then another they will develop a sense for how mysteries tend to go, and if they are reading mysteries within a series, they’ll get a sense for a particular series (adding on to the work we did in the unit on series books). This means that children can, within this unit, learn to see how any one mystery fits within a set of other, similar mysteries. They will also be a part of a book club that will enable them to push themselves and each other to compare and contrast these elements as they read each mystery.

Lastly, through the use of their detective notebooks they will also be improving their ability to organize and record their thoughts about the books they are reading. We will create new ways to organize the clues, suspects, witnesses, and evidence about their thinking. These detective notebooks will support them in increasing their attention to important details to take note of in a mystery as well as the level of the discussions they have with their book club.

To support your child as home, read a little bit of the book aloud at home and talk deeply about it. This is especially helpful at the beginning of a mystery. You may also want to read the same book in sync with your child and talk about it. Some key words that can support your discussions are: witness, clues, detective, thief, setting, evidence, crime, suspect, red-herring, and motive. They will also be reading in a book club so they will be expected to stay in sync with their partner in terms of what pages they will read to. It is most helpful if you ensure that your child is reading the amount of pages they have determined appropriate with their partner each night.

Writing: Changing the World Through Petitions, Speeches and Editorials

We are continuing this unit that was started in December.

Math: Investigation 9 Solids and Boxes

This month’s unit is about measurement is called Solids and Boxes. In this unit, students practice and refine their understanding of 3-D Geometry and Measurement . Read the following letter to find out the big ideas of this unit.

family letter about unit_Page_1 family letter about unit_Page_2

To support your child at home, encourage them to explain his or her math thinking to you. You can also spend time looking at real world applications of these terms.

Second Steps: Empathy

In the first lesson, your child is learning and practicing how to identify other peoples’ feelings. Understanding that everyone has feelings and that people can feel differently about the same situation help children be more empathetic. Students will also learn what perspective taking means. This will help them continue to build on the first lesson, but also understand that peoples’ feeling can change. In the third lesson, students will learn about noticing conflicting feelings.  Finally, they will learn about accepting and appreciating differences in feelings.

Social Studies: Countries Around the World, Brazil and China

This next unit in Social Studies is meant to continue our students study of what it is like in far-off places and what makes life different in one place and another. We will expand our research to answer the question, “How do geography, culture, and natural resources shape how people live their lives in diverse parts of this world?”

The Unit is broken down into three parts. The first part focuses on the students making sense of all that they already know about the country they are studying. Through the mode of questioning, they will discuss and research in books, information about this place. They will continue to develop their own ways to take and organize notes, while also begin to develop an understanding of different types of maps that can help them in their research.

The second part of the unit supports the students in the work of revisiting information and layering on new information. The will meet in groups to put together all that they know about a shared place and talk through differences to come to a consensus. The will create one master set of notes about this place guided by the question, “What is particularly interesting to me about this country? How do I research that topic?” We will also begin to examine maps more closely pondering how different maps and other resources can help us better understand different aspects of life in one place.

In the final part of the Unit our students will be spending time teaching what they’ve learned. This will move them towards making generalizations about their place through small group discussions by agreeing, disagreeing, adding onto others’ ideas, using specific vocabulary related to their place, and ultimately growing ideas together.

December Edition

* These units all began the last week of November and will continue through December.

Reading: Nonfiction Reading

This  reading unit marks the time of the year when your students will leave the adventures of their characters, their struggles and changes, and move into the world of the water cycle and whales, spaceships and skateboarding. At the heart of this unit is the notion that teaching kids to notice the underlying structures of texts will help them to hold onto the main ideas and key details of these texts. We outline a unit of
study in which you give children stretches of time to read whole texts, reading not to answer a specific question or to mine for an interesting fact, but rather to learn what the book has to teach. The unit spotlights skills and habits essential to a reader of expository nonfiction: determining importance and finding main ideas and supportive details; questioning and talking back to the text; figuring out and using new content-specific vocabulary; and applying analytical thinking skills to compare and contrast, rank or categorize.

To support your children at home:

-model being a non-fiction reader

-point out topics that are of interest of you and how you go about learning about them

-point out various ways you learn about topics (media, newspaper, social media, books, etc)

Writing: Changing the World Through Petitions, Speeches and Editorials

This writing unit is meant to give our third graders an opportunity to write for a real world purpose, to create the changes they wish to see in the world. This unit is written specifically for third graders to help them channel all of their opinions into writing that can truly make a difference for themselves and those around them.

In the first part of the unit our third graders will learn how to gather bold and brave opinions by imagining how the world might be better while also looking at what is already beautiful. They spend time gather quick persuasive speeches in their notebooks and then choose an idea to take through to publishing.

In the second part they will work on gathering facts and details that support their opinion. Time will be spent on organizing these facts in a way that will persuade. Once they have completed these things they will publish their work through giving a speech.

The third part of this unit also ends with a published piece. However, this time we will study mentor texts (editorials, petitions, etc.) and determine how we can utilize some of these authors’ crafts in our own writing. The students will be the “captain” of their own writing, setting goals and working through the writing process to produce another opinion piece. We will set goals and plans to work on these goals to set the expectation that students should always want their work to be the highest quality possible. They will publish a written piece by the end of this third part.

Finally, students will form “Cause Groups” with other members of our class. They will work as a group around a cause, like recycling, animal rights, etc. These groups will decide on various projects they will have to create for this cause (speeches, petitions, editorials, etc.). The culminating celebration for this unit will include a digital publication.

To support your children at home:

-point out problems you notice in your everyday life (there is trash on the ground and you wish that more people would take the time to throw their trash in its proper place, people don’t hold the door open for you when you are right behind them and you wish they would, or how people don’t always return their library books on time so they aren’t there for you to check out, etc)

– notice great things in your life that you wish you could see more of (when your child offers to help you with a chore at home, a co-worker helps you out with something you are struggling with, or neighbors smiling at you when you walk by them on the sidewalk, etc)

Math: The Big Dinner

The focus of this unit to to continue to develop multiplication, including the automatizing of facts, using the ratio table and developing the distributive property with large numbers. The unit begins with the context of the preparation for a big turkey dinner. The story context sets the stage for a series of investigations. First, students investigate the cost of a 24-pound turkey, selling for $1.25 per pound. As the unit progresses, students develop t-charts for the grocer that list the prices of turkeys of various sizes and of various amounts of apples, carrots, and potatoes. Students then use these charts to calculate the total cost of all ingredients, working with the ratio table and the distributive property.

Several minilessons for multiplication are also included in this unit. These use strings of related problems as a way to explicitly guide learners toward computational fluency with whole-number multiplication and to build automaticity with multiplication facts by focusing on relationships.

To support your children at home:

-model being a mathematician during every day situations

-ask your child to help you during a problem-solving situation (at the grocery store, in the kitchen, etc)

-Ask them to prove their thinking about a math problem by asking them, “How did you figure that out? Can you show me on this piece of paper while you talk to me about it?”

November Edition

*Many of the units are continuing through the first part of November. These units will begin towards the end of the month.

Reading: Nonfiction Reading

This  reading unit marks the time of the year when your students will leave the adventures of their characters, their struggles and changes, and move into the world of the water cycle and whales, spaceships and skateboarding. At the heart of this unit is the notion that teaching kids to notice the underlying structures of texts will help them to hold onto the main ideas and key details of these texts. We outline a unit of
study in which you give children stretches of time to read whole texts, reading not to answer a specific question or to mine for an interesting fact, but rather to learn what the book has to teach. The unit spotlights skills and habits essential to a reader of expository nonfiction: determining importance and finding main ideas and supportive details; questioning and talking back to the text; figuring out and using new content-specific vocabulary; and applying analytical thinking skills to compare and contrast, rank or categorize.

To support your children at home:

-model being a non-fiction reader

-point out topics that are of interest of you and how you go about learning about them

-point out various ways you learn about topics (media, newspaper, social media, books, etc)

Writing: Changing the World Through Petitions, Speeches and Editorials

This writing unit is meant to give our third graders an opportunity to write for a real world purpose, to create the changes they wish to see in the world. This unit is written specifically for third graders to help them channel all of their opinions into writing that can truly make a difference for themselves and those around them.

In the first part of the unit our third graders will learn how to gather bold and brave opinions by imagining how the world might be better while also looking at what is already beautiful. They spend time gather quick persuasive speeches in their notebooks and then choose an idea to take through to publishing.

In the second part they will work on gathering facts and details that support their opinion. Time will be spent on organizing these facts in a way that will persuade. Once they have completed these things they will publish their work through giving a speech.

The third part of this unit also ends with a published piece. However, this time we will study mentor texts (editorials, petitions, etc.) and determine how we can utilize some of these authors’ crafts in our own writing. The students will be the “captain” of their own writing, setting goals and working through the writing process to produce another opinion piece. We will set goals and plans to work on these goals to set the expectation that students should always want their work to be the highest quality possible. They will publish a written piece by the end of this third part.

Finally, students will form “Cause Groups” with other members of our class. They will work as a group around a cause, like recycling, animal rights, etc. These groups will decide on various projects they will have to create for this cause (speeches, petitions, editorials, etc.). The culminating celebration for this unit will include a digital publication.

To support your children at home:

-point out problems you notice in your everyday life (there is trash on the ground and you wish that more people would take the time to throw their trash in its proper place, people don’t hold the door open for you when you are right behind them and you wish they would, or how people don’t always return their library books on time so they aren’t there for you to check out, etc)

– notice great things in your life that you wish you could see more of (when your child offers to help you with a chore at home, a co-worker helps you out with something you are struggling with, or neighbors smiling at you when you walk by them on the sidewalk, etc)

Math: The Big Dinner

The focus of this unit to to continue to develop multiplication, including the automatizing of facts, using the ratio table and developing the distributive property with large numbers. The unit begins with the context of the preparation for a big turkey dinner. The story context sets the stage for a series of investigations. First, students investigate the cost of a 24-pound turkey, selling for $1.25 per pound. As the unit progresses, students develop t-charts for the grocer that list the prices of turkeys of various sizes and of various amounts of apples, carrots, and potatoes. Students then use these charts to calculate the total cost of all ingredients, working with the ratio table and the distributive property.

Several minilessons for multiplication are also included in this unit. These use strings of related problems as a way to explicitly guide learners toward computational fluency with whole-number multiplication and to build automaticity with multiplication facts by focusing on relationships.

To support your children at home:

-model being a mathematician during every day situations

-ask your child to help you during a problem-solving situation (at the grocery store, in the kitchen, etc)

-Ask them to prove their thinking about a math problem by asking them, “How did you figure that out? Can you show me on this piece of paper while you talk to me about it?”