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)
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.