Third Grade Newsletter (Weeks 19, 20)

Hey folks,

I'm glad to be rolling along in 3rd grade, especially as our work with information texts is picking up steam. I've included a variety of student samples below to give you a sense of what children are doing in here. There's a video in here somewhere, too!

Feel free to stop by if you want to take a closer look at the work.



Information texts (non-fiction)

—Summarizing paragraphs, passages, chapters, books.

How is the information organized?

What are the important ideas in this section? Show in the text where is says that.

How do readers jot a note that tells the important idea in the text and the information to explain it.

How might readers find a "pop-out sentence" that tells the main idea of a passage or paragraph? Where do those pop-out sentences tend to be (beginning? end?)


Information texts (non-fiction)

—Structuring an information book and building a table of contents

—Applying a structure within each chapter before drafting

—Using a skills checklist to help set personal goals

In what ways do information books follow a logical order? Can you build a table of contents for your book based on a logical structure? 

  • sequencing by time ... 1st, 2nd, 3rd
  • lists of kinds, parts, or ways things happen
  • pros/cons
  • similarities/differences
  • order of importance
  • etc ...

How does a writer plan a structure for each chapter or section of their book?

How can you use a skills checklist to set personal goals for your information book?

Animal Poems

During a recent day with Patty the Super Sub & Former Kindergarten Teacher, students studied a number of Animal poems, brainstormed ideas, drafted, revised, edited and published one of their own. Here are a few samples.

Science - Physics

Exploring Basic Circuits

What are the hazards of short circuits?

What happens when you add more lights to your circuit? 

What are some of the details about Thomas Edison's work on the lightbulb?

Can you create circuits that have many bright lights?

How do engineers draw/model circuits on paper?

Using your knowledge of conductors and circuits, can you build a circuit that turns on without a person touching the switch? (note: we'll be doing some larger chain reactions in a month or so ... really fun!)

Introduction to Electromagnets



What is a magnet?

What is a magnetic field?

How can you judge the strength of different magnets?

Having already made a bunch of circuits in class, how can you use the building materials to create a magnet with electricity?



European Exploration of the New World

—Life on a ship, including differences between officers/sailors

—Establishment of Colonies, in particular ones designed to extract resources for wealth

How did life on a trading ship differ for officers and sailors?

What were early European explorers looking for in the Americas?

What are the different expectations for our weekly role-playing/acting sessions:


What is a colony?

What kinds of resources did Europeans extract from their American colonies?

Why were they extracting them?

What were some of the consequences of starting these colonies?

What is the Great Exchange (or Colombian Exchange)?

What kinds of things did Europeans bring to the Americas?



Addition and Subtraction

—Traditional algorithms for addition and subtraction

—Mental math strategies for addition and subtraction

How do people generally calculate subtraction problems vertically?

How can you add on to make make mental calculations easier?

How can you visualize subtraction problems on a number line?

What terms most accurately describe the ungrouping process (ungrouping, decomposing, breaking apart)


Modeling with Tape Diagrams

How do tape diagrams help you see clearly the different parts of a multiplication/division situation? How about an addition/subtraction situation?


Gaming with Addition and Subtraction

Students played games each day over the past few weeks to help explore and practice various aspects of addition and subtraction.


Other Subjects

—Spelling: Each child has a fresh set of spelling targets and word sorts to develop skills at their learning level. Continued work with the word wall, including thought, threw, through, to/too/two

—Social Skills: Reviewed the concept of Expected vs. Unexpected behaviors through a worksheet (see previous student samples here). Had a class meeting to discuss what's going well at school and which issues we need to address as a class. Also, I spent time these past weeks establishing and practicing a new quiet signal with the class.

—Design Lab (by Ben): Third Grade was given the question in the design lab of, "What is stronger, a triangle or a square?" They are currently constructing shapes out of clay and skewers to place on a shake table and will continue their investigations for the next few weeks. They also spent time designing challenges for our school carnival on last Friday's STEAM day.

—Spanish (by Norma): The students have been working with vocabulary around food. They have been making menus for their made up Mexican restaurant. They have also been talking about different countries have other traditions around eating, in particular in the tropics. (I emphasize El Salvador's culture in particular...)

—Music: Some of the students wrote a song together and they taught the other students when everyone returned to school from trips/illnesses. They are also practicing the note E.

—Art: Practicing comic portraits that show various emotions (sad, happy, confused, excited, etc ..). These water color portraits become notecards for our compliment-writing routines.