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    Parents' Guide to Third Grade

    Sarah Posti


    Third grade is a wonderful year of transition from the development of skills to the development of independence.  Children are encouraged to make decisions and choices throughout third grade, building self reliance and confidence along the way.  Children begin to make the distinctions from “learning to read” to “reading in order to learn.” 

    Goals for Our Students

    ·        To enable our students to feel positive about themselves, their abilities, and their accomplishments

    ·        To enable students to become lifelong learners

    ·        To enable students to master the third grade curriculum and to give them the encouragement and confidence to challenge themselves beyond the norm

    ·        To enable the students to organize themselves for success, while creating a strong work ethic

    ·        To enable students to become responsible learners through the completion of class work, homework, and long term projects

    ·        To enable students to demonstrate, in their own words and actions, respect for themselves and others

    Goals for Ourselves

    ·        To serve as positive role models for our students, modeling the above stated goals

    ·        To provide a positive safe learning environment in which students are given the opportunity to reach his/her potential

    ·        To provide open lines of communication between the home and school environment

    ·        To keep lines of communication open within all arenas of our school

    ·        To model ourselves as lifelong learners by keeping current on educational research



    Homework is an important aspect of third grade.  Homework enables children to practice essential skills learned at school while it helps to foster a sense of personal responsibility.  Homework assignments will be written down in the child’s Daily Assignment Book.  We ask parents to review their child’s assignments and sign the Daily Assignment Book in the designated space.  This may also be a communication tool between teacher and parent.  Homework is typically assigned Monday-Thursday.  There will be monthly book reports as well as other long term projects assigned at different times during the school year.


    Grades will be based on a variety of things:  homework assignments, long term projects, in class assignments, tests, and class participation.

    Field Trips

    Field trips are an exciting way for the children to make learning more tangible and hands-on.  We will be taking two field trips throughout the school year.  In the fall we will be traveling to Laurel Caverns.  This ties in nicely with our Science study of Rocks and Minerals. Children will be entering the cave, seeing artifacts from early settlers and Native American tribes that once inhabited the area.  If weather permits, students will be taking a hike and searching for actual fossils left behind by the oceans that once covered the land. 

    Our second field trip will take place in the spring.  We will be traveling to Meadowcroft Village.  We will be traveling back in time seeing how families lived and worked during the 1800’s.  We are hoping to expand this field trip this year by also visiting the newest addition to Meadowcroft Village, which is the Native American settlement.   This Living History Museum is a wonderful way for children to make connections on what we will be studying throughout the year in Social Studies.


    Café/Daily 5

    We pride ourselves in being Literature Based.  The children will be exposed to a variety of genres.  They will experience these books through read aloud time, shared reading as well as independent reading time.  Genre study will also be reinforced during monthly book report time.  Each month we will focus on a specific genre.  Students’ library time will be used to help with the genre study and give children the opportunity to make selections.  During Language Arts time, students will have the opportunities to demonstrate an understanding of the literary elements, and make inferences and predictions through comprehension questions, class discussions and literary projects.  All of their reading opportunities will spring board into writing opportunities for everyone.  Students will also participate in one on one reading conferences.  Our goal is to have the children become skilled and passionate readers, having the desire to read for a variety of reasons: entertain, inform, and persuade…Reading is an essential aspect in all subject areas.

    Literature Based:  Novels Include:

    ·         The Ghost of Popcorn Hill

    ·         Thirteen Moons on a Turtle’s Back

    ·         Molly’s Pilgrim

    ·         Holly and Ivy

    ·         Shoebag

    ·         A Lion to Guard Us

    ·         Justin and the Best Biscuits

    ·         The King’s Equal

    ·         The Whipping Boy

    ·         The Enormous Egg

    ·         Charlotte’s Web

    ·         Fantastic Mr. Fox

    ·         Knots on a Counting Rope

    ·         The Armadillo from Amarillo

    ·         A River Ran Wild

    ·         Muggie Maggie

    ·         26 Fairmont Avenue

    ·         Annie and the Old One

    ·         The Birchbark House

    ·         The Lemonade War

    ·         The 21 Balloons


    The Daily Five:

    The Daily Five is more than a management system or a curriculum framework.  It is a structure that helps students develop the daily habits of reading, writing, and working independently that will lead to a lifetime of literacy independence.  The literacy block is student driven, contains high student engagement, contains authentic, meaningful reading and writing, and the majority of the time is spent reading.  What interested us most about the Daily Five was the research base that guides the framework.  It fits in beautifully with our current teaching philosophy and education background in literacy.


    Students have a great deal of choice. They are able to choose which components to work on, where they work in the room and have flexibility in what they work in within each of the blocks. Student choice, promotes high engagement. It is not only best practice but fits extremely well with the school wide commitment to Responsive Classroom.


    Daily Five allows students to work independently while the teacher is working either one-on-one or in small focused literacy groups, customizing each child’s learning experience. In between rotations the class comes back together for whole group mini-lessons. These lessons are brief, respecting what we know about child development. Students need less time with the teacher as the center and more time engaged in real learning. Students are more focused during direct instruction when attention is given to how they learn best and developmentally appropriate time considerations, in line with Responsive Classroom and our teaching philosophy.


    The Components of the Daily Five

    1. Read to Self
    2. Read to Someone
    3. Work on Writing
    4. Word Work
    5. Listen to Reading


    Read to Self:

    Each student has an individual book box with books that are a "Good Fit." We learn how to pick a "Good Fit" book following the guidelines of "I Pick."

    I choose a book

    Purpose- Why do I want to read it?

    Interest- Does it interest me?

    Comprehend- do I understand what I am reading?

    Know-I know most of the words. 

    Students also learn about "Three Ways to Read a Book."  We learned that we can read the pictures, read the words, and retell a familiar story.  The best way to become a better reader is to read every day! 


    Read to Someone:

    Reading to someone helps students grow as readers. Partner reading allows for more time to practice strategies, helps to build fluency, uses the strategy of check for understanding, allows children to hear their own voice and provides time to share in the learning community.  Students practice different ways to read with a partner such as:

    1. I Read, You Read
    2. Choral Reading
    3. Reading one book together 
    4. Read two different books  


    Work on Writing:

    Students work individually or with a partner on a writing of their choice.  They may be continuing the writing they began in writer's workshop but ultimately it is a sustained writing of their choice. Students might work on:

    1. Persuasive writing such as convincing friends to read a favorite book
    2. Friendly letters
    3. Recounting a personal event, maybe they lost a tooth recently
    4. Create reports on a topic of current interest
    5. Poetry
    6. Respond to a picture or drawing

    The important goal is that students are spending time writing about something that really matters to them to help them increase their fluency in writing.


    Word Work:

    Expanded vocabulary and correct spelling allow for more fluent reading and writing thus speeding up the ability to comprehend what is read and get thinking down on paper.  Students practice spelling patterns and high frequency words using hands-on materials such as play-dough, letter tiles, letter stamps, and Wiki sticks.  Students also sort word cards into categories in order to make connections to spelling patterns. 


    Listen to Reading:

    Hearing good examples of literature and fluent reading expands students' vocabulary, builds stamina and helps them become better readers.  They are provided with the opportunity to listen to fluent reading and hear new vocabulary. 


    Building Stamina:

    Many parents are amazed to hear their child speak about building "stamina".  It's not a typical word you hear first graders say!  When we begin teaching The Daily 5 parts, the first time we model, instruct, and demonstrate how to do this skill, the students start on their own for 3 minutes.  Every day we add one minute, eventually building their stamina to 30 minutes.  Some days we may only get to do 20-30 minutes depending on special activities, assemblies, or holiday events.  The students "build stamina" for each of the Daily 5 parts. 


    Many parents are amazed to hear their child speak about building   “stamina”. We model, notice carefully and practice each of the five components of Daily Five. In the beginning students may only be able to work for a few minutes but are soon able to work independently for extended periods of time. A typical round of Daily Five may be 15-20 minutes in kindergarten and up to 30 minutes or more in higher grades.


    Check for Understanding:

    This is a comprehension strategy that teaches children to stop frequently and check, or monitor, if they understand what they are reading. Often as beginning readers, children are so aware of reading accurately that they forget to take time and think about what they are reading and check to see if they understand the text.  Advanced readers can develop the habit of reading through the text without monitoring if they were aware of checking for understanding. This vital strategy is not only one of the first we introduce, but is also one we model frequently throughout the year. 


    The Cafe:

    Café is an acronym for Comprehension, Accuracy, Fluency, and Expanding Vocabulary.  Gail Boushey and Joan Moser developed this system which allows even the youngest readers to self-monitor their progress and chart their goals within the larger context of the classroom community. During the Café, the teacher is working either individually or in small groups to provide instruction and practice in the reading strategies students need to master in order to become successful readers.  The teacher works with the students to help them set goals for their reading achievement and provides steps to help the child reach his/her goal.  The children meet with the teacher during literacy workshop conferences to be assessed, to receive focused, explicit instruction, to set goals, and then to follow up on progress.  The teacher plans small-group instruction based on clusters of students with similar needs in one of the Café categories.  These groups are flexible, based on needs rather than reading levels.  Students may be reading different books but are working on the same strategy.  Below are the strategies that are explicitly taught to students during the Café framework.  The cafe is a menu of strategies that are not meant to be used in a particular order but used for particular reading situations.  It is used just like a menu at a restaurant.  You don't eat everything on the menu at the same time, rather you choose several items.  The strategies are used in the same way.  Read below or click here for the Cafe Menu.



    I understand what I read. STRATEGIES:

    • Check for understanding
    • Back up and reread
    • Monitor and fix up
    • Retell the story
    • Use prior knowledge to connect the text
    • Make a picture or mental image
    • Ask questions throughout the reading process
    • Use text features
    • Summarize text; include sequence of main events
    • Recognize literacy elements
    • Recognize and explain cause-and-effect relationships
    • Compare and contrast within and between texts



    I can read the words. STRATEGIES:

    • Abundant reading
    • Look carefully at letters and words
    • Cross checking: Do the pictures and/or words look right?  Do they make sense?
    • Flip the sound
    • Use the pictures: Do the words and pictures match?
    • Use beginning and ending sounds
    • Blend sounds; stretch and reread
    • Chunk letters and sounds together
    • Skip the word, then come back
    • Trade a word/guess a word that makes sense
    • Recognize words at sight



    I can read accurately, with expression and understand what I read. STRATEGIES:

    • Voracious reading
    • Read appropriate-level texts that are a good fit
    • Reread text
    • Practice common sight words and high-frequency words
    • Adjust and apply different reading rates to match text
    • Use punctuation to enhance phrasing and prosody
    • Read text as the author would say it, conveying the meaning or feeling


    Expand Vocabulary I know, find, and use interesting words.


    • Voracious reading
    • Tune-in to interesting words and use new vocabulary in speaking and writing
    • Use prior knowledge and context to predict and confirm meaning
    • Use pictures, illustrations, and diagrams
    • Use word parts to determine the meaning of words (prefixes, suffixes, origins, abbreviations, etc.)
    • Ask someone to define the word for you
    • Use dictionaries, thesauruses, and glossaries as tools 


    Approach to Phonics:

    Students begin building phonemic awareness skills as early as pre-school. This continues through the primary grades. Direct instruction is given in phonics. Both whole group and individualized instruction using Words Their Way are utilized beginning, in kindergarten. Words Their Way allows advanced, struggling and on level readers to receive instruction where they are to grow as readers and writers.


    Important Reading Strategies

    A.     Reading to make sense Reader should self-monitor to be sure the material is making sense.

    B.      Self-correcting errors If the reader notices a mistake as he/she is reading, he/she should go back and make the corrections.

    C.      Decoding Reader should have the proficiency to use sound-letter relationships to figure out unknown words.

    D.     Compare/Contrast Reader should be able to use known words to figure out unknown words.

    E.      Context Clues If an unknown word is encountered, the reader should read ahead to see if additional information will help him/her figure out the unknown word.

    F.       Predicting Reader should be able to formulate a meaningful hypothesis as he/she reads and to test his/her ideas as new information is uncovered.  Reader should be able to change his/her prediction(s) if the evidence is not presented to back it up.

    G.     Use of Background Knowledge Reader should be able to integrate material read with prior knowledge in order to make reading more meaningful.

    H.     Visualizing The reader should be able to picture what he/she is reading in his/her mind.  This strategy serves to make reading more enjoyable, meaningful, and more memorable to the reader.

    Focus Skills

    ·         Prefixes and Suffixes

    ·         Main Idea/Details

    ·         Decoding Long Words

    ·         Word Relationships

    ·         Compare/Contrast

    ·         Locate Information

    ·         Sequencing

    ·         Fact/Opinion

    ·         Summarize

    ·         Cause/Effect

    ·         Elements of Different Genres

    ·         Author’s Purpose



    Writing is an essential part of the third grade curriculum.  It is carried over in all subject areas.  Children will focus on such skills as: choosing a topic, brainstorming, finding and organizing information, editing and revising ideas, proofreading, and publishing.  All of the students’ creative writing will be saved for the end of the year when they will have the chance to share their work during the Authors’ Tea.  Throughout the year, the children will have an opportunity to:

    ·         Write often

    ·         See themselves as writers

    ·         Use  writing as a tool, not only for reflecting, but for learning

    ·         Listen to others share their writing

    ·         Write for a specific purpose…entertain, persuade, inform…

    ·         Write in a wide variety of genres…fiction, non-fiction, poetry…

    ·         Gain confidence in writing, taking risks, stepping outside of their comfort zone

    ·         Use writing as a tool for thinking, developing ideas, challenging thoughts…

    Focus Skills

    ·         Dictionary Skills

    ·         Punctuation

    ·         Capitalization

    ·         Spelling

    ·         Sentence Formation

    ·         Grammar (Parts of speech)

    ·         Paragraph Writing

    ·         Story Writing

    ·         Poetry

    ·         Letter Writing

    ·         Report Writing

    ·         Answering Essay type questions

    ·         Report Writing





    ·         Basic word lists follow phonetic patterns, challenge words often taken from stories

    ·         Both spelling patterns and exceptions are stressed

    ·         Children should be carrying over knowledge of skills taught into their daily writing

    ·         There should be a continuing improvement in the transition from invented spelling to correct spelling in subject areas

    ·         Assessment is based on daily work and weekly written spelling tests



     Students focus intensively on the four critical areas specified by the Common Core State Standards for Mathematics in Grade Three: Bridges in Mathematics:

    • Developing understanding of multiplication and division and strategies for multiplication and division within 100
    • Developing understanding of fractions, especially unit fractions (fractions with numerator 1)
    • Developing understanding of the structure of rectangular arrays and of area
    • Describing and analyzing two-dimensional shapes

    The first unit reviews and extends work with addition and subtraction as students review facts, look for patterns, and work with larger numbers. Unit 2 transitions to multiplication by having students use a variety of rich contexts (arrays of stamps, groups of windows, and a coral reef) to develop and refine multiplication strategies and models. Unit 3 returns to addition and subtraction, this time focusing on strategies for computing with larger numbers.

    In Units 4 and 5, students explore measurement, fractions, division, and multiplication of larger numbers. They estimate and make measurements in different units; explore unit fractions and equivalent fractions, and begin adding and subtracting fractions; they connect multiplication to division and extend multiplication strategies to larger numbers. Their work with multiplication develops a strong understanding of area.

    Unit 6 focuses on geometry, as students investigate, draw, and build two-dimensional shapes, using their properties to classify and analyze these shapes. They also connect geometry to fractions as they express the area of a shape as a unit fraction of the whole. Unit 7 brings together and extends many of the skills and concepts addressed in earlier units as students solve challenging problems that involve calculating with multi-digit numbers. They explore algorithms for addition and subtraction and dig deeper into division. Students develop strategies and models for division, many of which are based on their work with multiplication.

    Unit 8 integrates mathematics and science, with a primary focus on designing and building model bridges. Students test the strength of their model bridges in systematic ways to collect data. Then they graph and analyze the data, finding the range and mean, to make conjectures and draw conclusions about effective bridge design and construction.

    Content Outline

    Unit 1 Addition & Subtraction Patterns

    • Community Building & Addition Facts to Twenty
    • Subtraction Facts to Twenty
    • Double-Digit Addition
    • Story Problems & Strategies


    Unit 2 Introduction to Multiplication


    Unit 3 Multi-Digit Addition & Subtraction

    • Rounding & 
      Multi-Digit Addition
    • Multi-Digit Subtraction
    • Estimating to Add 
      & Subtract
    • Exploring the Algorithms 
      for Addition 
      & Subtraction


    Unit 4 Measurement & Fractions


    Unit 5 Multiplication, Division & Area


    Unit 6 Geometry

    • Investigating Polygons
    • Quadrilaterals
    • Perimeter & Area
    • Shapes & Fractions


    Unit 7 Extending Multiplication & Fractions

    • Multiplication Beyond the Basics
    • One- by Two-Digit Multiplication
    • Fractions as Parts of a Whole & Parts of a Set
    • Fractions at Work


    Unit 8 Bridge Design & Construction: Data Collection and Analysis

    • Introducing Bridges
    • Investigating Structures in Bridges
    • Planning, Building & Analyzing Bridges
    • Demonstrating Our Learning About Bridges


    Number Corner

    • Calendar Grid
    • Calendar Collector
    • Computational Fluency
    • Number Line
    • Solving Problems





    The Science curriculum provides the students opportunities for hands on exploration and activities to enable students to gain a well rounded knowledge of the science content.  Students learn by doing.  The hands on experiments and explorations will help to develop a deeper understanding of the science topics through such activities as observing, recording, predicting, and drawing conclusions.

    Focus Skills

    ·         Rocks and Minerals

    ·         Cycles of Earth and Space

    ·         Pushes and Pulls

    ·         Looking at Plants and Animals

    ·         Where Plants and Animals Live


    Social Studies

    The focus of third grade social studies is Communities and their Changes over Time. We will be exploring different cultures and time periods, government, citizenship, economics and geography. Students examine these cultures from the past and in the present and the impact they have had in shaping our world. We will study how geography has and continues to play an important role in the development of a community.  The emphasis is for students to gain an awareness of their place in a changing world.  

    Focus Skills

    ·         Map, distance scales, timeline, flowchart skills

    ·         Geography of North America

    ·         The early communities of Native Americans and the Jamestown Settlement

    ·         Rural, Urban, and Suburban communities

    ·         The history of San Francisco and Pittsburgh

    ·         Government: History of Washington, D.C., Three Branches of Government, Local Government

    ·         Economics-Producer/Consumer realtionships

    ·         Good Citizenship


    Children will be keeping a scrap book of places visited while studying different communities and cultures throughout the world.


    We look forward to the opportunity to work with you and your children.  Third Grade is a sensational year.


    I dreamed I stood in a studio
    And watched two sculptors there,
    The clay they used was a young child's mind
    And they finished it with care.

    One was a teacher; the tools he used
    Were books and music and art;
    One a parent with a guiding hand
    And a gentle and loving heart.

    Day after day the teacher toiled
    With a touch that was deft and sure
    While the parent labored by his side
    And polished and smoothed it o'er.

    And when at last their task was done
    They were proud of what they had wrought,
    For the things they had molded into the child
    Could neither be sold nor bought

    And each agreed he would have failed
    If he had worked alone.
    For behind the parent stood the school
    And behind the teacher, the home.

    By Cleo V. Swarat