Third grade both continues to build upon the skills that students bring with them from second grade and, in significant ways, represents a new beginning. Students use the skills they learned in the lower grades – reading in English and Hebrew, writing, and basic math operations – as tools for acquiring new knowledge. They reinforce and extend their schoolwork with daily homework assignments and they undertake longer-term projects with greater independence and greater responsibility for their own materials and belongings. A milestone of the third grade is the students’ first experience with written external testing (the ERB), for which they spend several weeks preparing.
In Reader’s Workshop, students continue to build upon the comprehension and decoding strategies that they learned in the lower grades. Units studied during the year include character, non-fiction, books in a series, book clubs, and poetry. The students keep reader’s notebooks to help keep track of their thoughts and to record their predictions, inferences, and interpretations. In independent book club discussions, students develop ideas and insights that arise from their reading and learn to extend their conversations.
In Writer’s Workshop, students learn to build upon the writing process that they have already begun to learn. In a workshop setting, they keep writers’ notebooks in which they record entries from their personal experience; choose writing “seeds” that seem promising; expand, extend, and build upon them with detail and description; share their writing with each other and respond to each other’s writing; and edit, revise, and publish their work. They gain experience in writing sentences, paragraphs, and multi-paragraph pieces; work on developing strong beginnings; and proofread for conventional spelling, punctuation, and capitalization. Students also participate in writing clubs, where they experiment with various genres.
Students use many styles of writing in third grade, such as personal narratives, informational books, poetry, reading response, and across-curriculum writing, including writing based on research. They also learn to write and read cursive script using the “Handwriting without Tears” system.
In the third grade math classes, the Singapore Math program represents the beginning to the more sophisticated approach to mathematics in Middle School algebra courses. The key element of the unknown, X, in algebraic equations is stressed more thoroughly in the third grade. While learning and practicing mental math facts and numeracy skills continue to be a staple in the Third Grade program, there is a strong focus on whole numbers and their parts, plus on the elements of fractions. Understanding comparisons and relationships between numbers and problem sets, whether greater than / less than, or equivalencies, and proving the outcome, is emphasized. Multiplication and division pick up in the Third Grade classroom, with four and five digit numbers entering into the curriculum. The geometric aspects of the class will now include perimeter and area, and comparing/measuring shapes; in addition, to enhance both mathematic and scientific literacy, measurement of liquid quantities, such as understanding volume, will support and match the science curriculum. In-class preparation for standardized testing is now in place as third grade students take the ERB tests in the Spring. As in all Elementary grades, third grade math is taught each day, both in the scheduled math class time but also during transition times and during segments of the day that yield the teachable moment.
The third grade social studies program centers on the study of communities and their characteristics. Communities from both the United States and abroad, as well as past and present are studied. Students learn how geography influences the economic development of a particular area. In addition, concepts related to government, citizenship, and history are introduced. A special unit of study about the students’ own community, Houston, is included. An additional unit of study concentrates on map skills and geographical concepts.
In the classroom as well as in the lab, students will be taught the scientific method in order to perform investigations and interpret data. Students will develop an understanding of matter in its three basic states –solid, liquid, and gas. They will generate definitions and understandings of the properties of each state and apply these definitions and understandings to the classification of various substances. In the process of gathering and applying evidence to support their hypotheses, they have repeated opportunities to revise their ideas and overcome common misconceptions. Later in the year, they do an in-depth study of plants, specifically exploring how they grow as well as looking at a plants basic anatomy. In addition to making observations and collecting data, students explore how varying conditions impact a plant’s growth. Through these activities and experiments, students learn about scientific methodology and develop skills in scientific thinking.
By 3rd-grade students should be using two hands when typing. Their focus is to no longer look at the keyboard to key the proper letter sequences.
3rd-grade students are given school e-mail accounts that are accessible through g-mail. Students are taught to use these e-mails safely. Students are also taught to use google docs as an alternative to saving files on the network. They are also taught how to share these documents safely.
Students are taught to save and retrieve their files from the student network folders. Every document that they create is saved in the network folders and accessible to all of their teachers.
3rd-grade students engage in many research projects throughout the year. They are given many opportunities to do research on the computers. 3rd-grade is guided to appropriate sites for their given topics. They are guided through how to find information through the formulation of directed/targeted questions. They are also given an individual research project during which they use the skills that they have learned during the year. With an increased on-line presence, students are also made more aware of cyber safety and cyber ethics.
Office Productivity Suite
3rd-grade students use Word and Power Point to complete a variety of projects through the year. In Word, students are able to change fonts, color and insert pictures, and shapes. Students are able to add transitions and animation, choose layouts and add slides and change the color and font of their text. Students are also able to insert pictures from clip art and from outside files.
Hebrew and Judaic Studies
Hebrew study and Shabbat service leadership experiences continue in the third grade. Students are eligible for Mensch of the Week awards during that service, and they take home the Shabbat box during the year. Students participate in community service as part of the values-based program.
The highlight of the third-grade experience in Judaic Studies is the Rosh Chodesh service, including Hallel, led by students in the winter of the third-grade year. In celebration of this achievement, third graders receive a JPS Tanach for use in their continuing studies, and they share a seudat mitzvah, a special meal.