Third Grade Happenings!

December 1, 2018

Dear Third Grade Families:

We loved seeing each of you during our recent November conferences and open school day activities.

Third graders have been embracing this month’s Lower Lab Value of gratitude. We enjoyed reading The Water Princess by Susan Verde and Georgie Badiel. Students began gratitude journals as a place to reflect on those people and things that they are most grateful for.

A scientist from the AMNH came to meet with our third graders, in preparation for our trip to The Unseen Oceans exhibit. We learned that the exhibit is called “unseen oceans” because there is so much in the ocean that we cannot see. Scientists need to come up with ways and tools to educate us about the deepest parts of the ocean.

Some Celebratory Moments In November…

  • Mystery Unit: Foundational Skills in Disguise~ Students culminated this exciting unit by developing mystery posters which depicted the skills they learned in mystery. These skills are also transferable to any other fiction book. Our book clubs loved visiting the second grade classes to teach others these valuable skills.


  • Writing: Changing the World: Persuasive Speeches, Petitions and Editorials. As a culmination of our unit, children completed their opinion writing speeches, editorials, and letters. The persuasive writing skills students acquired included: Creating a “hook”, stating a claim supported by three clear reasons and explanations, adding transitions to make their writing flow, elaborating with mini stories and facts. Finally, students finished their pieces with a strong conclusion that includes a call to action. These structures will support them as they venture into the art of information writing, and later as they study literary essays.


  • Reader’s Notebooks continue to be a place to record and track thinking about our reading. Responses now include synthesizing different parts of the texts, noticing themes, deep thinking about characters’ traits and motives and wonderings about why the author included that information. We are now practicing note taking for nonfiction texts. We learned that we can turn our boxes-and-bullets into a paragraph, which is an explanation or mini essay.


  • Teacher’s Lounge: Students successfully worked with partners to explore strategies in division in an open-ended investigation called Teachers’ Lounge. They were introduced to different methods to solve division problems including long division, the box method, partial quotients, and a strip diagram.


  • Creative Writing: Author and educator Suzanne La Fleur has been working weekly on creative writing. Students have selected their story idea and are going through a variety of revisions. Suzanne has provided feedback and students are thrilled that their writing will be included in a class anthology. This will be shared during our December publishing party.


Looking Forward To The Month Ahead… December

Reading to Learn: Grasping Main Ideas and Text Structures-Unit 3

Nonfiction readers get ready to read by “revving up their minds.” Even before they start reading a text, they preview it, identify the parts, and think about how the book might go.

Reading to Learn is a foundational unit for nonfiction reading. This unit is intended to teach students to read long stretches of nonfiction with fluency, in such a way that they can determine importance and ascertain main ideas.

This will help strengthen students’ skills as nonfiction readers and also build their nonfiction reading identities. The Art of Information Writing parallels this nonfiction reading unit. In an effort to continue supporting students’ progress in fiction reading, students may read fiction at home.

Goals for this unit include: reading texts with clear text structures (headings, subheadings) so they can use those structures to help students gleam importance, determining not just what the text is teaching but to have their own thoughts about those ideas and information. Students will also be able to draw upon what they know about reading fiction and apply it to reading narrative nonfiction. We love how this unit reinforces some of the key learning around foundational skills from the first reading unit. Both reading units invite kids to build a reading life, to be active readers, to read with volume, and to choose high interest texts that can be read fluently with comprehension.

Here is a link to some articles we will be reading: Information Reading Expository Text Set. During the last bend of this unit, students will also read biographies containing clear narratives (Ezra Keats Bio).

Writing: The Art of Information Writing-Unit 3

For our third writing unit, children will be writing informational texts. Teaching these reading and writing units side-by-side will support transference. Students will have strong skills from our last unit, Changing the World, including their ability to group related information together, hook readers in, and elaborate on their points.

The Art of Information Writing unit is designed so that students are writing from topics of personal expertise. Our experts may include topics such as Star Wars, swimming, basketball, labradoodles, rubix cubes, and taking care of younger siblings. Students will do on-the-run research on their topics as part of writing workshop, but they are not expected to spend weeks reading and researching their topic. That is, students should be writing about topics they are already experts on, not the topics they are currently reading about in Reading. These are some of the text features student will include in their writing: Text Feature Packet.

In this unit, children choose topics they know inside and out to write about so that they can put all their energy toward building up foundational information writing skills. This is always one of students’ favorite units! Samples of informational texts: Informational Annotated Text Level 3, Informational Annotated Text Level 4

Reader’s Notebooks: This month our reading focus will shift to nonfiction. Students will still read fiction books, however the focus on nonfiction reading (books and articles) and recording notes in the different structures will become important.

  • Students will focus on rebuilding their reading life! During this unit, readers will aim for at least thirty minutes of reading each night. Of course, they’ll need to read some nonfiction, but they can also keep their fiction reading going. The choice is up to each student how much time they will spend on each. Articles also “count” as nonfiction reading!


  • If students are reading nonfiction at home, they should plan to bring books between home and school. It would be best to also have some books at home to read about the topics which students love most.
  • Students are encouraged to use the public library to get some nonfiction to keep at home.
  • Please feel free to donate any nonfiction books to our independent reading class library on topics that your child finds interesting.


Our Math Unit: The Big Dinner

Following Thanksgiving and eating a real turkey dinner, The Big Dinner Investigation, sets the stage with the preparation of a turkey dinner which introduces early multiplication strategies and supports automatizing math facts, using the ratio table, and developing the distributive property with large numbers. Strings of problems will guide our learners toward computational fluency with whole-number multiplication and build automaticity with multiplication facts by focusing on relationships.

Social Studies: Global Studies—Places We Know: We are continuing our New Orleans study and working in a program called Canva to create travel brochures. Students have learned how to communicate on Padlet, an online type of message board. Students are working in research clubs where they are examining data and acquiring note-taking skills. These skills will be supported by this month’s nonfiction reading and writing units.

Technology: As a culminating project, students will make a travel brochure in technology that will highlight the people, places, and things that make NOLA unique. Students learned how to use World Book Online, which can be accessed at home. As an added bonus, we have secured additional technology time each week for students to deepen their research skills online and work on their projects.

Technology Reminders:

Students may access the following from home:

World book: The username: lowerlab/Password: student77

PS77Typing Club: Class codes: 3-208:DNN776H 3-205: KRA4P4G

Padlet: Password: Student 77

Canva (the brochure program) can be accessed from home, by students logging into their Gmail accounts.

Save the date!

Our December Publishing party is on the horizon! 

Grade 3 Publishing Party: Thursday, December 20th @ 8:45 AM-9: 45 AM —Details and a Signup Genius link will be sent directly by our class parents.

Until Soon,

Leslie & Kate