Third Grade Happenings~ January

January 1, 2019

Dear Third Grade Families:

Happy New Year! We loved seeing you during our recent publishing party and tasting the foods which are indigenous to the culture and rhythm of New Orleans. Thank you for being partners in your child’s learning and growing.

Third graders embraced December’s Lower Lab Value of gratitude. During the month, we enjoyed keeping gratitude journals and were proud to have members from both classes represent our work during the most recent assembly. You can enjoy watching the gratitude video here:, password: gratitude77.

Some Celebratory Moments in December…


  • STEAM: A project was designed based on the essential question: How do people in countries around the world use natural resources and available materials in order to meet their needs? Students displayed their understanding and tried their hand at engineering a floating school, as they responded to a problem and completed a rather challenging task. Group dynamics and scintillating conversations were at the forefront! A second activity involving miscible and immiscible solutions provided additional “STEAM MOMENTS!”
  • Our Class Anthologies: Students culminated their ten-week creative writing intensive program with teaching author, Ms. Suzanne La Fleur.
  • Social Studies: “Let the good times roll! “Students culminated a month long study of New Orleans by creating their own brochure on www.canva,com, which displayed the culture, landmarks, sights, sounds, and foods of NOLA.
  • Writing: The Art of Information Writing-Unit 3 Students showed all that they learned in informational writing by crafting a text on a topic of personal expertise. As we edit these for final publication, we look forward to visiting a lower grade class to “teach” our friends five facts about our topics and share the terrific text features we implemented.
  • Reading to Learn: Grasping Main Ideas and Text Structures-Unit 3 Students learned to read long stretches of nonfiction with fluency, in such a way that they can determine importance and ascertain main ideas.
  • Our Math Unit: We completed an investigation called The Big Dinner where students developed skills around multiplication strategies, automatizing facts, using the ratio table, and further developed their understanding of the distributive property with large numbers. In addition, students continued deepening their mental math using strings of problems. Learners worked towards computational fluency with whole-number multiplication and built automaticity with multiplication facts by focusing on relationships.


Looking Forward To The Month Ahead… January 2019

Reading Character Studies-Unit 4:

In this unit, children move from a close study of characters, to a study of the predictable journeys that all characters take, to a cross book comparison study of characters who have something important in common (similar traits, problems, lessons learned). This unit builds readers’ sophistication from literal comprehension work to interpretive/analytic work, and directly supports the work of our writing in the “Baby Literary Essay unit” taught in tandem. Although Baby Literary Essay is a writing unit, it requires students to read closely, studying character traits, change, and lessons learned.

Goals for this unit include:

  •    Make careful, close observations of characters
  •    Craft theories and predictions about characters
  •    Understand the ways in which all stories are structured: a character faces trouble that grows bigger and reacts to it, eventually finding a way to resolve the trouble and learn lessons
  • Think comparatively about characters in different books, noticing similarities and differences between these characters’ struggles, motivations, reactions, and the lessons they learn.

Writing: “Baby” Literary Essay -Unit 4

Essential Question: How can I write an essay that states a strong opinion about a text and supports it clearly with evidence from the text?

Structuring Essays About Stories: Students become accustomed to making a big, bold opinion about a character, including evidence from the text, and elaborating on that evidence. They’ll also include a brief introduction and conclusion. Know that the key to mastering any new skill, whether it’s making 3-point basketball shots or writing an essay, is repetition. Therefore, this unit offers students ample opportunity to write a few quick essays. The goal is to give students the opportunity to have repeated practice with this new skill set, drafting quickly and often during the first few days of each of our three “bends,” then selecting their best draft to revise and edit.

By mid January, children will begin book clubs in our new reading unit, Character Studies. Students will gather with their book club and begin to think about some big, bold opinions about characters in those books. We will also revisit a variety of familiar short texts, allowing students to form groups around the texts they want to write essays about.

Goals for this unit include:

  •    Write a minimum of three literary essays
  •    Write literary essays about picture books, short stories, book club texts, and nonfiction texts (read like a story).
  •    Deepen students’ work with character study, as they defend a claim with a variety of evidence cited from the text.

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 character traits and motives, and wondering why the author included that information. As we move into the character studies unit in early January, we hope to see that rich thinking reflected in students’ Reader’s Notebooks. In addition to frequent check-ins, we will be completing monthly notebook informal assessments.

  •   Our Math Unit: Fair Shares and Fractions on a Number Line

This unit focuses on understanding the meaning of fractions as numbers and as equal parts of a whole, reasoning about equivalent fractions, comparing fractions, and using notation to model fractions and fraction relationships. Following this introduction of fractions, students will engage in an investigation called Field Trips and Fundraisers. This will build on the previous work students explored in The Teacher’s Lounge Investigation. Several mini lessons for division of whole numbers using simplified equivalents are included. These are structured using number strings of related problems as a way to more explicitly guide learners toward computational fluency with whole number division and to build a connection to equivalent fractions.

Social Studies: Learning About A Far Away Country: Brazil

Essential Questions:

  • What factors influence how people in Brazil live their lives?
  • How do geography, culture, and economic needs shape the way people live in Brazil?
  • How is this similar to and different from life in the U.S.?

In this unit, students will continue working in their research clubs to pursue the essential question: “What shapes how people in a place far from me live?” This time the place that students are studying is a more remote one than the United States, making everything about the unit more challenging. As children pursue the question, “What factors influence how people in Brazil live their lives?” they will utilize World Book Online, and numerous other texts and be able to answer “How do geography, culture, and economic needs shape the way people live in Brazil? How is this similar to and different from life in the US?”

Students will discover that when studying another place, a researcher often asks, “What is turning out to be especially interesting to me as I learn about this place?” and then that researcher is off and running, pursuing this topic of interest. As students identify these interests, they will deepen their research in inquiry groups, with each group focused on a subtopic such as the rainforest. We will also watch videos and hone in on our note-taking skills.

An interdisciplinary culminating project will show off their research. Our work with the teaching artists from Symphony Space will further enrich this process.

Symphony Space: This program will span from mid January through late May and cover our social studies topics during that time frame.

Third graders will experience the cultures of Brazil, China , and Nigeria with Symphony Space teaching artists. Specifically, students will learn songs in Portuguese, partake in Maracatu northeastern Brazil music, and participate in the ceremony of the crowning of the King and Queen Parade. They will learn about all of the dimensions of Capoeira, Afro Brazilian Martial Arts, which was originated in Bahia, Brazil over 500 years ago. In addition, students will examine visual art primary source documents followed by rich discussions about images and symbols. Selected students will partake in Maracatu and Capoeira when they visit Symphony Space for the Latin America performance in March. In late May, students will enjoy Sanga of the Valley, Music and Stories of Nigeria.

The students will engage in Chinese Opera and Martial Arts by experiencing the five elements of Chinese Opera. They will also partake in acting, singing, sword fighting, and observe artists’ skills in tumbling, while learning some mandarin along the way. Chinese Ribbon Dance will be taught to all and a couple of students will be selected to represent our class and partake in the Asia performance at Symphony Space in May.

Technology: As an extension activity to our new reading unit in Character Studies, students will identify the character traits of their main character and use them to create a word cloud in

Students will be researching about Brazil using World Book Online. Students will develop a final project, showcased during our next publishing party. Stay tuned for more details!

Our class trip to AMNH has been rescheduled to take place on Thursday, January 24th, 2019. Look for new permission slips and details.

Until Soon,

Leslie And Kate