Dear Third Grade Families:

Happy New Year! 2018 is off to a busy start and the students have been working hard!

Reading Character Studies

In this unit, children move from a close study of character, 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 in sophistication from literal comprehension work to interpretive/analytic work and directly supports the work of our writing “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.

 Writing: Literary Essay

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 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.

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. As we move into the character studies in early January, we hope to see that rich thinking reflected in students Reader’s Notebooks. Students may want to refer to the common themes sheet introduced in class.

Our Math Unit: Travel Stories and Collections

This unit develops students’ ideas about counting and quantity, place value and the structure of the base-10 number system, the meaning of operations with whole numbers, the development of computational fluency, and generalizations about numbers and operations. This strand focuses on understanding and extending knowledge of place value and the number system to 1,000, and adding and subtracting accurately and efficiently. Students will benefit from math fact fluency and effortless automaticity with their addition, subtraction, multiplication and division facts through 12. This level of mastery will serve students well moving forward.  

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 On line, 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.

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

Until Soon,

Leslie And Kevin