Third Grade at Rio Grande School is the final year students are in the lower cluster (grades K- 3). Students in third grade become more adept at solving social problems - developing empathy, acceptance and independence. As they become more aware of the differences among them, students are encouraged to see problems from another person’s point of view.
A primary focus in third grade is in developing each student’s confidence in tackling difficult and/or multi-step problems. Educators support and foster each student’s communication, collaboration, creativity, and critical thinking skills to support them in learning to work successfully both independently and collectively.
During the third-grade year, students’ social skills develop and mature. Students develop many levels of friendship. Educators facilitate understanding and acceptance when long-time friendships change and/or new friendships form. They share responsibility for classroom jobs which further supports them in building a sense of unity and cohesion.
Third grade reading explores a variety of literature genre including fiction, realistic fiction, historical fiction, biography, nonfiction expository text, poetry, and folktales. Students read for a variety of purposes, such as identifying explicit details from a passage to provide answers to questions about the text, using implicit information from a passage to make inferences about the motives or behaviors of characters, and to summarize and draw conclusions about the text. They also find connections among various pieces of information in a text and synthesize information to make predictions and draw conclusions. Reading skills are taught through small-group and whole-class lessons. Mentor texts are read aloud and used to advance comprehension skills as the class engages in open dialogue about various story elements. Students also engage in conversations about the books they read independently, in partnerships and in literature circles.
Reading journals are kept as a place where students respond to literature read in class and/or on their own. They record their thoughts, feelings, reactions, and questions about the books they are reading. Students write about character development and setting, make predictions, discuss how characters change, analyze problems in the plot, and form opinions. Students also work through the research process by reading, taking notes, identifying main idea and detail, and writing concise, organized paragraphs.
Third grade writing highlights the progressive phases of the writing process: planning, drafting, revising, editing, and publishing! Students engage in various writing units throughout the year including personal narratives, expository essays, poetry, persuasive essays, and research reports. During each unit, students progress through the writing progresses with increasing independence.
In third grade, the Sequential English Education (SEE) program is used to support students with vocabulary building, spelling, morphology, paraphrasing, language skills, grammar and sentence composition. This multisensory language approach to reading, writing, and spelling engages and supports all students in developing advanced literacy skills. During SEE, students also participate in auditory discrimination lessons to enhance phonemic awareness as well as improve attention to auditory information and working memory.
Third-grade mathematics focuses on strengthening existing concepts of numeration, operations, data and probability, measurement, geometry, patterns, and functions. The program in third grade develops a variety of concepts, such as fractions, decimals, multiplication/division, and weights and measures, taking them to a new depth. The Everyday Mathematics® program is a spiraling program, allowing students to lay a foundation of knowledge, but not expecting mastery the first time a concept is introduced.
Math is regularly taught through centers, which both promotes student agency over their own learning and provides the space for small group lessons. Small group work allows for educators to differentiate instruction in order to best support and challenge all students. Math games are also often taught and played to reinforce concepts and build fact fluency.
Theme Studies (Science and Social Studies)
Thematic studies in third grade focus on science and social studies. Students begin the year with studying paleontology. While studying paleontology, students learn about the world’s past biodiversity, history of life on Earth, and ecology. Students’ curiosity is a driving force throughout this entire unit. As students learn about different types of fossils, how fossils are formed, past and present discoveries, and what we can all learning from studying these specimens, students take their learning and write expository essays. Throughout this learning, students also engage in a variety of interdisciplinary roles, such as acting out various fossil forms and creating their own cast and mold fossils.
During third grades’ social studies thematic unit, students dive deep into learning about our local community. Students learn about and study the various cultural groups who live in our local community, and aim to build a greater understanding of our community and culture. Together, the class embarks on a photojournalist project centered around the question,“How can we, as photojournalist, tell the untold stories of our community?” Students research various cultural and social stories within our community, and take photographs that capture the heart of our community’s history, culture and people. Students present their learning through both visual documentation of photographs and narrating photo essays.
Technology is used regularly in the classroom. The iPads, ELMO, and Apple TV projection allow for shared hands-on, creative learning experiences. Students have access to researching and presenting projects utilizing classroom technology throughout the year. One examples of how technology is used to enhance students’ learning is our photojournalist project during our thematic study of our local community. During this project, students use I-Pads and editing apps, such as Snapseed, to create a display of photographs that capture an untold stories within our community.
IPads are used in a variety of ways throughout the school day. Students often use math apps such as Reflex and Mangahigh to further explore math concepts and build fluency. Students regularly use Epic to access a wide range of digital resources including books, audiobooks, learning videos and more. Students document learning experiences daily on Seesaw by taking photographs and adding captions, in which their classmates and families access and interact with as well. Seesaw is one of many tools we use to share learning at school with families every day.
Supporting third graders’ social-emotional learning and wellbeing is of the utmost importance, and thus mindfulness is embedded into our daily schedule. Social-emotional learning in third grade focuses on developing self-awareness and self-management skills to achieve success in school and in life with Responsive Classroom curriculum as the guide. Students learn to identify and manage their own emotions and behavior. They learn skills to prevent, manage, and resolve conflict in constructive ways. The use of conferencing, role-playing, and other strategies help students achieve these skills.
During third grade’s study of our local community, third graders volunteer at the Railyard Park with their gardening, composting and cleaning efforts. While volunteering in our local community, students reflect on their experiences and build an even greater understanding, appreciation and ability to relate to the people and places in our community.