Welcome to 3rd Grade!
The focus of third grade reading instruction and curriculum is supporting and assisting students in becoming “meaning makers.” Developmentally, third grade readers are considered to be “fluent” in their decoding skills. This means that they can essentially say or “sound out” the words in most text. However, this does NOT mean that they can comprehend or understand what is being read in a substantive or deep way. New York State Common Core Standards require much of our students in this area with both fiction and non-fiction text.
Each level of comprehension requires different skill sets and strategies. Third grade readers are being introduced to a variety of authors and genres both in fiction and non-fiction that can support this instruction. Using authentic, “just right” texts and literature contribute to students’ development as readers. In third grade, we explore a wide range of authors as well as genres.
The primary structure for the instruction is a daily reading workshop. Through the use of mini-lessons, independent and guided reading (with the teacher), response and sharing, students apply, practice and integrate newly learned strategies with text that is just right for them. Our conversations during workshop this year will focus on who we are as readers: identifying and using our strengths in order to best support our personal reading challenges.
Ultimately though, the goal of reading instruction is to help children love reading and to be able to experience the joy of it both in reading for pleasure as well as reading for learning.
Traditionally thought of as “language arts,” Word Study encompasses a wide range of literacy skills that support students in their reading and writing development. These general areas of literacy instruction include: handwriting, fluency, grammar, vocabulary, spelling and phonics.
Fine motor skills and the ease with which students can generate print will contribute to their ability to compose written pieces. During third grade, we explore and introduce children to cursive handwriting as well as keyboarding in order to develop writing fluency. Ultimately, some children may find greater comfort and ease with manuscript writing. Most important though is the size, shape and formation of the print. Regular practice goes a long way in establishing student comfort with these fine motor skills.
Additionally, the following is a brief list of phonetic, vocabulary, and grammar skills aligned to the NYS Common Core that will be addressed over the course of the year:
Spelling development is directly linked to student’s phonetic knowledge at specific reading levels. Typically, students in grade three are spelling at the Within Word Pattern stage. Students at this stage can spell most one-syllable short-vowel words and are learning to spell long-vowel patterns, r-controlled vowels as well as recognizing exceptions to English language rules and homophones. Vocabulary and grammar instruction provides additional opportunities to explore “word parts” as it relates to spelling: prefixes, suffixes, and root words.
Obviously, within each stage there is a degree of experimenting and “invention” until its key concepts are mastered. A combination of direct teaching, shared learning experiences and independent tasks provide students the necessary opportunities to move towards standard phonetic spelling. Additionally, this phonics work will support third grade readers as they are required to apply and use phonetic knowledge to decode (read) multi-syllabic words.
Writing is a very personal journey. It is also one of the most complicated and involved tasks in any student’s life. In our workshop setting, students will explore their “author voice” through the arts as well as skills instruction. Using the five steps of the writer’s process (brainstorming, drafting, revising, proofreading and publishing), children will develop strategies to create meaningful and well-crafted pieces of writing. Children will explore writing narrative, expository and opinion pieces. Students will keep a journal and working folder for all creative writing purposes.
The Common Core curriculum emphasizes a smaller number of concepts, but encourages a much deeper exploration of each. In addition, there is an increased focus on the development of important mathematical practices. The chart below highlights both the concepts and practices that every third grader across the District will be covering this year.
Investigations of Social Studies and Science Concepts
It is said that in the primary grades (K-2), students are “learning to read.” However, in the intermediate grades (3-5), students are “reading to learn.” It is through the social studies and science content areas in third grade, that we see this adage in action. In both of these disciplines, the subject matter is much less familiar to learners at this age. Prior knowledge, vocabulary and understanding must be built and supported through instruction. Interdisciplinary studies that connect, reading, writing and math to each new concept in social studies and science are a powerful way to enhance learning. Because of these needs and the nature of the topics selected by the District for instruction, social studies and science concepts are alternated throughout a semester. The class will focus on a social studies topic for 6-8 weeks and then on a science topic during our “Investigations” periods each week. Topics will continue to be alternated throughout the year. Third grade science units focus around the concepts of cycles and connections. The social studies curriculum focuses on geography and world communities. Field trips and events are planned by the teachers to enhance this curriculum and may change from year to year.
Homework is an opportunity for students to review and practice skills that are taught in school. It is also a chance to work independently and further develop knowledge. In third grade, homework includes:
- 1 nightly assignment Monday-Thursdays
- 1 weekly study assignment
- 1 monthly reading assignment
- Weekly on line spelling practice
- 1-2 optional challenges each week
- Typically, homework should take a third grader approximately 30-45 minutes a night. If there are difficulties with the amount of homework or time involved, please advise the teacher of these problems as they will work with you to address concerns and help your child be as successful as possible. Make up assignments for absences are at the discretion of your teacher.
Developing a picture of each child as a learner is a key goal of assessment. Through projects, discussion groups, student response, class work, tests and quizzes, student progress is monitored and instruction is adjusted so that all students grow and be successful. Beyond these typical classroom practices, the New York State English Language Arts and Mathematics exams occur in the spring.