Grade 3 is a landmark year for students as they ascend to the position of leaders in the Primary School. Third graders work closely throughout the year with kindergartners, modeling kindness, fairness, and responsibility through buddy relationships and a culminating performance of the annual Kindergarten and Grade 3 play in May. Third graders enjoy their first year of participation in the annual Green & Gold competitions. Their involvement with their Green or Gold Team inspires a rich and new sense of belonging to the Tuxedo Park School community and sparks significant development of sportsmanship and teamwork.
Along with new academic challenges, students in Grade 3 engage in regular service opportunities alongside community members who live at The Promenade at Tuxedo Place. Together with residents they undertake projects to give back to and support our local community. In the winter, children don winter clothes and ski equipment for their first year of participation in our annual ski program. For five Thursdays, third graders join their schoolmates on the slopes of Mt. Peter. From new skiers stepping into skis for the first time to seasoned veterans, children of all ages support one another and tackle new challenges together in the outdoors.
Grade 3 is indeed an exciting year, and the pinnacle of a child’s Primary School experience. Children continue to develop as kind, fair, and responsible community members, and take seriously their charge to serve as role models for their younger counterparts. Children’s intellectual skill sets are now highly usable tools for increasingly creative and analytical learning. The eight- and nine-year-old’s developmental progression is one that is full of both enthusiastic energy and fragility in need of plentiful encouragement. During Grade 3 we work with each child and his/her family to facilitate their growth academically, socially, emotionally, and physically. Eight- and nine-year-olds are:
* Marked by industrious planning, inventing, and creating.
* Operating at high energy levels in both work and play.
* Valuing volume over detail and quantity over quality, necessitating patient and warm redirection and abundant reminders regarding expectations.
* Brimming with exploratory enthusiasm and so are quick to try new things, and can be equally quick to move past them.
* Responsive to routines and schedules, both at school and home, that have new, surprising elements occasionally incorporated.
* Growing a deepening sense of moral responsibility around social justice, sportsmanship, and fairness issues.
At the end of each week, families receive a newsletter, also posted on this page here, describing in words and pictures highlights from the week and forecasting the learning and activities that lie ahead. We encourage families to contact us early and often with questions.
At Tuxedo Park School we have high standards for excellence in three key categories: learning (acquiring knowledge and skills), doing(communicating and acting on learning), and caring (working alongside and with others to improve own learning and that of classmates). We look forward to communicating and celebrating the breadth and depth of learning, doing, and caring your child will enjoy in Grade 3 this year!
Reading, writing, listening, and speaking are the foundations of the language arts program in the third grade. Literature is at the core of the program. Whenever possible, students make connections between content areas.
Texts and Literature:
Various texts for guided reading
SRA Spelling, SRA McGraw-Hill
Various genres for independent reading
The reading program is two-pronged. First, students are responsible for selecting independent reading books that are appropriate for their levels. With teacher guidance and support, students are encouraged to select books they are drawn to, as well as try new genres to expand their literary interests. Students keep track of the books they have read by exchanging weekly correspondence with their teachers in reading journals and one-on-one conferencing with teachers. In their reading journals, they respond to questions, demonstrate their thinking about their reading, and ask questions about the reading thoughts and habits of another.
Students also participate in guided reading at different points during the year. Groups of students with similar academic reading goals read a book together to further deepen and sharpen their decoding and comprehension skills. These groups meet regularly with a teacher who directs their reading and thinking in ways tailored to the group’s needs. Particular reading skills that are targeted for development in the third grade include:
- vocabulary development;
- identifying the main idea;
- making connections;
- asking questions to gather more information;
- making inferences;
- critical evaluation;
- story sequence;
- drawing conclusions;
- character analysis.
Each student’s abilities as a reader are recognized and then developed further through the use of an integrated reading and writing program. Using various genres of literature as read-aloud material, the teacher helps students develop critical listening skills as well as an appreciation for the impact of the written word in various forms. Writing assignments completed while reading a book help children gain deeper understanding and appreciation of the literature.
In tandem with the reading program, students are actively developing their writing skills through the Writing Workshop. Each student maintains a writer's notebook in which to keep “seed” ideas for later development. These tools provide an overview of development for both the student and teacher. A few times a year, they also write a narrative piece which they revise and edit the next day. Students revise, edit, and complete final pieces independently, after several conferences with peers and with the teacher. Publishing in various forms provides an additional avenue for sharing work and taking pride in accomplishments. Third graders explore a variety of writing genres, including personal narrative/memoir, letter writing, poetry, list-making, note-taking, paragraphs, research and report writing, and multi-paragraph essays. Classroom writing portfolios contain the finished pieces that children have selected to represent work that they want to save.
The third and final component of the language arts program is writing mechanics, which includes spelling, vocabulary, grammar, punctuation, and capitalization. Students have new spelling words at the beginning of each week. Word lists are a combination of predetermined words (based on the current spelling unit), vocabulary words related to current units of study in other content areas, and words that each student has demonstrated a need to learn to spell more fluently. Spelling is an important aspect of the writing process, and it pervades our reading and phonics programs. Mini-lessons about the writing conventions are an important component of writing workshop. During these mini-lessons, students learn the identification and use of nouns, verbs, subjects, predicates, pronouns, prepositions, and adjectives in their writing of complete sentences of various kinds.
Using the Singapore Math program, students first work with a concrete experience, often using hands on materials. Then, students are exposed to a pictorial representation of the mathematical concept they are learning. When the teacher is secure that students understand the concept, more abstract numbers, notations and symbols are introduced. This strategy allows for students to build on their background knowledge and apply these skills and concepts to new and more challenging math topics.
As third grade mathematicians confidently manipulate larger numbers in computations, they simultaneously develop skills to regulate their work pace, attend to detail, and implement strategies for checking their own work to catch and correct mathematical errors. The third grade mathematics curriculum emphasizes practice in reasoning and problem solving. Third graders develop increased perseverance through challenging problems that they work to solve both independently and collaboratively.
When tackling multi-step word problems, students are introduced to two pictorial methods known as bar models. A part-whole model uses one bar and is used when students know two parts and are looking for the whole, or when students are given the whole and a specific part and are looking for an unknown part. The second technique used is the comparison model, which is drawn when two items are being compared. Students will use both models throughout the year to solidify their understanding of word problems. Students work on strategies for identifying key words, extracting the important information, and manipulating that information to arrive at an answer that makes sense for the question posed. Students may try a number of different strategies, and possibly experience some incorrect solutions, before arriving at the accurate one. Such “failures” help develop a deeper level of thinking about math, including the importance of double-checking, that extends beyond various algorithms to perceiving whether the result of an algorithm makes contextual and mathematical sense. Practical application of these skills comes through integrated studies with other subject areas.
Third graders’ developing awareness of abstraction allows for more extensive work with fractions, decimals, money, and division. Multiple forms of notation, types of measurement, unit conversions, and geometric terms expand students’ mathematical vocabulary and provide them with an understanding of terms and tools that can be used interchangeably. Students calculate the area and perimeter of rectangles and squares, play games to make the concept of inverse operations more easily understood, and use daily experiences and their physical environment to create bar, line, and circle graphs.
Students spend time reviewing mental math strategies. It is these strategies that help increase number sense, as students begin to work with larger numbers. Quality time is devoted to the automaticity of addition, subtraction, multiplication, and division facts by means of textbook activities, games, drills, and enrichment activities. These opportunities reinforce a solid understanding of all math facts and strengthen new concepts. These activities should be practiced at home to help students feel comfortable with new mathematical challenges. Fact automaticity ensures greater confidence and performance on written assignments and assessments both during third grade and into Middle School when they are introduced to more complicated math topics requiring fact fluency.
The third grade social studies curriculum revolves around the central idea of exploration. Throughout the year, students investigate the process of discovery by examining the characteristics of new lands and cultures discovered and the developments in technologies used in exploration over time. We finish off the year with a study of important figures in history, as well as a study of the fifty states.
Beginning in the fall with a focus on the Hudson Valley, students learn about Henry Hudson’s exploration of the region, as well as the culture of the Lenni Lenapes, a Native American tribe local to the area.
During the months of November and December, students engage in an in-depth Culture Study. Each year, a different country is the focus of this unit. Using various resources and technologies in all areas of the curriculum, students are exposed to the history, geography, music, art, cuisine, religion, and traditions of their grade’s country.
Upon returning from winter break, students continue to examine the interaction between humans and their environment as they move into a study of the Westward Movement. Students learn about the Oregon Trail and Lewis & Clark, and they gain an increased appreciation for the importance of maps by being able to identify locations and destinations.
After learning about explorers and honing their research skills, students choose an explorer of their choice for an in-depth biography project. Using various resources including technology and non-fiction texts, they will have the opportunity to “become” their explorer with a culminating research project.
Before graduating from the Primary School, students review the 50 states and their capitals. During this unit, they extend their knowledge of longitude and latitude and map reading and usage skills to the overall geography of the USA. They are then introduced to the process of gathering information, reporting it in an original format, and presenting it to the learning community as each student completes a state project.
Overall, the third grade year is an exciting journey into the world of discovery. Students will move into fourth grade with a deeper appreciation and knowledge of the technology, tools, and passion that make exploration possible.
Texts and Resources:
Various Non-fiction Trade Books
Library reference materials
Grade 3 science continues exposing students to the three main areas of science. This year emphasizes life sciences, which affords the students many experiences in the school garden. In the fall, students observe the growth of the plants that they started from seed in the spring, measure the harvest, plant a winter crop, and put the garden to bed. In addition to quantifying their harvests, they also work with the cafeteria to serve the garden’s bounty for lunch! They participate in the national project, Spring Marching Across the Nation, by planting a Red Emperor tulip bulb bed. Finally, students conduct experiments exploring plants’ life cycles and examining ways of encouraging plant growth.
Transitioning to earth science, the rock cycle study begins after winter break, giving students a chance to identify and classify rock samples in the lab. Following the rock cycle, students identify the minerals that compose rocks, using tests such as streak, hardness, special properties, cleavage, and fracture.
Rocks and minerals lead to a unit on soil composition that encourages students to explore what makes a good soil, what is drainage, and why is it important. Practicing composting is a way students help sustain the soil condition of the school garden.
The year concludes with a study of another cycle, the life cycle of insects. With butterfly and moth cycles occurring in the lab, students observe, research, and present their understanding of this metamorphosis during their science celebration.
In the third grade, French lessons focus on student participation. Each class begins with a discussion of the date, weather conditions, and class attendance. After children learn to use the language in this discourse, they progress to conducting this activity without teacher assistance. Some specific units of study include shopping for food, taking a trip, and reading a neighborhood map. Large banks of vocabulary are acquired for each of these themes, and there are varied activities which include reading, writing, listening, and speaking to reinforce the material. In the spring, the children embark on the project connected to their science curriculum wherein they read, sing songs and learn many new words to prepare them for the French part of their science presentations.
Students work in a variety of mediums to produce sculptures, paintings, and drawings throughout the year. They study and produce works related to artists both historic and contemporary. Students have many opportunities to create works from their imagination as well as works that depend on close observational work; indeed, many projects have links to their classroom curriculum. Past examples include studies of Henri Matisse and Henri Rosseau for their studies of French language and printed and/or painted costumes to link to their culture study of Egypt.
Grade 3 students continue to build upon the elements presented in second grade. They explore the pentatonic scale, beginning on “do” and “low la,” which allows them to notate in both major and minor tonalities. Third graders work extensively on sight reading, sight singing, and notating music, allowing them to solidify all aforementioned musical elements. The students hone their music reading skills by learning to play the recorder.
Third graders begin singing in rounds and partner songs as an introduction to two-part harmony. In addition, they start to read choral octavos, preparing them for the choral music used in the fourth grade general music classes and the Middle School chorus. The students continue to explore music through dance, listening, and stories of the great composers. All Primary School students are integral to the three concerts during the school year.
The third grade continues to develop lifetime activities such as dance, jumping rope, and running. The students' eye-hand and eye-foot skills become more advanced. Some of these skills include dribbling with both hands and both feet, throwing and passing with accuracy, learning to throw or pass to a moving partner, and learning to strike a moving object with an implement. Team concepts of offense and defense are introduced in small-sided games with a focus on appropriate competitive participation.
Fitness is an important aspect of the program. The students begin to assess their own fitness levels, learn to take one’s heart rate during exercise, and identify major muscles in the body. Students are given more responsibility for the equipment they use and are held accountable for the care and use during physical education class. Concepts of fun, fitness, and fairness become real tangible goals to achieve by the end of the year so they are ready to move on to the fourth grade.