In third grade students deepen their ability to read critically. Their reading comes to life in the Biography unit where students devour many biographies until they land on a person who truly inspires them. They read and research even more to create a speech from the perspective of that person. Resulting in an assembly where students dress the part and hone their public speaking skills as they present to families. Third graders also immerse themselves in the study of trout and water quality. Testing the water in our stream and raising and releasing trout adds hands on excitement and practical experience.
In language arts, emphasis is given to helping students become strong, independent readers. Students learn to select “just right” books and to improve comprehension strategies by reflecting on what they read by using “Think Marks” and Reader’s Notebooks. Guided reading books on appropriate reading levels target decoding, comprehension and fluency. A mid-year Biography Fair celebrates a non-fiction unit and is followed by a class reading of Because of Winn-Dixie using literature circles. In writing workshop, students use the writing process to develop the six traits of writing and well-constructed paragraphs. Throughout the year, students work on weekly word study lists to help them establish a firm understanding of spelling systems.
Daily classes are taken from the Math in Focus curriculum. Class begins with mental math activities to develop students’ ability to combine numbers, and follows with problem solving. We develop students’ understanding using a variety of materials and visual representations through extensive skills practice followed by hands-on activities. In this model, learning occurs both collaboratively and independently. This allows for differentiation of instruction according to individual needs. Our major emphasis is developing problem-solving strategies, including the use of bar modeling to visually represent understanding. This year, your third grader will focus on: building problem-solving skills, using models to solve real-world problems involving the four operations, marking and interpreting data from bar graphs, identifying fractions of a set, finding angles and identifying lines, understanding area and perimeter of figures.
Science integration of literature, personal observations, and hands-on exploration are central for student engagement in scientific discovery. Students begin the year by exploring the scientific process including developing observation skills. They investigate their environment surrounding Pike, experiment recording and analyzing observed data. Students take part in a yearlong study of water, its physical properties, aquatic ecosystems (with an emphasis on watersheds) and how humans interact with the environment. Third graders raise trout in the classroom and release them in a nearby river. Release of the fish allows students to consider positive and negative impacts of people on aquatic environments and inspires students to work collaboratively to design a campaign to encourage environmental stewardship.
The social studies program explores regions of the United States. Students begin the year with a study of the New England states and the development and use of the Merrimack River Valley area by Native American tribes and colonists. The Revolutionary War is studied as we continue to examine the needs of a growing nation and we learn about the Mid-Atlantic states. Next we connect New England to the southern states with our examination of the Industrial Revolution, while also taking a close look at how this development changes life along the Merrimack River.
From there we travel westward, covering Lewis and Clark’s exploration west of the Mississippi and taking a closer look at the states in those regions. Mapping skills are taught and students learn to use elements such as the key, legend, scale, compass and grid. Students have an opportunity to create their own map, using their newly acquired skills.
In Middle School art, students continue to build their visual communication skills, with an emphasis on creative problem solving through student-centered and open-ended investigations. While working with a variety of two- and three-dimensional materials, they also learn the intellectual, physical, and technical skills of art making. Students will learn about significant contemporary and historical artists from all over the world while exploring increasingly complex processes and projects. A notable project includes exploring self-expression, emotion and technique with Expressive Self-Portraits.
The music program in Middle School is a natural extension of the Lower School music program. As students get older, they are continually building their musical vocabulary and taking increased ownership of the creative process. Students in Grades 3 to 5 have the opportunity to learn how to play recorders, ukuleles, bucket drums, Orff xylophones, and West African drums. They learn to improvise, both vocally and on instruments, and they compose original music for solo instruments and/or small group student ensembles. Middle School students continue to learn about the expressive dimensions of music by learning music from other cultures, in addition to the blues, jazz, and pop/rock styles. In third grade, students learn how to use the ukulele to accompany themselves in class, and even write an original song. They also learn how to play the recorder, spending equal time learning tunes by ear and with written notation. Third graders learn how to follow music in a printed score and begin to sing rounds/canons to prepare them for more complicated part-singing in fourth and fifth grade.
The physical education program for the third grade uses a wide variety of large and small group games, cooperative activities and games using sport-specific skills in preparation for team sports. Students explore and experiment with direction, relationships, effort and the use of all their body parts. The goals of the program are to encourage the children to be versatile movers, to provide them with an improved movement vocabulary, and to help them understand the importance of developing a healthy, active lifestyle. Through work with a variety of equipment and movement experiences, the children are exposed to many ways to achieve their physical potential. We try to select fun activities that focus on the concepts of control, cooperation, flow and force. The children participate in an outdoor education unit in the winter that includes environmental ethics and shelter building.