Third grade is an exciting time of independence and growth for our students. Third graders learn and practice the skills of personal responsibility, problem solving, and independence, as they take a more active role in their own education. With the support of art, music, technology, and language, students experience hands on learning, projects, field trips, writing units, math and science journals, reader responses, and more to support them in developing a strong foundation of skills needed for success in the upper grades. Third graders discover the joy of researching people, places, and events that lead to a broader understanding of the world around them and their place in it.
In third grade, students continue to develop strategies to effectively use language. They make the jump from learning how to read, to learning from the books they read. Information gathering, summarizing, responding to literature and making connections are some of the very important skills they practice. Students use a reader in conjunction with core literature books and read many genres including poetry, biographies, historical fiction, and more.
Students practice various types of writing as they go through the process of prewriting, drafting, revising, and editing before producing polished final copies. As they revise and edit, students work on correct spelling and grammar, complete sentences, and correct paragraph form. A major focus in third grade is on constructing strong and complete paragraphs with opening, closing, and supporting sentences.
A program unique to third grade is our public speaking practice called Oral Sharing. Approximately once a month the students are given an Oral Sharing assignment. This home based activity is a child-led and parent-supported and is based upon a topic the students are learning about and discussing in class. These are short presentations where the information is memorized, and in most cases, children bring in some sort of visual aid to help with their presentations. Students work on the basic skills of eye contact, voice projection, and subject knowledge mastery, as well as practicing how to be an appropriate audience.
Third graders focus on fact families in addition, subtraction, multiplication, and division. They continue developing strategies for multi-digit addition and subtraction problems. They learn multiplication facts through the 12s and apply them to division concepts and facts. Other third-grade skills include understanding large numbers in addition to working with small numbers using equivalent fractions and decimals. They continue the study of geometry and master skills in telling time, while understanding place value and money. Practical application of measurement skills includes linear, weight, and capacity with customary and metric units. Students develop and practice a variety of problem solving strategies for working with word problems.
The focus of the third grade science is on understanding the world around us. We do this through experiments, observations, readings, videos, and field trips. A highlighted skill is reading and summarizing non-fiction writing in our Science Journals. The three subjects of inquiry are: Sun, Moon, Stars; Living Systems/MARE; and Energy and Matter. In the Sun, Moon, Stars unit students learn that these objects move in regular and predictable patterns that can be observed, recorded, and analyzed. The Living System/MARE unit focuses on observing and understanding plant and animal adaptations. The Energy and Matter unit introduces the multiple forms that matter and energy can take. Investigations also focus on light absorption and reflection, and introduction to atoms and elements.
Students in grade three learn more about the physical and cultural landscape of California, including the study of American Indians, the subsequent arrival of immigrants, and the impact they have had in forming the character of our contemporary society. In studying these topics we also cover topics such as geography, landforms, climate, and resources; patriotism; famous Americans; economics and trade; and States and Capitals.
In the fall we visit the Chabot Space and Science Center as part of our Sun, Moon, and Stars science unit. We attend an exciting class about the Moon and its phases, watch a movie in the Planetarium to learn about the planets in our solar system, and visit space-themed hands-on exhibits to see how astronauts live and work in space.
Mid year we take a trip to the Charles M. Schulz Museum to inspire our creativity and stretch our artistic muscles. In conjunction with our Biography unit, we tour the museum and learn all about the life and process of the famous cartoonist. Then we try our hand at cartooning during a class called "The Art of Story" where we learn how cartoonists use their life experiences to develop characters and convey stories.
We end the year with a visit to the Gulf of the Farallones Visitor Center. We travel to the west end of Chrissy Field, a stones throw away from the Golden Gate Bridge and right on the edge of the sandy beach. We scour the beach and Visitor's Center to learn more about specific adaptation strategies in sea life.