Hello 326 families!
It’s hard to believe but the school year is wrapping up – and quickly! After what feels like all of 5 minutes this year, it’s now May! Things are just FLYING by. Thank you so much for all the Teacher Appreciation Week love – we’re so grateful for your appreciation, it really means a lot!
We’ve set the deadline for the final Scholastic orders as June 8 – now is a GREAT time to stock up on plenty of books for summer reading! You can place your Scholastic order via www.scholastic.com/readingclub / class code: LTKX2. And just a heads up: Peck Slip will again be participating in the Lighthouse Guild Summer Reading Challenge; we’ll hear from the blind relative of a 5th grade family to learn just how much kids’ participation in the annual event means.
We still have a lot of learning to do in these last 6 weeks of 3rd grade. In particular, our content study of the Lenape Eastern Woodland Indians is hitting full stride. Following here is an update on the last few weeks in our class community, as well as a glimpse of what our students have been busy learning. Read on for more!
Reading and Writing
During the last month, we began a study of realistic fiction in both reading and writing. To kick things off, we read (and loved!) Because of Winn-Dixie by Kate DiCamillo to help us get to know characters and conflicts on a deeper level. This helped prepare us for our realistic fiction writing work. To that end, writers planned a character by deciding on a name and details that would be relevant to their story. Next, they thought about a conflict their character would encounter: character vs. character (like in Because of Winn-Dixie), character vs. self (like in an earlier read-aloud book, My Name Is Maria Isabel) or character vs. nature (also in Because of Winn-Dixie).
They’re now hard at work developing their stories, combining the important ingredients learned in our narrative writing unit with our new learning about realistic fiction.
Also in reading, students have started Book Clubs with a group of classmates. Readers will all read the same book and create a schedule to guide their pacing (both reading and talking about the book). The goal of this work is to help kids cultivate their ability to have a conversation about a book by helping guide their discussions. As a result, they will have practice with:
- talking and listening to others, building on others’ ideas and being able to sustain a thread of a conversation;
- asking questions of others to check understanding;
- explaining their own ideas and understanding; and
- communicating effectively and agreeing/disagreeing with support to back up ideas.
Our class has returned to work on understanding money to help kids with mastering this valuable life concept. One way to help students learn about this concept is to set up a food truck business. Why a food truck? Because it’s a real-life opportunity for kids to explore a business found in our community. Through this project, students will create a menu with dishes and prices. Then they will build a small-scale truck that includes a stove, sink and all of the items needed to create those yummy dishes, reinforcing the skills of area and perimeter. After everyone creates their food truck, students will have an opportunity to “open up” for business. Next up, we will work more on geometry, time and collecting and interpreting data.
When we began our study, we learned the word “Lenape” means “ordinary” or “common” people and in our reading of Little Fox: Story of an Indian Boy by Katharine Keelor, we learned how the main character, Little Fox, got his name. We wanted our students to choose a name for the character in their upcoming historical fiction writing, to fully appreciate the meaning of the name they’ve selected. They chose names based on their own personalities and abilities as well as an animal that represents them. Later in our study of the Lenape Eastern Woodland Indians, students will ground their learning in writing historical fiction using this character that they created, each with artifacts to represent their life as a member of the Lenape tribe. As students continue to learn more about the tribe through our readings and field study, the characters will become more vivid and detailed, and their writing will showcase what they are learning about the daily life of a Lenape Eastern Woodland Indian. Already, students are bursting with ideas and questioning the roles of the tribe members. We can already tell that the kids are going to have some captivating stories to share!
As you know, we began our work with Catherine Teegarden from the Center for Architecture. Peck Slip’s fabulous PTA makes this residency possible, and we couldn’t be more grateful to them for giving us this opportunity! Students will learn about the design and construction of native shelters and everyday objects that enabled the Lenape to live in NYC when it was a forested area. Additional information about Native American life, such as local flora and fauna, social organizations and customs, and daily activities will also be incorporated into their work. You’ll see their final projects on display at our content study celebration!
Word Study (Cursive Writing!)
Our Word Study work has continued with kids learning 5 new words each week, along with a spelling pattern.
In other news, you may have heard that we began learning to write in cursive. The kids are VERY excited about this new development in the classroom. We’re following the “Handwriting Without Tears” approach (which Peck Slip kids learned for correct printing of letters in kindergarten), which begins with lowercase letters. So far, we’ve learned: c, a, d, g, h, t and p.
- Jazz at Lincoln Center [check the pictures tab for photos!]
- Pizza Party [stay tuned for pictures!]
- Field trips [stay tuned for AMNH and Inwood Park pictures!]
Thank you for coming today – we hope you enjoyed your time in the classroom!
We finished reading “Because of Winn-Dixie” last week. Everyone loved the story! To celebrate the end of the 3rd grade tests, our fabulous class parent, Deborah, got us a copy of the movie version so we could watch and enjoy.
Thank you to all the parents for all the snacks, encouragement and keeping things relaxed for our first-time test-takers!
On Wednesday, we visited Ward Pound Ridge Reservation in Westchester County to learn about the ways in which the Lenape tribe lived and used the land to suit their needs. Check out some pictures from our trip!
Following here is an update on the last few weeks in our class community, as well as a glimpse of what our students have been busy learning. Read on for more!
NYS ELA & Math Tests
Just a reminder, the dates for the State Tests are:
- Wednesday/Thursday, April 11th and 12th – ELA
- Tuesday/Wednesday, May 1st and 2nd – Math
For our “test training,” we have been working to increase kids’ reading stamina by reading long and strong. Twice a week we have marathon training wherein students read a variety of short texts across different genres to help prepare them for what they will see on the test. We want them to be comfortable with – and accustomed to – switching back and forth across genres and topics. While reading, they are practicing “marking up” the passage with their thinking, questions and ideas.
We have been preparing kids for the multiple choice portions of the test by introducing test-taking strategies for answering questions. For instance, we want kids to do the following when they encounter a question:
– Read question and rephrase it in your head
– Read all choices before answering
– Go find part in the passage (underline it) and find answer
– Eliminate silly answers
And to prepare for the short and extended responses, kids have been introduced to an acronym to help them with answering thoroughly and completely:
R – restate the question
A – answer all parts of the question
P – prove it with text evidence
S – sum it up
Reading & Writing
This month we have been working on poetry in writing. We read Sharon Creech’s Love That Dog, a unique and special book, as a mentor text during our unit. On the surface, it is a story told through poetry (we had a few groans from our students about reading a book of poems). In the story, the young protagonist, Jack – who thinks he doesn’t like poetry – also has to endure a poetry unit. The first page reads:
I don’t want to.
Because boys don’t write poetry.
Needless to say, many of our students were immediately hooked because they felt the same way OR totally disagreed. Every week Jack’s teacher, Miss Stretchberry, exposes him to poetry and makes him write it. Jack thinks he can’t, but readers realize that his objections come out as poetry nonetheless. Similarly, we have studied the genre to become poets, looking through a poet’s eyes, using words to create visual images for readers to make meaning. We read many poems, responded to different types of poems and even created a class poem “Everywhere” using shared writing. To do this, kids wrote a word or phrase on a post-it to tell where poetry can be found. We revised by moving, changing and deleting words to create our final piece.
Students drafted many ideas in their Writer’s Notebooks using observation, narrative transformation and 5 senses description to generate ideas. Next students selected a poem to take through the writing process, revising to help convey their idea through repetition, line breaks, vivid language and description. Finally, they used a checklist to self-assess their work and published their piece.
In reading, we have been practicing close reading of a short text (articles, passages, short stories, etc). Our goals in this unit for for students to be able to self-monitor their understanding in a variety of short texts, develop ideas about the character or plot and have conversations with a partner to further their understanding, ask questions while reading and check for understanding and use context clues, decoding and re-reading to read and understand new words while reading. This work will allow readers to make meaning while they’re reading, deepening understanding and comprehension of the texts they encounter.
Our class has started a new unit about fractions, during which students investigate the meaning of fractions and the ways fractions can be represented, including about numerators (part) and denominators (whole). They solve sharing problems (How can 2 people share 3 brownies equally?), build wholes from fractional parts (½ + ¼ + ¼ = 1) and find fraction equivalents (⅔ = ⅙).
Soon we will be exploring how to share 7 brownies amongst 4 friends. Does each friend receive an equal piece? What are the different ways that 7 brownies can be shared? Stay tuned for more!
In math, students spend time discussing problems in depth and are asked to share their reasoning and solutions. It is important that children solve math problems in ways that make sense to them. At home, encourage your child to explain the math thinking that supports those solutions.
And keep practicing multiplication facts at home! You can also quiz division facts (for example, “What is 25 divided by 5?”); you may need to remind kids that a division equation (25/5=__) can be turned into multiplication equation with an unknown (__ x 5 = 25) to help them think about it more flexibly.
We are set to begin our second content study of the year: the Lenape Native American tribe. Students will be learning about the how the geography of The Woodlands helped shape the lives of the Lenape tribe; how all communities have different aspects of culture based on their geography, resources, and history but that all cultures have the same elements; and also about respecting the differences in culture.
We also have a few field study experiences planned for this study so be on the lookout for permission slips!
Social Emotional Learning
We’ve focused our social emotional learning recently on our #1 school – and classroom – rule: being kind to one another. While kids are all taught from an early age to be polite and use kind words, the concept can be easily forgotten. We’ve been emphasizing the good stuff by focusing on good deeds and the impact a small act of kindness can have.
We’ve also been having having kids pay compliments to one another and providing “Monday Motivation” to a classmate so they can tackle the week ahead.
Additionally, we continue to cultivate our class community by participating in “Circle Time” during which community members seek help for a problem they’re having. It’s a great opportunity for kids to resolve conflicts and help each other think through a particular problem, not to mention allowing them to put themselves in someone else’s shoes.
We got to support the Peck Slip dancers, singers and musicians among us at this afternoon’s performance – check it out:
Hello 326 families!
We wanted to send an update on the last few weeks in our class community, and provide a glimpse of what our students have been busy learning. Read on for more!
NYS ELA & Math Tests
We sent home a letter to help you prepare your child for the NYS ELA and math tests that s/he will take later in the spring. You can also access it here. Hopefully this answers questions you have about the test and how we prepare for it, and also provides resources you can try at home. If you have any questions about the tests, please let us know!
Reading & Writing
In January we dove into nonfiction (information) reading and writing. As readers, kids learned about the different types of text structures: sequence/time order, description/list, problem & solution (cause & effect), and compare/contrast. Throughout this study of nonfiction, readers have been working on getting to a deeper understanding of a text by revving up their brain before starting to read, recalling prior knowledge, identifying the text structure, utilizing nonfiction text features and making predictions about what they will learn.
After finishing their persuasive letters about whether or not they would have worked on the construction of the Brooklyn Bridge, we shifted gears to begin nonfiction writing aligned with our study of the bridge. Kids have been working on informational pieces about the Brooklyn Bridge for our class magazine. We have articles in all the structures about which kids learned on a range of topics, including: the caissons, the Roebling family, greed and corruption during the bridge’s construction, and more.
Kids have also continued learning to write about their reading and express themselves about what they’re thinking, learning and understanding while they read. We require readers to have post-its and a pencil on hand at all times so they can “stop & jot” what they’re thinking, and then use their Reader’s Notebook to develop their jots into a full entry. This kind of thinking goes hand in hand with developing their comprehension, allowing them to make meaning through connections and inferences.
We have been so impressed with the level of understanding of our mathematicians in division. It seemed to come more easily and naturally than multiplication. The kids are very engaged in learning this strand of mathematics, and we’ve been parsing through the different kinds of division: grouping and sharing.
What can you do at home? Create real life scenarios that they will need to multiply or divide. The more you bring real life scenarios into learning mathematics, the richer their understanding will be.
Continuing to practice multiplication facts is also a huge help; fluency with these facts makes a big impact on solving division equations. Once a week we assess addition and multiplication fact understandings with a “Mad Minute.” Kids get 1 minute to solve as many equations as they can with a pencil, then another 2 minutes to solve remaining equations in a pen/colored pencil. This allows us to see which combinations kids know quickly and ones with which they’re not as confident or need to practice more.
The last few weeks have focused on learning about the completion Brooklyn Bridge and the celebration around its opening.
We also polled the kids about what kind of project they’d like to create and divvied up all the 3rd grade students amongst the 5 3rd grade teachers; projects include:
- Brooklyn Bridge painting inspired by Joseph Stella’s famous piece
- Perspective drawing
- Mural of the bridge
- Brooklyn Bridge dictionary
We’re getting ready for the upcoming celebration of our Brooklyn Bridge content study (Tuesday, February 13th at 8:30 in the classroom) and the kids are very excited to show off what they’ve learned. Plan to see their persuasive and information writing, projects, artwork and more.
When we return from mid-winter break, we’ll begin our second content study of the year: the Lenape Native American tribe.
A few notes on some administrivia:
- Homework – our homework choice board (the latest is posted here) has changed slightly, but note that reading HW has not. Kids should be reading EVERY night for a minimum of 30 minutes! We’re going to be bringing the reading log back for the next few weeks to keep kids accountable for their nightly reading, and so we can monitor their work.
- Progress report and parent/teacher conferences – spring progress reports will be sent home on March 14, and we’ll be meeting for conferences the following day. Be on the lookout for a schedule to sign up for a conference time.
One of our very own 326’ers was selected to join the Jazz at Lincoln Center trio onstage during their visit. Check out how kids set the tempo for the guys to keep up: