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:
Third graders participated in an architecture panel discussion on Friday, interviewing some of our very own Peck Slip parents about their experiences, education and work as architects.
On Tuesday, we walked across the Brooklyn Bridge so that we could see both the Brooklyn and New York towers. During this trip we focused on various perspectives while on the bridge, noticing the different views one might utilize whether zooming in on a particular part of the bridge or zooming out to observe something larger. Ask your child to tell you what they zoomed in on in their perspective drawings of the bridge!
For the remainder of the year, the choice board choices will change to reflect more variety; they will no longer have to choose 1 reading, 1 writing and 1 math choice. Instead, the three choices will include more options, giving kids more freedom in their homework choice. Our next choice board will be sent home/posted on Monday, January 8th and should be turned in by Wednesday, January 17th. Finally, we will soon begin including some NYS-test prep materials with the choice board, which we will encourage children to complete as one of their choices.