Third Grade is the culmination of the Lower School experience. Students learn to question and to consider multiple perspectives as they immerse themselves in the study of Native Americans.
The study of Native Americans of North America forms the center of the Third Grade social studies and language arts curricula. The yearlong period of time devoted to this core study creates opportunities for ideas, skills and relationships to be developed slowly, thoroughly, and with the aim toward fostering intellectual curiosity. Two overarching themes set the framework for exploration and reflection: the Native American view that humans are at one with, and exist in harmony with, all living things and the ability of Native Americans to successfully adapt their culture to widely diverse environments. Our core study of Native Americans provides a natural forum for discussions about stereotyping, assumptions, discrimination, equity and social justice. Our essential question is: Whose perspective are we hearing?
Reading: Our curriculum utilizes a combination of a strong phonics program that augments the methods in the Reading Workshop. The program is designed to further develop independent reading, to increase comprehension, word recognition, and vocabulary usage, and to promote critical and analytical higher-level thinking. Book Clubs are a favorite experience in Third Grade. They allow for students to share their love of reading with their classmates and encourage leadership opportunities as they take on various roles for their meetings. Read-alouds continue in Third Grade and are often connected to the Core and Social Justice curriculum. Reading in Third Grade encourages students to find joy, knowledge, and excitement in the books they read.
Writing: Third Grade continues to follow the Writing Workshop approach. Students work for longer periods on their personal narratives. With the guidance of their teacher through a conferencing method, Third Graders spend greater time on elaborating, expanding and editing their own work. The Core Curriculum is integrated in their writing units when working on poetry, research, fiction and nonfiction. Cursive writing is continued and touch typing is introduced through our technology program.
Library: In Third Grade, students explore informational books in greater depth. While students have already developed a strong understanding of nonfiction text features such as captions, headings, glossary, and index, in Third Grade they are challenged to look more deeply at the underlying text structures most often used in nonfiction: problem/ solution, compare/contrast, and cause/effect. They continue to use nonfiction books as research tools, but they also start to use the online Encyclopedia Britannica as an additional resource. Third Graders have become expert library users and are welcome to start exploring the upper school shelves of the library in addition to the lower school shelves they have gotten to know so well in previous years.
In Third Grade mathematics, students are encouraged to link past experiences to new concepts, become flexible, creative problem solvers, work cooperatively and discuss possible solutions, and apply mathematics to their everyday lives. In addition to basic arithmetic, students will continue to build their concepts and skills in the following topics: Numeration, Operations and Computation, Data and Chance, Measurement, and Geometry. Additionally, while studying Lenape Native Americans, a culminating, project-based learning activity helps students to explore the relationship between perimeter and area by creating blueprints for a Lenape Longhouse. The greatest change for students is the move to more abstract thinking, making connections and early algebraic reasoning.
Third Graders have science class twice every week. The year focuses on the topics of biodiversity and adaptations, ecology, food chains and food webs, and design experiments around the topics of motion and forces such as gravity and friction. The students keep their work (research projects, observational drawings and diagrams, written reflections, and lab reports) in a science binder. As they did in Second Grade, the students work with a partner, a small group, or individually. Our yearlong goal is to hone science practices such as making predictions, making careful observations, and/or performing an experiment, recording results, and making conclusions based on those results.
The Third Graders begin the year learning how to touch type. Through the use of the program, Keyboarding Without Tears, students practice correct finger placement and posture. Building muscle memory and accuracy are emphasized over speed. Once the students become comfortable with the keyboarding program, typing practice transitions from school to home (around February). The Third Graders are expected to continue typing weekly for homework. In class, students are introduced to computer programming and have the opportunity to apply their understanding of algorithms and sequences to solve logic puzzles on code.org. The Third Graders conclude the year by putting their newly acquired keyboarding skills to practice and type up their True Stories in Google Docs. They learn the basics of formatting a document, such as adjusting the font type, size, and alignment. Additionally, each student has the opportunity to use the green screen to take a relevant picture for his or her story.
In Third Grade French class, we continue to provide the students with meaningful and comprehensible language. The children engage in conversations on topics related to their immediate environment or interests. A typical lesson may include a variety of story-based and hands-on activities, music, and movement. While the students are given multiple opportunities to use their language skills, they are also taught how to best acquire a language within the limits of a classroom setting.
Music: In Third Grade, students embark on a practical application of their music literacy to an instrument: the recorder. Evidence of recorder type instruments have been found in practically every native culture as far back as the prehistoric ages. The recorder’s appeal for this age group lies in its gratifying accessibility (it’s fairly easy to play and to apply concepts) and in a sound that children can relate to (the recorder possesses a timbre and range similar to children’s voices.) Native-American, early American, and African-American folk songs and games, many of them pentatonic, lend themselves nicely to the recorder and tie in well to the Third Grade core curriculum. The recorder ensemble performs in Morning Meeting and at Instrumental Night with the Second Grade as part of the Lower School Philharmonic. Students learn how to work independently towards common long-term goals, by establishing good practice routines at home. Students continue expanding their solfège, rhythmic, structural and vocal understanding through Far Brook songs, songs of other cultures, and formal repertoire of the classical canon. A short exploration of folk songs brought in by the early American settlers – such as cowboy songs and play parties – has been a complementary tangent to their social studies curriculum.
Dance: The Third Graders create dances based on Native American customs and culture, considering the ceremonial and social aspects of dance and how to re-interpret this in a modern setting. Using the knowledge of classroom study and their previous dance knowledge, students work collaboratively in small groups to create original work to reflect upon the history and culture of the Native Americans, and present their work in performance as a part of a larger group work. Considering rhythms and creating their own music using claps, snaps and other body percussion as well as voice, the Third Graders continue to develop a sense of personal artistry and performance.
Art: Our art curriculum echoes Third Grade’s core curriculum and focuses on the intricate decorative iconography and applied arts of various tribes. Students create weavings on small looms after a discussion of Native American iconography. They also create an original totem pole sculpture based on a narrative of their own imagination or personal experience. Using foam core, wood and paint they create their ideas and develop their skills with new materials. Students also develop a watercolor project using shapes to describe space, texture and gesture. In addition, students learn to modify a 3-D object from an original 2-D sketch. These works demonstrate original, creative and critical thinking combined with an historical perspective.
Woodshop: Third Grade students continue to think deeper about design as it applies to the Far Brook community. They are tasked with re-thinking an area of the school that they are familiar with, like the playground or the woodshop classroom. They then build a model or a prototype of the product they think would improve these areas of campus. Additionally, an integrated project is created to go along with the Third Grade core curriculum at the close of the year.
Social and Emotional
Through the Open Circle curriculum, essential social and emotional skills are developed that are related to five key areas: self-awareness, self-management, social awareness, relationship skills, and responsible decision-making. Children further develop skills needed to be good learners and to form healthy positive relationships.
Third Grade students have sports four times per week for 30 minutes each class. The students continue to develop basic motor skills and sport-specific skills through participating in games and activities. Sportsmanship, team play, and fair play are an emphasis throughout the year. The importance of character development is refined and becomes more of an expectation. Third Grade students rotate through units of soccer, floor hockey, team handball, basketball, and kickball/wiffle ball. Every month the students are introduced to a Sports Changemaker which is an athlete that makes a difference in the world through fighting for social justice, fairness and equality.