We have been learning all about how to write an effective opinion piece. Having an opinion is one thing! Learning how to express it clearly, directly address our audience, and gather enough evidence and facts to support our opinion requires much more thought and effort.
We all noticed 'problems' on the playground. Then we brought them back to the classroom to talk about them as well as solutions to solve them. We then narrowed down our 'problems' to two that we really cared about and thought could be solved - building a playground for the preschool and utilizing the empty tennis/basketball courts during recess. In order to convince our audience that these are great ideas, we have to strongly state this opinion by pointing out the problems and possible solutions that are feasible. We are working together to anticipate the audience responses and making sure we address these directly in our opinion pieces. We are having fun putting these together and will soon send them off to the proper audience - Mrs. Keilty...Mr. Leone... We'll see how convincing our letters will be!
We worked very hard on the math section of the Smarter Balanced Assessments this week. Next week, we'll complete the language arts portion.
DIORAMAS We were so happy to share our dioramas with you and the rest of the school. We enjoyed taking our time to articulate the different parts of our exhibit including our animals' habitats, diets, behaviors, adaptations and more! We worked so hard on our reports by organizing our chapters in a logical way, including our own ideas and interesting text features, and editing and revising. Although we enjoyed this process very much, we're all thrilled and excited to begin our next writing unit: OPINION WRITING Currently our work includes writing persuasive speeches. We know that this involves a different kind of thinking but continues to include the main ingredients of all good writing - a strong introduction and ending, transition words, organization, elaboration, proper spelling and punctuation!
Our first session included something exciting and challenging - persuasive speech boot camp! We talked about what it means to have an opinion and how speech-writing is a kind of opinion writing. The tricky part is that the writer has to choose reasons that will convince his or her audience of his/her opinion (or thesis statement). Once we had some time to think about this, we all chose to write about one topic that we believe in strongly - RECESS! We knew who our reader was going to be - MS. QUINN! Therefore, we had to convince HER that having more recess would be a good idea. Thinking about the audience is just as important as voicing an opinion!
Once we were set on a topic, we sat down and wrote a flash-draft speech. Sometimes diving headfirst into something new is a great way to learn the process. Once we were done with our flash drafts, some of us chose to read them aloud to the class. Now that the warmer weather is coming, we're hoping our speeches convinced Ms. Quinn to give us more recess! Stay tuned!
Our next assignment was to observe the playground and notice any sort of problem there might be. We know that just as artists see a scene and know it's photo-worthy, so do persuasive speech writers. They recognize a problem and get right to work figuring out some possible solutions. They don't sit around complaining and whining about it - they get their writing hand out and begin drafting the problem/opinion and solutions/reasons for making something better. We found a variety of ways to improve our playground experience. These ranged from having a fenced in place for 2-4 year old kids to play safely to having more field toys that could be donated to save money. Other ideas included building more swings and benches and getting parent volunteers for recess duty so the empty tennis and basketball courts could be utilized during recess. We are each writing something that we feel passionate about and will be sending them to the proper audience once they are complete. We will let you know if our persuasive writing was convincing enough!
We also had an opportunity to hear from sixth grade representatives about what it means to run for student council representative. We will have an opportunity to run next year in fourth grade. This means, learning how to write speeches now will help us next year!
READING In reading, we are developing an even stronger sense of who our book characters are as people. This will be based on things they do, say, enjoy, dislike, etc. We are also spending a lot of time preparing for our upcoming Smarter Balanced Assessments by practicing close reading, re-reading questions/passages, staying calm when something is presented differently, remembering all we've learned and most importantly being confident in our abilities to work through difficulties.
MATH In math, we are really enjoying working with fractions. This is because we are understanding that when you can manipulate them using fraction towers and pattern blocks, they make sense. Not only are we finding ways to make 1 whole using fractions, but are also beginning to add and subtract fractions. We will be finishing up the unit this week!
SCIENCE~ We have been having a great time thinking like scientists! Not only can we tell what dinosaurs used to eat based on their teeth, but have discovered that paleontologists use all sorts of clues to find answers to things. Do you know how scientists figured out that dinosaurs were reptiles? Couldn't they have had fur and other mammal-like features? If you ask me, I can tell you 3 reasons why scientists believe that dinosaurs were reptiles. I can also tell you how fast dinosaurs ran by studying their fossilized footprints!
MATH~ This week, on the back of our fraction strips, we created fraction number lines. We are realizing that dividing shapes into fractions is not much different from counting fractions on a number line. When we see the same fraction represented using a shape and also on a number line, it gives fractions greater meaning. Not only can we represent fractions between 0 and 1 but we are starting to represent fractions that are greater than 1, as well. If we know that 3/3rds is equivalent to 1 whole, then we can figure out that 6/3rds is equivalent to 2 and so on. How about 12 quarters? 12/4ths? Using actual quarters is another useful way to understand and visualize that 12/4ths is equivalent to 3. Twelve quarters (25 cents) is the same as $3. There are so many ways to represent and visualize fractions. Please help me find fractions in the real world. The more we talk, the more I'll know!
WRITING~ We are getting so close to completing our first drafts of our amazing animal reports. Some of us are starting to include text features and learning how to use a variety of document tools. Next week, we will utilize everything we've learned about editing and revising to take our reports to the next level. After vacation, we will jump right into our third writing unit - Persuasive Speeches, Petitions and Editorials! We can't wait to get started!
READING~ We're also starting our new Reading Unit on Character Development. This unit will include inferring about characters and character traits, character response/change, analyzing parts of the story in relation to the whole and determining themes. We are excited to delve even deeper into all of our interesting and favorite characters from our own books we're reading as well as the books read aloud in class!
FRACTIONS~ Is two-fourths equivalent to one-half? How do you know? Can you write an inequality statement for one-half and three-eighths using < and > ? If two students had the same size brownie pan but one sliced her brownies into 9 pieces and the other into 12 pieces, which student had the largest brownie pieces? What happens when the denominator stays the same but the numerator goes up? How about the other way around? These are just a sampling of some of the questions we've been figuring out. Fractions are all around us - pizza, brownies, cooking/baking, dividing jelly beans. Please take many opportunities to involve me in conversations around these concepts. When I can make a connection to my own life, it makes learning so much better! FEATURES~ TEXT Features that is! Some of us are starting to complete the first draft of our animal expository research report. Once the writing is complete, we can start including text features of our choice. Whether it's starting to bold expert words and create a Glossary page or to insert meaningful images with captions, we know that text features, along with our own great writing, will make our reports come alive. Since our dioramas are due on April 11th, we are striving to complete our reports during that week, as well. Now that we can do our writing on the Chromebooks, it makes it so much easier for us to go back and insert words or sentences, fix errors, include proper punctuation, make new paragraphs, etc. We know that if we concentrate and work very hard for the next couple of weeks, we can get a lot done. We can't wait to read and share our finished reports and dioramas.
Although there have been many interruptions over the last couple of weeks, we've been very busy in third grade! Completing our second round of enrichment clusters, celebrating Dr. Seuss week by reading to our Pre-K friends, enjoying Pi Day with our Morris and Warren friends, taking an assortment of assessments that have shown our amazing growth this year and so much more! Please keep reading to find out the details!
READING: We're continuing to work hard at cross-text synthesis, summarizing, knowing the difference between important and unimportant details and growing ideas from our nonfiction texts. Remembering to include proper punctuation and check our spelling is also something we're working hard at remembering to do. The way we present our work is evidence of how much effort we put into it and shows how much we care about doing a good job.
WRITING: Not only are we still acting as 'editors' of our previous narrative small-moment writing, but we're still hard at work writing our animal expository texts. We realized, after going back to edit our piece from months ago, how much better we have gotten at recognizing errors in our writing and knowing how to fix them. This might mean we need to include periods or other ending punctuation. It might mean placing commas or quotation marks where they should go. It also might mean moving sentences around, fixing incomplete or run-on sentences or just rewriting so something makes better sense! The most important thing is that we are feeling confident from all we've learned this year so far. We're excited to see how much further we can go!
MATH: We know that when we practice our multiplication and division facts EVERY NIGHT, we will get to know them so well that our recall will take just seconds. We also know that when we can have quick recall of facts, it will make everything else we do in math SO much easier. But it takes practice and persistence! Now that we're studying fractions, staying on top of our facts is even more important. Speaking of fractions, ask me about the bottom number (denominator) and what it represents. Ask me about the numerator (top number) and what it represents. Please include me in conversations that involve fractions - cooking, baking, etc.
Third Grade is a time of huge transitions, lofty expectations and rigorous days. Not only have we had to transition to using Chrome books but have had to learn shortcuts, keyboarding skills, document tools, how to navigate multiple websites and apps all while learning how to research, multiply, divide, summarize, synthesize and so much more! We know that all of our hard work is paving the way for fourth grade. We also know that this kind of perseverance helps us feel capable and confident so we can face any obstacle that comes along in the future.
In Reading, we have had consistent practice locating the Main Idea of a nonfiction passage and noting the differences between important details and unimportant ones. We are experts at locating information within expository texts and utilizing all the text features to their fullest. We're also noticing what strategies authors use when writing these texts. We're realizing that authors don't just write a bunch of facts but they put their own spin on the facts by growing ideas from them. When we recognize these craft moves, they serve as a model for our own expository writing.
In addition to summarizing and learning how author's grow ideas, we're also beginning to understand the importance of synthesizing when reading from multiple sources on the same topic or while tapping into our own prior knowledge. Sometimes we read the exact same information from two sources but other times we notice that we can add onto what we already know or have learned. This takes a lot of brain power but we are working hard and doing a great job!
In Writing, we are taking careful notes while researching our animals by staying organized, figuring out pertinent chapters for our specific animal and remembering that we will be forming ideas from our facts. Just like the mentor books we study, we know that our informational texts will be much more interesting with our own ideas intertwined within the facts. These ideas can be in the form of a clever title or heading, an opening sentence, fun facts, blurbs, images and so much more. We're also spending a lot of time remembering the mechanics of writing such as comma placement, other punctuation, subject/verb agreement and recognizing and being able to fix run-on sentences and/or fragments.
In Math, we are using all of our multiplication and division knowledge to help us solve real world word problems. We're continuing to work hard at communicating our thinking, representing our work clearly and accurately and of course, making mathematical connections. We know that our math skills will become stronger when we increase our fluency. The only way to learn our facts is by consistent, daily practice. Next week we will be starting our next unit on FRACTIONS! It will be a WHOLE lot better when we know HALF as much as we do now!!
~SCIENCE AND SOCIAL STUDIES~
Since we've been studying a variety of animals and their habitats and adaptations, we are extending this learning into our science time. We are learning how habitats have changed over time because of the evidence found. This evidence is in the form of fossils that tell us which the habitat might have been millions of years ago. When you find a shark tooth fossil or other ocean life fossils in the middle of a grassland, we can conclude that the habitat used to be the ocean. Ask me about fossils that have been found in the ocean! We're also excited to start our All About Connecticut project in the Spring! Stay tuned!!
OH MY!! We're so excited to finally begin researching our animals!! We're learning how to narrow down our searches on various kid-friendly websites. Scanning paragraphs, paying attention to subtopics, captions, key words, etc. are all clues we use to figure out what's on a page and if it's something we need for our day's notes. We're also learning how to set up chapters appropriate for our animal, subtopics we might want to choose within each chapter as well as illustrations and captions.
On another note, we will bring home our expert information pieces soon to share with you. We spent a lot of time on these writing our first drafts and then editing and revising by coming up with editing strategies that work for us. Some of us like to include flaps over a part of our writing. Others like to put symbols in a spot where they want to include more or revise. Others just like to re-write a fresh piece. Whatever our method, we worked so hard at looking for areas we can improve in our writing.
In Reading, we are working on building our stamina. We know that reading daily is the best way to improve. We're also getting better and better at locating the main idea and important details. It's not always easy to differentiate between 'important' and 'unimportant' details because to us, EVERYTHING is important! However, there is a difference when we have to find one that supports the main idea. That's when we really have to think about what we're doing. Let's try one together! This week we're going to work on synthesizing information from two pieces of writing.
In Math, we are becoming superstar multipliers and dividers. We can read story problems and understand what we need to do in order to solve it. We know how to support our thinking with drawings, diagrams, arrays and equations! We learned first hand why the commutative property works in multiplication but not division. We're also learning how to multiply large numbers by splitting up one factor. This is called the distributive property of multiplication. When you break down math into simpler parts, math really does make sense! This week we're going to learn about square and prime numbers! Please ask me all about it!
Reading: We're spending a lot of time reviewing and getting comfortable reading and and learning about the parts of expository texts. Reading these texts closely allows us not only to learn about text features and how important each of them is but also to help us determine the main idea and supporting details. We know that if we speed through our reading and don't stop to appreciate the importance of each section, our reading lives will not become all they can be. Reading is supposed to make us excited and inspired and eager to learn. We can only get there when we put the time and effort into our lessons. Finding the main idea might seem like a huge task when we first start trying it out. But when we are consistent with our practice and realize that often times the main idea is stated right there in a 'pop out' sentence, the task seems much easier. It starts to make sense. Please ask me how to find the main idea in a non-fiction or fiction text and let's do it together! Most importantly, read with me. Read to me. Discuss my reading with me!
Writing: We're very excited to complete our 'Expert' pieces. We are realizing that when we put the time and effort into the planning of our structure, the writing part becomes much easier. We worked so hard on making sure our chapters were in a logical sequence, we didn't repeat ourselves and each chapter was chock-full of information and not our opinions. Once we complete our expert information texts, we will all begin a new informational text on an animal of our choice. This time we will include research with our writing. We're excited to try out all we've learned in our Tech Talks to gather important information to include in our writing. We can't wait to show off all we've learned about researching animals, their habitats, adaptations, eating habits and more. Stay tuned!
Math: Multiplication and Division don't seem like such a big deal now that we understand exactly what those words means. There are so many vocabulary words that we're learning. Please test me regularly so I don't forget what they mean! Multiples, Dividend, Divisor, Quotient, Repeated Addition, Skip Counting, Horizontal, Vertical, Diagonal, Rows, Columns and on and on and on....