Course Syllabus

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Welcome to my digital classroom!  I am looking forward to getting to know and working with each one of you this year.  We are going to learn a lot this year, with lots of classroom experiences and of course - we will have fun!

Below you find information about each curricular area in third grade.

  

Language Arts

READING:

Reading and writing occur daily. Because our curriculum is integrated, reading and writing will also occur during social studies, science, and math. 

Our reading program is individualized.  Students are encouraged to find “just right” books when they make reading choices, but we will be guiding their book choices based on the Fountas and Pinnell reading levels.  This will allow us to build students’ skills at each reading level and move them forward more effectively. 

During Reading Workshop, we will engage in the following units of study: Intro to Reading Workshop and Reading With Stamina, Reading With Meaning, Character Study, Introduction to Non-Fiction, Traditional Literature, Researching with Non-Fiction and Poetry.

We will use the Reading Workshop model for our reading instruction.  Each workshop time will begin with a short mini-lesson focusing on a skill that enhances our independent reading time.  This will be followed by independent reading time, during which the teacher will conference individually with students about their reading as well as pull small groups as needed.  It will be our goal in third grade to build our reading stamina and sustain reading for 35-40 minutes while at school.  During independent reading, students will respond to literature in a variety of ways.  For example, short summaries, making predictions and connections, asking questions, making inferences, sharing mental images, etc.  The Reading Workshop will conclude with a time of sharing, either by the teacher or students.

The students are read to each day from a “read aloud” book.  We model the predicting, questioning, and connecting that we hope they will use when they respond to literature independently.

WRITING:

We will use the Writing Workshop model for our writing instruction.  Each workshop time will begin with a short mini-lesson focusing on a skill that enhances our independent writing time.  This will be followed by independent writing, during which the teacher will conference individually with students about their writing as well as pull small groups as needed.  The Writing Workshop will conclude with a time of sharing, either by the teacher or students.

Our writing instruction is guided by the Common Core State Standards (CCSS).  These standards have been placed into units of study that will focus on different genres of writing as well as writing for different purposes.  These units include Intro to the Writing Workshop and Writing Process, Autobiographical Writing, Personal Narratives, All About Books, Feature Articles, Poetry, and Persuasive Essay.

SPELLING:

In an effort to make spelling an activity that the students embrace and internalize, the focus will be on integrating the instruction with reading and writing.  We will assess their spelling skills through weekly writing samples, journal entries, Cloze Activities, etc.  The system of evaluation comes from the adopted curriculum materials of Rebecca Sitton.  We will attempt to be better spellers by increasing our experiences with words.  The word wall in our classroom lists the high frequency words the students will be expected to spell correctly in their writing.  We will do a preview of five new words each Monday and these words will be the basis of our instruction for the next week.  These words are then posted on the word wall.  The students are then expected to spell them correctly in their writing.

We will also spend a portion of our Word Study time each week focusing on a specific skill, such as parts of speech, spelling patterns, sentence structure, etc.  As a district, Bexley has developed a Foundational Skills and Language Scope and Sequence based on the Common Core State Standards.  This is what will drive the instruction during Word Study. Students will engage in a variety of activities throughout the week to practice the focus skill.  This skill will then be tested each Friday along with the spelling test.

CURSIVE WRITING:

Cursive writing instruction will occur throughout third grade.  The focus is on learning how to correctly write in cursive, but we don’t require written assignments in cursive writing.  Cursive is a skill to master.  Many third graders have not mastered how to write a complete paragraph.  Couple the two together and the result is often writing that is shorter and less detailed.  All spelling assignments must be printed, as the students need to look at the shapes of the words to be able to recognize when they don’t “look” correct in their own writing.  Starting in the second semester, the teachers write more frequently in cursive in order to practice the reading of cursive handwriting.

 

Math

The students will have the opportunity to work with different peers during the math period.  Both third grade classrooms are mixed and separated into different classes according to need.

MY MATH:

Our math series is called My Math, published by McGraw-Hill.  Our math instruction uses a problem-solving approach based on everyday situations.  By making connections between their own knowledge and their experiences, both in school and outside of school, children learn basic math skills in meaningful contexts so that the math becomes “real”.  We spend an hour each day on our math lessons.  There is homework assigned Monday-Thursday that is directly related to the lesson they went over in school that day.  We will spend a good deal of time working with students to explain their thinking processes through writing.  The new Common Core State Standards focus heavily on this.

ROCKET MATH:

Another component of math instruction in our classrooms is Rocket Math.  The goal of Rocket Math is for students to gain automaticity with their math facts.  (The definition of being automatic or fluent with a math fact is to be able to find the answer within three seconds.) While many students have excellent strategies for finding answers to basic math problems, this can take a good amount of time and can sometimes result in an incorrect answer.  When a student encounters a multiple-step problem that requires the computation of several basic math facts, the process can take much longer and be frustrating for the child.  When a child has gained automaticity with their math facts, they can see the problem 7 + 2 and automatically know the answer in 9, similar to the way we see C-A-T and automatically know the word is cat.  The entire Rocket Math process takes 8-10 minutes a day.  With the new Common Core State Standards, third graders are required to have multiplication facts mastered by the end of third grade.

 

Social Studies

The students will work through Social Studies units each quarter.  All Social Studies instruction will be given by Mrs. Fether.  The units of study are: Our Community and Local Government, Mapping Skills, and Bexley’s Local History.  The students will be instructed through the use of read aloud books, various multimedia presentations and a variety of district adopted resources.  Toward the end of a unit, students will bring home material to study for the unit test.

 

Science

 The students will also work through Science units each quarter.  All Science instruction will be given by Mrs. Sutermaster.  The units of study are Earth Materials, Physical Science and Life Science.  Hopefully you will hear more about science than you will see, as there will be many experiences that will be in lab format.  Students will be keeping a science journal throughout the year to record observations, thoughts and the scientific process.  Toward the end of a unit, students will bring home material to study for the unit test.

 

Special Areas

SPANISH:

Each class has Spanish with Senora Konya once a week.  Ask your students periodically what they are learning in Spanish.

LIBRARY:

Students go to the library during a scheduled weekly library time.  Students may return and check out books during that time.  (They may also check out books from the classroom.)  During our scheduled library time Mrs. Ballinger presents a lesson. Following the lesson, the students are allowed to check out five books at a time. 

COMPUTERS:

We have four networked computers in our classroom and two computer labs available to us.  Computers will be used throughout the day for word processing, research, and math games.  We use the Internet as a resource to enhance our units of study.  The students also start practicing their typing skills in third grade.  The district has adopted Typing Club which is available online.  Students will receive a username and password after it is introduced at school.  We encourage you to practice typing skills at home.  We will also practice weekly at school.

We also utilize Study Island, which is an Internet-based program to review and practice reading, writing and math skills based on the Common Core State Standards.  Your child will learn how to use this program at school.  Once Study Island is introduced at school, students will bring home a username and password so they can access this program from home.

 

Testing

There are several important tests that third grade students are given.  One test that is administered is the Otis-Lennon School Ability test.  This test gives a general look at each student’s ability.  It provides an I.Q. that is used for screening purposes.  It is not as exact as an individual I.Q. test would be, as that would have to be administered one-on-one with the school psychologist.  This test will be administered during the week of September 28th-October 2nd.  We will send more detailed information once we have it.

Students will also be given the DIBELS (Dynamic Indicators of Basic Early Literacy Skills) screening in the fall, winter and spring.  This assessment is given in accordance with the Third Grade Reading Guarantee legislation.  These results will allow us to intervene with students as necessary.

We also assess each child using the Fountas and Pinnell Benchmark Reading Assessment within the classroom.  This assessment provides us with useful information on your child’s strengths and/or weaknesses as a reader so that we can best guide our instruction.  The Fountas and Pinnell assessment will be given in the fall and again in the spring.  It may also be given on an as-needed basis throughout the year.

The next test is mandated by the Ohio Department of Education and is the AIR (American Institute for Research) English/Language Arts Test.  This will be given the week on December 1st.  This test will be repeated in the spring and the AIR Math Test will be added. The approximate spring dates for the OAA are April 11th-22nd.  This test provides the state with proficiency information on each student and is also used for the Third Grade Reading Guarantee.

The students also take the Terra Nova assessment during the weeks of February 29th-March 11th.  This is a nationally-normed standardized test given to children across the country.  The third grade takes the Reading, Social Studies, and Science tests.

Another test students will be taking is the MAP (Measures of Academic Progress) Assessment in math in the fall, winter, and spring.  This assessment will be taken online and will allow us to monitor student growth across the year.

Students will also take a District Writing Assessment.  In third grade, students write an informational piece about an “expert topic.”  These assessments are used to monitor the writing strengths and weaknesses of each child in order to inform instruction.  Students will take the District Writing Assessment in the fall and spring.

 

Homework

While this isn’t a curricular area, it touches and enhances each one.  Our expectation of homework is that it reinforces what we are presenting in school and allows students to practice what they are learning.  Homework should not be “new” information for students. 

How much should you help?  That is individual for each student.  One-on-one time working on math may be very supportive for some children, but we do not expect you to go through World War 3 to get your child’s homework completed!  Homework should never exceed an hour, and we do not want to create frustration in you or your child.  Please call our voicemail here at school and leave a message, e-mail, or write a note in your child’s assignment notebook if an assignment was particularly difficult.  This will help us evaluate where we need to spend our instructional time, as well as help to pull kids for one-on-one or small group help. 

Because research strongly supports that students should be reading for a minimum of one hour, independently, at their level each day, we will be slowly working toward 30 minutes of independent reading time each night.  As the year progresses, students will be required to bring home their reading binders and appropriately leveled book so they can log and respond to their reading.  We consider this academic reading time and this will allow each student to grow to his or her fullest potential.  Students are certainly allowed to read other books at home but not during this homework time.

 We value homework deeply as part of the learning process, and for this reason it is very important that your child completes his/her homework each night.  Learning opportunities are lost when a child isn’t prepared for lessons.  While we do expect students to complete their homework nightly, we do understand that some nights are unusually busy.  Please call or write a note in your child’s assignment notebook if an assignment cannot be completed by the due date.  We want students to begin to build a sense of responsibility for their learning, and because of this, frequently unexcused missing homework will be made up during the extra afternoon recess at 1:45.  It is extremely helpful to know from you if there was a legitimate reason for the homework not being completed so we may excuse them from that consequence.

 We view homework as practice for students; therefore, while we will always look over your child’s homework assignments, not all assignments will graded and returned. 

 

Birthdays

We love celebrating birthdays!  Due to allergies, we need to ask that all treats be nut-free.  We also appreciate knowing your plans for sharing treats prior to your child’s birthday so we may plan accordingly.   Individually portioned treats are appreciated.  It would also be helpful if napkins were provided.  We are also happy to celebrate half birthdays for those students whose birthdays are in the summer. 

 

Finally, thank you for your support and constant involvement in your child’s education.  It is very helpful for us to see your signature in your child’s assignment notebook each day.  We value the open communication between home and school.  It is also important for your child to see that we are in contact on a daily basis.  We look forward to working with you this year to provide your child with the knowledge, skills and tools they need to be successful!

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