"There is no such thing as an ordinary day." – Jim Goodwin
EXPLORE! That is more than just a theme that runs throughout Barnesville’s third grade curriculum. It is the essence of what it means to be a third grader in Mrs. Gekas’s class.
Third graders are busy exploring their world through many fun and exciting activities and special days that challenge them to develop and apply new ideas. It’s a supportive and nurturing environment that strengthens the development of active, confident, independent, and responsible learners. Our day begins with a morning meeting that builds a strong community and friendships among the third grade. We strive for a curriculum that extends between subjects and celebratory themes.
There are many special days that the students enjoy such as our traditional Valentine’s Tea, Soup and Sandwich Day, Hat Week, Book Parade, and Explorers’ Museum to name a few. In addition, we have many guest speakers and enriching field trips to round out our year.
Third grade is an unforgettable year!
Every Wednesday, rain or shine and in the snow, third graders head to a special place on campus we call "Explorer Woods" for unstructured, student-driven imaginative play and exploration.
Language Arts emphasizes the skills of writing, grammar, and spelling. The development of writing a descriptive paragraph is given great focus. Students also are guided to develop more sophisticated sentences using descriptive adjectives and vivid verbs through integrated art and writing projects. Students are also required to express their written opinions through writing prompts and journaling.
In grammar, students differentiate between complete sentences and fragments, determine types of sentences, and recognize the importance of subjects and predicates. Additionally, the children are expected to use the basic editing skills of spelling, capitalization, and punctuation. Students are accountable for integrating the rules they have learned in spelling within their everyday writing.
Our reading emphasizes many strategies and critical thinking skills. Third and fourth grade students combine for part of the week to explore a variety of literary themes throughout the year. The students at this time read and work cooperatively with an added focus on writing, technology, and art integrated projects. Students read fiction and nonfiction stories in small leveled groups for skill acquisition, emphasizing the strategies of reading, phonics and decoding skills, and vocabulary. Among these are interpreting the author's viewpoint, evaluating text, noting details, categorizing and classifying details, and summarization. The children learn to apply these skills to other readings outside of the textbook. The students engage in reading for information as they read about various animal habitats and explorers. This necessitates factual interpretation of encyclopedias, periodicals, online resources, and both nonfiction and biographical books. Students read to follow directions in daily activities, projects, and monthly book reports.
The GO Math! program is a multi-faceted program that allows students to move through a sequence of skills and become lifelong mathematical thinkers and problem solvers. We review and build upon the concepts and strategies taught in second grade.
The GO Math! program is designed to meet each student’s needs. There are frequent assessments throughout each chapter that allows the teacher to have a firm understanding of whether a student needs intervention, is on grade level,or needs enrichment activities. All third graders work in small groups playing appropriate math games and using manipulatives. Learning how to work cooperatively is heavily stressed.
Multiplication and division is the main focus in the third grade Go Math! program. The students have many opportunities to represent and solve contextual multiplication and division problems. Learning the multiplication and division basic facts for quick and accurate recall is an important expectation to prepare the students for the development of fluid math skills.
In social studies, students study geographical features of our world including pertinent facts about continents, oceans, and biomes. Additionally, students learn their place in the world beginning with their home address and extending to their "planetary" address. They refine their map skills to include special lines, cardinal directions, and intermediate directions. Students are also introduced to their first research project by choosing and investigating a country. They create a friend who reflects his/her native country in dress and culture. The students compare the Arctic and the Antarctic regions and take a close look at each area, creating fact posters. The students extend their geography skills using graphs, tables, maps, and articles from the weekly Scholastic News.
The study of Africa has the children totally immersed in learning many interesting facts about this diverse continent. They focus on researching African animals and their habitats from the various regions of Africa. They examine the diverse terrain of Africa including the grasslands, deserts, and rain forests, and give attention to the study of this continent’s customs and tradition. Reading about Mary Kingsley, an African explorer, bridges our study of Africa to our study of explorers. They begin their investigation of individual explorers in preparation for the Explorers' Hall of Fame. Again, emphasis is placed on research, specifically finding facts about each explorer and correlating that information to include their reasons for exploration and the qualities each explorer possesses to achieve success. Students recall and extend their map skills by recreating the routes their explorers traveled. These skills include appropriate labels, a clearly marked route that the explorer followed, a compass rose, and a map key. Students present their information during a museum exhibit open to both parents and the School.
Each week begins with excitement as the third grade students become explorers. The young explorers head to Explorer Woods with their explorer bags filled with tools and supplies to discover the treasures of nature that surround them.
In Science, third graders team up with fourth graders to study life and physical sciences. They will compare find patterns within the life cycles of various plants and animals. Additionally, they will define traits among populations and explore the effects that different traits have on the success of individuals within a population. Students will investigate different forces, static electricity, and magnets during their physics unit. Finally, they will explore waves of light and sound energy. Throughout the year, students will participate in hands-on activities to explore topics; they will demonstrate their learning through a series of challenges. They will work both in large and small groups, as well as independently.
Third grade students continue to use the Santillana program. Although we primarily use the workbook to structure our learning of the grammar, we also learn through songs, fun videos, art projects and outdoor activities. Our goal is to expose children to the language in a variety of ways that trigger their linguistic growth and maximize their skills in language arts as a whole. Students derive grammatical rules from exercises created for their level and with their needs in mind. They write and read in Spanish, and practice speaking through scripts, dialogues that they create in groups, and dynamic performances.
Third grade students experience multi-sport games such as hockey, soccer, bowling, and basketball. Exploration of the outdoors includes: ropes challenge course, hiking, scavenger hunts, and free play time. Rope jumping and turning, and all its aspects, dominant and non-dominant foot usage, dribble and passing, striking a ball with different instruments, proper technique in catching hitting, ball dribbling, and ball throwing, are some of the many skills taught. Spatial relationships, support and transfer of body weight, along with using different body parts to lead movements are performed in third grade. Sequencing in dance along with execution of locomotor movements in response to rhythmic accompaniment are taught.
Movement concepts are used to help the student refine movement skills. Basic gymnastic skills and routines are performed. Fitness and regular participation in physical activity is greatly encouraged and many lessons will help improve skillful performance and support fitness.
Third graders meet once a week for 60 minutes. Students are encouraged to work collaboratively through group projects. During the first half of the year students learn about prehistoric and aboriginal art. These units are followed by one on African art, and in particular, how this style of art influenced modern artists such as Picasso and Matisse.
Singing and song repertoire constitute the basis of third grade music classes. Songs transmit culture, history, and the richness of shared human experiences, values, and feelings. Through music, the children celebrate the seasons, and observe in some meaningful way the traditional holidays and festivals.
Special emphasis is placed on agricultural cycles since the Barnesville School is located in the Agricultural Reserve. The third grade always makes a fine contribution to Lower School May Day with their dancing, singing, and enthusiastic participation in the traditionalUnite and Unite processional up the gently sloping hillside to the flower-bedecked May Pole on the playground.
The third graders do a project that integrates music and art. For instance, students create and record a soundscape inspired by the jungle paintings of Henri Rousseau (incorporating animal chattering and growling, bird song, and tropical storm sounds). Their CD was designed to be heard while viewing the Rousseau-style paintings and masks they created in art class. Every month they sing a song about the Character-Word-of-the-Month.
The third grade students enjoy a library class that connects to their curricular needs and expands their responsibility for book care and the timely return of borrowed items. Third graders enjoy increased borrowing privileges. This privilege satisfies the student's appetite for reading and exploring new subjects. With their increased understanding of alphabetical order, they learn how books are shelved to the third letter. The Dewey Decimal system is introduced and the main categories are briefly explored. Students learn to appreciate other book awards, including the Newberry. We explore using library nonfiction books and the encyclopedia for research for the countries project, explorer project, and the African animals project. We evaluate picture books for the picture book project. Students analyze books for text features. They learn to cite sources on research projects.
Students are also introduced to online safety and etiquette via the Common Sense Media curriculum.