What is it made of?
Hundreds, tens, and ones, of course!
4 hundreds, 6 tens, and 3 ones, of course!
True. But is that the only answer?
This is the question that we pondered this week in math. Students worked in groups to show 463 using a different amount of hundreds, tens, and ones.
In the picture below, you will see the different group's solutions. How can we be precise? I asked. Precision was our "habit of the week" last week (blog post coming soon), so we thought about ways we could double-check that our new representation still added up to 463. We decided that the surest way would be to use the paper/pencil addition method to add up the hundreds, tens, and ones. This allowed us to practice a new mental math strategy: add a 0 to the amount of tens you have to figure out what number they represent! For example, 17 tens equals 170! You can see in the left column that we tried using 15 for the value of the tens, and we didn't get the correct answer. We needed to put 150!
Decomposing numbers in this way builds flexibility in the students' minds, which is important when trying to understand how numbers work, exploring relationships between them, and refining our mental math strategies.
As we know, it takes practice to build flexibility. We practiced our mental flexibility by playing a mathy version of the classic card game War. In this version, each card has a description of a number on it.
Each player flipped over their top card, then used our addition strategy to figure out what number it represented.
Just like in the classic game, whoever had the higher number won that round.
You've seen homework this week with similar number riddles. If your child found them difficult to solve, don't be afraid to make up some of your own and practice adding them up! Just choose a certain amount of hundreds, tens, and ones, and make sure that at least one of those numbers is greater than 9.
It's the beginning of the school year, and the 3rd grade walls and bulletin boards are bare. They are ready for a new class to come make their mark -- to make their classroom their own. Having a sense of ownership over one's environment can help students to feel safe and secure when they are at school. And as you probably know, a child who feels safe and calm is ready to learn!
We spent the first couple of days of school creating our class birthday chart, daily schedule display, and environmental print labels. These activities allowed the students to have fun and be creative, while simultaneously allowing us to practice our classroom procedures. For example, in order to decorate a label we need to first learn where the art supplies are and what the rules are for how to use them. In order to sit and work, we need to first learn where we are allowed to sit and what the rules are for that type of seating. If a student finishes her work early, she learns what her "I'm Finished" choices are. Transitioning from one activity to another, we learn procedures for following a signal and cleaning up. In this way, the students were creating their environment and familiarizing themselves with their environment at the same time.
(In the slideshow below you'll see that one student is working on our collaborative puzzle, one of our "I'm Finished" choices).
In addition to helping decorate the room, the students also got the chance to explore the different areas of the room and discover their purpose through a scavenger hunt! Working in pre-assigned pairs, the students had to locate 6 specific areas of the room and complete a task at that area. Each task was designed to help them understand more about how to use that area. For example, one task was to locate the construction paper, cut out a design, and put the scraps in the scrap paper bin. In doing this task, the students learned where the paper and scissors are kept, as well as what to do with their leftover scraps! Watch the video below to see them in action!
You can read more about the 3rd grade classroom environment in this week's Shabbat Shalom. Have a great week!
Our last conceptual unit of the year is called "The Changing Faces of a Story." During this unit, we read lots of different stories and discuss the element of change. This could be a change of heart that a character experiences, a change in setting, or even a cultural change as a story is told across the world! One of my favorite lessons in this unit is in the very beginning, as the students begin to articulate what they already know about change. In the video below, groups of students work to make a list of things that never change. How many can you think of?
Some items were not able to be agreed upon, such as "water." At first you might think, "Of course water changes! It changes from liquid to solid!" But isn't it still water? Just frozen water? This was a very rich discussion in our class, and we had students on both side of the debate. Discussions like these help us to practice a very important way of thinking: that the purpose of discussion is not to be right, or to prove someone wrong, but instead to sharpen our own way of thinking! A tough concept for 3rd graders, but an important one no doubt!
Third grade is the year of the essay. This is the year that students build upon their prior knowledge of what makes a complete sentence and what makes a good paragraph, and put it all together to create works of writing that contain multiple paragraphs around the same topic, complete with an introduction and a conclusion. Throughout the year we have practiced several elements of essay writing, like creating a "lead" that will hook your reader, and leaving the reader with a call to action or a look to the future in the conclusion.
Our most recent essay writing venture included a new element: the authentic audience. Writing for a real purpose tends to bring out the voice and passion of the student, as well as helps the student to understand the importance of good writing. Who is our authentic audience? Teachers!
The students have been working hard to create a persuasive essay that will convince hesitant elementary teachers to try teaching a specific economics project. The 3rd graders were shocked to hear that most students don't learn economics until high school! Why is that? Many teachers are afraid! They are afraid the concepts are too difficult, that they don't have time to teach it, or that young students won't find it interesting. I told the class that even though I go to conferences and talk to teachers about how fun it is to teach economics, they would most likely be convinced if they hear from the students themselves!
After exploring the concept of persuasion through advertisements and a fun simulation (from which I sent pictures via email), we brainstormed what fun lessons and projects helped the students learn economics this year. Ideas included the mini-economy, our class business, The Lemonade War, Arthur's Pet Business, and play-dough economics activities. I asked the students to consider their journey of learning, and which of the activities would stick with them the most once they leave 3rd grade. Each student chose a topic and began to write, hoping to persuade elementary teachers to try it.
Here is a video of students finishing up their final drafts (a couple of them were already finished, so they are working on other things). I highly recommend stopping by the 3rd grade hallway to read their final products!
Enjoy the photos below from our March market. For the first time ever, we incorporated our school community! The 2nd graders, as well as a few teachers, stopped by to check out the shops. They were each given 10fbm's to spend. Knowing the market of consumers would be more diverse this time around, a few of the businesses made adjustments. Hover over the pictures to read all about it!
Our February market was one of the best mornings of this school year to date! I sat in awe observing the 3rd graders as they showed interest in one another's accomplishments, negotiated prices, made informed decisions with their money, and moved through this open-ended activity with such harmony. You could feel it in the room, this energy of excitement, busyness, learning, and doing.
The businesses themselves were the same as the previous market, so I won't add captions to the photos (see previous post for descriptions). However, there was one new business -- Yakira's spin art! As you can see in the photo, this addition was quite a hit!
The great thing about having repeat businesses at the market is the opportunity for improvement. Iterative learning is all about doing an activity or project more than once, so that students can reflect, make a change, and observe the results. Lila and Leon added a service to their business -- body painting! Dovid-Meir and Rena added more good outcomes to their game. Even Yakira, whose business was new, decided to raise her prices midway through the market in response to her product's popularity! I also made an adjustment to my ticket-selling business by adding experiences that were recommended by my consumers (the students). They said they wanted to be able to purchase time on our class computer as well as time on the brand new HUGE computer in the computer lab. I added those tickets and made sure to explain to the class that smart business-owners listen to what the consumers are asking for.
Iterative learning doesn't just happen. Students need some support and prompting to help them make the most of the process. One important step in this process is reflection. After each market, the students sit down to reflect about their experience and to develop ideas for the next market while it's still fresh in their minds.
I'm always so delighted at how collaborative the mini-economy and markets become. This student recommended that I sell classes that the students can pay for. This idea completely blew my mind! In 4 years of teaching economics this thought had never occurred to me! When given the opportunity, children have the capacity to teach us so much.
I'll leave you with what the students said they enjoy about the market experience:
Our next market will take place Friday, March 29th. Keep your eye on the blog!
Did you know every month our class holds a classroom market? It's true! And what's more, it is the students who run the show!
Market day is where our growing knowledge of economics comes to life! The students have prepared for this day by creating our class currency, earning their weekly salaries, creating business proposals to sell goods or services, and advertising for their businesses using posters, invitations, and word-of-mouth. Market day usually takes place at the end of every month; however February's market will be tomorrow due to some scheduling conflicts. More details about the creation of our mini-economy can be found here.
Let's take a look at the fun!
Here are some pictures of the students at their various booths during January's market. Hover over each picture to read a description of that business.
I ran a business at the market as well, selling tickets for special class privileges, such as time on the iPad or bringing a toy to recess.
Now take a look at the market in action!
Now that we have studied economic concepts like resources, scarcity, goods, and services, the 3rd grade has embarked on a new journey -- our own mini-economy!
Here's how it works: the students have applied for and obtained classroom jobs like: door holder, librarian, veterinarian, and supply straightener. At the end of each week the students receive a salary for completing their classroom jobs. They can earn bonuses for going above and beyond in their jobs, and can lose pay for not doing their best. They will keep track of their earnings and have the opportunity to spend their money at our monthly market. But they must be wise, because at the end of the year there will be a SUPER market, where they can buy more expensive, big-ticket items.
In order to make our economy feel authentic, we held a design contest for our class currency. We first studied currencies from around the world to learn how important symbols can be to a community. After building that background knowledge, the students submitted their own designs.
The designers got a chance to explain the symbols they included on their currency, then the students took a vote. After a few tie-breakers, the top 4 designs were chosen. These 4 designs became the 20, 10, 5, and 1 denominations. I copied them on colored paper to make it official.
We then voted to name our currency, and the students settled on "Funny Bunny Money" or "FBM" for short. Next, we chose a symbol - which looks like a giant F with a B and M attached - and our currency was complete!
Our mini-economy does not stop there. No, the students have worked too hard learning about how businesses work to stop there. The final, and perhaps most exciting, piece of our mini-economy is the opportunity for entrepreneurship! If a student would like to earn extra income, he/she can start his/her own small business selling a good or service at the monthly market (Our first market was February 1, our next will be March 1). A student with a talent for bracelet-making can sell bracelets. A more task-oriented student could start a cubby-cleaning business. Whatever they decide, they must fill out a business proposal and have it approved by me. Then, they must make an advertisement so that the consumers know what products are available for purchase at the market. I also have a business at the market, selling coupons for experiences like bringing a toy to recess, or 20-minutes of iPad time.
If you want to hear how our first market went, keep an eye on the blog!
My final note on the mini-economy involves you, the parent. If you have small items or big-ticket items that you would like to donate to the end-of-the-year SUPERmarket, please send me an email. The more diverse the market is, the more incentive the students will have to do their jobs well and start a business of their own!
After a long and (hopefully) restful winter break, school is back in full swing! I have to say, we are having an amazing start. There have been a few moments that have caused me to stop and marvel at how far these students have come in so many ways. They are growing up right before my eyes!
This week we embarked on our long-awaited economics unit. From the very first day of school, students have been asking, "When do we get to do the thing with the money?" "When does the market start?" Well, here we are!
Before we get to the fun stuff, we have to lay the foundation. This week was all about why we are learning economics. The conceptual lens for this unit is "Choice," so we began with a concept building activity to help us think deeply and broadly about the idea of choice.
I divided the students into 3 groups. Their first task was to choose a secretary. This person would be responsible for writing down the group's ideas during our brainstorm. I then gave the groups 5 minutes to think of as many examples of choices as they could. This task was difficult at first, but became easier as they wrote down each idea. After 5 minutes, we went around the room, each group sharing one example of choice at at time. I recorded their thinking on our concept chart.
Next, I pointed out to them that some of their ideas sort of go together; for example, "governor" and "president" could be put into a category. One student remarked, "Yeah! Like one category could be 'outside' and you could put 'litter,' 'run,' and 'hobbies' in that category!" I then gave the groups another 5 minutes to write down other categories they see and which items would go in those categories. The students quickly realized that items can go into more than one category, and that each group would probably come up with completely different ideas -- we are learning that that's OK!
The final phase of this processing activity was indeed the most challenging. Here is where we really stretched our thinking and synthesized our ideas. After sharing and listing our categories, it was time to come to the rug and put it all together.
The question I asked was this, "What can these categories tell us about choice?" The idea was to create some big idea statements that are true about all different types of choice. I prompted them by giving them sentence starters like "Choices can..." "Choices might..." "Choices can lead to..."
Here is what they came up with!
I was so impressed with their ability to think so abstractly. Though this activity was challenging, everyone was participating, thinking flexibly, and trying their best.
Economics is all about choice. Producers and consumers make choices every day in regards to their money. As we move through this unit, we will continue to reference and add to our choice concept chart, making connections to our own lives, other subjects, and the world around us!
Vocabulary is one of those tricky subjects where if the teacher isn't careful, it can go in one ear and out the other. Students need lots of repetition, examples, and opportunities to use the word in order for it to truly become part of their vocabulary. One way to see if students have really internalized the meaning of a new word or concept is to ask them to not use it! Introducing: Guess that word!
This game, which takes place during our morning meeting, is similar to the game "20 Questions." One person is given a word on their forehead. They are allowed to ask 5 yes/no questions to narrow down what it could be. During this process, the person who is "it" is using deductive reasoning, while the rest of the class is considering the the definition and properties of the concept in order to answer their questions. After 5 questions, the class is allowed to give 5 hints. It takes some practice for the students to get used to giving hints that don't use the word or give away the word.
Whether or not the person guesses their word, everyone gets lots of practice thinking about the word and all its aspects!
Little people, big minds.