Our first math unit of the year is called "Numbers and Operations in Base-10." During this unit, the students will build a strong understanding of what numbers mean. For example, 351 is not just 3 hundreds, 5 tens, and 1 one, but it is also 35 tens and 1 one, 34 tens and 11 ones, and many other possibilities!
Yesterday we built understanding by playing the game, "Three Other Ways." I wrote a number on the board, and small groups worked to build the number using their base-10 blocks. Then, I challenged the groups to build the same number in a different way (using a different amount of tens, for example).
Being able to see numbers flexibly, to compose and decompose them in different ways, is one of the most important building blocks of number sense. We will continue to do these sorts of activities this week to pave the way for more complex math as the year goes on.
This week we began one of our daily reading exercises. It's called "Article-A-Day," and it comes from ReadWorks.org. The procedure is simple: each day the children enter the room, turn in their homework, and get their packet of articles. The packet includes 5 or 6 short articles on the same topic, and the articles get slightly more difficult as they go on. The students read the article of the day, then write one thing they learned in their notebook. Once I check their work, they put their materials away and head to the rug for morning meeting. Each day I choose one person to write what they learned in our class "Book of Knowledge," which is on display at the front of the room.
The students know the purpose of "Article-a-Day." The purpose is to build our reading stamina and gain valuable knowledge while we read. As the year goes on, they will be able to devour these short pieces of writing, becoming more fluent as the year goes on. Some weeks, instead of articles, they will have packets of short stories or poems. Instead of writing something they learned, they will write something they noticed or liked about the work. This daily reading and reflecting will help them not only to become better readers, but as they gain exposure to "good writing," they will also become better writers!
What a great 1st week we've had in 3rd grade! With such a thoughtful, cooperative class, I know we will be able to accomplish a lot this year.
This week, our focus was on setting goals for the year. The students began by reading a piece of writing I wrote about my personal goals for the year. They noticed that for each goal I included what the goal was, why I wanted to reach it, and how I planned to get there. The students then got to work, brainstorming all the possible goals they could have for this year. After choosing one or two goals that felt the most important to them, we began our writing process.
One of my favorite parts of the process we used for this piece was peer conferencing. Each student met with a partner to read his/her writing aloud. The listener had a specific job: to listen for any information that felt incomplete. Considering one's audience is a huge part of writing, and it can be very challenging for 3rd graders to remember that the reader does not have all of the information that the writer has in his/her head.
After getting feedback, the students were ready to put their final touches on their writing. I also had them come up with a plan for how they'll know when they've reached their goals, and to decide where in their writing it would make sense to include that information.
The final product can be found on the bulletin board outside our classroom. To add vibrance and personality to their work, each student also created an abstract self portrait out of construction paper. If you get the chance, check them out!
Little people, big minds.