Our investigations-based math curriculum, guided by the Investigations in Number, Data, and Space program, encourages engagement, problem solving, concept development and computation, and improves third graders’ overall number sense (good intuition about numbers, their magnitude, relationships and how they are affected by operations). Students explore multiple ways of solving problems accurately and efficiently, explaining their thinking in oral and/or written form. Flexibility is reinforced as students use a variety of manipulatives (i.e., stickers/strips/singles, number lines and hundreds charts) to help them visualize problems and increasingly move along the developmental continuum from using concrete strategies to more abstract thinking. Math fact practice is individualized for each student to increasingly develop mastery of addition, subtraction, multiplication and division facts. Third graders practice for accuracy, strengthen their foundational math skills, and develop a greater understanding of relationships between operations.
Third graders are encouraged to become lifelong learners and readers through our literacy curriculum. Our teaching of word study, writing, and reading is guided by the Lucy Calkins and TCWRP Colleagues’ Units of Study. Students continue to move from phonetic to conventional spelling as they explore vowel patterns and strategies for spelling multisyllable words. Students expand their vocabulary, use word identification strategies appropriately and automatically when encountering unknown words, select “good fit” books, maintain reading logs, and make critical connections between texts. Eight and nine year olds enjoy reading texts that reflect diverse cultures, genres and perspectives. In reading partners and guided reading groups, students recognize and discuss elements of different text structures and features. Third graders learn how to write using different literary genres throughout the year, including personal narratives, letter writing, poetry, nonfiction, fantasy and opinion writing. Explicit instruction guides students to revise and edit their own writing with a goal of using conventional spelling and mechanics in final drafts.
Third grade students expand their abilities to analyze, evaluate and interpret scientific information. Using both our indoor laboratories and natural outdoor resources, they study the dynamic forces that shape the surface of our planet. Third graders also learn about the basic physical properties of water, including how it is treated, distributed and used. Throughout the year, students engage in the type of study that both promotes scientific understanding and also develops the scientific habits of mind that can help them make sense of the natural and designed worlds.
Third graders consider the driving question “what makes a community, culture or country unique?” and explore the idea of perspective through their study of geography, timeline and culture. Students continue to consider and explore their identity in relation to others’ and strengthen their sense of global citizenship. “Mystery Skype” sessions encourage third graders to explore similarities and differences with students in other states, and timelines help students explore people and events in their historical context. Research skills are developed through the study of various countries, biographies, U.S. States and customs from the 17th and 18th century in eastern North America (such as English colonists and Wampanoag native peoples).
Third graders continue their exposure to French, Mandarin and Spanish languages on a rotating basis, building upon the skills and knowledge gained in second grade. Songs, games and stories develop listening and speaking skills and simultaneously expose students to the cultures in which the respective languages are spoken. First-hand experience with French, Mandarin and Spanish in third grade helps families and their children make educated decisions about their more “permanent” language choice in 4th grade, when students select a language to study for the remainder of their time at Brookwood.
Third grade students visit the library at least once a week for a dedicated library class where they select and enjoy chapter books, work cooperatively with others to share resources and materials, and discuss information and ideas. Students learn to demonstrate awareness of different genres (such as graphic novels, fairy tales, poetry, folklore, myths and legends) and practice making connections within literature. They also learn to recognize basic story elements such as characters, settings and conflict. Third graders write and articulate simple citations (author and title) to indicate an information source and, with assistance, are able to list the criteria for a research assignment. Building upon their sense of independence, students are encouraged to identify, select and locate resource materials and information on a given topic. Our extensive 18,000+ volume collection serves as a valuable resource for students and faculty throughout the school year as part of our integrated curriculum model, and it also provides families with a variety of child and adolescent development resources.
Exuberance is at the heart of every music class. Third graders build upon their knowledge from second grade in order to perform arrangements written in multiple parts using Orff instruments (xylophones and rhythmic instruments). Students also learn to play a recorder, read notes in treble clef, read and understand whole, half, quarter and eighth notes, and experience work in an ensemble. The third grade leads the charge in the annual Lower School Play. Third graders also study orchestra components and create their own life-size instrument that they use to “perform” in the annual cardboard “air” orchestra.
Third grade artists are introduced to new art forms while they continue to review and work with the art elements and basic design concepts. Students experiment with simple printmaking and collage processes, learn various color blending and layering techniques, and explore different three-dimensional crafting and construction methods. They are encouraged to take creative risks and are reminded that there is no one solution to any problem. The majority of the projects that are done require our third graders to think carefully, to ask questions, to make a plan, to discuss their ideas and then to proceed. Students are reminded that making “great art” takes time, practice, effort and patience and they are reminded to embrace “happy accidents.”
Third graders engage in a variety of games and exercises in P.E. class. in order to refine and hone manipulative skills. An assortment of equipment including pool noodles, jump ropes, beach balls and juggling scarves are used to help students develop and improve both fine and gross motor skills, as well as the ability to play cooperatively in teams. A significant aspect of the third grade P.E. curriculum is to keep all children moving at all times in order to increase cardiovascular endurance.
Third graders draw upon their substantial foundational knowledge to reach new understanding of technology concepts when exposed to elements such as parallel circuits, electronic components, 3D printing and more. Cross-curricular projects occur throughout the year, such as creating designs in Scratch, an educational programming platform, which are transformed into 3D printed objects that are then used as clay presses in art class. Third graders also dig into building and programming robots using hardware (such as microcontrollers, motors, sensors and LEDs) as well as found materials (such as cardboard and other recycled objects).
A dedicated outdoor space located just steps from our third grade classrooms is used year-round to support and broaden concepts and observations from a variety of projects and curriculum. In the fall and spring, third grade students use their outdoor classroom to care for and learn about a variety of flowers and plants native to the coastal Massachusetts region, and a recent addition of a pond has enabled them to deepen their understanding of natural life cycles as well as the responsibilities and decision-making behind taking care of the landscape.