THE YEAR-LONG THEME OF THIRD GRADE IS THE STUDY OF THREE CULTURAL GROUPS WHO LIVED IN THE CHESAPEAKE BAY DURING THE 17TH CENTURY. STUDENTS LEARN ABOUT NATIVE PEOPLE OF THE EASTERN WOODLANDS, ENGLISH COLONISTS, AND ENSLAVED WEST AFRICANS. THIS STUDY PROVIDES THE CONTEXT TO EXPLORE THE WAYS IN WHICH ENVIRONMENTS, VALUES, AND COLONIZATION SHAPE HOW CULTURES MEET THEIR BASIC NEEDS.
The third grade reading curriculum, which includes both fiction and nonfiction, has three major strands: independent reading books, read aloud books, and class literature books. Students read silently and orally, and discuss and write about what they read. Our goal is for the children to become skillful readers who appreciate literature of all kinds and comprehend what they read.
In the writing program, third graders explore how to communicate their ideas and feelings for a variety of purposes. We study models of fiction and nonfiction. As the children write in many forms and across the curriculum, they learn to see writing as a process (pre-writing, drafting, revising, proofreading, publishing, sharing). Spelling patterns and strategies as well as rules of capitalization and punctuation are also a focus of the third grade writing program.
Third through fifth grade students have library twice a week—once as an individual class (solo library) and once as a whole grade group (shared library).
Newbery Award-winning author Laura Amy Schlitz will read or tell a story during classroom time in the story corner. Often, a brief discussion period will follow, and then students are dismissed for silent reading. They are also invited to browse and check out books, which they do independently. “Shared” library tends to favor formal presentations such as book talks, lectures about culture, dramatizations, and longer books and stories.
The third grade curriculum is supported by Native American stories and presentations about the nations of different geographic areas.
The third grade mathematics curriculum is organized into units. In each unit, students explore a central topic through a series of investigations, gradually encountering and using important mathematical ideas. Students learn to describe, compare, and discuss their approaches to mathematical problems. Using a variety of strategies is encouraged. Communicating mathematical thinking is vital.
Students work on the following concepts:
The third grade explores the following questions: What are the needs and characteristics of living things? How do living things meet their needs? Using an inquiry-based approach in the classroom and at sites around the campus, students answer these questions through making observations, carrying out experiments, having discussions, and using a variety of scientific tools. They undertake an expansive study of the Chesapeake Bay, exploring the effects of pollution in the watershed, the important role wetlands play in keeping the Bay healthy, and the unique and amazing animals that rely on the Bay’s ecosystem, including migrating birds and horeshoe crabs. Students become adept at using the metric system in their research, and learn to work with stereo and compound microscopes as they focus on the structure and function of plant parts. They conclude the year by designing and conducting their own experiments, exploring how plants grow by using quantitative and qualitative data to support their conclusions.
Third grade students continue to develop communication skills and an understanding of the diverse cultures within the Spanish-speaking world. Students explore the language and many distinct cultures through themes that connect with the classroom curriculum. The Spanish curriculum allows for the use of targeted vocabulary and language in increasingly complex sentence structures across grade levels, providing the repetition needed to retain chunks of language. Among other topics, third graders learn about birthday celebrations, schools, and school materials. Students continue to develop descriptive vocabulary and begin to explore the skills necessary to communicate effectively in authentic settings such as restaurants and shops.
While third graders take large leaps in building and expanding upon skills developed in the first and second grades related to creativity, communication, and research, they also venture deeply into programming with tools such as Scratch and digital citizenship lessons from the Common Sense K-12 Digital Citizenship Curriculum. Third graders are taught multi-tasking techniques and are able to collect, analyze, process, and display data with digital graphing tools. Students also learn to create and print 3-D designs with Tinkercad software. Elective after-school programs offer third through fifth grade students the opportunity to dive deeper into robotics and programming with Lego Mindstorms..
The year-long theme of third grade is the study of three cultural groups who lived in the Chesapeake Bay during the 17th century. Students learn about native people of the Eastern Woodlands, English colonists, and enslaved West Africans. This study provides the context to explore the ways in which environments, values, and colonization shape how cultures meet their basic needs. The students venture into the woods on campus to create survival tools and shelters, while field trips enrich the curriculum. In addition, each spring our third graders are guided through hands-on experiences such as: cooking succotash with venison and a West African stew, and making candles, paper, cornhusk dolls, ink, and quill.