Our Week – November 14

accomplishmentIt’s hard to believe that Friday is here again.  We have so much to do that our days do not feel nearly long enough – and yet they are.  There are so many things I wish we had completed.  I’d planned on telling you about finishing our How We Are Smart pie charts.  I thought I’d be telling you about how we had explored different formats for informational writing to prepare for a 3E Museum.   And I’d hoped I would be letting you know we had completed a first set of learning goals and were ready to share them with you .

While we didn’t find time in our week to bring closure to any of those things,  we worked on parts of each of them and we learned and explored many other things.  The week was full of the things connecting us to each other and to the world beyond.  Woven into almost every part of our academic work this week was an element of Social Emotional Learning – learning about ourselves, establishing effective social relationships and building empathy and understanding.  Ask your child about the connections they are making and building as he or she learns together in  3E.  One important connection was made on Monday when your third graders sang their appreciation to our Veterans.  They sounded wonderful.  The line of veterans on the stage with them applauded their efforts – the words they sang and what they did truly mattered.  That was the first special event of their week.

Walking On Logs

In the afternoon we had a challenge – the first that everyone was able to take the risk to try.  Not only did everyone take a risk to try, everyone met with success.  For us the challenge featured cooperation, thoughtfulness and focus.  It took all of us to make sure that everyone was able to walk across the logs and it took all of us doing our part to support him or her.  It felt really good to walk back to the school from the challenge course knowing that everyone had a sense of accomplishment and pride in him or herself and in our class.  Day by day we are strengthening friendships and building trust.

walk 4log walk 2walk 3log walk 1ta-da!



















Celebrating Quirks

On Wednesday our celebration of the Quirks was an all day affair.  First we created the characters – an exercise of partnership, communication and collaboration.  Next we brainstormed character traits for each of the characters.  We traveled the room carousel-style jotting down traits after reading what had already been written on the paper so there were no repeats.  We worked to describe the characters more deeply than fun, cool, or nice and we mostly succeeded.  The teams used those traits, along with some of their own ideas, to write paragraphs about each character using the format from The Important Book.

In addition, everyone read and explored at least two sections of Erin Soderberg’s website.  We learned that the author of the Quirks got many ideas for her story from her own family and that she started writing the series for her children to read.  They help her make the books just right for 8, 9 and 10 year olds.  We learned that the Quirks began as a family of four, but slowly changed as the story evolved.  And most surprising, was seeing the covers from the books as they are published in England.  Niblet is so totally different.  We realized different illustrators imagine the words differently – we do too.  The collection of “quirky” things on the site is worth checking out – the biggest ball of twine, the largest fiberglass fish and the amazing list of actual town names from across our country.  Have fun exploring these with your family too.

We ended our celebration with a checkers tournament.  We played for 20 minutes and made 980 moves.  In The Quirks – Welcome to Normal they have a record setting contest that is chosen from suggestions slipped into a suggestion box.  We collected suggestions too.  The checkers tournament was selected.  Now that we’ve played once we have a record to break throughout the year.  It was fun.  Our final Quirky task (hopefully done today) will be to write a letter to the author.  We hope she’ll check out our blog to see and read how much we’ve enjoyed her books.  61 days left before we can read The Quirks and the Quirkalicious Birthday.

980 movesmath tooreading the websiteEnglish coverscheckers toegetherkeeping track








Learning With Leo Lionni

For the past two weeks we have been reading a book a day by Leo Lionni and listening to discover what we think the author’s main message was.  We have collect nearly 150 precepts from this work.  Things like:  follow your heart, be kind even when others are not, be satisfied with what you have, always remember to dream, notice what’s around you, and many, many more.  We have been taking time to discuss which of these to we feel most important to follow and use as our guide.  We have also been learning how to back our opinions with evidence from the text. This is challenging and we have been trying to decide what are the pieces from the story combined with our own lives and experiences that give us our personal ideas.

In the weeks to come we’ll be choosing one of the precepts and working to create an original, illustrated fable in Leo Lionni style to challenge our thinking and understanding even further.  Ask your child about the books and what precepts they feel most strongly about.

Bits and Pieces

  • Our Field trip to the SEE Science Center is Tuesday, November 18, 2014.
  • We began our 5th chapter read-aloud.  It’s called Nuts to You and is the story of an exciting adventure.  A squirrel tells it!  We’ve just begun it.  We’ll let you know what happens.
  • We are half way through our second set of cursive letters – the Kite String Letters.  These swoop up into the air, sometimes dipping low like for an i or u and other times dipping only slightly like for s and r.
  • We enjoyed Celebrating Scientists today in our class.  Thank you for your help and support with that project.  We look forward to gathering together as a grade on Monday to learn more about science and the work of different scientists.

gathering traits


A Quirky Celebration

beginning Mr. Intiharalmost done with Mr. IntiharMr. Intihar







Mr. Intihar

     by Stella and Marianna

The important thing about Mr. Intihar is that he is a teacher.  He has a kid named Charlie.  He is helpful and nice to people.  He is really tall.  He is kind and caring.  He is a genius.  But the most important thing about Mr. Intihar is that he is a teacher.





starting Breealmost BreeBree







Bree Quirk

     by Ben

The important thing about Bree Quirk is that she is helpful.  She can use her magic on other people.  She goes to work every day.  She’s a good mom and she takes care of her family.  But the most important thing about Bree Quirk is that she is helpful.

     by Ginger

The important thing about Bree Quirk is that she is helpful.  She is tired, funny, smart and frazzled.  But the important thing about Bree Quirk is that she is helpful.


starting Finnalmost FinnFinn







Finn Quirk

     by Oliver

The important thing about Finn is that he is a Quirk.  He is fast and short.  He likes to be dirty and he makes you laugh a lot.  But the important thing about Finn is that he is a Quirk.

         by Henry

The important thing about Finn is that he is a Quirk.  He is invisible.  He is fast and dirty, thin and creative.  He is cool.  But the important thing about Finn is that he is a Quirk.


starting Nibletalmost NibletNiblet








     by Tim and Nick S.

The important thing about Niblet is that he is helpful.  He is fun because he juggles.  He is cuddly because he is soft and furry.  He is weird because he is a giant furry ball from Penelope’s imagination.  But the most important thing about Niblet is that he is helpful.




starting GrandmaNiblet and Grandma beginGrandma







Grandma Quirk

     by Nick S. and Tim

The important thing about Grandma is that she is tiny like a fairy.  She is helpful and smart.  She is really fast.  She is a seamstress.  But the most important thing about Grandma is that she is tiny like a fairy.





Grandpa beginsalmost GrandpaGrandpa







Grandpa Quirk

     by Alexis and Ronan

The important thing about Grandpa is that he is magical.  He is fun and goofy.  He is silly and funny.  He loves ketchup on chips but that makes him hiccup.  He is old and has a big moustache.  But the important thing about Grandpa is that he is magical.





starting Mollyalmost MollyMolly







Molly Quirk

     by Sami and Nick C

The most important thing about Molly is that she resists magic.  She can see Finn.  She is smart and helpful.  She is a Quirk.  She is nice.  But the most important thing about Molly is that she resists magic.






PenelopePenelope Quirk 

by Laird

The important thing about Penelope is that she is shy.  She is amazing and cool and a little bit cuckoo.  She is worried and charming.  But the most important thing about Penelope is that she is shy.

by Ginger

The important thing about Penelop is that she is amazing.  She is shy and magical, cuckoo and smart.  But the important thing about Penelope is that she is amazing.


the Quirk twins


It’s Wednesday – here are some math problems to solve

numbersFinn was moving gum balls from the dunk tank to the gum ball machine on Normal Night.  He could carry 123 gum balls in his shirt at a time.  He made five trips.  How many gum balls did Finn carry to the gum ball machine altogether?

When Mrs. Deville was spying on the Quirks Penelope had a hard time keeping her imagination from going wild.  There were 214 boards in their fence and Penelope imagine three eyeballs staring at them one each board.  How many eyes did Penelope imagine altogether?

Grampa Quirk got hiccups.  Each time he hiccuped he rewound time 5 seconds.  If Grampa hiccuped 38 times, how many seconds would he have rewound time altogether?  How many minutes and seconds would that be?

The third Quirk book, The Quirks and the Quirkalicious Birthday, is going to be released to bookstores on January 13, 2015.  It is November 12th today.  How many days do we have to wait before we can read it?

Happy Veterans’ Day

singing "Thank you Soldiers'the veterans at our assemblyleading the school in the Pledge












At our school’s Veterans’ Day assembly three of our classmates led the school in the Pledge of Allegiance.  After the pledge was completed they joined the rest of the 3rd grade chorus with Mrs. Oliver to sing “Thank You Soldiers” written by Michael and Angela Souder.  Here are the words sung beautifully for our Veterans:

When I lay my head down ev’ry night and go to sleep in peace,

I can stay there knowing all is well, while you’re standing on your feet.

Keeping watch protecting shore to shore, in the air and oceans, too,

Defending freedom at all cost, for the red, white and the blue.

Thank you, oh thank you, men and women brave and strong,

To those who served so gallantly we sing this grateful song.

To the soldiers who have traveled on to countries far and near,

In peace and war you paid the price for the cause you hold so dear.

That we may wake each morning bright, and know that freedom rings;

Because of your great sacrifice, your country joins to sing.

Thank you, oh thank you, men and women brave and strong,

To those who served so gallantly we sing this grateful song.

Thank you, oh thank you, men and women brave and strong,

To those who served so gallantly we sing this grateful song.

Thank you Veterans 



Our Week – November 6

researching togetherThe end of the week kind of snuck up on me.  We’ve begun recording fall reading videos.  We’ve been setting writing goals to meet end of the year expectations and we’ve begun to apply what we know about multiplication and division to telling time.  We’re learning about trees and using that topic to explore informational reading and writing in a variety of formats.  And finally, we began cursive writing with the clock climbers – a, d, g, q and c.

S.E.L. – Learning With Leo Lionni

We’ve continued reading books by Leo Lionni as a way to help us think about how we treat one another with kindness and empathy.  It can be challenging to look at situations from another’s perspective.  It is something important to consider.  We wondered as we were reading:  Was Cornelius bragging when he told the other crocodiles of the things he could see because he could walk upright?  Or was he just different and able to share?  Is there something wrong with you if you don’t like to try new things?  Is there something wrong with you if you always want to do something new and different?  If someone takes what you wanted when they didn’t know (birds taking the ripe berries that the mice wanted), should you start a fight to get it?

These are some of the themes and questions we’ve been discussing. We’re trying to think of others, as well as ourselves.  Hopefully this will help us regulate our behavior and help us curb interruptions and distractions.  We are learning that we can’t all talk at once.  We are learning how to act responsibly or respectfully.  We are trying to think of what is kind and helpful to our class.  We are learning to balance the needs and wants of the one, with the needs and wants of the whole.

Elaboration Strategies for Writing

            One writing expectation that seems a bit daunting at this point in the year, is being able to write between 3 and 5 pages in a writing session.  This feels like a lot and so this week we began to explore elaboration strategies.  We worked in four different categories:  description, action, dialogue and inner thinking. We began with a skeleton story:

I went to the beach.  I wanted to learn to ride on a wave.  I rode one all the way to the sand.

Then we divided into four small color-coded groups – one color for each strategy.  After about five minutes we returned to the group to see what we could add. We were excited about how the story grew and became more interesting.  It was interesting to note how “inner thinking” suggestions really added depth and voice to the writing that wasn’t there before.  Those thoughts and ideas share information about the character in quiet ways.  We hope that we will be able to use these strategies on our own to grow and deepen our writing.

1st draft2nd draftelaboration strategies



















Bits and Pieces –

  • We have finished The Quirks in Circus Quirkus.  Ask your child who his or her favorite character is?  We’ll be celebrating this reading accomplishment with a Not So Normal challenge next week.
  • Our class thinks learning cursive is fun.  They are excited to see how the letters are formed and how they connect.  We’ll be working on a letter a day for the next few weeks.
  • Ask what facts your child knows about trees.  Can they tell you about the two major types of trees?  Can they explain the layers of the tree – both inside and out?  Do they have a favorite kind of tree?  We’ll be using the information we’ve learned together as a learning tool for making visual presentations of information so we’ll be ready for our first 3E Museum at the end of the month.
  • We have a challenge with Mr. Caron on Monday, November 10 – this is a change from the original schedule.
  • We are going to the SEE Science Center in Manchester, Tuesday, November 18.  Permission slips will come home Monday.

multiplication warindependent readingresearchproblem solving



It’s Wednesday – here are some math problems to solve

numbersHere are the answers to last week’s problems.  Marianna got 72 pieces of candy, Nick drew 85 bricks on his castle, Tim shot on goal 90 times and Ronan wrote 90 letters in his art picture.

Here are some new problems to solve.

Sami made 8 dozen cookies for a bake sale.  She sold each cookie for 2 cents.  How much money did she make when all the cookies had been sold?

Ben played football.  On each play he moved the football forward 3 yards.  He did this for 16 plays in a row.  How many yards did Ben move the football forward altogether?

It takes Nick 24 seconds to peel a carrot.  He was helping his mom get dinner ready and he peel 8 carrots.  How many seconds did it take Nick to peel the carrots.  How many minutes and seconds would that be altogether?

It takes Alexis 5 seconds to do a complete cartwheel.  She did 34 in a row.  How many seconds did it take Alexis to do all those cartwheels.  How many minutes and seconds would that be altogether?

Our Week – October 31

Happy Halloween!

masks in artmasks from artIt has been a week full of excitement and waiting – apple picking, haunted hayrides, pumpkin carving, costume planning and finally trick-or-treating.  In and around all that excitement at home, we have explored strong verbs in writing and begun our second narrative piece of writing based on the map where we play.  Most of the children posted  writing and art on their blogs.  We’ve been multiplying with larger amounts and we’ve been learning about trees.  There’s lot going on in 3E.

Multiplying and the Distributive Property

mathThe children have been working to solve their problems with efficiency and accuracy.  We’ve been working to organize our problem solving steps and follow a natural sequence working from the problem through to the solution.  The children are doing a great job with this.

I wish I had saved some of the problems the children did from the beginning of the year to show them how far they have come.  In September they were drawing out each set and writing a repeated addition sentence to solve problems like this:

Ginger got a book full of sticker mustaches.  There were eight pages in the book.

Each page had five stickers on it.

How many sticker moustaches were in the book at the start?

This week the children have been confidently using the distributive property to break amounts apart to solve for partial products that they then add together.  Here’s a sample of a problem from this week:

Timmy read for 23 minutes a day for 5 days.  How many minutes did he read altogether?

Over the weekend he read for 45 minutes each day. How many minutes did he read over the weekend?  How many minutes did he read altogether in the week?

problem solvingmorning workWe have begun to explore time and measurement.  Through our work with time we will continue to develop our understanding of multiplication and division of 5’s and 6’s.  We are going to be focusing on metric  measurements so that we can continue working with tens and begin to deepen understanding of place value through the thousands.  The class deserves to feel proud of their effort and continued perseverance with problems that challenge their thinking and logic.

The Importance of Trees

over and under A scientist who focuses on the study of trees and woody-stemmed plants is called a Dendrologist.  As a class we are learning about trees.  Together we are using our tree study to model the parts of the “Who Am I?” project begun this week.   This week we read three picture book biographies of people who changed the world with trees.  We learned that beyond cleaning the air of carbon dioxide, trees are important for holding earth in place, and for allowing ground water to reach the surface for use.  We learned that trees are an important part of creating and maintaining a healthy environment.  We read about Wangari Maathai planting trees in Kenya, about Katherine Sessions transforming San Diego at the turn of the 20th century when women didn’t do that and we read about how Dr. Sato planted mangrove trees and saved families because of the changes the trees brought to Eritrea.   We are learning about all different types of trees, their life cycles and how central they are in many different habitats.

S.E.L. – Learning with Leo Lionni

This week we’ve been reading books by Leo Lionni to discover what lessons they offer us as we work together to create a classroom community where everyone can be him or herself while allowing everyone the opportunity to learn.  We’ve been thinking about and talking about what it means to be trustworthy, responsible, respectful, fair, caring, kind and contributing “citizens” of our classroom, school and town.  Reading Frederick, Matthew’s Dream, Tico’s Golden Wings, Cornelius and Swimmy helped us stop and think about being different, being included and accepted and being kind.  We’ve begun to take time to notice the ripple effect of one small action.  We’ve also begun to realize that everyone doesn’t understand things in the same way.  What one person (or alligator in Cornelius’ case) sees as bragging could actually be pride and excitement over a worked for accomplishment.

Here are a few of the lessons we’ve learned so far:  Follow your dreams, it’s okay to be the same and it’s okay to be different as long as you are kind, it takes time, effort and practice to learn new things, everyone has a part.

We’ll keep reading books by Leo Lionni next week as well and we’ll continue our important work of learning more about ourselves individually and as members of a community.  Ask your child which of the books we read this week made them stop and think most of how we work together, judge behavior and try to understand others with kindness.  That’s not easy.writingblogging

Bits and Pieces –

  • We took another timed fact test for multiplication this week.  Everyone improved his or her score.  Thank you for you continued support with fact work at home.
  • We began cursive with the “clock climber” set of letters.  We are focusing on letter formation so that all the letters will easily connect together when we move on to words.
  • Our next outdoor challenge has been moved to Monday, November 10.
  • We are going to the SEE Science Center in Manchester on Tuesday, November 18 as the culminating event of our “Who Am I?” scientist project.  More details and the permission slip for this field trip will follow.

It’s Wednesday – here are some problems to solve

numbersLast week Noah suggested that we post the answers.  Here are last Wednesday’s answers:  Ginger had 104 stickers  Laird had 72 Pokemon cards Oliver read 610 pages and Stella had 45 tennis balls.

Here are some new problems for you to solve.  Solve them as efficiently as you can.  Leave your work and your answers in a comment when you do.

Marianna went trick-or-treating.  She went to 24 houses.  At each house she got 3 pieces of candy.  How many pieces of candy to Marianna get when she went trick-or-treating?

Nick was drawing a castle.  He was drawing the bricks on the towers.  The towers were 17 bricks tall and 5 bricks wide.  How many bricks did Nick draw on one tower?  There there four towers on the castle.  How many bricks did Nick draw altogether on the castle towers?

Tim was practicing for the soccer tournament.  He practiced shooting on goal 15 times for 6 days in a row.  How many times did he take a shot on goal altogether?

Ronan was making a design in art by writing his name over and over in a pattern.  When he was done he had filled the paper.  Ronan had written his name 32 times.  How many individual letters had Ronan written on his paper?

Happy Mathing!

Our Week – October 24

togetherZing!  Another week has flown by full of great accomplishments.  This is our second week being part of the Primary Blogging Community.  This week we sent comments to a 2/3 class in Windsor, Ontario.  It was fun read about the things they are learning and to consider what things are the same and what things are different in their classroom and school.

Writing With An Audience in Mind

Commenting is one type of writing that will most definitely have an audience – and right away.  As the children write their comments for other students they have to put themselves in another person’s shoes and consider, “how would this comment make me feel?”  They can also imagine being on the other side of the communication as they write and are thinking, “will someone know what I mean?”  Ordinarily when those thoughts and questions occur, the children go and ask. That can’t be done with a blog.  It is really stretching their thinking as they work to make all their writing more clear and interesting.

We are using these same insights in our narrative writing.  As we develop the story that happened in a place where we play, we are trying to find way to share the details that will make that story interesting.  We are also thinking of ways to set the tone of the story.  Will it be full of drama or will it be calm and quiet?  We are also considering audience as we describe ourselves as learners and set our goals for the year.  We are trying to be clear as we describe what we can do now as learners, readers, writers and mathematicians and what we hope to accomplish in this during this third grade year.

Researching and Asking Questions Like a Scientist

As a class we are learning about trees.  We are becoming dendrologists -scientists who learn about every part of woody plants and know how to support their healthy growth.  We have been reading about trees and singing about trees.  We have been using this class study as a model for individual research projects.  The children have chosen to learn about lightning, tornadoes, jaguars, fish, insects, saber tooth tigers, whales, Jupiter, vultures, and more. It is fun to question and wonder, discover answers and connections and then begin the process all over again.

We are learning lots of information.  We are also learning different ways to share and present this information.  As we work together to learn about trees we are taking note of how the information is presented.  We are noticing what is helpful to us as learners.  What makes information clear?  What details are interesting?  What is confusing and what is fun.

Knowing and Using Multiplication

the distributive propertyfacts we know so farThis week when you look at your child’s math work, I think you will see some real changes.  Many of them are feeling more certain of their work with multiplication.  They know more facts and they have begun to trust themselves to know without adding or counting.

We are learning about the distributive property and working with larger amounts.  The distributive property helps you break or the math term – decompose, one factor into smaller amount for multiplying. For example 13×8 becomes (10×8) + (3×8).  The two smaller facts are ones we know and so the math is done more efficiently and more accurately now that we are not counting.  Counting is often close, but not always correct.  There were lots of “a-ha’s”  this week.

We have been building a chart of the facts we know.  There are 100 multiplication facts.  We know the 1’s, 10’s, 2’s and 5’s.  We can figure out the 3’s – with a few challenges and that means that we know 70 of the 100 already.  And knowing that there are only 30 left helps us know that learning these facts are possible.

Bit and Pieces

  • When we added word study work to our homework this week, one of the challenges was to create a story around the number words.  To encourage that kind of thinking and creating we have been reading number books this week.  We’d like to thank Mrs. Duffy for being a guest reader and sharing some of her favorite counting books with us:  One, If Mom Had Three Hands and The Bat Jamboree.  We’re read 10 Black Dots, Bunches and Bunches of Bunnies.   We’ve counted and added, multiplied and divided.  We’ve learned about square numbers and noticed lots of patterns.  I wonder if anyone will be inspired to create a story about numbers.
  • Last Friday our challenge with Mr. Caron was the Trust Fall.  It was both scary and fun.  Everyone challenged him or herself to take some risk either by falling from the platform or lying underneath the arms to watch a person falling into the catch.  After the fall, Mr. Caron asked the class if they felt they could trust each other.  He asked us if we worried about what others would think or say in our class and so we didn’t speak out or share. Sadly, a third of the class said they felt that way.  Clearly we have some important work to do building trust through empathy in our classroom.
  • Knowing ourselves well is a first step in that.  Our work with Multiple Intelligences is a step in that direction.  Learning about how we learn and coming to know ourselves more clearly can help us accept ourselves, quirks and all.
  • Check with your child to see what’s happening in The Quirks – Circus Quirkus.  What will happen because of Finn’s booby traps?  What is Mrs. DeVille going to do?  And the circus…what class will win?  Who will be in it?
  • Ask about the science demonstration we had today.  What did we see, learn and wonder?  Science is certainly exciting and wonder- full!

fall awayfallingstep 1 building trust

needs a catalystit changeschemical reactions

It’s Wednesday – here are some problems to solve

numbersSince we are learning to use the distributive property in class.  See if you can use that strategy to solve these problems.  Here’s an example to remind you.  13 x 5   If we break the 13 into 10+3 then the multiplication for 13×5 is (10×5)+(3×5).  So 50+15=65 and that means 13×5=65.

Here goes:

Ginger got a package of Halloween stickers.  There were 13 sheets of stickers in the package.  Each sheet had 8 stickers on it.  How many Halloween stickers did Ginger have altogether?

Laird had 6 pages of Pokemon cards in his binder.  Each page had 12 cards on it.  How many cards did Laird have altogether?

Oliver read 5 books.  Each book had 122 pages.  How many pages did Oliver read altogether?

Stella had 15 cans of tennis balls.  Each can held three balls.  How many tennis balls did Stella have altogether?