Zip! Zing! Another week is done. It has been full of fable writing and science experiments, math fact checks and applied problem solving strategies. We’ve begun reading Wonder, our seventh chapter read-aloud. It seems like we are ready for a deeper read. And a more challenging subject to add to our year long conversation about what it means to act and behave in kind ways.
Planting and Growing
This week we began a science study about planting and growing. Along with that, we are conducting experiments to learn about traits and heredity. On Tuesday we began our first inquiry to discover which seed will sprout first. The students planted four different types of seeds in a clear plastic cup. The goal was to plant them between the side of the cup and the soil so the seed can be seen. And now we wait.
Some hypotheses are that the largest seed will sprout, while other think the smallest seed will sprout first. Some students chose the seed they had watered most and others chose the seed that was smoothest. We are waiting to see.
Our second growing project has been to plant broccoli for our square foot garden project. When the sprouts are large enough we’ll plant them out in the greenhouse. We are planting a variety of Italian broccoli that has smaller flowerets. We hope to be harvesting them before the end of school.
Our final project in this study is to discover answers to the questions: What causes the variation we see when we look around? How are traits passed down in families? How can we use science to predict possible traits and explain the variation we see in both plants and humans? We began this Project Lead the Way (PLTW) unit with a story. A class went to a farm on a field trip and the farmer asked the class if they would help him understand why the plants he grew had purple stems, when the parent plant that had come from did not. The color was a surprise and did not seem logical or possible, but it had occurred. We are going to experiment along with those students to see what we can discover.
We began this process by taking a trait survey. The first question was to see if we could taste a powdered chemical, PTC. Some people can and some people cannot. I could not, but it was immediately obvious that other could. Check with your child to see if this is a trait they inherited. We also surveyed things like being able to roll your tongue, having dimples or freckles, being able to play an instrument or a sport, etc. There are sixteen items on our survey. Some of them are inherited traits and some of them are learned. We will compare individual surveys and compile the class data to see what questions we can answer and discover if there are any trends. We’ll learn how to display our data in graphs of various forms.
Smarter Balanced Assessments Are in May for 3rd Grade
Something different you may notice on the work your children bring home next week are scores of how many correct out of the number of items on the sheet. I don’t usually score work like that because it can be defeating for some and competitive for others – a real disruption to learning in the classroom. The student focus turns to the number, rather than the important thinking and focused attention that has been used to complete the task.
The reason for the scores at this point however, is to help the children notice if they are reading directions and actually doing what is expected of them. Throughout the year when we’ve noticed that children have missed part of the direction, we stop the class and verbally remind them. We are not able to do this during the upcoming state testing. We are hoping to help the children recognize the importance of reading the entire direction (they are lengthy and complex on the tests) before even beginning the first part of the task.
This week during some of the science work children drew, but missed the direction of labeling and defining. Because of that, they got a score of 0 out of 8. They missed an important direction about something they certainly could have completed had they noticed. In other cases, because answers were given in single words, rather than the requested “complete sentences” only partial scores were given. This, again, is consistent with how the state tests are scored.
We won’t do this for long, but hopefully long enough so children become a bit more aware of how they can completely present their understanding and knowledge. We are hoping this is brief and gentle reminder to let them know what they can easily do without worry or stress. If you’re able to have light conversations about this at home, it would be appreciated. The papers will be in next week’s collection.
Bits and Pieces –
- This week we saw the Personal Safety puppet show. It was a wonderful reminder for the children of how to be safe. It was lighthearted but carried an important message. A flier and paper were sent home yesterday inside your child’s folder so you’ll be able to talk to your child about what they heard and saw. A favorite line was, “May the forks be with you.”
- We’ve begun to explore the regions of our country in anticipation of our parade. At the end of the month, 3rd grade is leading the school wide assembly. We’ve planned it around The Parade of the States and will use it as a kick-off celebration. We hope the older kids will enjoy being reminded of their past explorations, and younger kids will get excited about our country. Mrs. Oliver is helping us learn 50 States that Rhyme and Mrs. Haight is helping us highlight some of the Wonders from the different states.
- Remember, please save the date, Thursday, May 25 from 4:45 to no later than 6:30 for the 3rd grade Parade of the States.
- Game Club is starting it’s second round next week on Tuesdays. If your child is able to participate, please sign the enclosed permission slip. We will be meeting for six weeks on Tuesdays from March 14 through April 16.
- We’ve completed all of the cursive upper case letters and are now practicing words to think about letter shape, size and connections.