Our Week – May 25

Our week has been full of reading, writing, books clubs, a map reading challenge with Mr. Caron, problem solving and fractions.  We’ve even begun to think about what scientists do and spent some time reflecting on our learning for the year.

The Parade of the States

Thank you!   The Parade of the States was a wonderful success because of each of you.  All of the children were there.  All of the children had floats they were excited to share and that showcased their ideas and creativity.  This celebration of learning happened because you made sure they had the time and space they needed.  I can only imagine the conversations and time shared with children to come to this final presentation. Each of them was sure of the wonders of their state and of what they had to present.  Thank you again!

The class often talks about how much they like music because it challenges them.  It isn’t always easy, but they have help to succeed.  I can’t thank Mrs. Oliver enough for her effort to help all of your children learn more about reading, writing and playing music.  On top of that she helps them have the opportunity to perform for a large audience. The class had so much fun learning and performing The 50 States That Rhyme in addition to the twelve songs they performed on their recorders.  I think that’s something for them to be proud of – one song a week for the last three weeks.

You may or may not have noticed that Mr. Caron helped us out tonight.  He’s been our physical education teacher this year, as well as the person who plans and provides different hand-on or out door challenges. At this point of the year our challenges with Mr. Caron have all been focused on map reading and finding ways to “keep maps real” so we can read them correctly.  He has added a lot to our learning this year because he knows us so well.

Part of the state project was to learn more about the format of persuasive writing.  This week everyone tried to finish his/her persuasive writing pieces about the states.  You’ll find that some of them are more informative, but perhaps the information shared will still persuade you to travel to see those Wonders.  The completed pieces of writing have been published on the student blogs. They created digital books on iPads that turn pages with a swipe.  When we upload them to the blogs, they become videos.  The pages switch too quickly so you’ll have to pause the video at each page change to read it all.  I’m sorry for that inconvenience – I’m sure there’s some setting I’ve missed.

When you view and read your child’s book, please leave them a commentThis is their most in-depth piece of persuasive writing to date.  They are still learning about finding issues and making claims that they can support with evidence.  And yet, I think they’ve got a strong initial understanding of how this type of writing develops and grows.

State Fun Facts by 3E

I asked the class to write what they think is most interesting about each state. Here is what they shared.  Enjoy!

“Here’s what you should know about Rhode Island.  They have coffee milk.  Yum!  They make Johnny Cakes.  Also Yum!”  December.


“Michigan is known as the Wolverine State.  The traffic light was invented in Michigan.  Probably Michigan need it because it’s also where cars were invented by Henry Ford.”  Willow


“Here’s what you should know about Illinois:

            Illinois was the twentieth state to join our country. 

            It joined on December 3, 1818.”                      Miles


“Here’s what you should know about Texas. Texas was the 28thstate to join the U.S.A.  Texas is the second biggest state.  The capital of Texas is Austin.”  Emily


“The important thing about South Carolina is the State Person: James Brown.”Annika.




“Here’s what you should know about Florida.  It is the closest state to the equator and it is one of the warmest states.”  Derek


“Here’s what you should know about Maryland.  You should see the pig race at the state fair.  It is really cute.”  Dylan


“Here’s what you should know about Massachusetts.  Dunkin Donuts was made there.  The first carousel in America is there.  Its nickname is the Bay State.” Tavi


“Luther Burbank cultivated the Idaho Russet potato.  It was invented so know famines wouldn’t happen again.”  Brian


“Here’s what you should know about North Dakota.  Lewis and Clark explore North Dakota.  There are also more than 150,000 flowers planted in the Peace Garden in the summer.”  Maxim


“Here’s what you should know about Colorado!  Colorado is a big skiing place.  Lots of people who like to ski go to Colorado.  The places where most people go are Vail Mountain or Beaver Creek.  If you are a big skier (or snow boarder) then you should ski at… COLORADO!” Jack


“Vermont has mountains. You can go camping and there is a special place in Vermont- Quechee Gorge.”  Ryan


“Here is what is important about Georgia.  Did you know that the Georgia Aquarium has the more aquatic life than any other aquarium in the world?  The Peach is the state fruit and Georgia’s nickname is the Peach State. I hope you go there very soon.”Alex


“Here’s what you should know about Hawaii.  It’s a very fun state.  It has beautiful beaches.  All year long it is summer.  There are lots of animals.  There are lots of palm trees too.  I hope you will go to Hawaii.  I think you’ll love it there.”  Izzy


“My state is Ohio.  It takes 11 hours and 45 minutes to get to Ohio from New Hampshire in a car. If you’re taking an airplane, it takes 1 hour and 45 minutes.  I hope you go there.” Corbin




Our Week – May 18

We’re wrapping up our state writing and beginning learning reflections to share in our final student-led conferences.  We’re observing our seeds as they sprout in the classroom and our plants as they flourish in the greenhouse.  We’re nearly finished with Winterhouse– a very exciting mystery and student mystery book clubs are nearing the middle of their books.

Persuasive Writing

We’ve been learning more about persuasive writing.  We’re practicing those skills when crafting book reviews and when telling about our state Wonders.  The first review was posted on the student blogs on or around March 28.  The second one was written two weeks ago and was posted on the student blogs this week.

In the learning process, the children have been discovering what it means to make a claim and how to support that claim with facts, as well as, opinion.  We’ve developed rubric-like checklists to guide these writing projects.  One helps guide the writing of reviews.  The children are writing a third review for an independently read chapter book or series.  Our goal is to have that review published on the student blogs as well by the end of next week.  We are hoping the three posts share evidence of our progress and learning.  Check then out and leave a comment about what you see and hear.  They like knowing they’ve been read.

The other rubric guides the writing about state Wonders.  The students hope to persuade you to travel to their states before any of the other 49. In fact, each child is trying to convince you to pick his or her state as your next vacation destination.  They are feeling excited about all the things they have learned about their states and are trying to clearly share why those places and things are destinations to see.  It will be fun to share next week.  We hope to get everything completed!

Reflecting on Learning Accomplishments

As the year comes to a close, the students are taking time to think about how they have grown and changed as readers, writers, mathematicians, scientists, “social studiers”, learners and friends.  We’ve brainstormed lists of class accomplishments and they’ve each taken some time to reflect on personal accomplishments.  They’ve done many things this year and have much to be proud of. During this reflection process, it has been interesting to listen to them as they realize what they’ve accomplished. The act of gathering a pile of books to show what’s been read, or pulling our favorite pieces of writing, even looking back to see the different types of math problems solved throughout the year has helped prove to themselves how they have changed.

We read The Important Bookthat describes the traits of everyday things like spoons, shoes or the sky in a format that begins, “The important thing about…, lists a few other traits, and ends as it started “But the important thing about… .” The children used that format to write about themselves and what has been important to them as third grade learners. They are wonderful to read – they’ll share them with you at their final student-led conference and portfolio share. They are proud of becoming stronger readers.  They feel good about blogging and knowing that people from different places are reading their stories, poems and information.  They are proud becoming more skilled at researching and being able to learn things on their own.

Bits and Pieces –

  • We got a thank you from the World Wildlife Fund this week.  It was address to The Good Deed Club.  It was wonderful to see another rush of pride sweep through the room.  They have, indeed, made a difference in the world and will keep doing so as well.  The new idea is tackling the use of plastic.  We’ve got lots to learn.
  • After a long break, we are back to practicing cursive writing.  It’s fun to learn and relaxing to practice.  We’re learning how to write the “Loop Group” letters: h, k, b, f, l and e.
  • Our chard is doing great in the greenhouse, but our seedlings are very spotty.  We were attempting to see if there was a difference in how green, red and yellow chard would grow.  I hope they’ll be opportunity to explore heredity and variation of traits as we track how the different varieties grow.
  • Please be on the look out for Student-Led Conference and portfolio share sign-ups on Monday.

Floats can be brought in to the classroom after school on Wednesday, May 23 or before school on May 24.  We can’t wait to see you at the Parade of the States!

Our Day – May 11

Our week has been mostly filled with state testing, extra recess and Wonder researching, writing and creating.

Your children deserve a great deal of praise for their effort, attention and focus during the state testing.  They tested in the computer lab and library. The rooms were full of other children elbow to elbow.  They had to focus on their own tests and stay still after they were finished for two hours three days in a row.  Most of the children needed the full amount of time to complete the tests. They worked hard.  The testing questions were difficult and the format was confusing at times.  Often wording confused the children, but they persevered and worked on.  Several children will work to complete the testing next week and then that part of our year will be behind us.

In the afternoon the children continued to complete their Wonder art and paragraphs.  I hope you found the finished artwork sent home on Wednesday as stated in the past weekly notes and homework.  Some children are still working on of their pieces – either their hero or their manmade wonder collage.  Those pieces will be sent home to you as soon as they are completed.

Most of the children have been able to meet the paragraph writing deadlines and are making an effort to add in as much detail and description as possible.  Their writing makes me smile.  They are 8 and 9 years old.  That is the amount of time they’ve had to experience and learn about the world. Reading that Ruth Buzzy is known for hitting people with her purse and that James Brown has unique style is definitely true – but we know it will be years from now that the children fully understand the meaning behind what they’ve written.   That’s a great thing about learning.  Once you begin to learn about something, you keep noticing details and information that you might otherwise let slip by without a connection.

Our mystery seed experiment is exciting to see.  Talk to your child about what’s germinating in their cups on the growing table.  It is interesting to see how differently seeds grow and look as they sprout.  I’ve still not told the children what they planted. We’ll reveal that mystery next week. We’ve had uneven luck with our chard. We’ve decided that will try that experiment again because we have no idea if there is any difference in germination with the three different colors of chard.  Our plants in the greenhouse are growing well.  We are really starting to see changes as they stand up straighter and the leaves begin to grow larger.

We’re continuing to enjoy Winterhouse.  We are at an exciting place in the read-aloud.  Something is going to happen, but we are not sure what it will be and we are not fully certain to whom it will happen.  See what you child has to say about this mystery.  We’ve also tried to begin mystery book clubs this week with spotty success.  We hope everyone will have time for reading next week so we can get back on track.

We’re also continuing our exploration of fractions. We’ve learning how to double the ingredients in recipes and to cut them in half.  There is a cookbook that features recipes and food facts from each of the states so we’ve begun with those.  We can learn more about math and our states at the same time.

Our Day – May 4

It sounds as though you had full and interesting vacations.  The children were bubbling over with stories as they came into school.  They seemed glad for the break, but also glad to be back together.

The end of this school year is in sight, but I am hoping the time slows down.  It feels as though there is so much to do and not nearly enough time to fit it in. Talk to your child about how our week has flown.  Much of what we’d hoped to accomplish did not happen (fables published, book clubs started, research completed…) – but the things we did do, worked out well.  We would accomplish more if we could eliminate chattiness and sneaky computer use.  Sadly, a couple children have lost their computer privilege for writing and research. We hope to promote a more responsible work ethic and an awareness of the need for responsible decision-making.

Learning a Bit About the State Testing

            The class talked about the upcoming state testing and spent time familiarizing ourselves with the format.  We explored the reading and math practice tests.  The children learned how to use the dictionary, flagging and text to speech tools.  We explored ways of making a best guess when a question was challenging.  I believe all the children understand that the test will take time and effort.  They know some of the questions will feel quite difficult, while others will feel quite doable.

I think we have addressed their questions and concerns. I think they know that we are asking is for them to give a sincere effort.  The test is not timed.  We do have an allotted time for testing, but if they have not finished in that time, we will pause that test and they will be able to finish another day.  If they are feeling anxious please let me know. We’ve talked about that too. Feeling nervous means that it matters and that they want to do well.  If they are putting forth their best effort – they will do well.  We will trust that they are making a sincere effort. We couldn’t ask for more.

Spring is for Growing

            This week we began two different growing experiments. The first was to see if there would be a difference in how three types of Swiss chard would germinate and grow. Five children planted green chard, five planted red chard and five others planted yellow chard.  We planted the seeds in the classroom and planted seedlings in the greenhouse on the same day.  We are anxious to see when and how they grow.

The second experiment was choosing four different types of mystery seeds to plant.  We made a guess about what they were and guessed which one would sprout first. The children planted the four seeds on the side of a clear plastic cup, hoping that we’ll be able to observe how they roots begin to grow and the leaves begin to sprout.  We are excited to discover what will happen as we compare the growth of seeds.  Will bigger seeds sprout before small, or is it the other way around?  Will smooth seeds begin growing more quickly or do bumpier seeds gather more water?  Does the hardness of the shell matter?  We’ve got lots of questions to answer.

State Wonders Research and Persuasive Paragraphing

            Several of the children have been able to complete their blueprints and have received their building permits already.  Please help your child complete his or her float plan by next Wednesday’s due date.  At that time the children will be brining their completed artwork home. (If all three pieces aren’t finished by Wednesday, I’ll send them home as soon as they are.) The children are making artwork to represent their state symbol, their state hero and their chosen manmade Wonder.  They’ll need to find a way to represent their natural Wonder and their state festival or celebration while they are building their floats at home. If you have any questions about this process, please don’t hesitate to ask.

Many of the children have completed their research and have begun their Wonder paragraphs. Writing about the state Wonders is our major persuasive writing piece of the year.  Persuasive writing is different.  It makes a claim, shares facts to support that claim, coupled with a bit of opinion and preference and finally leaves readers with a choice.

To practice writing persuasively, we’ve been reading and writing book reviews.  First we explored how one book (Tiger Boy – one of our favorite read-alouds) was reviewed by four different sources.  Next we learned ways of organizing paragraphs by starting with a claim, supporting it with a few details and finally ending with a conclusion that asks the reader to agree with our initial claim and opinion.  Our next step was to try our hand at reviewing a picture book that was somehow related to seeds and growing.  We discovered it was easier to review a story, than it was information.   Our next practice step will be to review a favorite independently read chapter book.  By then we hope we’ll be ready to convince you to explore the Wonders of each of our states.

Bits and Pieces –

  • We are really getting into the mystery in Winterhouse.  We have so many questions – in fact we’ve begun to wonder how are questions weave together.  We think we’re beginning to find some answers now that we’ve begun part 3.
  • We continue to develop our understanding of fractions as fair and even shares.  We are developing a stronger sense of how division fits with this exploration.  Math is at the end of our day, and we’ve found it challenging to fit in this week.
  • Float Blueprints are due on Wednesday, May 9.
  • Our state testing schedule is as follows: Reading, May 8, Writing, May 9, Math, May 10 from 8:45 to 10:45 – additional time will be found for those children who need it.
  • We are going to The Palace Theater in Manchester for a morning production of School House Rock on May 11. Children will need to bring a bag lunch that day.  4 children still need to return their permission slips.
  • Sorry about the limited photographs this week.  There was a lot going on!  🙂