Quick Writes – today’s topic, Animals

We had fun this year with quick writes.  They inspired us to explore different ideas, ways of thinking and ways of writing.  Some of you asked if we could continue during the summer.  Sure!  I went online to Write Shop and found these prompts to adapt for you.  Read through the prompts, think about them for a bit and when you’re ready, find ten quiet minutes to begin…  It’s okay if you finish one idea, begin another.  It’s okay if you don’t finish when the time is up… you decide.  Just have fun writing!

Bird or Beast

Imagine that you can become any animal you want.  Would you choose to be a land animal, one who can soar in the sky or swim in the ocean?  Would you rather roam in the wild or be cared for as pet?  After you’ve made your choice, write a diary entry sharing  a typical day as the animal of your choosing.

Best of Both Worlds

Invent a new animal by combining the body parts of two or three different animals.  Give your new creature a name and write a paragraph or story describing all the different things it can do.

Party Pups

You are a famous party planner who has received an unusual request:  A pet owner wants you to plan a party for his dog.  You don’t want to forget a single detail so you make a checklist reminding yourself of everything you’ll need to arrange for this fabulous doggie fest.  Make sure to include decorations, games and snacks.  Don’t forget the party favors!

Other… of course, you may have your own animal inspired ideas!   You can post on your own blogs or leave your writing as a comment.  Wherever you write – ENJOY!


It’s Wednesday – here are some problems to solve

Corbin did 43 back bounces on his trampoline in one minute.  If he bounced that many times for eight minutes, how many back bounces would he have completed altogether?

Izzy was collecting as many cute guinea pig pictures as she could find.  On Monday she found 326 guinea pig memes.  On Tuesday she found 104 guinea pig paintings and on Wednesday she found 275 guinea pig drawings.  She used 438 of the pictures to make a poster sharing how great guinea pigs are as pets.  How many pictures does she have left?

Alex swam in her pool everyday for 45 minutes or more. At the end of a week, how many minutes did Alex swim in her pool?  How many hours and minutes would that be?

Our Week – June 20

Thank you for a wonderful year!  We’ll send you off with our “beautiful, strong, tea with the queen and wild” looks.  I am proud of the people your children are becoming. They make me smile every day. They are creative and inventive.  They are caring and dedicated.  They are looking for ways to make a difference in the world.  They are hard working and supportive of each other. These qualities matter as much, and likely more, than any score on a report card or a math test or the ability at age 9 to  finish writing an essay in the allotted time.  For sure and certain, your children will soar.

During the summer I will maintain the blog.  I’ll review books on Monday, offering suggestions that children might like to read. I’ll post math problems on Wednesday if they want to practice their problem-solving skills.  And I’ll post some quick write prompts on Friday if they’d like some writing suggestions.  The children can always continue posting on their blogs too.  It’s a fun way to stay connected.

Make sure to find the Term 3 Supporting Document in your child’s folder.  It will help you understand the coding on the report card when it is open to you on Friday.  Also, please find a printed copy of your child’s report card narrative in his or her folder as well.

Have a fabulous summer!

Our Week – June 15

Our final week has been filled with reading, writing, portfolio building, poster making and problem solving.  It has also been filled with talking, a bit of unkindness and little effort by a few. The class is tired and ready for vacation, and yet, we still have final writing and math assessment to complete. It would be great if everyone in the class would rally and continue to put forth his or her best effort.

The end of something always brings a mix of emotions.  The class is anxious about the transition and many of them are unsure whether to be happy or sad.  Please help your child consider how he or she would like to end the year.  It’s been a great one.  We’ve done some wonderful things together, built some lasting memories and learned lots together.  Let’s try to leave on a happy note.  Kindness always matters to everyone

Portfolio Preparations

This week we’ve put our reflections, photographs and work samples into our portfolios.  The class has been pleased to realize how much they have grown and changed.  They’ve become neater and more efficient.  They’ve become more thoughtful and surer of what they know and understand.  Most of the class is reading for meaning and connections now.  They’re excited to feel able to write for different purposes and proud of what they’ve learned in math.  Make sure to read their “The Important Things About 3rdGrade” posts on their blogs.  They feel as though they’ve accomplished lots.  They have!  They are looking forward to sharing their portfolios with you on Monday.

Reduce, Reuse, Recycle – or Just Stop…

Many in the class have completed their posters about plastic.  We are hoping that once school is over, that we’ll be able to find places to hang the posters throughout the community.  It is surprising to realize how full of plastic our lives are – it’s everywhere!  We hope the class will keep noticing and keep trying to make a personal difference.

This week at lunch many of the children have broken their habit of drinking with a straw.  They’ve brought their water bottles to lunch, rather than using a Styrofoam cup.  It is challenging to reduce plastic use, but we’ll do it if we all try.
































Bits and Pieces –

  • We finished Zorgamazoo.  It was a great ending, though a little bit sad.  It may have been our second favorite chapter read-aloud.  We’ve started Emily’s Fortune.  We think we can get it done.
  • We met with the 4thGrade teachers on Thursday.  Some present 4thgraders told us what they found fun and different about this year from last.  They talked about homework, and learning challenges, field trips and fun projects. We toured the classrooms and it seemed as though everyone left feeling ready for his/her first year upstairs.
  • We’re nearly finished with all the cursive capital letters.  We’re challenging ourselves to write full sentences in cursive.  It is a fun challenge.

Our Week – June 8

The countdown is even more apparent this week – just 8 more days of school.  The end is so near and we still have so much to complete. We’re discovering more about how plastic is effecting our environment and us.  We’re continuing to develop our persuasive writing skills and wrapping up mystery book clubs.  We’re completing a whole host of school-wide assessments and learning more about the steps of the scientific process.

It was exciting to have Mr. Gustafson, from the S.E.E. Science Center. help us think more like a scientist or engineer.  It is fun to solve problems in new ways.  Ask your child how many different solutions the group came up with for helping one sheet of paper drop to the ground faster than another equal sheet.   He also showed us some exciting chemical reactions. We learned about combustion with a turkey baster cannon and we learned the word catalyst – something the causes the reaction to begin.  We were excited to see the immediate reaction with Elephant’s Toothpaste.  It was amazing.











Persuasive Writing

Last week we each selected a favorite season.  We collected our pros and cons.  Using that list, we planned to write our persuasive essay.  We experimented with different types of leads and conclusions and finally put all of the pieces together with a full color illustration. Persuasion and establishing a firm opinion is tricky, but your children have done a great job sharing their ideas and supporting them with details they’re sure you’ll agree with.

Plastic Pros and Cons

We’re also learning how posters and short messages persuade as well.  We’ve watched a variety of videos to learn how plastic is impacting our planet.  We talked about a bit about bias.  Videos created by the plastic industry have a totally different message from those created by environmental agencies.  We’ve had to look closely at each source to understand which part of the story we are learning.

We watched Plastic 101and Kids Take Action Against Ocean Plasticfrom National Geographic, and The Plastic in Our Oceanfrom PBS.  We learned some astonishing facts.  You may want to watch them with your children and talk about what you see and hear.  I am learning so much.  I hadn’t stopped to think about my family’s plastic consumption, but I am now.  The amount of plastic humans consume is staggering. The fact that almost half of the plastic we use is designed for a single-use is mind-blowing. For example, the US consumes 5 million plastic drinking straws each day!   No wonder there are seven giant plastic patches in the world’s oceans.  By 2050, if we continue on as we are currently there will be more plastic in the ocean than marine animals.

We hope the posters we’re creating will teach others about what we are learning.  We hope we can reduce the amount of plastic waste we generate. If everybody consumes just a little bit less, we’ll have begun to address our plastic problem.

Bits and Pieces –

  • Leo Lionni created beautiful picture books.  Each one helps us consider how we’d like to be in the world – caring, confident, content, collaborative, and kind.  Each day, for the last two weeks, we’ve read and discussed a different book.  See if your child has a favorite.  You may want to ask him or her what the theme of the book was and how we could learn from it.
  • We’ve learned a little over a third of the upper-case cursive letters.  It’s been fun to learn and to try to read and write more in cursive.
  • We almost finished with Zorgamazoo.  Our heroes are still trying to escape their prison on the moon.  It a lot more complicated and dangerous than it seemed at first.  The Octamobots are pretty powerful and persistent.
  • Also this week, we’ve taken a look back at many of our learning accomplishments.  We’ve reflected on what we’ve done and how we’ve grown and changed as scientists, “social studiers”, mathematician, writers and readers.  It seems as though the children feel most changed as mathematicians and scientists. Those are the two areas where they can see their new learning most clearly.  They have accomplished a great deal this year and can be proud of all they’ve accomplished.

Our Week – June 1

The end of our 3rdgrade year is in sight. Many in the class are talking about how bittersweet it feels.  We are glad that summer is approaching, but sad because it feels as if we’ve just begun to know each other well.

This week we’ve continued to reflect on our learning accomplishments.  We’ve begun to explore questioning and different types of questions. It’s been an interesting process that I hope will help us explore SCIENCEand what it means to be a scientist. Mystery book clubs are continuing to meet.  Students are blogging (please read their posts and leave them a comment), reading, writing, finishing our cursive alphabet, solving problems and learning more about fractions too.

Question Formation Technique (QFT)

Thinking about thinking and wondering about your personal learning process is something that grows connections in your brain.  Metacognition is something that is beginning to show more often at this point in your child’s development.  Because of this, learning reflections teeter on the edge of purposefulness. For example sometimes a fall reading reflection will transform from, “I’m going to read fatter books faster,” to “I’m going choose to read books that help me understand more about what it means to live in different parts of the world.”

One of the ways we are helping develop these more complex lines of thinking is by exploring questions. On Tuesday the class divided into small groups to develop questions related to a focus statement:  Scientists explore, observe and experiment.  The goal was to write as many questions as possible in ten minutes.  We tried not to discuss or judge them (that was the hardest part of the process for us.) And we tried to record the questions exactly as we thought of them.

After some fits and starts, the class came up over sixty-five questions.  We sorted these into two categories:  closed and open.  Closed questions are the ones we could answer with a single word, or are questions we would find the same, single answer for wherever we looked. Open questions have a variety of answers and often lead to more questions.  We decided that they make us more curious.  They might even help us understand something we want to learn about because they help us think about a topic in many different ways.

Once we had sorted some of our original questions, we also explored ways of rephrasing a closed question so it became more open.  We also explored how sometimes one question can lead to another and another. Sometimes some of the questions surprised us.  Sometimes the questions lead us deeper into the topic. We expanded the closed question, “Who invented plastic?” into “Why do we make plastic?” and that led us to wonder, “Can we make plastic good?”

Persuasive Writing Grows

We’ve created different book reviews.  We’ve written hoping to persuade you to travel to the states we research before the others. Now we are spending time to discover how persuasive writing can be used to bring about positive change.  We’ve practiced making lists of pros and cons about one topic using Douglas Florian’s poems about the things he loves and hates about each season as a model.  We’ re learning more about planning and organizing. We’re prioritizing ideas and topics so that what is most important is clearly highlighted in our writing.  We are experimenting with leads to add interest and set the tone for our entire essay.  Soon you’ll be reading about the seasons we each consider as being best.

Our next step after this will be to choose something related to plastic or plastic use to learn about. Perhaps we’ll have something to share before the end of the year, but maybe not.  We hope to continue this work next year if we can find a way to help The Good Deed Club to continue.

Bits and Pieces –

  • We’ve learned how to write all of the lower case cursive letters.  Some of them are challenging to write, but most of them are fun.
  • We are reading our twelfth chapter read-aloud.  It is Zorgamazooby Robert Weston.  The entire book is written in rhyme.  At first it seemed challenging to understand because there are so many new and different words it in, but now that we’re more into the story it is fun.  Ask your child which main character they like best: Katrina Katrell or Mortimer (Mortie) Yorgle? And why?
  • I’m not sending student work home this week so we can amass some work samples for the children to choose from as the continue developing their portfolio to share with you on June 18. The Student-Led Portfolio shares will be in our classroom between 3 and 5:30.  Thank you to families who already returned the slip indicating when you might be arriving. It seems as though the conferences will be spread throughout the time so everyone will be able to hear as their child shares his or her 3rdGrade learning.  Remember as always, if this date or these times don’t work for you, please say so.  We can find another time easily.