Integrating their world
Agnes Irwin students continue to enhance their academic skills across the curriculum while in third grade. The language arts program features longer, more interesting and more challenging chapter books, an increased examination of poetry, and lots of writing to spotlight specific new skills development. Multiplication and division are practiced in math along with an emphasis on "real world" word problems involving time, temperature, measurement and money. Third graders spend more time in social studies refining their map reading abilities as they learn about the places, people and cultures of the African and Asian continents. Field trips complement their classroom studies. Oral presentations of different types enable the students to demonstrate what they have learned while gaining poise and self-confidence in front of a group.
In Lower School art, a student is encouraged to discover her own artistic voice, express herself with confidence, connect with the physical world, and think and feel in new ways. Students are introduced to basic design principles as they mix colors, paint, draw, weave, sew, make books and construct in numerous other ways. Art teachers work closely with homeroom teachers to plan art projects that enrich and personalize core curriculum themes. Meets once weekly.
All Lower School students are introduced to the soprano recorder as part of the curricular instrumental classroom instruction. Starting in third grade, students who would like to learn to play a woodwind, brass, percussion, or string instrument can enroll in voluntary, small group instruction. Each group meets once a week. The instruments currently offered are flute, clarinet, trumpet, violin, cello and percussion. Affordable instrumental rentals are conveniently arranged.
The language arts program addresses the areas of reading, writing, speaking and listening. Whole group and small group lessons focus on developing comprehension strategies, fluency and expanding vocabulary. Oral discussions and literature response journals allow the students to demonstrate their understanding of more complex texts. A variety of literary genres are used, including historical fiction, realistic fiction, fantasy, poetry and non-fiction. Students also learn to select books that are appropriate for independent reading. Third grade writers apply the six traits of writing to personal narrative, persuasive and informational pieces. The writing process includes pre-writing, drafting, editing and revising. Students develop their speaking and listening skills through sharing written work, favorite books and research findings.
On their way to becoming independent library patrons, third graders use library terminology, encyclopedias and other reference materials for curriculum-related research. They read books from various genres and give spontaneous oral book reviews to classmates. Our shared reading time includes a variety of fiction and non-fiction. Computer skills are coordinated with the technology department.
The math program promotes conceptual thinking, different ways of solving problems and sharing strategies. Use of manipulatives, games and collaborative learning strengthen understanding. Third graders expand their knowledge of multiplication and division. Other mathematical topics include: place value, multi-digit addition and subtraction, geometry, money, graphing, fractions, measurement and time.
To help students develop their music appreciation skills, third grade music exposes them to various musical performance styles and a more complicated singing repertoire. More complex rhythmic and melodic notation is begun. Musical forms such as rondo, binary, ternary, and fugue are introduced through a variety of listening and singing selections. Performance concerts include many songs from a variety of countries and languages. Meets twice weekly.
The focus of third grade physical education is on teaching students the basic skills needed to play team sports. Emphasis is placed on applying learned skills to a competitive situation, winning with grace, and accepting defeat. In addition, students learn the rules of safe play as well as how to properly handle and care for equipment. Competition is used positively to promote enjoyment of sports and to provide for continued social development. Meets four times a week.
Our Lower School science program uses the BSCS Science TRACS curriculum, an inquiry-based program that incorporates many cooperative-learning opportunities in a modular format. The third grade Life Science module teaches students about the life cycles of plants and animals. In the Physical Science module, students investigate electrical systems, including electrical circuits. The focus of the Earth and Space Science module is on the sun, moon and stars.
In social studies, third graders refine their map skills and use their knowledge of economics and resources to gain a deeper understanding of the places, people and cultures of the African and Asian continents. Students use print and Internet resources to research and present specific African and Asian countries. Girls use software to create flyers promoting a sale of African jewelry, baskets and instruments. The proceeds benefit Pagus: Africa, a nonprofit community outreach organization with which the Lower School has an ongoing relationship.
With greater confidence in their Spanish-speaking skills, third grade students continue to develop listening comprehension and enthusiasm for the Spanish language and culture. This course exposes students to considerable spoken Spanish. Participation in classroom activities is generally in Spanish, with emphasis on using proper pronunciation. The topics presented are a revision of the ones taught in previous years, but at a more advanced level. Additionally, third grade students review regular verbs and temporal expressions, question words, pronouns and personal pronouns. Reading and writing skills learned in second grade are further developed through completion of more extensive worksheets and activities using the SMART board and laptops. In addition, students also reinforce and further their knowledge of other disciplines through the foreign language. Students continue to develop an appreciation for diversity as they learn about different cultures. Geography, food, music, dances, arts and crafts, holidays, costumes and traditions of different Spanish-speaking nations are incorporated into the program through the study of the South American Spanish-speaking countries. This 30-minute class meets daily.
Project-based work and keyboarding are the focus of third-grade technology, with both types of lessons performed on laptop computers. Students use the Internet to research science and social studies topics, or to find an activity that reinforces their knowledge in math or geography. They also learn to use a digital camera and add photos to their work.
Helping students understand and make healthy lifestyle choices is the goal of this year’s wellness program. Students review the importance of exercise and a balanced diet, participate in discussions on community wellness and disease prevention, and learn to make responsible decisions regarding their safety at home and in school.