Third Grade News

October 13, 2019
Dear Families,                                                                                                        

Our school is surrounded by the the reds and yellows of a beautiful fall. Third graders are excited to play games of hockey, build forts in the woods, along with all sorts of tag, running, and imaginative play games. 

Inside the classroom we have hit our stride as we move into this months’ focus points  within our units of study. In your child’s folders is a family letter describing our latest math unit on Data Analysis and some related activities to try at home to extend our focus on collecting, representing, and describing data.

In reading, third graders continue to develop their skills at summarizing by taking “big steps” across the important parts of the story. In read-aloud we are close to the end of the last book in Kate DiCamillo’s Tales  of From Deckawoo Drive, a series of chapter books that extends and interconnects the characters from the Mercy Watson series. Our read-aloud discussions have been rich and I have been so impressed with the level of appreciation and insight that our students have for this amazing series. Our current work is focused on naming character traits, describing character change, and supporting our ideas with text evidence.

In writing, third graders are learning to elaborate on their ideas and support their thinking across the content areas. Our early work this year in writing has also been focused on handwriting, editing for upper and lower case, spelling, and understanding. All third graders are doing word study focused on syllables and affixes and in small groups students are reviewing earlier spelling patterns, as needed. 

In third grade, our core social studies units focus on Early America from First Peoples, First Contact with Europeans, the American Colonies, and the early stages of the American Revolution. We start with an exploration of map features and orientation to our location in the world from town, to  state, region, and country. Based on the 2018 History and Social Studies Frameworks for third grade, our studies emphasize across the year will be perspective taking as described in the frameworks: “Effective instruction celebrates the progress the United States has made in embracing diversity, while at the same time encouraging honest and informed academic discussions about prejudice, racism, and bigotry in the past and present.”                      

 June 11, 2019

Dear Families,

Tomorrow our 3rd grade class will travel to the Hitchcock Center to participate in their Pond Ecosystems program focused on animal adaptations. The weather looks sunny and beautiful. Please apply/ sunscreen and bug spray on your child beforehand, but avoid getting these on their hands. We will use nets to collect creatures from the pond, but still want to keep their hands free of sprays and oils in case they do have contact with pond life. Needed for tomorrow:
Water bottle, snack, 
sneakers (good shoes or boots for walking around a pond)
Yesterday, third graders shared their research and models on Prehistoric Life with the 2nd graders in a "museum walk" that we hosted in our classroom. This was a very successful event and third graders did a fabulous job sharing their research with younger students and second graders enjoyed their sneak preview into third grade. Models will be coming home this week so please feel free to pick these up if you are picking up or dropping off.
This afternoon third graders will be leading their own Math Number Talks in small groups. Third graders have practiced starting their number talks by asking their audience what they notice or wonder about their math representation. Next, math ideas within the representation will be discussed, for example, equal groups or fractions and parts of a whole. Teachers from across the school will be participating as audience members, thanks to Polly's work organizing this event.
Tonight make sure to ask your child how their math talk went today!

February 15, 2019

Dear Families,

Your child’s first term report card will be sent home today in their Home-School folder.  I have seen a tremendous amount of hard work and growth this year in each member of our class. The third grade is a transitional year between the K-2nd grade and the 3-5th grade. During their time in 3-5th grade, your child will continue to build their foundational skills in reading alongside a growing list of interpretive and analytic reading and writing skills.  

Students who receive an N for Not Meeting Grade Level Benchmarks in the core areas of Reading, Writing, or Mathematics and who receive special education or Title I support,

receive progress monitoring reports along with the enclosed report card. Students on IEPs have individual goals created to mark their progress towards grade-level benchmarks.

During the first term of report cards, it is not unusual for a third grader to receive a score of 3, inconsistent, under student progress or an A for Approaching Benchmarks. This means that skills and understanding in these areas are emergent and not yet consistent. We expect that many of the skills and understandings listed in this report card will become consistent by the end of third grade. At the same time, it can be expected that some children will not solidify these skills until the fourth grade, and consequently receive an N in third grade for not yet meeting third grade benchmarks.

Children develop skills and understandings at their own pace and in their own way. If there are areas of concern; for example if progress is not within the range that the team would expect, these areas would be described in the narrative sections of this report card.

I hope this helps you better understanding how the 3-4th grade team evaluates student progress and benchmarks. If you have any further questions after reading your child’s report card, please contact us.

April Cannon, Classroom Teacher

Andrea Darby, Academic Support and Special Education

Jen Culbreth, Title I Reading Support

Polly Wagner, Math Support

September 12, 2018

Dear Families,

I added a few new addresses to my group list today. I think I have everybody's  addresses at this point! 
I continue to enjoy getting to know your child as we co-create our class culture moving into the year ahead. I see such different personalities in this small group. Every day, I see a tremendous amount of openness, willingness to learn, and curiosity about the journey we are starting together.
The monarch caterpillars have been a source of much excitement as we are seeing several emerge from their chrysalis. Third graders are building on to their prior knowledge of these fascinating little creatures. I know for myself, too, each year I learn more about the Monarch and the subject continues to be a source of amazement. 
I am seeing more writing emerge from students as we continue to warm up and remember old skills. You can expect to see some of the "draw, then write" activities we are doing daily in class as a way of getting the brain/ hand connections up and running. Student's reading stamina is quickly gaining speed. Multiplication work is gaining depth. Amazing what can happen in just a couple weeks.
We could use donations of granola bars for snack. We did already use up most of the bars that were donated in the first week of school.
Thank you!

September 7, 2018

Dear families,

This week in third grade we are getting to know each other and naming ways to make this a powerful year of learning. Highlights have included exploring math materials, learning about multiplication, building and playing with friends old and new, and continuing to care for our growing monarch caterpillars. We enjoyed our first read-aloud book together, Sable, a story about a girl and her dog, both who have to overcome obstacles to maintain their friendship. We had an all school assemble to end the week and had a lot of fun with a group dance video teaching us "flossing." Lots of laughter for that one.
Papers to home this week have included third graders early ideas about character traits and how to summarize their reading. We will be focused on these skills, in particular, during this first reading unit. 
I will be sending home student work each day to give you a glimpse at the skills and understandings your child is working on. I will write a smiley face or check on work to go home. I will sometimes circle or note a few mistakes. Helping your child correct small handwriting, spelling, or math errors is useful. After assessments, I will often give written feedback about areas of strength and next steps and we will look at these notes in class before they go home.
Have a fabulous weekend!


August 30

Dear families,

Bug hunting fever has officially hit the third grade! We had escaping earwigs and host of other outside discoveries today as excitement has spilled over from our study of Monarch caterpillars. Today in class we observed monarch caterpillars that I had collected over the last few weeks and third graders found five or six more on the milkweed plants around the playground. 
Many children have expressed interest in caring for one of our monarch caterpillars over the long weekend. Send me a reply or a note if your child talks to you about this tonight and you are OK with it.  A daily supply of one or two fresh leaves is needed.  
Also, we have been offered a Swallowtail caterpillar to raise. If someone is growing plants in the dill family and would be able to host this caterpillar over the weekend (and then send food daily), please tell me. Swallowtails will host on members of the Apiaceae family, which includes parsley, Queen Anne's Lace, carrot, celery, fennel and dill.

Thank you!
April Cannon 
Grade 3 Teacher

August 29, 2018

Dear Third Grade Families,                           

Welcome back to school! Today I am enjoying getting to know the children in this lovely class.

What a delightful group! We had a great first day and welcomed three new students into our school.

This week third graders will explore their new classroom, fill their desks with student books, and learn new routines. They will  think about and describe their hopes and dreams for the year and and co-create classroom rules needed to reach these goals.

For their first reading unit, Building a Reading Life, third graders will work together to generate new excitement for the world of fiction. They will remind themselves of the skills and strategies strong readers use, set reading goals, and dive into their next set of books. In Reader’s Notebooks, students will begin a log of their reading life and write entries in response to their reading.

In our first science unit, Patterns of Change: Learning about Life Cycles, third graders will raise monarch caterpillars in the classroom to learn about their life cycle. At various points in this school year, third graders will have opportunities for hands-on learning about the unique and diverse life cycles of various plants and animals and how changes in habitat impact these organisms. This first unit will dovetail into their first Mystery Science unit: The Power of Plants. 


In our first math unit, Understanding Equal Groups, third graders will be guided to discuss patterns and relationships that are mathematically significant as they explore the operations. Our first unit provides a review of place value in 2- and 3-digit numbers and  a focus on developing an understanding of multiplication and division. As the unit unfolds, students will continue to develop images that support their understanding of multiplication and division as they are introduced to arrays: rectangular arrangements of objects in rows and columns. 

Our classroom is well-stocked with pens, pencils, notebooks, etc., but our class could use the following donation:

Donations Needed

Granola bars for extra snack

Papers for home will go home today in a School/Home folder. Please take the contents out and send the folder back in to school with your child. Homework will not start for a few weeks. When it starts, homework assignments will go home in these folders every Monday. I typically assign homework in one content area each month. Our first month will be focused on reading.

If you have more questions, please feel free to email me at 

Thank- you!

April Cannon 

Grade 3 Teacher

April 27, 2018

Dear Families,

This morning third graders enjoyed a combined science activity/ shared snack called “Science Fruit or Vegetable?” Thank you for all the donations- we had a great selection of fruits and vegetables for kids to look for seeds and a lot of fun sampling. I do think that their pre-lunch snacking on fruits and veggies made an impressive supplement to pizza at lunch!

Today’s lesson was part of our current unit of study on the life cycle and traits of plants. First, we explored the question, "Why do plants grow flowers?" Next, third graders made their own models of how bees cross-pollinate flowers. Next, we explored the question, “Why do plants give us fruit?” Next week we will be exploring the question, “Why are some apples red and some green?” as we learn about inheritance and selection.

Since we are between Reading and Writing Workshop units right now, our reading and writing work is integrated into our study of plants. For example, yesterday’s reading and writing work involved making a Bee Wheel describing the life cycle of bees and taking notes on reading using two different graphic organizers: one organized sequentially for life cycle notes and one organized into a web to organize main idea and details about bees as insects.

Third graders completed their end of unit assessment on multiplication and division this week and our class has started a new mathematics unit about fractions called Fair Shares and Fractions on Number Lines. A family letter is going home today with more information and related activities to try at home. We have explored the different ways a paper brownie could be divided into equal parts. We represented these fractions on a number line. If anyone has time to make real brownies over the weekend, we would have fun next week making more fair shares!

Thank you for all your support!



November 15, 2017

Hello families,

We have been very busy in third grade, and I would like to take this time to share some of the projects we have been working on! 

This week  third graders finished their first round of narrative writing, and on Tuesday, stories were read aloud in small, teacher-led groups. Staff from across the school, including, Ms. Mendonsa, Jessica, Ms. L. and Ms. Culbreth, volunteered to be part of the audience and to guide positive feedback after each reading. Students were extremely proud of their stories, and are excited to start our next unit focused on small moment fiction stories. For our next publication celebration, later this year, we will be inviting you to come and join us.

Homework this month has been focused on language conventions. While working on narrative writing, third graders have been learning that using strong action words/ verbs brings their characters to life. Also, including talking or dialogue brings the reader into the world of their story. Homework has included more practice with mechanics like using quotation marks and commas. In class, third graders have been enjoying watching some "Schoolhouse Rock" videos to learn more about grammar. "Conjunction Junction" is still a big hit! 

This week. we have started our first Social Studies unit, learning important events in early American history, beginning with Pilgrims and the Voyage of the Mayflower. Whole group, we begin this history unit learning the story of the Pilgrims, and reading to learn more about the "First Thanksgiving" shared by the Pilgrims and the Wampanoag. As we move through this unit, we continue to return to the question "Whose Story Is It?" to compare and contrast perspectives on historical events. Through information books and by reading and discussing traditional stories, third graders learn about Native America during this time period. As an extension of our whole group work, students choose topics of interest from this time period to learn more about, while organizing their learning on flip-charts.

Since September, every Wednesday third graders have been doing yoga with Grace. We are now beginning to offer walking time on the track as a choice during this movement break time. About half of the class typically chooses to do yoga, and the other half chooses walking/ running laps. It has been nice to include these movement breaks into our Wednesday, since we do not have Specials on this day of the week.
Having finished our last math unit on Data and Graphing, we are now returning to a unit focused on the Number System. Specifically, we have been working with place value in numbers to 1,000 and developing our strategies and representations in the realm of addition. This group enjoys math, and for the most part, the block is a hum of activity. Math games are a favorite and our latest game, "Close to 100" involves using single digit cards to create number pairs equalling as close to one hundred as possible. 

Next week is Thanksgiving and your child will be crafting a letter and drawings to you reflecting on the things they are thankful for at home. Expect some sweetness!
This Friday is Assembly at 2:30. Join us if you can! Mike with the Mike will be sharing their next video creation focused on the upcoming holiday.


September 6, 2017
Dear Families,
We are having a lovely week in third grade with lots of excitement around monarch caterpillars, reading, and our first math unit on multiplication and division. Classroom routines are becoming familiar for this calm and focused class!
Third grade home-school folders go home today with the following important papers:
-Paren/teacher Conference Sign-ups
-Information on our diaper drive for Hurricane Harvey relief
-Time for Kids 3/4 edition for shared reading at home about Hurricane Harvey
-Monarch caterpillar care weekend sign-up (for those interested)
-Office paperwork (back side of paper not completed)
Yikes! Our paperwork stream will slow down soon! Please remove this set of papers and send the folder back in with your child. Our next batch of papers will go out this Friday with the Roadtown News, menus, and a family letter about our first math unit. 
Thank you for your support,

 August 15, 2017

Dear Families,

As I look down this list of upcoming third graders it makes me smile to see the youngest members of many families arriving at this next milestone! I have heard wonderful things about this particular crew and their colorful cast of characters and I am excited for the year ahead!

Some highlights of my summer have been kayaking in Casco Bay and digging for clams on the Cape. I have played, what feels like, a million games of kickball with my oldest son and watched as he and his younger brother legs have stretched out. I can see that not just plants have a growth spurt over the summer! Our family heads to Ogunquit Beach next week for some final beach days and then all of us will be moving into back- to-school routines.

I look forward to hearing how the summer has unfolded for each of your families. I am sure there have been highs and lows for all. We will begin the year getting to know each other, co-creating class rules, and describing our hopes and dreams for the year. Our first reading unit will be focused on building up our reading lives with a focus on fiction and our first writing unit will be focused on personal narratives or "small moment" stories. For science, we will be raising monarch caterpillars in the first weeks of school and using the life cycle of the monarch as a launching point for exploring patterns of change shared by all living things.

For the start of the year, all school supplies will be provided including a pencil/pen box. However, your child is invited to bring in any special pens or pencils that will fit in their 8" by 4" box. This is also good time of year to restock your child's home writing supplies with fun markers, pens, pencils and paper to encourage independent writing/ drawing time at home and to build up their supply of writing tools to use for homework. I am a fan of any kind of pen that comes in a range of colors, but has a thin point for writing. 

Please feel free to contact me with any questions about the year ahead!

Thank you for your support!


December 21, 2016

Dear families,

Third graders are getting increasingly excited for the end of the week to arrive! Snow play outside is a highlight of their days.

We started this week with a new math unit called Collections and Travel Stories, focused on addition and subtraction to 1,000.  A family math letter will go home on Friday with more information on the new unit and related activities to try at home. 

Tomorrow, Sally Galman will visit the class, as another in a line of parents sharing  about their work. Sally will be sharing about work researching and teaching about gender issues. This will connect with our Second Step/ Social Skills work, understanding different perspectives. In this case, broadening students' perspectives on what it means to identify as a boy, as a girl, or as transgender.

This Friday will be Pajama Day in third grade. Your child is invited to ride out the half day in their P.J.s and treats are welcome. (We already do have a few volunteers for treats.)

On a final note, there is is letter coming home today to inform you that a student in your child's class has been determined to have head lice. Please be on the look-out! We will not be including stuffed animals in our Friday pajama day for this reason. Please remind your child that stuffed animals should stay at home.

I hope you all enjoy the holidays
        (hopefully without unwelcome guests on our heads),

December 2, 2016

Dear Families,

This week third grade benefited from two parent presentations. On Thursday, Jaime and Chris brought Native American artifacts, particularly arrowheads, into class for the kids to learn more about. They walked the class through the way in which people long ago might leave traces of their life behind in a way that could be later recovered. With drawings and discussion the class was able to understand how arrowheads, tools, or tent pole holes from a camping site, might be preserved under layers of soil. I learned that there are over a hundred archeological sites with Native American artifacts just in the Pioneer Valley. 

Today, Christine came to class in traditional Cherokee dress and shared some of her family history (Native, African, and European) as well as her knowledge about traditional Native American beliefs. The class was enthralled by Christine's presentation about medicine pouches, cards, and her stories. In the end we were treated to pumpkin bread.

Both visits were highly engaging and informative for the class. 
Thank-you, from all of us! 

Please contact me if you are interested in scheduling a read-aloud or presentation in class. 

Enjoy your week-end,

Nov. 22, 2016

Dear Families,

Thank-you for the donations sent in this week for the Food Drive. Third graders were excited to see our box refilled each day. 

For the next few weeks during our morning meeting, to give status to the qualities of character that we are seeking to teach, I am presenting one student each day with a certificate acknowledging their contributions in areas like kindness, helpfulness, and generosity. The class has been enthusiastic about clapping for recipients and seems to be rallying behind the qualities we are holding up.

Today third graders started a collaborative bulletin board focused on kindness, based on the book Each Kindness by Jacqueline Woodson. In the story, a child realizes the impact of cruelty on a new student to her school. The main character reflects:

"That afternoon, I walked home alone.

When I reached the pond, my throat filled with 

all the things I wished I would have said to Maya

Each kindness I had never shown.

I threw small stones into it, over and over.

Watching the way the water rippled out and away

Out and away.

Like each kindness- done and not done.

Like every girl somewhere-

holding a small gift out to someone

and that someone turning away from it."

We read this book at the beginning of the year and revisited it today to turn our attention to kindnesses. Students are invited to draw ripples on the white board to share an act of kindness witnessed. The white board is right near our meeting area and will serve as a reminder to keep kindness in the front of our thoughts.

Have a wonderful Thanksgiving holiday!



October 20, 2016

Dear Families,

Parent conferences begin next week and I am looking forward to meeting with you to talk about your child. The schedule for conferences is posted on our class webpage under Schedules, Plans, and More. 

Typically at conferenes, I like to share student work in the different academic areas as demonstrated in journals, activities, and assessments. It is a good time for us to get up to speed on social and emotional development through our various lenses, both home and school.

Vocabulary Costume Day is next Friday, October 28th. Jessica sent out an attachment to the Roadtown News with more details. Third graders brainstormed ideas last week and we will narrow down their word/ costume choices next week. On Friday the 28th, your child will need to bring their costumes to school and will be wearing the costume in the afternoon with their word necklaces. 

The last two days have been exciting in class because our monarch butterflies have emerged from their chrysalises. Today, our second butterfly emerged during Writing Workshop and we were able to watch it pump up its wings while we co-wrote a "small moment" story about the event. There was interest in sharing the story at assembly so I will keep you posted on the date.

Enjoy this fabulous fall week-end!


October 6, 2016

Dear Families,

I have updated the third grade webpage with links to the parent conference schedule and homework assignments.

This week is our first week of math homework. To keep things simple, I like to assign one kind of homework each month, like reading for September, math for October, etc.That being said, many kids and families love to read at night, and if your child is also able to keep up their reading lives, along with their math homework, great! 

Typically, some students love math homework and  some struggle with it. If math homework is a struggle, encourage your child to focus on one or two problems and show their thinking more completely on a separate sheet of paper. This will help me see their learning edge. If a homework sheet is forgotten at school, your child might make up a story problem and solve it or practice their multiplication combinations.
My homework policy is "try your best." For example, if it is 6 PM and you have 30 minutes to do your math homework, great. If you also have time to read, great. BUT, sleep is the most important thing of all and getting to bed on time. Parents are in charge at home of making decisions around this. Homework is NOT the greatest excuse ever of staying up past your bedtime! As the saying goes, tomorrow is another day.

Have a great long week-end!


September 30, 2016

Dear families,

Today was an exciting week in third grade for observing monarch caterpillars. We have been amazed at the way the caterpillars have doubled in size each week as they munch through their milkweed leavers. Returning to the overarching concept that "changes that animals and plants go through during their life form a pattern," again today, third graders discussed patterns (eating and growing) and wrote more about their understanding of the patterns found in life cycles of monarch butterflies and people.
In math, third graders are practicing skip-counting as a strategy for solving multiplication problems, such as 6 x 3 = 18   6, 12, 18. Some students are also exploring strategies related to the doubling of a factor, doubling the product. For example, if 3 x 7 = 21, then 6 x 7 = 42. Students are asked to use number lines, pictures, or hundreds charts to represent their reasoning in these kinds of related problems. This level of work involves algebraic reasoning, or explaining/ representing what kind of actions will always work within an operation and why it works.
In Reading Workshop, we are reading aloud a story called Stone Fox, about a boy named Willy who is trying to help save his grandfather's farm. In the read-aloud discussion, assigned books, and independent reading, students are expanding their ability to envision, retell, and make higher level predictions about a character's actions.
It has been a busy and productive week!
Hope you all have a restful week-end!

September 17, 2016

Dear families,

This week third graders continue to learn about the life cycle of monarch butterflies and human impact on monarch populations. Today we celebrated the arrival of 16 little (4mm 2nd Instar) monarch caterpillars from Monarch Watch. 
Monarch Watch is a nonprofit education, conservation, and research program based at the University of Kansas. Hopefully our little caterpillars will munch happily away over the weekend on their milkweed plants.

Our exploration of multiplication in mathematics continues to deepen. Students are coming in with a range of background knowledge. Those with more experience with multiplication are explaining strategies to those with less. This class has very good partnership skills.

In Morning Meeting with have been focusing on positive self-talk, like "don't give up" and "nothing is impossible." We watched a video on growth mindset this morning called "You Can Learn Anything." There are some big ideas here and it is worth watching this again with your child if you have a chance:

Enjoy your week-end and hope to see you next Wednesday at Open House!


September 9, 2016

Hello families,

This has been a settled and create week in third gradeThird graders have composed their hopes and dreams for the year and reflected on their reading lives. We have launched into our mathematics unit on multiplication with great enthusiasm.
The fire drill on Thursday raised some anxiety and we talked about feelings about fire drills before and after the alarms. Many children noticed that they felt levels 3-5 about fire drills BEFORE the drill and 0-1 about fire drills AFTER the drill. 
This week some children have been working hard at understanding perspectives and resolving conflicts among friendship groups. Third grade is typically the year in which children benefit from a focus on perspective-taking. Through discussion 1:1,  in small groups, and in class discussion we work on an understanding that two different perspectives can be equally valid. In our Second Step anti-bullying curriculum we will work on skills for learning including emotional management and problem-solving.

Your child is coming home with their  home/school folder today. A math letter and a notice about the school Potluck went home yesterday. A corrected math page goes home today.
Please empty your child's home/school folder out on Fridays and send it back on Mondays  Thank you.

Have a wonderful weekend!