Renaissance Third Grade Overview
The Third Grade classroom at Renaissance School is bursting with energy and enthusiasm! The teacher harnesses the eight and nine-year-old energy and gently guides students on their way to becoming confident, independent learners. Third Graders tackle an ever-increasing quantity and complexity of academic work throughout the year; their teacher supports them as they experience the challenge and finally the confidence that comes from perseverance.
Third Grade students are given lots of opportunities to socialize and work in groups as they engage in hands-on, experiential learning projects, while the teacher helps with organizational strategies, as students are just beginning to learn these skills. Through an in-depth study of Vermont and its earliest inhabitants, the Abenaki, students gain a deeper knowledge of and appreciation for their home state. Third Graders take an annual trip to the Lake Champlain Maritime Museum during their Social Studies unit to explore the importance of the lake’s history and connections to the American Revolution. Because Third Graders are increasingly interested in the natural world, they enjoy observing and studying native plants, trees and other vegetation.
Students take on more complex math problems in the context of real-life, for example, they learn about measurement and scaling by baking in the school’s kitchen. Students explore the world of sustainable energy on Shelburne Farms, and create wind power projects and solar ovens to demonstrate their new knowledge and skills. The moral and emotional growth of our Third Graders is evident in self-directed, multi-disciplinary projects like a bake sale to support the local Humane Society. Third Grade is a time of intense growth and achievement, and our Third Grade teacher loves guiding and supporting these energetic and imaginative minds. .
Third graders continue to develop as strong readers and writers. In their reading groups they delve deeper into more challenging fiction and nonfiction texts, looking for meaning and nuance within the words. In their reading groups, students learn and practice comprehension strategies such as questioning, making connections and visualizing to draw more understanding from the text. They begin to break stories down into elements, gaining a deeper appreciation for the craft of writing. Our Third Grade classrooms have many cozy areas for students to read in comfort, thereby increasing the pleasure gained from sustained reading.
In Third Grade there is an emphasis on speaking clearly and using appropriate grammar and pronunciation in all oral communication. Students participate in group discussions where they can practice questioning skills and respectful listening. Third Graders produce a great deal of original writing, from imaginative fiction to scientific research papers. Shelburne Farms provides an unending source of creative inspiration for writing topics. Students learn to create a solid paragraph with topic sentences, supporting details and closing sentences. They continue to build foundational knowledge of grammar and application of conventions of standard English.
Third Graders become more comfortable with the writing process, and often engage with peers to revise, proofread and improve their writing. We teach Third Graders to write legibly in cursive; we believe--and research supports--that the act of cursive writing provides important brain stimulation that translates into more successful writing and reading.
Third Grade students become more proficient in fast recall of addition, subtraction, multiplication and division, and they learn to solve multi-step word problems using these operations. Students deepen their understanding and skills with time and money and they learn how to convert units of measurement and explore concepts of mass, volume and temperature. A favorite hands-on project that incorporates measurement and scaling is baking in the school kitchen; students work in cooperative groups to convert measurements of ingredients, and then are able to enjoy and share the final product of their work.
Third Graders create more complex surveys to collect and graph data, and they interpret and analyze data from graphs to answer questions. Shelburne Farms is a great resource for experiential learning as students draw and map farm buildings to scale and graph the number of chicken eggs collected. Students expand their knowledge of fractions; they learn to define proper and improper fractions, simplify fractions and recognize equivalent fractions. Students begin their exploration of decimals in Third Grade, and move toward mastery of multiplication and division. They learn to compute multi-digit multiplication problems up to 3 digit by 3 digit, and learn long division up to 3 digit by 1 digit.
Third Graders develop a deeper understanding of geometry by learning to identify and define more complex shapes and concepts such as regular and irregular polygons, congruent and similar figures, and the six types of triangles. Students also practice calculating the perimeter and area of quadrilaterals. Overall, Third Graders develop a mathematical mindset, preparing them for more theoretical and algebraic thinking in the years ahead.
Third Grade students build on their prior knowledge of plants by learning to identify and classify different types of plants, and to identify parts and functions within plants. They explore the process of photosynthesis and begin to explore how various climates affect all types of plant life. Students delve deeply into the scientific method; they learn to ask scientific questions and make a hypothesis which can then be tested with student-created experiments. Students learn and demonstrate the important skills of thinking critically and scientifically about problems and issues.
Their ability to collect, organize and analyze data improves as they spend time working on a science project of their choosing. These projects are student-created, completed, displayed and presented at the school-wide science fair in the spring. Finally, Grade 3 students are immersed in the study of sustainability, including renewable energy sources and recycling. Using the renewable energy sources and sustainable living practices in place on Shelburne Farms as examples, students create their own wind power projects and solar ovens.
Third Graders learn a great deal about their home state of Vermont. They engage in an in-depth exploration of the physiographic regions of the state, and deepen their mapping skills. Students learn how to use a compass to reach a destination on a map, and they explore many different types and purposes of maps. Third Graders explore how weather and seasons affect life in Vermont, including the earliest inhabitants of Vermont, the Abenaki and other Native American tribes. Students learn about early Native American culture, and how the first European settlers interacted with and influenced Native American life. They gain an appreciation for the contributions that Native Americans living in North America made to early American culture, many of which remain relevant today.
In Third Grade, students begin to understand the motivation for Europeans to settle in North America and set up colonies. They examine the original thirteen colonies and compare daily life then to their modern life. Students explore the political, economic and cultural foundations of the American Revolution and the Declaration of Independence, and begin to think about its significance in our nation’s history. The teacher brings history to life by orchestrating simulations of historical events such as the Mayflower voyage and the Boston Tea Party, complete with period costumes! Early US history is revisited in more depth and complexity in subsequent grades.
Social, Emotional and Life Skills
Third Graders are hard at work developing as individuals; friends and peers become more important in Third Grade, and the Third Grade teacher skillfully guides their social and emotional development in healthy directions. Morning meetings are a great time to explore values of empathy and kindness; students discuss scenarios and practice responses to comments or questions, then they take their new skills into the classroom, playground and the wider world. Critical traits such as empathy, perseverance, grit, resilience and flexibility are explicitly taught, modeled, practiced and celebrated. We believe that if we can help our young students strengthen these lifelong character traits, we will be preparing them for success in school and in life.