Tuesday, September 29, 2015

Parent Teacher Conference Sign Up

Please sign up for Parent/Teacher conferences.  We will meet at the end of October and early November.

Friday, September 25, 2015

Week of 9/28-10/2

NEWS: Check out the new page on the side of the BLOG called COUGAR PAW PRIDE. We will use this space to keep you updated on the AMAZING ways the students in our classes are making a difference in our classrooms and around campus!

Open House will be on Tuesday, September 29.  Classrooms are open for visiting from 5:30-6:30p.m.  At 6:40 the first PTA meeting for the school year will be held in the cafeteria.  Coach Thompson and Teaching Aides will be available in the gym to watch children as parents attend the meeting.  

Thank you to our HCE PTA for funding WITS for third grade for the second year. (Now grades 3-5 will have the opportunity to participate in this program.)  Writers In the Schools is a program that sends professional writer's to schools to work with both teachers and students in creative writing.  Our writer this school year is Carolyn Bolton.  I am very excited, as she was teamed with third grade last school year and not only did the kids learn much from her writing experience, but I did as well.  She will be with us most weeks on Wednesdays. For this week, Mrs. Bolton will join us on Tuesday.
Please be on the look out for more information about WITS and Mrs. Bolton in the TUESDAY NEWSDAY folders. There will be a permission slip in the folder that we will need you to sign and return so that we may share your children's writing and images with the world around us!

READING & WRITING: We will combine our work in Reading and Writing Workshop this week.  First students will reflect and review expectations for BEFORE, DURING AND AFTER reading.  These will help students direct their focus as we move out of reading assessments and move into small group work.  While students read independently this week, I will pull small groups of students to work on a variety of reading strategies and skills in small group.
GENRE STUDY:  Last week, we started digging into our work on genre studies.  We started by talking about and reading examples from the genre of fantasy.  This week, we will hone in on what makes a story a folktale.  Folk tales are a traditional form of literature that feature ordinary people (folk).These stories are narrative in structure and are often passed down over many years in both an oral and written tradition.  Folktales often have a more obvious theme (lesson or message) for readers.  We will discuss what it is that we believe the author is trying to teach or tell us with this story.  While this is an easy thing for most experienced readers to do, most third graders are just becoming fluent enough readers to think about the BIG picture (theme) while reading.
As students work with folktales this week, they will continue to track their thinking using symbols and sticky notes. These tracks in our text allow us to notice how an author is engaging his or her audience.  We will eventually apply these findings to our own craft of writing.

WORD WORK: Students will continue to learn a variety of word work strategies, practices and games with our practice words as we get ready to LAUNCH our word work.  Wednesday, October 7 will be the first time your student is pulled in his or her differentiated spelling group.  Please let me know if you would like me to send home a word study menu and an extra copy of words for you to practice with your child at home.  Remember, spelling homework is not a requirement this year, as we will incorporate 15-20 minutes of word work into our language arts block each day this year.

SOCIAL STUDIES: We are continuing our 9 weeks focus on Communities, Citizenship and Government.  Last week, we went through the voting process and now we have elected 2 Leadership Council Representatives!  Congratulations to Ben in Mrs. Duncan’s class and Michael in Mrs. Ford's class!  This week, we will focus on government leaders.  Students need to understand who the leaders are at each level of government: local/mayor, state/governor and nation or federal/president.

Monday, September 21, 2015

Mangahigh Information

Dear Parents,
Our PTA has purchased a subscription to a math program called Mangahigh.  It is web based and allows students a chance to practice and strengthen math concepts in a game format.  All students in Grades K-5 are invited to participate.

Teachers will be incorporating Mangahigh into their classroom routines.  Mangahigh allows teachers to assign “challenges” to their students, based on individual student needs.  Your child’s teacher will be able to monitor progress and increase the rigor of the challenges when a student has successfully mastered a level.  This program is a great enrichment program to use at home as well.  Your children can work on the challenges that are assigned at school, or they can play the math games.

Here is how a student will log-on: (this information is stapled in your child’s planner)
·       Go to:  https://www.mangahigh.com/login
·       The username is your child’s computer username at HCE.
·       The password is his/her lunch #.
·       The school ID is 42383.

HCE began using Mangahigh last spring.  It was a pilot program for several grade levels.  Because it was so popular, we are including all HCE students this year.  We are so thankful that the HCE PTA purchased this site license for us! Our subscription is good until February of this year. If you have any questions, please let me know and I will be happy to answer them!

Thank you,

     Mrs. Duncan

Saturday, September 19, 2015

Week of September 21

LAST WEEK- We had a guest reader from the Houston Bar Association to help us celebrate Constitution Day.  She read So, You Want to Be President to our third grade classes.  They were engaged and asked many questions about how she uses laws to do her job every day.

We will finish up our work on connections early this week.  Last week, we reviewed and practiced making text to self and text to text connections.  This week we will finish by discussing text to world connections.  This type of reading connection can be the most challenging for 3rd graders since it requires an extensive background knowledge of world events and history.  I will scaffold our learning by connecting our text to Ruby Bridges, a story we learned about a few weeks ago in Social Studies.

We will then switch our reading focus to learn more about the genre of fantasy. Reviewing characteristics of a fantasy and sharing aloud a few quality examples will help us understand how this genre is different from the realistic fiction and historical fiction we have been reading.

Students need to continue to read for 20 minutes each night and record the title in their planner.  This is part of their study habits and daily routine which are assessed and reported on the progress report each grading cycle.

We are learning how to have an academic discussion in writing.  Last week we talked about ways to get a conversation going, inviting others to the discussion and how to ask others for clarification.  This week we will focus on bringing our background knowledge to the discussion, how to mark of piggy-back on someone's comment, and expand someones thought or contribution.  As we work in reading this week, we will consume great examples of fiction stories so that your child will be ready next week to try writing his or her own imaginative stories.

Word Work- We will use Words Their Way this year in third grade.  This week, students will learn a variety of word work activities that they will eventually complete on their own in during our daily work work class time.  For now, students are using a generic list of words to practice.  After two week of practicing routines, your child will be groups according to their Elementary Spelling Inventory results and will receive words that should match their developmental understanding of how words and spelling patterns work.

This week we will learn about HCE's Leadership Council.  Students will have a chance to notice and nominate classmates whom demonstrate the COUGAR CODE.  We will total those nominations and then elect a representative for our homeroom class.  We will use this real world example to guide our study and learning about voting.  This week we will also explore the online portion of our new Social Studies Materials.  Students will learn in class how they can access it online and learn more to earn points with Revere the rat.  They can cash in their points to decorate Revere's habitat!  This is a great resource for extended learning and previewing upcoming at home.

This week in math, we will continue working with addition. Last week, we finished our unit with place value and started our addition unit. We spent last week practicing our addition without regrouping. This week, we will spend Monday and Tuesday regrouping in the hundreds place. On Wednesday and Thursday, we will move into regrouping in the ones, tens, and hundreds. On Friday, we will have a problem solving day where we are working on word problems. Your child will  learn to decode word problem and pull out key words that help them know what operation (addition or subtraction) that they will use to solve it. For homework this week, your child will come home with an addition worksheet on Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday. On Monday, the third grade teachers will be introducing the Problem of the Week. This is a higher level thinking word problem that is sent home every Monday and will be due on Friday. We ask that parents and students team up on this question and spend time solving it together. This is not a grade. For Fast Facts this week, we will be moving into subtraction. I have been very impressed by the addition facts and I can tell that the students are spending time every night studying their facts. 

During our science time this week we will spend time discussing density and move into matter. In our study of density, we will be experimenting with objects and deciding how density affects whether an object will sink or float. 

On Tuesday and Wednesday we will complete a lab on matter. We will have six stations that help us explore the properties of matter including mass, texture, temperature, magnetism, and buoyancy. 

During our science time over the last three weeks, we have been learning about ways to be a good Digital Citizen. We will complete our last digital citizenship lesson on Thursday. As our final lesson, we will make a pledge to always be responsible while using computers and mobile devices. 

As a reminder, the third graders will have their first field trip on Friday, September 25th. Please have your child wear a GREEN shirt on Friday. We will be back for lunch so your child does NOT need a sack lunch to take with them. 

Have a great week!

     Mrs. Duncan and Mrs. Ford

Friday, September 4, 2015

News for the Week of September 7-11

News and Announcements- Curriculum Night is Tuesday, September 15.  Mrs. Ford and Mrs. Duncan's homerooms will meet together in Room 15.  BEFORE Curriculum Night, please take 10 minutes and watch this video from the third grade team.  Information in this video will help you know about the content we will cover this year with your child.  Our meeting on the 15th of September will include: a short and fun quiz on the content in the video, classroom expectations, classroom management, communication and homework.  We know you are busy and have worked hard to create this video and streamline our presentation in person to get you the best information in the most concise fashion.

We had a GREAT first week together getting to know one another and learning new routines and schedules.  This week, we will dive into more third grade content.  This blog is to be used as a conversation starter for you and your child.  Check out what's going on in class this week, and then throw out a informational tidbit or ask questions at home to keep the learning going!  Your help and participation is appreciated.

Reading- We will learn how to preview a text this week.  It is important for young readers, when learning how to pick a good book to read that they know the parts of a book to preview.  This will help them determine if the book fits their purpose, interest and ability.  Students have been sticky note crazy!  We've introduced your child to tracking their thinking using sticky notes. (STOCK TIP-- invest in 3M-wink, wink)!  They have enjoyed this new found way to leave their thinking in their books.  This week we will help them learn how to use their notes to create reader's response journal entries. 

Writing- We spent the week trying out many different types of journal writing and brainstorming.  This week, we will focus more on what we hear when people share their stories.  What makes one person's story more interesting than another? What components need to be in a story for people to understand what you experienced?  We will wrap up the week with students creating writing goals for this 9 week period.  

Word Work- This week we will introduce students to a variety of ways that we will attack word work in our classrooms.  They will have a GENERIC list of spelling words.  We WILL NOT be taking a REAL test with these words.  Our words will stay in the classroom and be used to help us understand and practice some components of word study.  

Social Studies- We spent last week continuing to create classroom community. We began our discussions on what makes someone a good citizen.  This week we will focus on our greater communities and citizens who have served as great role models.  Students will be introduced to Harriet Tubman, Ruby Bridges, Helen Keller and Clara Barton this week.  We will look at what they did to help their community in the past and how that impacts our communities today.  Students will work each day to complete their first Social Studies project on these ladies. You are welcome and encouraged to reference the Social Studies links to learn more about these women at home.  

Math- Last week, we continued working on the place and the value of each number. We spent the remainder of the week discussing how to compare numbers using greater than and less than. We also worked on ordering numbers from greatest to least and least to greatest. This week, we will take an assessment on Wednesday. This will help the teachers discover where are students are in this unit. We will finish the week off learning about five and dix digit numbers. You can expect a math worksheet on Wednesday and Thursday night. Your child will take their first math fast quiz on Friday. Please remember to study addition facts throughout the week. 

Science- Last week in science, we completed a gallery walk that helped us review and learn about science tools that we will use throughout the school year. During science this week, we will learn how to make observations using our senses. We will learn how to observe using our eyes, ears, touch, and nose. We will start our study of the scientific method to help prepare for our experiment that will happen next week. 

Homework-Third graders will have 20 minutes of reading homework each night.  We checked out library books and will return books to the library each week on Wednesdays.  Students should record the book title in their planner each night to show that the required 20minutes of reading was completed.  Scholastic Book orders may be placed online or you may return the paper form to Mrs. Ford.  Orders will be placed Friday, September 11.  It takes a few days for them to mail them to us, but you can generally expect your books to arrive about 5 business days later.  

Monday, August 31, 2015

Writing- Writing workshop has been a fun and exciting way to get to know one another the last few days.  We will focus this year on sharing our stories.  Last week we started story sharing and taking turns listening to one another's stories.  This week we will create some resources that we will use this year in Writer's Workshop when we are trying to figure out what story to write! Students will spend a few days this week creating their own heart map.  Our heart maps remind us what people, things, and places we love.  These  will help prompt and promote storytelling and writing.  Ask your student what they placed in their hearts!!

Reading- We've been talking about our reading for days!  Students have been helping each other understanding the difference between real reading and fake reading.  We've started to focus on our thinking while we read.  We've even started to share our thinking and all this thinking about thinking is what we call metacognition. 
Students have been practicing this skill with our read alouds and their independent reading books.  We will continue practicing this skill this week and begin talking about what good readers can do when they get stuck on an idea in a book that doesn't make much sense.

Social Studies- We spent last week creating classroom community. Our study will more to focus on our greater communities and citizens who have served as great role models.  Students will be introduced to Ruby Bridges, Helen Keller and Jane Addams.  We will look at what they did to help their community in the past and how that impacts our communities today.  Students will also be encouraged to start thinking about character traits that a "good citizen" would display.

Homework-Third graders will have 20 minutes of reading homework each night.  We will start our library schedule this Wednesday.  Students should record the book title in their planner each night to show that the required 20minutes was completed.

Sunday, August 30, 2015

August 31st - September 4th

Happy Sunday Parents!!!

We made it through our first week!  Last week we spent some time learning third grade routines and expectations.  The kids have really been doing a great job so far and are enjoying 3rd grade! 
Last week in math we reviewed some second grade skills with place value and introduced the thousands place.  We have been working on standard form, word form, and expanded form. 

This week we will be discussing in greater depth the value of each place.  The students will be taught strategies on how to compare and order numbers using the greater than and less than sign.  We will be introducing some new Math Station games to the kids to practice these skills as well. Last week, I encouraged your child to begin practicing their math facts. The class blog has some great websites to practice - you can find these under the Math Websites page on the right side of the blog.

We skimmed the surface in Science last week.  The kids made a title page and table of contents for their Science Journal and decorated them with Science Icons.  On Thursday we talked about “What is a Scientist?” We discovered all the different types of Scientists that exist and began working on our first project.  In Science next week we will be going through Lab Safety procedures and learning the names of many Science tools.  Towards the end of the week we will take a gallery walk with a partner and work on categorizing tools by tools that are used for observation, safety, measurement, or recording.

I am looking forward to another great week!

   Mrs. Duncan