End of Year Doings

It is a bit hard to believe that we are at the end of the year.  I am still trying to catch up with many details after being out due to illness for a big part of May. There is certainly a lot going on in Third Grade. Many thanks to Nicole Rhodes for ably covering during my absence.

Our play about the Civil War is on for 1:30 on June 15, Grandparents Day.  We are hoping many grandparents will come back that afternoon for the play.  We hope you will join us as well. Expect songs, dance and a solid dose of history about this traumatic, defining event in our nations history.

Our annual local history Tour Around Town field trip will be the morning of June 18. We will also do our post-poned spring hike that week on the morning of June 19. Permission slips come home today.

We have completed all of the state mandated and building based end of year assessments. Typically you will receive MCAS results in the fall.

Our last significant academic task is completion of the biographies about notable people from Massachusetts history. These will come home this week to be “typed.” We will share them in class next week.

Last, thank you again to the parents who chaperoned on the Boston trip.  It was a good day.

Busy, Busy, Busy…

Our trip to Storrowton Village a couple weeks ago was a big success. It is a well thought out program in a very well designed replica of an early nineteenth century New England village. They do a good job highlighting important elements of a child’s life back then. The dressing up is a big plus. We are lucky to have it nearby. Thanks again to Megan Florek for chaperoning.

There is a lot coming up in the next few weeks. The Bird Fair will take place on Monday, April 2. Projects are to be done at home, as is typing the report.  The research and draft are being done at school. Kids will be displaying their projects and speaking about their bird. The second and fourth grades will be coming to learn from the experts. We will start at about 1:00 and go until about 2:45. Please stop by and check it out if you can.

The day after the Bird Fair, Tuesday, April 3 is the first day of the Language Arts MCAS. Wednesday, April 4 is the second day of testing. The message about MCAS is that it is important and kids should do their best, but nothing bad happens if they don’t do well. Sometimes there are rumors to that effect circulating around. It is important that they are rested. Please do what you can to help them get a good sleep and have a good breakfast. They are allowed to bring gum to chew during the testing. Please do not send them with candy.

As if this isn’t enough for the first week of April, we will be hosting Common Area on Friday, April 6.

Hope to see you at the Bird Fair or Common Area, or anywhere else.

Mid-Winter Update

Hard to believe, but true, we are more than half way through the year. Many of the things we do in third grade are marked by the seasons. Birdwatching is one of them. Kids are well into observing the bird feeders and creating their field guides, which means we are close to beginning our bird research reports, leading up to the Bird Fair in March. Kids will be choosing birds soon. The research and writing will be done in class.  The accompanying project will be done at home.  More information will come, but this is the heads up that it is beginning.

This is also the time of year when another fun science activity happens – we will design, build and fly hot air balloons.  Over the years we have had some spectacular flights.  Under the right conditions, balloons have disappeared from sight. Maybe they came down in Chesterfield. Our goal is more humble – flying over the school. Someone has always achieved it. I will let you know how it goes in the March news.

Consider this advance notice about a field trip on March 6.  We will be going to Storrowton Village at the Big E. The trip supports our learning in Social Studies about the Puritans and Colonial life leading up the the Revolution.  It is a fun “living history” presentation.  Kids will dress up in period clothing and do colonial sorts of things. It’s a good trip.

Math and Reading roll along.  In Math we are beginning work on rounding, estimating, and adding and subtracting three and four digit numbers. In Reading the focus is about kids demonstrating their understanding of text by using information from the text to respond to questions.  You can help by reading with them at home and having conversations about the books. Ask them questions about the story and have them explain how they know.  Also in the advance notice folder is MCAS.  MCAS will take place in April and May.  ELA comes first.  The exact dates are yet to be determined.

The last thing is a party.  We will have a Valentines/Friendship party on Wed. Feb. 14 at the end of the day. If your child wants to bring in valentines, please be sure they bring one for each student in the class. Of course, bringing valentines is not required.

Thanks so much.  Hope to see you around school.

John Bye


November Wrap-Up

We had a great field trip to Amherst and the Beneski Museum and Emily Dickinson home on Monday the 13th.  It was fun to combine domains: science, language, and history into a single trip.  Two very different areas of knowledge: poetry and fossils, yet they both made use of artifacts to illuminate the ideas embedded in them, and are both deemed worthy of preservation.  One does not exceed the other.

The class was very well-behaved and engaged in both places.  They made a good impression and were excellent ambassadors for our school.

Thank you for your participation in conferences.  It is always useful to talk with you about your children, and I enjoyed meeting those of you I had not met previously. Progress reports are coming home on Dec. 15th.

The beat goes on in math: multiplication and division. Most kids still need to practice the multiplication facts – memorization is the goal.  If they can orally give the correct answer to a random multiplication fact in two seconds it is memorized, if not, keep practicing.

In Social Studies kids are learning how to read maps: keys, scales, compass directions, and will begin learning  about the different regions of our state. This is prelude to discussing colonization, Puritan life, and the run up to the Revolution.

We have begun our bird studies in Science.  This will include learning about weather generally, and specifically as it relates to birds and migration.

Motoko is our artist in residence for the next couple of weeks.  She is working with the kids on combining origami and storytelling. It is fun having her here.  Mrs. Dias has created this opportunity for us.

Looking ahead to December:

Third Grade Common Area on Dec. 15

Holiday Party on Dec. 22

Until next time…

Welcome and Other Things

Welcome to the Third Grade Blog. On a semi-regular basis I will post bits and pieces of note for you as parents/guardians of third graders.

We are well into our regular routine here at school, and have even reached one of our milestones – our first Tob Hill hike.  The hike went off very well.  Mr. Bates joined us, and we enjoyed a lovely morning identifying trees and talking about the structure of a forest.  If you don’t know, the Tob Hill Trail exists through the generosity of the Jenkins and Holt families.  We are lucky to have such a great resource so close to school.

Halloween is coming up and we will have a party from 2:00 – 2:45 on Tuesday, October 31. Many thanks to Megan Florek, Kris Hamel, and Trish Hasper, who have volunteered to help out with snacks and an activity. Kids may bring their costumes to school and wear them for the party.  They may not wear them during the school day.

We are also deep into multiplication, which means memorizing multiplication facts.  This is one of our primary goals for the year, and it starts now. Please work with your child on finding a low stress, fun way to practice the times tables (0 – 10).  Many options exist, from flashcards, to card games, computer games, IXL and other websites, phone apps, and so on. The method doesn’t matter, practicing does. Get in touch if you have questions or concerns.

Thanks so much.

Mr. Bye

Basket, MCAS, Bird Fair, Spring Break

With MCAS, and Bird Fair activity the PTO Raffle Basket could get lost in the shuffle. So this is a quick reminder, if you would like to contribute an item to the Third Grade Basket our theme is “Party On.” Anything which you and your child think would be useful/fun to have on hand for a party could go in the basket.  Art/Music night is the 13th, so it would be great to have things here in class by the 11th.  Thanks in advance.

Well, the 2017 ELA MCAS is in the books. For the most part kids were focused and worked hard.  Now we wait and see how we did.  We have a reprieve until May 17, 18 when we take on the math portion.

Thanks to all of you who came to the Bird Fair and/or helped your child prepare for it.  It was a big success.  Kids were very excited and did a great job on their presentations.  By the end, they were sick of talking (perhaps a first for some of our more social members).

Amazingly, Spring Break is upon us and the final stretch of the year is beckoning.  Some things which are coming up in May/June: our Spring Hike, Boston Field Trip, Third/Fourth Grade Play, Tour Around Town.

Mid-Winter Update

Hard to believe, but winter break is upon us.  Here are a few things which are coming up in third grade.

  1. We have learned about the reasons for the difference in density of warm and cold air. Based on that understanding, we built a hot air balloon prototype which we will test when we return from break.
  2. Kids have chosen birds for their Bird Research Projects. The projects will culminate with the Bird Fair on a date TBD in March.  The Bird Fair is one of the highlights of our year.
  3. We have a field trip planned to support our Social Studies curriculum which focuses on colonial Massachusetts leading up to the Revolution. On March 22, we will head to Storrowton Village in Springfield.  We have not visited Storrowton before, but I am told that they have a very good, fun “living history” presentation of colonial life.
  4. MCAS arrives in third grade on April 4, 5, 6 for the Reading test and again on May 17, 18 for the Math test.  We will begin preparing when we return from break.  Preparation basically involves demystifying MCAS by seeing examples of questions from past tests, and completing and discussing practice test questions.  Kids already have the skills they need. We will just apply those skills to MCAS specific questions in a low stress way which will build their confidence.

Good stuff on the way!  I hope you all enjoy what looks to be a truly wintry winter break.