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An Ode to Third Grade

Dear Parents,
 
Wow!  We are sitting in very empty classrooms, which, just yesterday, enjoyed the presence of your children for the last time.  Teachers love the feel of walls that ring with love, warmth and laughter rather than solidly guarding us from the outside elements.  All teachers know that it is only cozy when we are enclosed together!
 
This year was challenging.  It seems like only a few weeks ago since we shared in the pain and subsequent joys of Harvey.  Helping each other challenged us to remember that nothing in life matters as wholly as the relationships we have with each other.  Experiencing this dynamic in our classrooms was equally beautiful as we watched children care for, include, and defend each other as they learned to define their own sense of community.  
 
Some fault teachers for caring too much about the content, but those individuals don't understand that teachers do not fall in love with content, but rather, we fall in love with children and will teach content as a way to connect and share life with the children.  
 
This year, we have LOVED your children.  Please relish for a moment in the fact that you are doing a mighty fine job to rear responsible ladies and gentlemen. Parenting is hard; teaching is hard.  We feel blessed that this year we were a team - you working hard on your end to make them teachable - us working hard on our end - and the children truly reaped the benefit.  
 
Thank you for your kindness and patience.  Thank you for your generous gifts and support.  Mostly, we thank you for the authentic and heart-felt conversations.  We love that we were able to speak truthfully about the children and our desires for them.  We are honored to have shared the third grade journey with you.  We truly hope that you all have a blessed and restful summer.  
 
Warm Regards,
Meredith, Angie, and Carrie

We are DONE!!!

Dear Parents,
 
We are finished with STAAR.  We applaud you as parents.  Because we had perfect attendance for Monday and Tuesday, we have no make-ups!  Today the most challenging part was keeping the kiddos quiet and still in a room after they were finished, but others in our pod weren't.  It was a doozy of an afternoon.  
 
Friday is field day, which will be fun.  PLEASE put sunscreen on the children as we are in the afternoon group.  
 
Tomorrow our FIELD TRIP permission forms are going home in Wednesday folders.  Please return them as quickly as possible.  For the field trip, each child will bring a sack lunch or get one from the school.  Each child will also wear their class Field day tee-shirt (which we haven't yet received).
 
Some fun days are ahead, but we are also using time for make-up or incomplete assignments.  Additionally, we still have a science test on Thursday and a science benchmark next Wednesday.  It's difficult to believe that we are in the final stages of this year.
 
 
Regards,
Carrie
 

STAAR is finally here!

Dear Parents,
 
It has arrived!  STAAR is finally here.  We would like to share with you a few thoughts about Monday and Tuesday.  Please remember the following:
  • Please send them without backpacks. 
  • Please do not send watches or cell phones.  If the students arrive with them, we are required to take them for the day and lock them away (as our own phones will be.)
  • Remember that visiting the building is necessarily suspended. 
  • We will provide the Holmes, Ledbetter, Ray switch with a bottle of water, so there is not a need for one from home.
  • This year the children can visit during lunch as we will have it in our classroom.  Yea!  
  • Please get ample rest on Sunday night. 
As teachers we would love to teach without ever considering a test, but there is value in the process.  Children begin to learn testing skills as they are necessary throughout life.  While there may be some anxiety this year as it is their first year, we marvel that third grade success seems to diminish anxiety in subsequent years.  We love that!  Further, students develop a sense of esprit de corps, which is so cool to watch.   For our parents, we want you to know that this a snapshot of a single moment in time that neither defines the entirety of their learning nor predicts future successes.  We are confident that the children have grown and learned because we have shared the journey with them.  We know that you can see it too.  

Well, we are pleased to announce that we are a model school again!  It's truly a celebration in our building.  In a year that was fraught with unusual circumstances, I wondered if we'd be "good enough" at GE to get model school again.  Had we focused enough on the skills?  Would the children transparently convey how the bulk of our days are spent?  Did we truly demonstrate 17 "best practices" of education through the difficulties of this year?  
 
Though I personally struggled with these questions, I realized as the visitor was in my room that we had become GE; it is not a personality that we "put on" for a few moments, but it now defines us.  Whether or not difficulties arise, we meet them with a common language and expectations that govern our school family.  Respect and a positive attitude permeate our classrooms and relationships. 
 
I am grateful that your children are in my class, and they were so excited when the GE representative told them that they were the "best" she had seen in Tomball.  They beamed with pride! 
   

A Note from the PTO about Country Fair......

The PTO needs the help of our 3rd grade parents at the Country Fair on April 27.  Each grade is responsible for a game at the event. The 3rd grade game is ready we just need 2 parents to help with set up from 5:30-6:00 p.m. and 2 parents to take down the game and put it away from 7:30-8:00 p.m. There are also spots for parents to volunteer to help supervise the games. We will have student volunteers to work the games but we need parents to supervise for 30 minute shifts while the games are open. You can sign up through the signup genius below. Thank you for your help! We couldn’t do this without you! 

 

www.SignUpGenius.com/go/30E0A4DA9AC29A7F58-country1

Pennies for Patients

Dear Parents,
 
Our school is supporting Pennies for Patients, which is an opportunity to support the local community to providing funds for leukemia patients.  Some of you prefer an online giving link, so I'm linking it here for your convenience. 
 
 

Welcome back!!!!!!!

Dear Parents,
 
Wow!  We are beginning our final quarter of third grade!  It's unbelievable how swiftly the year has flown.  For those of you who have older children, you're pros at third; you expected the challenges and the adjustments.  However, many of you are experiencing third grade for the first time and may have been surprised at the giant step up that is necessary as the students are adjusting to becoming a more independent worker.  I trust that you can easily see in your child's work samples the vast growth he or she has demonstrated this year.  We are so very proud of them all!
 
These next 9 weeks are not easy, but the children are accustomed to producing much more work at a higher quality, so they'll not notice as much as they did in the beginning of the year.  We tell you because we want you to know that they are working every moment of every day for another big upward step.  We'll continue to focus on effort and quality in all of our work. 
 
The first three weeks during this grading period in writing we will be working on a poetry collection, which will be a nice change of pace.  Some information the child can access at home is posted in Google Classroom.  Additionally, we will complete our remaining cursive letters within the next two weeks and then our daily warm-ups will be written in cursive each day, which is so exciting for them. 
 
In science, of course, we are working on the solar system for 2 weeks.  Then we will move into the animal world as we discuss habitats, food chains, and adaptations. 
 
See you tomorrow - bright and early and ready to learn.   

Solar System Project

We have been learning about the solar system and models.  In order to show what you have learned, we would like for you to create your own solar system model to display in our 3rd grade pod.  There are no limits to the project - you can use anything you like! However, please do not make your model so large that it will be difficult to transport to school and then home once we are finished!

I encourage you to be creative and show what you have learned. There are some basic guidelines for your project:

  • You must have the Sun and all 8 planets represented!
  • The sun needs to be the biggest object in your model. Try to keep the planets in proportion. In other words, Earth should not be larger than Jupiter!
  • All objects must be labeled correctly and be presented neatly so we can easily read them.
  • You should be able to give at least 3 interesting facts about each object in your model. You may include the facts on your project or on separate index cards.
  • The planets should be colored correctly.  Use your science textbook or any other resources to identify the colors needed for each planet.

You may use anything you would like to do the project - a coat hanger, a box, dowel rods, Styrofoam balls, food, etc.!  A rubric is attached to help you and your parents determine what project will be deserving of an “A”. Do your best because the whole school might get to see your project on display in our pod!

If you need help or have any questions about your project, please be sure to ask me! I will help however I can!

THIS PROJECT IS DUE MONDAY, MARCH 26th!

 

 

 

 

 

A note about testing for giftedness

The Gifted & Talented parent recommendation window for spring testing is now open for students in grades 1 - 5. If interested in testing, please pick up a permission form & parent survey from the front office or send your request to sherisims@tomballisd.net. Deadline for receiving recommendations is March 9th. Please contact Ms. Sims with questions. Test results will be available in late May.

Dear Parents

Tomorrow is career day, and the kiddos are so very excited.  Needless to say, because of our early morning career experiences, our three classes will be truncated to exactly 1 hour each.  I want to give you all a glimpse of this next week's schedule.  
 
We will be completing an expository paper on soil, which will be one of their major writing grades for this nine week period.  We have worked extensively in class through the writing process.  Additionally, the children will use their facts that they've researched to write a "newspaper," which is posted in Google Classroom.  They are excited about becoming journalists.  
 
Additionally, we will have a major grade in science this next week.  We are studying soil.  I hope that you've heard about our digging excursions!  To help study, we will journal, record, and discuss this information extensively. 
 
weathering: The process of wearing down rock into smaller pieces.
erosion: The process of moving sediment from one location to another.
soil:  Mixture of organic material, rocks, and minerals.
decompose:  The process of breaking down organic material into soil.
types of soil - clay, sand, and silt
humus - A dark-brown or black soil made up of decayed plant or animal matter. 
 
The children are very comfortable talking about the types of soil; however, they still hesitate when discussing weathering and erosion so we will continue toward mastery with this topics.  
 
Trusting that you have a wonderful weekend.  
 
Carrie

This next week.....

Dear Parents,
 
What an unusually interesting year!  Needless to say, considering the collection of rare absences, we are in full motion for the duration of the year.  Please know, however, that the pacing for this quarter will feel somewhat more rigid and persistent because of its position in the year rather than the weather days.  The children have matured considerably and can handle increasing work loads without stress as they have fully acclimated to third.  
 
From the teachers' perspectives, we love this quarter as their academic conversations are generally deepening,  which is wonderful.  They now realize when we challenge their responses that it is not an affront, but rather, we just need them to orally defend their thinking.  This is a huge victory!  We can see them beginning to "dig" a littler deeper mentally, and their work quality is also improving.  Every moment counts as we are rapidly approaching our end-of-year targets.  Simply put, we need all of these days.  As a result, please understand that "make-up" work is rarely the same quality because in-class discussions that so spontaneously occur about content can't be recreated, and the depth of these conversations drive the children's learning and creative thinking.
 
From a student's perspective, they are beginning to enjoy the challenge of difficult tasks rather than being overwhelmed by them.  Some of the students are showing tenacity while we are still gently nudging others in that direction.  The students are starting to realize the benefits of "fighting" with a problem until they figure it out.  We love watching that process as we desire them to be aggressive thinkers in order to gain the confidence over our remaining weeks that they can figure something out without assistance.
 
From a parent's perspective you may notice an increase in the amount of work and homework.  The students will be bringing home "STAAR-like" passages that are challenging, lengthy, and can be somewhat un-engaging (wink!) to a third grader.  Please let them struggle to independently complete these assignments.  Additionally, the greatest support that you can provide for us is having your child read every night.  The students should be comfortably reading 35-40 minutes in a single setting.  
 
We love third graders as they grow so much.  One might think that teachers tire at this point in the year, but we three are energized by their growth and enthused about the challenges that are ahead.  We love making this journey with our students and continue to encourage them toward demonstrating effort and excellence.  Our goal isn't a great third grade year.  Our goal is to impart content and skills that become the foundation for the duration of their school years.  Simply put, we want them to be better PEOPLE because we shared third grade with them.  We hope that you are beginning to see some of these results by this point in the year.  Remember to contact us as you have concerns and remember to read, read, read!
 
We love your sweet kids,
Meredith, Angie, and Carrie  

Welcome Back!

Dear Parents,
 
We have been at school for 2 days already and are eagerly awaiting our kiddos!  We will see you bright and early tomorrow morning.
 
As we return we will be in full swing as we experience an extremely productive quarter.  Many of the skills on which we will work are necessary for success in life.  Skills will be cyclical in nature for the entire quarter and will include the following on every story that we read:
 
Creating a plot structure to help me understand and summarize a story. 
 
Summarizing - learning to identify and write a 2-3 sentence summary that focuses on the characters, problem and resolution without contributing details.  
 
Examining context (other words in a paragraph) to help me figure out what an unknown word means.
 
Dictionary efficiency
 
Main Idea and Details - Do the details support the thought that I believe is the main idea?  
 
In science we are beginning with composition of soil.  This includes types of soil (silt, sand, loam, and clay) as well as decomposition of organic matter and weathering of rocks.  
 
We are truly excited and re-energized about this 9-weeks, and we are expecting tremendous growth in all our sweet students.