We will have a busy couple weeks getting to know one another at school and establishing our classroom routines. The purpose of this letter is to make you familiar with curriculum, school and classroom policies, and our weekly activities. The following topics can be found below with a full description, useful information, and links.
- Reading and English Curriculum,
- Reading Logs,
- Accelerated Reader (AR) program and parties,
- Social Studies,
- Social Skills,
- Positive Behavior Plan,
- Academic Treasure Box Store (earning points/money, conferencing and goal setting, and communicating with parents and students),
- Communication through Dojo,
- Friday Folders,
- Book Orders,
- Recess Guidelines,
- Volunteer Information, and
- Helpful Information
My educational philosophy stems from a positive open mindset, social development, Action Based Learning, and continuous research. First, Gandhi said, “Be the change you wish to see in the world.” This is the essence of my philosophy not just with education but also life. Showing empathy, understanding, tolerance, and interest opens the class to a change in worldviews. A positive open mindset shows optimism, hope, and healthy relationships. When students are successful, they hear me say, “Kiss your brain.” In addition, Erik Erikson’s human development theory influences how I teach students: to improve and develop social interactions and acquire basic virtues. We role play social-emotional opportunities to practice developing for positive personal growth. Learning, practicing, and applying how to improve healthy social interactions with others will help develop problem solving skills. Next, Action Based Learning theory which couples movement and learning is a stimulating part of my students’ day. Kinesthetic learning strategies improve focus, retention, and application of academic and social skills. Writing FitDesk grants has been a successful starting point in educating students, parents, and coworkers about the importance of movement and learning. Finally, evidence-based research has driven my educational journey. Reliable and valid studies have guided the methods I use on a daily basis. Research on ADHD, mental health, development, behavioral management, and family systems has brought insight, clarity, and raised more questions. As a lifelong learner, I seek to continually improve student learning and the classroom environment. In summary, a positive open mindset, social development, Action Based Learning, and research has brought me to this point. I am committed to my educational journey and guiding others in their academic and social wellbeing.
I am looking forward to a great year with your child. Thank you for sharing them with me! If you ever have any questions, please don’t hesitate to call, 605-696-4351 or email: email@example.com
Reading and English: Third-grade students deepen their knowledge of literary texts. They compare, contrast, and use other investigative techniques to analyze their reading. Third graders are challenged to look at the world from others’ points of view. Third-grade students learn to see books as sources of information as well as fun. They deepen their knowledge of non-fiction texts. They begin to move beyond “reading to read” to “reading to learn.” Third graders learn to summarize and make predictions from the text. Third-grade students conquer words that are more complex and use a range of strategies to understand unfamiliar words and phrases. They use standard grammar and build clear sentences. This is a key year for building reading skills and gaining fluency. Third-grade students’ use of descriptive language is growing. Grammar, usage, mechanics, and spelling skills are introduced, practiced and reviewed in the context of writing. More time is spent on planning, rewriting, and editing their work. The students practice writing in cursive and improving their keyboarding skills. The following will be some writing opportunities for students to discover - Narrative: Crafting true stories, Information: The art of information writing, Opinion: Changing the World, Narrative: Once Upon a Time (Family Friendly Guide for 3rd Graders – English Language Arts).
The district will be using a new reading curriculum beginning this year. The series will focus on South Dakota State English Language Arts (ELA) Standards. In addition, using Daily 5 infused with CAFE reading strategies will be used for our Language Arts Block (see Daily 5 Parent Letter). You can find more information on the Daily 5 and CAFE at the following website: https://www.thedailycafe.com/daily-5 Guided Reading will consist of small group instruction with students at their independent and instructional reading levels. Teacher-student conferencing is designed in this program.
Reading Logs: This is part of your child's reading grade. The reading log is located in the front of the student's planner. The section where it shows the months of the year. The requirement for the home reading log is to read 15 minutes per day. I realize the week can get busy. The goal is to read at least 5 of the 7 days. They may also use this reading time to help meet their AR Goal. Parents are to record the minutes your child reads each day and initial. If they skip a day, please leave the box empty or record a zero. Weekly reading logs/planners are due every Friday morning.
AR = Accelerated Reader: Accelerated Reader is an online reading program which tests a child's reading comprehension. The child reads or has a book read to him/her from the AR book list. The child takes an online test about the book (answering multiple-choice questions that check his/her recall of important events in the book). After finishing the test the child gets a point score based on the level of the book and the number of questions he/she answered correctly. This online reading program keeps track of individual student points. The students are required to earn points each quarter. To find books in your child's reading level, go to the following website: ARbookfind.com You will need to type in the book title and the AR reading level and points will appear. After testing the student quarterly, I will provide the student with his/her independent reading level. See the attached Reading Level Conversion Chart to help understand your student’s reading level.
3rd Grade AR Required Points:
10 points 1st quarter
12 points 2nd quarter
15 points 3rd quarter
13 points 4th quarter (4th quarter is less due to testing and other activities)
*The deadline for these goals is the end of each quarter.
The teacher can adjust points for each student throughout the year. For the 1st semester the students can choose books at any reading level. However, 2nd semester students need to choose books at their independent reading levels. The teacher will inform the student which independent reading level they are at so they know how to choose appropriate books to read. You may also monitor your child's AR progress on Renaissance Place Home Connect using the same username and password your child uses at school to take tests. This site can be found on the Medary home page under Parent Resources or click here to connect: Renaissance Home Connect
AR Parties: we will celebrate your student's reading achievement. Students will be encouraging each other to complete their quarterly goals by working together. Once every student has completed their AR Goal, the class will participate with an all-inclusive celebration. The class will get to vote as to what type of party to have. Announcements will be communicated.
Handwriting: Cursive handwriting will be learned this year. The program that will be use is Handwriting Without Tears. We will work on handwriting often, please help your child practice using lined paper to write cursive letters. Have your child practice writing their name in cursive at home. The primary goal is to have students be able to read and write in cursive.
Math: Using Math Daily 3, students will learn math through small group instruction, independent practice, and accountability (Math By Myself, Math Writing, Math with Someone). This program adapts to the district curriculum and South Dakota State Math Standards. Using this program allows teachers to meet the needs of all students by differentiating instruction. To learn more click here: Math Daily 3. In addition, Zearn.org will be used to learn about all 3rd grade math standards.
I feel it is important for 3rd grade children to use hands on activities and will use manipulatives every day. Some worksheets will be completed in class and some worksheets will be sent home for you to review and work on with your child. There will be monthly assessments of fact fluency in addition, subtraction, multiplication, and division. To help your child with math, practice by using math flash card or online math programs/apps.
- Reflex Math is a school wide math fluency program. This program helps monitor your students’ progress. Once the student has mastered (90-100%) of their addition and subtraction, I will advance them to multiplication and division facts. The goals is to begin multiplication and division after 1st quarter.
Third-grade students now use numbers up to 100,000. They learn to multiply and divide one-digit numbers. They develop an understanding of fractions as numbers. Third-grade students manage simple multiplication and division problems and apply the skills to solve problems. They work to master the multiplication tables, learning that memorization gives speed, efficiency, and frees up brain space for other math thinking. Students also calculate and estimate in their heads. Third-grade students are introduced to the basic concepts of geometry. They learn about area, angles, and the categories of shapes. Third-grade students add to their knowledge of measures and shapes. Students solve math problems involving objects’ area, perimeter, and volume. They make and read bar and line graphs (Family Friendly Guide for 3rd Graders -Math).
Science: Using the South Dakota State Science Standards and preparing for the Next Generation Science Standards, lessons will focus on inquiry based learning.
- Life Science = plants & animals (life cycles, traits, environments), food chains, fossils, pollution
- Earth/Space Science = minerals, rocks, natural resources, moon, planets, sun, climates, weather, & weather related hazards
- Physical Science = matter (solids, liquids, gases, properties, composition, mixtures); sound energy; renewable and unrenewable energy
Social Studies: A variety of topics will be covered: US History, Geography, Civics/Government, and Economics. These units are following the new South Dakota State Social Studies Standards.
Current Events = a current event sheet will be given to your child at the beginning of each quarter. This can be returned any time before the end of the quarter.
Testing: Every student will be tested at the beginning, middle, and end of the year using MAPS (Measure of Academic Progress). MAPS is a computerized adaptive test which helps teachers, parents, and administrators improve learning for all students and make informed decisions to promote a child's academic growth. Another individual reading assessment given throughout the year is called the F&P (Fauntas & Pinnell). This assessment gives the student's Independent, Instructional, and Placement reading levels. The Fountas & Pinnell Benchmark Assessment Systems provide teachers with precise tools and texts to observe and quantify specific reading behaviors, and then interpret and use that data to plan meaningful instruction. Finally, the SD state standardized test (SMARTER Balance) will be given at the end of the year. This is the first time students will experience a standardized test. I will visit with you at conferences about all test results and how your child is doing. Please contact me if you have any questions about testing.
Social Skills: Students will learn how to thrive in their social environment by developing friendship building, finding new interests to relate to others, and believe in themselves. The Boys Town Social Skills Model will be implemented. The attached document gives an overview of skills to be practiced. If you would like to learn more please go to the following website: Boys Town Common Sense Parenting
Positive Behavior Plan: Class Dojo is our school wide positive behavior plan for all students. Also, Class Dojo is a communication app for the classroom. It connects teachers, parents, and students who use it to share photos, videos, and messages through the school day. The only people who can see our class Dojo are parents, teachers, and students in our classroom. Class Dojo creates a positive culture by having teachers encourage students for any skill or value - whether it's working hard, being kind, helping others or additional positive behaviors. I will be sending each family an invitation to join through email. If you have not received an email about Class Dojo, please notify me within the first two weeks of school. Within our classroom we have several ways to earn positive reinforcement…verbal praise and the Class Dojo Party Box.
Academic Treasure Box Store:
Earning Points/Money: Each student has to earn enough points/money to purchase items from the treasure “box” store. At the end of each month, students will participate in “visiting” the store. To earn money, students must completing academic programs.
Each student will have an opportunity to visit the “Bank” to add up their earnings and the Treasure Box Store once a month. The student will get paid by the bank through a checkbook system. The amount of money will depend on how much time and effort was spent on each academic program.
Conferencing and Goal Setting: At the end of each month, your student and I will conference about your student’s weekly/monthly academic activities/progress. Your student and I will agree upon if your student should have a “Good” rating or a “Needs More Work” rating on academic behaviors. For example, if the goal is to work on Reflex Math daily, and the student work each day, the student would receive a “Good” rating. If the student isn’t completing any Reflex Math activities, the student would need to increase their activity with this program, and would receive a “needs more work” rating. The purpose of this is to teach the students how to self-monitor their own academic behaviors and communicate with parents/guardians as to how your student is doing academically.
Next, the student will add their earnings and write the total at the bottom of the "Earnings" column (see attached document for an example of the Academic Treasure Box Monthly Goal page). At this time, the teacher and student will discuss what will be the student’s next academic monthly goal. What does the student want to improve on? How will they accomplish this? I will write the next month’s goal in the Goal Setting box. The teacher and student will sign at the bottom.
Communicating with Parents and Students: I will make a photocopy and send this Academic Treasure Box Monthly Goal page home to the parents. The parents will be able to gauge how their student is doing academically. To increase teacher-parent communication, there is a space provided for comments. Also, comments can be written on or attached to this page specifically for each student. The parents can understand what their child is excelling in and which areas need work. Finally, the parents can see their student’s next month’s goal. Parents need to sign and return to show they have read and understood their student’s academic growth or challenge areas. At this time the student will be able to visit the Treasure Box Store.
Communication through Dojo: Dojo (school wide online communication tool) will be used daily/weekly to communicate with parents about upcoming events, announcements, and celebrations. If you have not signed up to use Dojo, please contact me and I will give you the correct login information. Communication between home and school is essential for the success of your student's educational experience. 3rd grade can be challenging, please help your child by communicating any signs of distress/concerns with me.
Planners: Please check the planner and initial nightly. This is where you will find any unfinished work your child needs to complete at home. Remember to record "at-home-reading" on the calendar in the front. If your child needs to test on an AR book write the title as a reminder for your student. If your child has a change in after school plans or an upcoming absence please write it down.
Homework: Parents who are actively involved in their child's education "influence student outcomes through modeling, reinforcement, and instruction" (Hoover-Dempsly, Et. Al. 2001, p. 206). Throughout the year, your child will have homework/unfinished work which needs to be completed on a regular basis. Due dates will be posted throughout the year. Please check your student's planners on a daily basis.
Friday Folder: Medary School will provide a homework folder for each child. Your child's papers for the week, notes. etc. can be found in the red Friday Folder. Please review these papers with your child and return the empty folder on Monday. Send notes, money etc. to school with your child in the folder. I will look in the folders each Monday morning. I do not look in backpacks so if you want me to see it, it must be put in the folder. This folder will travel between school and home all year. This will keep you informed about what we are learning, calendar information, book orders, classroom illnesses, and any other information.
Birthdays: The district does not allow cupcakes or sugar snacks at school. If you want your child to celebrate their birthday at school, please provide a healthy treat. Summer birthdays will be celebrated on or near their half birthday. School policy prevents us from handing out invitations at school.
Attendance: The first bell rings at 8:15 and students need to be ready to learn at 8:20. If your student is walking in the classroom at 8:20 they will be marked tardy. The playground is supervised beginning at 7:45. Your child should go directly to the 3rd grade playground with their backpacks. Please remember to dress for the weather (see below for guidelines). Students are not allowed into the classroom until 8:20 am. If your child eats breakfast at school, please drop him/her off at the west door. Breakfast starts at 7:45 am.
Recess Guidelines: Above 55 degrees: Your choice, 45-55 degrees: Light jacket or long sleeve sweatshirt, Below 45 degrees: Winter clothing Please label all outside clothing! School Reach will call parents if school will be cancelled or dismissed early for the day due to bad weather, so make sure you have all correct phone numbers provided to the school. We will be in the gym before school for inclement weather.
Absences: Please call the secretary, Stacy Thompson, phone 696-4300 or our class phone 696-4351 as soon as you know your child will be late or absent.
Safety: Doors are locked during the day with the exception of the front door. All visitors need to sign in and receive a pass from the office. All classroom doors will be locked during the day. If you are picking up your child during the day the office will call our room to have your child meet you at the front desk. Students are not allowed to leave through our back door until the end of the day. Please teach your child to use the designated crosswalks and to not walk through the parking lot. If you are picking your child up after school, please designate a spot outside to meet. If your child is riding their bike to school, have them wear a bike helmet.
Breakfast: Breakfast will be served from 7:30-8:15am each morning. Your child will need to let me know if he/she will be eating breakfast each morning so I can let the cafeteria staff know how much breakfast to prepare for that week.
Lunch: We will have lunch and lunch-recess from 12-1pm. There is one option for hot lunch, but students may bring a sack. There is always a bagel, cream cheese, and yogurt option, but this costs extra.
Dismissal: Students will be dismissed at 3:22 Mon., Tue., Thur., and Friday. Wednesday school is out at 2:22. Students who go to GAP or ride the bus will walk as a group to their locations. If you will be picking your child up, please help your child find a meeting place outside. (I encourage parents to not wait in the hallway as it gets congested with bus kids and GAP kids. Also you would need to sign in and out.) Finally, if you have not picked up your child by 3:30 pm and 2:30 pm (on Wednesdays), your child will be waiting in the office unless I have heard from you. On all Wednesdays, we have meetings around the district to attend that require us to leave promptly after dismissal. Please respect this!
Helpful Information: Please let me know of any changes you have: daycare, moves, phone numbers, death in family, etc. This information can help me understand changes in your child's behavior/mood. It is also important the school can reach you if needed.