As the year comes to a close, the third graders have been practicing gratitude to all those who have supported them on their educational journey. We have been engaged in activities that allow us to express gratitude toward our classmates for their important contributions. Students also have had time to self reflect and think about their very own important role in the success of the class community. So much to be grateful for.
Gratitude also grants perspective — even in kids. When you take into account the sheer amount of opportunities, privileges and material possessions most kids enjoy through no effort of their own, it’s easy to see why many of them feel entitled. Practicing gratitude, on the other hand, underscores the fact that all those toys and lessons and creature comforts don’t just pop out of thin air. When kids recognize that the things they own and the opportunities they have come from someone other than themselves, it helps them develop a healthy understanding of how interdependent we all are — and they may be more inclined to treat others with genuine respect.
Third grade would like to share their deepest gratitude to all the parents for their never-ending love and support, to the teachers for helping us grow, the volunteers for their tireless support, and our classmates for helping us thrive. With that said, we all are so grateful to be a part of this amazing learning community. My deepest gratitude to you all, and grateful for SUMMER!
Several weeks were devoted to groups learning various strategies for researching and organizing information about a specific animal. The focus of this Lucy Calkins reading unit of study was more on the process of researching than the creation of an end product. This freed us to invite the students to draw on their creativity to design and present an interactive and engaging way of sharing their research with their peers.
After brainstorming a list of possible ways to share their research findings, the groups presented their learnings through games, scavenger hunts, comics, and nonfiction documentary styled day-in-the life stories, while including key vocabulary and concepts. From here we asked the students to reflect on their group work experiences and identify, “What Makes a Supportive Learning Partner?”. We used these reflections to support additional group work. The students next paired with someone who had studied a different animal and together they identified interdependent relationships that they observed in a video on the reintroduction of wolves to Yellowstone National Park (check it out!!) https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ysa5OBhXz-Q. This activity was a springboard for discussing humans’ role and responsibility in our global ecosystem. Students were then challenged to create an image and a powerful message to humans about their responsibility in maintaining the balance of our global ecosystem, told from the point of view of animals (either researched, or observed in the Yellowstone video.)
The concluding piece to this unit will tie back to the individual student’s reflections on his/her own role in maintaining balance in our classroom / school / global ecosystem.
Project based learning is happening in 3rd grade! To supplement our study of area, perimeter and geometry, the third graders are designing and building a miniature 3D version of a tiny house! The size of the houses will all be the same, but each student is creating a unique version based on their own ideas, imagination and application of skills.Third graders are responsible for designing and building a tiny house. It will include the layout, picking furniture, and using real-world math skills to finish the project. This project based learning activity focuses on the real-world application of math concepts used in building and designing homes, while practicing problem-solving skills (which are one of the most sought after skills in the workforce today), collaboration, and using their imagination. It allows for differentiation, so students can work at a pace which allows them to be most successful. Be sure to stop by the classroom to check out our tiny home prototypes!
The 3rd graders were deeply engaged in Earth Day activities last week! First, we had a visit from Jackie Wilson at the Environmental Center with a specific focus on water conservation. We learned that while nearly 70% of the world is covered by water, only 2.5 percent of it is fresh. The rest is saline and ocean-based. Even then, just 1% of our freshwater is easily accessible, with much of it trapped in glaciers and snowfields.
Students also engaged in the design cycle by creating a robot out of recycled materials. They first started their project by addressing an environmental problem, then brainstorming possible solutions. Once teams decided on a best solution, they drafted different robot designs with features and tools that would help solve the problem.
Finally, on Friday, SPS parent and Forest Service employee, Kevin Foss led the third graders on an informational river walk along the Deschutes River. During the walk, 3rd graders learned about sources of rivers, and how, over time, rivers change course and carve a path through the land. What a wonderful week full of hands-on learning experiences!
Cultivating a positive classroom community is a priority at Seven Peaks. This is why it is important to remember that the little things do matter. While academics is important, honoring and celebrating each child as a unique spirit is essential in creating a happy, respectful community of learners. We recently took pause between writing units to focus on poetry. After reading the mentor text, “The Best Part of Me” by Wendy Ewald, third graders reflected on what they considered an important part of their body, and how this part reflected who they were as an individual and what they value. It was so heart-warming to see these children so engaged in this activity, and they beamed with pride when sharing about what made them unique. I encourage you to check out the bulletin board outside the third grade classroom, which features stunning black and white images along with student-created poems celebrating the the amazing gifts of each third grader.
Portraits, Clay Elephants and Weaving! With many projects in process, the third graders are in full gear using all the different parts of their creative minds as they move between mediums, wow-ing this teacher at all turns. Currently in the middle of weaving, on their own painted looms, the students are honing their skills of listening, following directions, helping each other and being patient with themselves as they see what they can do when they slow down and enjoy the process. Following this weaving unit, they will be embarking on the famous 3rd grade mask-making project using their own faces as the mold! Hold on, this is a favorite with some challenges along the way. When overcome, however, the students can’t help but be proud and excited at what they have accomplished.
Buen trabajo, Elementary Spanish! I am so proud of all my students this year. My greatest reward in teaching them is seeing their improvement in their conversational skills and written sentence constructions we have been working on since the beginning of the year. I am definitely witnessing it in the classroom. I know some parents have shared with me their enjoyment in having their kids help, by listening and speaking, in the Spanish-speaking countries your have recently vacationed in this past Spring Break. I expect that, and told them before they left, not to be shy. However, practicing their conversational skills with strangers is never as easy as doing it in the comfort and familiarity of our classroom at SPS. I can not begin to tell you how grateful I am for the loving atmosphere, enthusiasm, happiness and the great attitude your kids bring to class everyday. Their willingness to learn, participate, and practice with their peers always goes beyond my expectations.
I would like to witness with your own eyes the progress they have made. In the next few days you will be receiving an email from me inviting you to watch them “show off” how they are developing their gift of a second language. I know they can’t wait and I hope you can find the time to come to watch them. If you are not able to attend, please feel free to contact me and I will be happy to meet with you during a time that is more convenient.
The end of the school year is quickly approaching. In the final two months, I will be gradually immersing your kids further in to the language. There will be a little confusion during the first couple of days, but I know by experience they will find it a lot of FUN. Let’s all remember that, at their age, FUN plus IMPROVEMENT is what should be about! Muchas gracias for sharing and trusting all your child to me.
The 3rd graders enjoyed a day on Mt. Bachelor while studying winter ecology. During our snowshoe adventure, we learned about winter ecology at Mt. Bachelor and the geology of Central Oregon, the Deschutes National Forest watershed and the plants and animals found throughout the area. Enjoy pictures of or snowshoeing adventure!
The 3rd graders engaged in productive struggles as they learned a new hobby this month! Students were assigned the task to teach themselves a new hobby. The requirement was that this had to be something they had never done before and was entirely new for them. Each student was asked to keep a journal tracking their progress, noting struggles they encountered along the way, and how they navigated these hardships. Students were able to share their new hobbies with the class and reflect on their progress and perseverance.
Also speaking of productive struggles, the 3rd graders were recently given a math problem-solving task as part of our fractions unit. They were asked to figure out how many small post it notes it would take to cover an entire “big pad” post it note. It was amazing to watch kids go through a trial and error process while experimenting with and estimating using wholes and parts of wholes (fractions at work!). They all approached this problem differently and it was very rewarding to watch these kids embrace mistakes, share ideas, and persevere in their problem-solving efforts.
Third grade has been excelling at their Recorder Karate, as well as focusing this past week on research of an instrument in groups of two. Their research is documented on Google Slides, and they’ll present their findings after we return from Spring Break. It has been fun to assist the students with ways to utilize the technology available to us, like co-working on the same document on their own Chromebook, learning how to insert videos and change backgrounds. These students are going to be vastly prepared for their middle and high school years with knowledge of presentation skills such as these.
We also have had a good amount of students audition for our Spring Show, which is called Summer Camp this year! We’re heading out for lots of fun at Camp Runamok on June 1! Please encourage your student to hop on Canvas (click on MUSIC) from their homeroom page and listen to our songs. The more they listen at home, the more fun we get to work on in class with our choreography and movement. Please put this very special evening on your calendars now – we’ll also be celebrating Beth Basham’s Retirement that same evening.
Last week, in book club groups, the 3rd graders were engaged in debating ideas about characters across different texts. Students practiced the art of “respectful disagreement” as way to come to understand others’ perspectives. Throughout book club, students have been mindful of the guidelines for productive conversations (looking at the speaker, nodding or commenting to show you are listening, asking questions about what someone said, giving every voice a chance to speak, and letting the speaker finish before you start talking). During our debates, readers discussed questions such as: Which character is more _____ (trait)?, Which character is better at solving problems?, and Which character would make a better friend? Each reader was given time to prepare for their debate by marking text evidence to support their claims. It was wonderful to see children engaged in a productive disagreement, supporting their reasons with text evidence while also opening their minds to other perspectives and ideas.
As a teacher, there is nothing more rewarding than seeing my students motivated and engaged in their learning on so many levels. This was evident during our recent course of study on Ancient Rome. During this unit, students had a great sense of intellectual urgency, which essentially means they just had to know more about a wide variety of topics! Students were given choice in creating an artifact to represent an area of interest to them in relation to Ancient Roman history. We engaged in deep discussions, looking at multiple perspectives on whether or not Julius Caesar was a good ruler. We experienced strong emotions tied to our learning about the destruction of Mt. Vesuvius, or battles in the Colosseum.
In a recent teacher conference I attended, keynote speaker Ellin Keene referenced the the role of engagement in learning. It made me reflect on how engaged the 3rd graders were over the past few weeks as we traveled back in time to Ancient Rome. Ellin stated that as teachers, we should not “do the song and dance for our students,” but rather “inspire them to find the dance they want to do.” These kids each found their own source of inspiration whether it be researching more about gladiators, or learning more about the feats of Roman engineering. How rewarding it was to see them eagerly share their learning with others! Please enjoy some photos from our Ancient Rome culmination, where the 3rd graders performed a play recounting the life and leadership of Julius Caesar.