Mrs. Colombo's Newsletter

3rd Grade

October 1, 2016


This week in Reading Workshop we covered lots of reading strategies. We started the week talking about what to do when we get confused while we are reading. Our class decided that good readers will stop when they get confused, go back, and reread so that they can understand the text. As readers, we should always have a movie going in our heads while reading. We talked about having a line of thought going about what we see, hear, feel, and think. We used text to demonstrate this in class and also viewed a short video called Monster Box. Ask your student how the music in this short film helped us understand what was going on in it. We also talked about what we do when we come upon a word we don't know in our book. We had a number of strategies such as:
  • break the word apart and sound it out from left to right
  • say "mmm" in the word's place, keep reading, and then come back to the word
  • read the whole sentence to see what word may make sense
  • reread the sentence while pronouncing the word in different ways to see if we can find the correct pronunciation/word
  • write the word and page number on a post-it to ask someone later

If you would like to come in and help read one-on-one with students during our morning reading time, please let me know! We will have scheduled times in the mornings from about 8:30 to 9:45.


This week in Writing Workshop, we worked on narrowing down our writing topic so that we can include lots of details in our writing, rather than writing a quick summary. We used a graphic organizer that looks like a triangle with the widest part at the top and the point down at the bottom to do this. The goal was to zoom down onto one piece of a larger story and then write more details about a smaller piece of the story.

We also worked on writing complete sentences. Complete sentences mean including a subject and a verb in each sentence, so we spent time identifying these features in sample sentences from Thank You, Mr. Falker and identifying whether each sentence was complete and if not, which element was missing.

As writers, we want to intrigue our readers, so once we were able to identify verbs in our own writing, we started coming up with a reference sheet to keep track of more precise verbs. We will continue to add to this sheet which we have in our Writing Journal. Ask your student about at least one precise verb he/she came up with to use in his/her writing.


This week we read books and looked for math patterns to show up in them. We had books about fractions, addition, subtraction, time, and so many more topics! Here you can see Will and Maggie explaining the math they found in the book they chose. Ask your mathematician which book he/she read a partner and which math ideas they found in it. Thank you to Mrs. Young for gathering all of the books!

We also started our place value unit. We worked on mental math for a couple of days (example: 163+46 and 165-32) and then Friday we used number lines to solve addition equations. We touched briefly on expanded form, but we will continue to talk about that next week.

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A Word About Homework

After looking at the research about student learning and homework, I want to address the third grade team’s view of homework. Research has shown that homework does not improve student performance in school. Instead of formal homework, I encourage you to read with your child for 20 minutes and practice math facts for 10 minutes every night. These are skills that we will build upon in the classroom. During our PIR day on Monday, we learned that proficient fourth grade students read for an average of 134 minutes per day. Though I realize this is third grade, the more reading the students do both at home and at school, the more they will grow as students.

Additionally, since your time with your children is limited and precious, I would like to ask that instead of spending time on homework worksheets you engage them in conversation, eat dinner with them, have them play outside, and encourage them to be in bed early.

Though this research has been in progress for over ten years, here are three articles from March of this year, if you would like to read a bit more.

Washington Post: "Principal: What happened when my school ended useless homework"

Salon: "Homework is wrecking our kids: The research is clear, let’s ban elementary homework"

Time: "Why Parents Should Not Make Kids Do Homework"


We continued to work in Google Classroom this week. We started to share the slides we created last week and we will continue to do a few at a time. On Friday we spent some time after the Fun Run and lunch exploring Wonderopolis. This is a great site that students can use to look up questions they have about the world.

Next week we will be switching classes for one hour in the afternoons after lunch. Our class will be doing a technology class with Mrs. King.

Other Important Information

Thank you to all the parents who came out for the Fun Run! It was a great event!

October 10 and 11 - Parent Conferences; please bring your student to his/her conference.

Remember to turn in the Healthy Habits Challenge paper on Monday!! Last week's challenge was to eat an apple a day or try a new variety.