The Ritenour Review

2015 - 2016 Third Grade Weekly News

NWEA Week Down!

First, I want to say thank you for encouraging your child to come ready to learn each day. I know NWEA days can seem longer than normal, but I was pleasantly surprised by the effort each child gave this week. As always, I shared with them that their scores are to help me teach them better and not a tool to make them feel poorly about themselves. Now that I have their individual scores, I can make meaningful lessons to reach them at their level and push them to the heights they are capable of finding.


This past week had us on our toes! We are still looking for our new normal. In math, we worked hard on building a culture of mathematicians. We are learning to communicate, cooperate (CO-operate), hold each other accountable and not give passive advise, and to truly think deeply, regardless of how long that may take sometimes. A new quote in our room says, “If it is difficult that means your brain is growing, you know everything you need to know to solve it, you just need to think hard." This quote is helping us to not shut down when the task gets challenging and to not rush through our work carelessly. They had to practice defending their conjectures to skeptics and they all did a wonderful job! A few even had to defend their reasoning to me as the skeptic. I think they enjoyed beating the teacher by the end of their debate. All in all, we are in a great spot with our math culture! It can only get stronger from here.


In reading and writing, we started our read aloud, Writing Radar by Jack Gantos. It is a humorous how-to book encouraging us to find stories in our own lives. He does a great job leading kids away from the famous "I have nothing to write about" line. He captures their attentions with his wit and sells his ideas with kid-friendly scenarios. This is the first time I have read this as a read aloud and I am pleasantly pleased with the response so far. The next few chapters get pretty juicy with details from the author's childhood, and I look forward to seeing the class' reaction to some interesting stories he shares.

Beyond our read aloud, we have worked on building our stamina and reading consistently for longer periods. We are working on reading our books as if they were gold and not like a curmudgeon. We had too much fun with acting those scenarios out! We also reviewed strategies for find books that will keep our interest and stay in our hands longer. We are working on picking "Just Right" books and trying to abandon fewer and fewer books.


We ended our week with a fun change in our specials' schedule. On Fridays, the entire school will have a R.A.C.E Day (Related Arts Choice Experience). RACE day is a fun opportunity for each child to look at a list of six different options and pick an experience they would enjoy. This week, our options included learning different forms of GaGa ball, learning some music and dance, visiting our garden, reading books in blanket forts in the library, making inspiring signs for our building, and practicing yoga. On Thursday, our class read the different options and they had the opportunity to pick their choice. We have a system in place to ensure everyone will get a chance at some point in the year to have their first choice. Only one class filled up completely, so everyone was able to have their first OR second choice! Our class is already used to splitting up for specials, but it was nice to join a few new faces from some of the other classes.


Our biggest challenge this week was tackling their first full round of mentor sentences. Each week, they will analyze a wonderful, mentor sentence from a known author/story. They will look at the parts of the sentence, the flair and vivid writing each writer uses. Throughout the week they will look for trends and neat traits to the sentence and specifically look at a new or reviewed concept to focus on deeply. They will practice revising a wonderful piece of writing to make it even better. We are working on making a positive meaning for the word "revise." Plus, they will even be able to imitate the mentor sentence later in the week. It is a daunting task and one we will take slow for a few weeks, but the conversations we are having are RICH! I wish you could hear the connections they are making daily. It is music to my ears.


Next week, we are looking for normal - or at least a bit more routine.

Specifically in each subject we will be getting into the following:

  • Math: We kick off unit one. This first unit will be reviewing math tools, telling time and learning some strategies to use when multiplying. Throughout this unit, I will also be working one-on-one with each child to get a sense of their fact fluency. Speed is never a sure answer to say we are proficient; however, I do know that having a strong sense of number sense will allow each child to move through problems efficiently and focus on the higher level thinking components to multi-step problems in the future.
  • Language Arts: We will work with a mentor sentence from Saturday and Teacups.
  • Reading: We will work on looking at the arc in a story. Giving a solid retell is a skill they learned in 1st and 2nd grade and we will now use those skills to build on understanding patterns we see within story arcs.
  • Science: We will add our fish to our aquarium! We will also kick off our Life Science unit.

Upcoming Dates

August 23 - Curriculum Night

August 30 - Girl Scout Registration 6:00-8:00pm (Zionsville Town Hall)

September 25 - Jog-A-Thon

October 3rd (afternoon) & 4th (afternoon/evening) - Student Conferences/E-Day

I left my camera at school, so I will upload this week's pictures into next week's blog. Check out the twitter feed for a few from a math lesson.