Grades 3 and 4


 

Overview

Third and fourth graders are beginning to assert their independence and leadership skills within the school community and join the upper elementary classrooms in the Lesley Ellis Wing, where the library and computer lab are located. Through sharing ideas and opinions, learning mediation skills, and working on research projects, students play an important role in creating a stimulating and respectful classroom community. Students spend time in the music room and in the art studio, where they work with teachers who are professional artists and musicians. They perfect their reading and writing skills through small, cooperative literacy stations, reading and writing workshops, poetry studies, small reading groups, and story publishing. Writing and directing plays, working on math challenges that require critical thinking and organization, learning about electric circuits and food chemistry, going back in time to learn about the Westward Expansion and Civil War, taking their “show on the road” by performing with the Upper Elementary chorus at community venues…these are just a few of the highlights of our third and fourth grade classrooms!

Learning Looks Like This

The sound of a makeshift die can be heard hitting a table.  A student calls out, “Adverb!”  Three other students search frantically on their Bingo boards for a word one of them describes as, “…a word that ends in ly.”  Another explains, “It’s a word that usually tells how often or how much you do something.  Like, I usually go to a friend’s after school.” 

Moving to another table, pairs of students have swapped spelling cards and are checking on each other’s progress.  A friend reminds, “It’s got an ed on the end.”  A chart of the words from the week’s spelling patterns (ight, ought, aught) hangs off to one side.  In a quieter area, a reading group has just finished Kate and the Beanstalk.  They are deeply involved in a comparison of this story’s heroine Kate to the Jack with whom we are all familiar. The children take turns recording their ideas on a Venn Diagram.  One child wonders, “Were there any older fairy tales with girls as the strong main character?”  At the computers, a child practices sight words in an animated game.  Sitting in another corner of the room, students are working individually to organize strips of paper.  They thoughtfully move these sentence strips around to create cohesive and ordered paragraphs before typing them into their laptops.  The light blinks suddenly, and a peer gives a five-minute warning.  Low moans are heard as students quickly finish those last minute details that they do not want to let go until tomorrow.