Curriculum at a Glance

Exploring the World Around You!

   Our third grade curriculum is organized around the theme of “Exploring the World Around You!” This theme is perfect for the third grader who is becoming interested in the wider world and wants to know how the systems around them work.

   In science, we study the physical world using our Villa grounds. Our garden becomes the central focus in our Life Lab curriculum which explores seeds, soil, weather and climate, tools, plants, garden animals, and habitats.
Our science curriculum is integrated with our service learning project which focuses on one of the seven themes of Catholic Social Teaching: Care for God’s Creation. The third grade manages and cares for the Villa garden. We bring food to the Villa kitchen that we grow in the garden and work with Chef Allison to decide what to plant. Students learn to serve their community by working the land to provide food for others: an idea they will explore further as fourth graders when they focus on the Option for the Poor and Vulnerable and hunger.

   In social studies, students will explore large frameworks for understanding how our country works. Using TCI’s Social Studies Alive curriculum students begin with basic geography and progress through units that explore immigration, community diversity, how people improve their communities, how people around the world are alike and different, how the economy works, how global trade works, public services, city hall, democratic participation in a community, and helping the global community. Additionally, explorations of Time for Kids magazine challenges students to examine and discuss current culture, events, trends, and social studies understanding. We spend additional time exploring culture through a culture writing project that integrates literature formats learned during our nonfiction reading unit.

   Throughout the year, we will be working with our Storypath curriculum, Democracy in Action. This program utilizes all of the understanding students have developed during the year. In this study students create a paper environment on a bulletin board (including habitats, animals, plants, etc…). To this they add a town. As they create the town they also develop the town’s culture and identity; creating a history, building monuments to past community leaders, building parks, creating traditions etc… When their town is built they next develop who they will be in the town. They are assigned families. Each student has to decide on an occupation, character traits, age, and their roles within the community. Next the citizens elect officials to positions in the local government which then hires a planning commission (selecting from submitted applications). Naturally, an incident arises that the whole town must solve through the democratic process.

   The heart of the third grade reading program is good literature. Students explore books through interactive teacher read alouds, through individual reading and through book clubs. Book clubs, also called literature circles, are a core component of the third grade reading program. Focus is on listening, speaking, reading and writing as integrated comprehension skills. Over the course of the year students are exposed to a variety of genres and types of print. They read both fiction and non fiction. They read materials that accompany science and social studies units. They read poetry. They read Time for Kids magazine and discuss current events. This year, Mrs. Hamilton, Villa’s reading specialist, will come into classrooms during the reading block. She and Mrs. Keeney provide support and expertise through team teaching, targeted group instruction, curriculum development, and student support over the course of the year.

   Writing is integrated across the curriculum as well as being taught in stand alone units. Grammar and spelling are taught both independently and during the editing and drafting process. Writing fluency is a focus of early work. Students develop brainstorming techniques, build their writing muscles, and work to move their thoughts to paper more fluidly. A variety of forms are taught and practiced during the year including fiction, nonfiction, poetry, journal writing, responding to prompts, persuasive writing, and letter writing. Students practice the writing process through several larger writing projects. Neatness and accuracy in published work is stressed. Integrating science, social studies and service learning projects into writing units incorporates research into the writing process. Students practice how to take notes and distill information.

   In handwriting, students learn cursive using the Handwriting Without Tears curriculum. We average about two letters a week, moving toward some degree of fluency by the end of third grade. The Handwriting Without Tears letters are simple, clean and correspond to the print letters students have already learned. Cursive is an excellent reboot and practice for children who, when they received printing instruction in previous grades, had not yet gained full fine motor coordination. Cursive practice can improve focus and attention across all printing types.

   In Math third graders use Envision Math. Envision Math is aligned with common core standards. Envision math provides problem-based instruction and visual learning with a focus on reasoning and models. A third teacher, Mrs. O’Neil, teaches third grade math along with myself and Ms. Mulligan, allowing us to reduce class sizes even further. Third grade is the year students memorize their Times Tables. We practice daily in class. Having a routine practice at home supports this learning!

   Throughout the year students learn leadership and teamwork skills through various curriculum and team building experiences. Through Classroom Meetings, and through the Second Step curriculum students learn how to calm themselves when they feel upset, build trust, resolve conflicts, and provide support for others. We utilize three different Second Step programs, Social-Emotional Learning, Bullying Prevention, and Child Protection. In addition students will practice self regulation techniques using both Zones of Regulation curriculum and Mind Yeti. During every undertaking throughout the year students work toward adaptability and initiative. They learn to view failure as an opportunity to learn. They are encouraged to explore, experiment, and reflect.