Last week, fourth graders launched their new social studies unit—an in-depth study of the geography, history, civics and stories of Central Park.
At CGPS, third grade balances active and authentic learning opportunities with meaningful social engagements.
Third graders explore who was here before us as they study the indigenous populations that once inhabited the northeast region and other regions of our country.
After a thorough investigation of how traditional people met their needs, we look at native populations today and see how a variety of Indigenous activists work in pursuit of social and environmental justice. Third graders seek opportunities that inspire a call to action.
- Language Arts 3
- Math 3
- Social Studies 3
- Science 3
- Spanish 3
- Art 3
- Music 3
- Library 3
- Social-Emotional Learning 3
- Physical Education 3
- Drama & Mindfulness 3
Third graders receive daily small-group instruction in reading with classroom teachers and reading specialists. In both small-group and whole-class settings, students are exposed to various genres, such as historical fiction, realistic fiction and autobiographies. Students have opportunities to engage with and respond to literature across the curriculum. Through a specialized scope and sequence designed to enhance spelling abilities, students learn to decode and spell multisyllabic words. Third graders are generally fluent readers and instruction focuses mainly on comprehension strategies and monitoring reading for meaning. Students engage in small group discussions and practice making connections to text and identifying main ideas. They respond to explicit and inferential questions through writing. Using the vocabulary program Wordly Wise, students follow a sequenced progression to develop sophisticated oral vocabulary.
The third grade writing curriculum is influenced by approaches to writing instruction such as Benchmark, Judith Hochman’s Teaching Basic Writing, and Lucy Calkins’ Units of Study. Students are introduced to elements of writing such as similes and metaphors, dialogue, and the use of strong verbs and adjectives. Third graders also receive explicit instruction in sentence and paragraph structure, grammar and punctuation. Using the program Handwriting Without Tears, students review and practice cursive letter formation.
The Grammar School mathematics program develops mathematical thinkers who value collaboration and communication when investigating big ideas, identifying patterns and explaining relationships. Students learn to think flexibly and persevere through productive struggles as they develop the growth mindset needed for problem solving. Concepts and skills build from grade to grade in each of the major domains: counting and cardinality, operations and algebraic thinking, numbers and operations in base ten, numbers and operations with fractions, measurement and data, and geometry. Students are given ample opportunity to construct their own understanding of foundational concepts and computation strategies through hands-on experiences and rich opportunities for discourse, as well as the use of concrete materials, pictorial models and contextual problem solving. Our teachers and math specialists promote the type of learning environment that encourages risk-taking and celebrates mistakes as students revise and develop their thinking.
Third grade mathematicians become experienced problem-solvers who flexibly access a host of strategies and work to express their thinking to their peers in collaborative tasks. They learn to analyze the process and explain their reasoning with words, equations and diagrams. Students build upon their understanding of place value through the thousands and begin to realize why our number system is called a base ten number system. They explore properties of operations as they learn to use sophisticated strategies for mental computations and further enrich their number sense. Multiplication and division are formally introduced and students have ample experience building models to represent multiplicative contexts. Fact fluency begins to build as students find creative ways to use facts they know to reason about those they do not. Measurement and geometry units support this conceptual work as students take on rich investigations with area and perimeter. Finally, fractions are explored and students begin to see the conceptual connections between division, common multiples and fractions.
At CGPS, the social studies curriculum explores events from the past and present that build upon previous grade levels’ strategies and content. In third grade social studies, the essential question is, “Who was here before us?” The year concentrates on the life of Indigenous Peoples of the Northeast Woodlands, particularly the Lenape and Haudenosaunee. Students explore how these groups used the environment to meet their daily basic needs, as well as the role it played in their overall culture and beliefs. The students also explore present-day Native American life, including contributions of contemporary Indigenous figures, various causes and activism movements and confronting stereotypes. This study is enhanced with virtual field trips to locations such as Inwood Park and supplemented with materials from the American Museum of Natural History and the Museum of the American Indian.
In science, third graders begin the year by participating in team-building activities, making accurate scientific observations, and performing experiments using the Scientific Method. Students learn about ecosystems and how living and nonliving things interact and depend upon one another for survival. This ecosystem study includes a decomposition experiment and an investigation of the Hudson River. Our scientists become river experts by exploring how the river was formed, the biodiversity of the estuary, and the many challenges the river has faced over the years,- particularly the impact invasive species have on the Hudson River and other ecosystems. Third graders then become engineers as they work collaboratively using design thinking to creatively solve problems. They take their knowledge of ecosystems and engineering to design solutions that connect to the human impact on the environment. Using research skills to learn about two of the most devastating oil spills in the history of our country, children use their engineering skills to design and create oil removing tools to clean up a simulated oil spill.
World language exposure encourages empathy for learning a new language, development of problem-solving skills and an understanding of and openness to cultural differences. All Spanish classes are full immersion experiences with focus on acquiring speaking and listening skills. Third graders a acquire Spanish vocabulary through songs, poems, books and games, and investigate Latin American culture, including a celebration of the Day of the Dead when they decorate their own sugar skulls. The third graders learn fruit and vegetable vocabulary in connection to their social studies exploration of Native Americans and the Three Sisters. Students finish the year by exploring Peru and the Inca civilization.
Third grade students continue to explore and expand their art skills. They incorporate a variety of art materials into longer term art projects. Over the course of the year, artists work to refine their visual acuity including a unit in color theory, texture and shape. Drawing projects include still life observations, drawing from their imaginations, and from stories. In third grade, students look at the work of various artists throughout the ages and create projects that are inspired by their styles. They also observe architectural details on buildings such as gargoyles. Each student constructs a coil pot beginning with a basic pinch pot shape. To this, they add coils to grow their vessels and create a unique work of art. The art studios provide children a valuable opportunity to express their feelings, thoughts and ideas in a safe and nurturing environment.
Third grade marks an important milestone for young musicians at CGPS: the students begin the study of a string instrument and the recorder. Students also perform in a vocal and instrumental performance for families at the end of the school year, showcasing healthy singing habits and foundational skills on instruments. In general music, students continue building their musical literacy through decoding melodic and rhythmic patterns. Third grade musicians also further their skills of playing pitched percussion instruments, such as xylophones and metallophones, by layering and composing ostinati (repeated musical patterns). Through canon singing, the students practice and become confident singing in harmony.
Along with library classes, third graders begin using reference materials and other resources in the library for research. In library class, students share chapter books and work on making connections and predictions based on the text. At the end of each class, students are able to check out up to two books. Third graders are also given the chance to submit poems, short stories and book reviews to the library's literary and book review magazines, enjoy an annual book-based movie night and experience presentations by visiting authors and illustrators. Students also visit the library to work on research projects and are taught lessons on utilizing the library's online databases, as well as navigating various forms of book based research.
An integral part of the student experience in the Grammar School is helping students to build skills to support their social-emotional development. Our school psychologist and school social worker collaborate with teaching teams to support students in this capacity. They are available on an as-needed basis, as well as to proactively educate students about topics such as feeling identification, building coping skills, social problem solving and conflict resolution. Concepts are introduced on an individualized basis, with the goal of best supporting the students and responding to their needs as they develop.
The third grade physical education curriculum incorporates a variety of individual, partner and group activities that introduce and continue to develop sport-specific knowledge. By using lead-up drills and game simulations, students are taught offensive and defensive strategies which are then built upon as they progress toward mastering game concepts. Cooperative team games and fitness activities are also integrated into the curriculum throughout the year. These lessons focus on building character and encourages students' awareness of sportsmanship, kindness and respect for others.
Drama & Mindfulness gives third grade students the opportunity to learn about theater fundamentals such as character exploration and development, scene transitions, following stage directions and performing before an audience. Students use theater games and drama exercises to give them experience building their skills as actors. They also explore mindfulness practice to build strategies for finding calm and to be in the present moment. This class culminates in a performance of a short play that allows students an introduction to ensemble performance, fosters self-confidence in public speaking and builds community within the class .