WES third grade, a time of transition

Windham Elementary School third grade teachers, from left, are Brittany Jones, Kaylee Spann, Amanda Holmes and Kacie Devier (not pictured). They are excited about teaching transitional skills in third grade.

Windham Elementary School students are learning transitional skills in third grade. Third grade teachers Brittany Jones, Kaylee Spann, Amanda Holmes and Kacie Devier enjoy working together to ensure all students are learning the necessary skills to move up to fourth grade.

Jones and Holmes are working together to plan lessons for the new math curriculum that was adopted this year.

“This is my first year teaching math in a while,” Jones said. “So we have been working together to plan lessons for the new math curriculum that was adopted this year.”

 “This is my first year teaching science in a while, so we are trying to tag team,” Holmes said. “Third grade is where they begin their foundations of multiplication. So, this year they will have a lot of fact fluency.”

The teachers are not just using book learning. They are incorporating digital learning and music into the lessons.

“We are using Zearn for math which is directly related to what we are teaching in our math curriculum,” Jones said. “Zearn is an online math curriculum based on Eureka Math and Engage NY (WES’s current math curriculum) that students can access and teachers can see student progress.”

“We are trying to make learning fun, listening to different songs, like rap songs,” Holmes said. “It is fun, they love it.”

The teachers are looking forward to seeing what the new math standards bring.

“I think what we are hoping for as we start using this new math curriculum is that it becomes more fluid from one grade level to the next,” Holmes said. “And that by the time (the lower levels) come to us it will be more fluid and be able to transition from grade to grade. We are hoping the new Alabama standards are closely related to those we already have in place so that transition will not be another a huge jump and we can continue still using the same math program.”

“In other words, its not creating a gap in their learning,” Jones said. “I think they are very similar. I don’t think there’s going to be a huge difference.”

“I am looking forward to teaching fractions. I had difficulty when I was young learning them,” Holmes said. “I think it is fun when they realize it is not as scary as they think. They catch on and they are like ‘Oh!’ the light bulb goes on. There is something about teaching fractions to third graders—I like it.”

In science the students are learning forces of nature and laws of motion. In January, they will begin AMSTI (Alabama Math, Science and Technology Initiative) science curriculum. According to amsti.org, AMSTI is the Alabama Department of Education’s initiative to improve math and science teaching statewide.

“In science we are learning forces of nature and laws of motion. We have completed hands-on experiments with candy canes and also hands on experiments with magnets,” Holmes said. “We will be getting our kits from AMSTI in January. When we start AMSTI science it will be more hands-on.”

“We are looking forward to getting our AMSTI kits. We will start out with plants, living and non living things,” Jones said.

According to Spann, third grade is a crucial year when students make the leap from learning to read to reading to learn. This is an important time as students become more independent and mature readers.

“We are trying to move from learning to read to reading to learn. That is what third grade is all about,” Spann said. “We are working on comprehension and foundations of being able to read such as fluency and phonics. Soon we will start opinion writing.” 

In third grade, students progress from practicing basic skills to mastering them and move on to develop more complex skills. At the beginning of third grade, students are expected to do basic writing, editing and revising. They are also expected to have mastered basic reading skills and start focusing on comprehension.

The week before Christmas break the students completed a study on The Polar Express. They were comparing and contrasting the book to the movie.

“It is not just having cocoa and watching the movie, it is lesson-based,” Holmes said.

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