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Conferences and Updates

November 4, 2019

Before we jump in, check out our amazing class pictures from last week:




What a fantastic week for Levi's last week with us!  He and his family have moved back to Florida!  I hope it wasn't those negative 4 degree October mornings that sealed the deal! All kidding aside, we are so so grateful that we were able to have Levi in our class for longer than we expected and we wish he and his family the absolute best!!


Here's what's up for this week in Melissa's Third Grade:




I'm looking forward to bragging about how awesome your child is doing this year and discussing strategies to improve upon their strengths and goals.


Conferences can often feel like speed dating since that 20 minutes goes by super fast.  Please PLEASE be prompt, and by prompt I mean a little early so we can have that full 20 minutes to connect.  If you are running late, it will cut into your time and not the families that come after you.  Thank you for understanding.




We have wrapped up our unit on inferences and we're building upon that with our next unit of wondering and questioning.During this unit, the students use wondering/questioning to help them understand fiction. They learn the procedure for “Stop and Ask Questions” and think about whether their questions about stories are answered directly, indirectly, or not at all by the text. In addition, they continue to practice the comprehension strategies of visualizing and making inferences. During IDR (Independent Daily Reading), the students stop and ask questions as they read narrative texts independently, write in their reading journals, and continue to confer with the teacher individually about their reading. Socially, they develop the skills of using prompts to add to one another’s thinking and of agreeing and disagreeing respectfully.


How to help at home:


Model the strategy at home during family read aloud.  When reading, model your own inner dialogue about what you may be wondering or questioning.  This metacognition is new for third graders.  While they are already inferring, questioning and wondering during their reading, and in life in general, it's important that they start noticing it and how to use this thinking about our thinking to aid in comprehension.




We're currently in the midst of our personal narrative unit. During this unit, the students explore the genre of personal narrative and write about significant topics and events from their lives. They explore the characteristics of a good personal narrative, including sensory details, temporal words and phrases, engaging openings, and effective endings. The students practice relevant skills and conventions, such as correcting commonly misused words, run-on sentences, and sentence fragments. They hear, discuss, and write personal narratives. Socially, they ask one another questions about their writing and give feedback in helpful and respectful ways. They also practice giving their full attention to the person who is speaking and expressing interest in and appreciation for other people’s writing.  I often share stories from my own life, which you may have heard from your child.  This is a wonderful way to practice and hone our skills and to continue to learn about and from one another.


How to help at home:


Like I said, I do share stories from my own life and the kids LOVE that I do.  They often beg for me to share.  This might be because I am a walking Lucille Ball episode and have several embarrassing admissions, but I've also shared my mistakes and hardships in addition to the silly stuff.  You can share stories from your life with your child too.  They especially love hearing stories from us when we were their age.  This helps them see us in a new way and it's a way to connect from a human to human way rather than adult and child perspective.




We are about to wrap up our second unit on number stories and arrays.  I will be sending graded feedback forms...well, I'll probably be sharing them with you at conferences!



How to help at home:


We are pretty on it here at school, but if you're chomping at the bit, please use our Everyday Math Online resource!  It's available at under the student tab!





We're delving into Chapter 2 of Environments and Survival!  Here's the breakdown of both Chapters 1 and 2.


In chapter 1 students assume the role of biomimicry engineers and are introduced to the population of grove snails they will study to inspire biomimicry design ideas. The lead engineer at the engineering firm solicits students’ help explaining why the snails with yellow shells in the population aren’t surviving well, and students begin investigating what makes organisms likely or not likely to survive. First, students explore the needs of different organisms for survival and are introduced to the practice of making inferences to determine whether the needs of each organism could be met in different environments. Students continue practicing making inferences as they read Earthworms Undergroundand examine how earthworms meet their needs for survival, including the needs for air, water, food, and avoiding predators. Students then use a model to investigate how environmental conditions affect the likelihood that organisms can meet their survival needs. Through this series of activities, students construct the ideas that organisms are likely to survive when it’s easy for them to meet their needs in their environment and that organisms are not likely to survive when it’s hard for them to meet their survival needs. At the end of the chapter, students analyze new data about the grove snails' environment, and the class co-constructs a scientific explanation for the engineering firm explaining that snails with yellow shells are not surviving well in the study area because it’s harder for them to avoid a predator in their environment. The purpose of this chapter is for students to understand that organisms’ likelihood of survival depends on how easy or hard it is for them to meet their needs in a given environment.




In Chapter 2, students investigate why the snails with banded shells are more likely to survive than the snails with yellow shells. To begin making sense of this question, students explore examples of trait variation and then use a physical model of variation in traits for hummingbird beak structure to investigate how different traits can make it easier or harder for organisms to meet their needs for survival. Building on this experience, students read Mystery Mouths and learn about traits of various animal mouth structures that help organisms meet their needs for survival in particular environments. Students then examine the structure of traits in fossils and make inferences about the function of these traits in the survival of prehistoric organisms. Students reflect on the connection between the structure of organisms' traits and their survival as they sort new data about grove snails’ shells and identify a pattern: the banded shells are stronger than the yellow shells and better able to protect snails from being crushed by their predator. Students return to a new version of the model used in Chapter 1 to investigate how different traits affect organisms’ likelihood of survival in an environment. By reading about different types of traits in Biomimicry Handbook, students learn that traits that make it easier for an organism to meet its survival needs are referred to as adaptive, whereas traits that make it harder for an organism to survive are referred to as non-adaptive. Students make sense of their ideas about the role of the environment in determining which traits are adaptive or non-adaptive by creating digital models that show their ideas about how an organism’s traits affect its likelihood of survival in a given environment. The purpose of this chapter is for students to construct the idea that, in a population, organisms with adaptive traits are more likely to survive, whereas organisms with non-adaptive traits are less likely to survive. Near the end of the chapter, students analyze new data about grove snails in the study area with different traits, and students write their own scientific explanations about why snails with banded shells are more likely to survive in their environment. The chapter concludes with students reflecting on the adaptive traits of grove snails in order to plan a design that solves a problem. 


How you can help at home:


Just ask them about what they did in science this week!  The lessons are so fun and engaging!



Thank you so much for all that you do!  As always, please don't hesitate to reach out if you have any questions/concerns/shares/compliments or any info you feel I need to know to best support your child!


Have a wonderful week!  See you soon!












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