Third Grade

akiva_2013-3rdgradeIn third grade at Akiva, students learn every day through powerful content, encouragement,  and self-motivation. Students take pride in authentic leadership roles in a yearlong economy  unit in which they earn credits and debits. The activity is cross-curricular as students  learn major economic concepts and engage their everyday math skills on a daily basis. Third  graders respond to literature through high quality creative “P.R.O.B.E.s – Personal Response on Basically Everything.” Students develop  organizational and note taking skills through managing individualized daily reading  notebooks and goal setting. Third grade students work together during Writer’s Workshop  to create interesting and well-structured essays.

In Hebrew, the focus is on how to be successful both in and out of the classroom. Students analyze and discuss how they can get to know others better, how they learn to their capacity, and how to recognize and take advantage of their set of skills and strengths. Students learn about the holidays and the Torah in greater depth, beginning to discuss concepts analytically in Hebrew!  In all areas, students begin to work more independently and take ownership over their own learning. In third grade, we know we are successful when the class is so engaged in a lesson or project that teachers take on the role of facilitator, rather than the teacher/guide.

Language Arts

In third grade, students continue to develop strategies to effectively use language. Students learn to become strategic readers by identifying the elements of a story.

Study skills include:

  • note taking
  • use of reference materials
  • interpreting graphs and diagrams
  • test-taking skills

Word Study/Spelling

Akiva uses a variety of resources to help create word lists including Words Their Way, Fountas & Pinnell’s Word Study Lessons, and the 1200 High Utility Word List.

Words Their Way Elementary Inventory:

At Akiva, Words Their Way Spelling Inventory is administered during the first week of school. This inventory provides the teacher with specific information about each student’s knowledge and application of specific orthographic features. For Example, the teacher will know if a student has mastered short vowels and consonant blends, but needs more work on “within word patterns,” etc. The information from this assessment is used to plan strategy groups and also to determine where to begin with our whole class instruction/yearlong-spelling program.

Weekly Word Lists:

All students are given ten words to study for the week that follows the weekly patterns. However, both a challenge list and a regular list will be given. The regular list contains ten words that follow the patterns in a basic way. The challenge list contains words that follow the patterns, but are more complex. For example, when studying long a words, the regular list might have the word brake, and the challenge list might have the word hesitate. Both words have the “magic e” pattern, but they fall into different stages of spelling development.

There will also be another ten pattern words. These words are unknown to the students until the day of the test, but they have been exposed to them during the lesson and during word study center activities. This part of the test shows whether or not students are truly able to apply the weekly spelling pattern to new words that they were not just able to memorize.

Frequency Word Inventories:

While the Words Their Way assessment is helpful for obtaining knowledge about students’ ability to apply common spelling patterns, it does not provide information about their ability to spell words outside of common spelling patterns and words that they will likely use in their everyday writing. During the first two weeks of school, the students will be divided into groups according to their estimated spelling stage (based on the Words Their Way Inventory and on recommendations from their teacher from the previous year) and administer high frequency word inventories using the list  1200 high utility words. (The words are listed in the order of their frequency of use in everyday writing.) Some students will be given the first 100, and others will start at 200 or even 300.

Once tests are corrected, the teacher will highlight only the words that they were able to spell correctly on a recording sheet in their IDR notebook. Students will use this list throughout the school year to create weekly-individualized high frequency word lists containing the words they spelled incorrectly on the assessment.

Word Study Stations:

All of the words from the lists described above will be used when creating games and other word study center activities, along with many other words that follow the weekly pattern that may not be on the list. The goal is not for students to just learn how to spell specific words, but to expose them to as many words as possible that follow the patterns. In doing so, students can compare and contrast the words and begin to internalize the way certain letters work together to make specific sounds in words that share a common pattern.

Word Study/ Vocabulary:

Most vocabulary will be exposed to students in context to their independent reading book or any whole class shared reading by using context skills. Context skills are the strategies that a reader uses for incidental vocabulary learning. Texts are full of context clues about the meanings of words. Other words in a sentence or paragraph, captions, illustrations and titles provide readers with information about the text that they can use to determine the meanings of unfamiliar words. These features are often referred to as context clues because they are contained within the context of the piece of writing rather than outside it. A lot of time will be spent teaching readers to find and use context clues for learning new vocabulary words.

On a daily basis vocabulary will include:

  • Pre-teaching Vocabulary Words
  • Word Maps
  • Synonyms
  • Antonyms
  • Drawings
  • Content definitions
  • Dictionary definition
  • Affixs/Roots

Reading Workshop

Teaching Point: 10-15min

Reader’s Workshop begins with a teaching point that lasts 10-15 minutes. During each teaching point, a specific common core concept will be introduced. Often times the teaching point will focus on a reading strategy or skill.   The teacher will clearly  model or demonstrate the skill  for the students. Students will often be asked to apply the concept with heir class novel.

Workshop Component with IDR Notebooks: 25-30min

The students go into individualized daily reading. During this time students are engaged in self or teacher-selected texts at their independent level. They use this time to practice the skill that was taught during the teaching point. This looks differently every day for every student. During IDR students are working on reading goals and a variety of strategies, while the teacher holds individualized reading conferences, meets with small groups of students for guided reading, one-on-one strategy lessons, or book clubs. Some students are doing Partner Assisted Learning Strategies (PALS) with a partner or having small group discussions. Every student will be trained on PALS and take part in  peer reading to build fluency and confidence. There are also anchor activities that students can work on if they are in a position of having to wait for their partner or me. For example, a student might forget to bring a book or one student might have completed the novel sooner than their partner. During goal setting, we select an anchor activity that is most valuable to their growth.

Students are required to have their IDR notebook with them so they can:

  • Record books they’ve read
  • Keep track of genres
  • List books they would like to read in the future
  • Respond to their reading
  • Prepare for book talks
  • Refer back to goals
  • Refer back to strategies learned
  • Keep track of peer  discussions and meeting times

Closing: 5-10 min

  • Refer back to the mini lesson
  • Meet together to think about and respond to questions such as:   What did you learn about reading today? What did you learn about yourself as a reader?
  •  Meet  with reading partners to have a quick chat about how the reading is going

Some-lessons are ongoing, and they will continue to apply the skills and strategies.

Assessment: Each student has an Assessment Profile including:

  •        Fountas & Pinnell Benchmark Assessment: accuracy, rate, fluency, comprehension
  •        Small Group Instruction: guided reading based on strategies and lessons taught
  •        Reading Interview: self-reflection
  •        Words Their Way Spelling Inventory: words spelled correctly, feature points, total points
  •        Individual Observations: conferring, reading log, reading response sheets
  •        End of Unit Exams

Literature and Novel Study

  • Dear Mr. Henshaw: Main idea, making text connections, note-taking, and reflections
  • The Bad Beginning: Vocabulary/Word Analysis, Strong predictions and inferences
  • The Tales of Despereaux: Character development, cause and effect, and sequencing
  • Hope in my Heart: Non-fiction
  • We will also read high-quality literature from a new series called Junior Great Books, which focuses on and fostering critical inquiry through student-centered discussions.


The Writer’s Workshop model used at Akiva is a mixture of those proposed by Lucy Calkins, Ruth Culham, and Ralph Fletcher. Each day, students will write a “seed” in their Seed Book, which they can later refer to for ideas and inspiration. Students will be planting ideas from which later stories can potentially blossom with each seed. They will be able to create stories at their own pace, which frequent feedback from teachers and peers. Through this program, students will have a lot more flexibility with regards to topic and style. We have minilessons on the 6+1 Traits of Writing developed by Ruth Culham; these will provide support to build students’ use of ideas, organization, voice, word choice, sentence fluency, conventions, and presentation. The program guides students through the different stages of the writing process – from idea, to draft, to revision, to publishing – and through a variety of styles and genres. Writing will be taught in a writing block as well as across the curriculum.


Third grade math at Akiva will focus on real-life problem solving, balanced-instruction, multiple methods for basic skills practice, with an emphasis on communication and enhanced home/school partnerships. Students will have Home Links homework on a regular basis. Third graders focus on fact families in addition, subtraction, multiplication, fractions, and division. They will continue developing strategies for multi-digit addition and subtraction problems along with algebraic thinking. Measurement data will include representing and interpreting intervals of time, liquid volumes, and masses of objects. Geometry will include recognizing perimeter and distinguish between linear and area measurements. Geometry will also include reasoning with shapes and their attributes. Each lesson will consist of a teaching point, Problem of the Day, and Skills.

Social Studies

The social studies curriculum in third grade reviews the concept of a community and beyond. Students study the regions of the United States and Tennessee. In their study of the regions of the U.S., they learn how geography, climate, and natural resources have impacted the development and history of the areas. The regions are compared to one another. Students extend their skills in geography, problem solving, and study skills. The students study the state of Tennessee. Students also expand their understanding of core democratic values and immigration.


This year, students will participate in three hands-on, inquiry based units to help them develop their scientific reasoning and process skills, as well as to build their knowledge base in three strands of science: physical science, earth science and life science.

The Physics of Sound Module  consists of four sequential investigations, each designed to expose a specific set of concepts. Students learn to discriminate between sounds generated by dropped objects, how sounds can be made louder or softer and higher or lower, how sounds travel through a variety of materials, and how sounds get from a source to a receiver. The investigations provide opportunities for students to explore the natural and human made worlds by observing and manipulating materials in focused settings using simple tools.

(From FOSS official website.)

Earth Science  consists of four sequential investigations dealing with observable characteristics of solid materials from the earth – rocks and minerals. The focus is on taking materials apart to find what they are made of and putting materials together to better understand their properties. The module introduces fundamental concepts in earth science and takes advantage of the students’ intrinsic interest in the subject matter and in the physical world around them.

(From FOSS official website.)

Life Science  consists of four sequential investigations dealing with observable characteristics of organisms. Students observe, compare, categorize, and care for a selection of organisms, and in so doing they learn to identify properties of plants and animals and to sort and group organisms on the basis of observable properties. Students investigate structures of the organisms and learn how some of the structures function in growth and survival.

(From FOSS official website.)

Ivrit And Judaics

In 1st-4th grades at Akiva, our teachers use the Tal Am curriculum for Ivrit and Judaics. It is a program developed in Canada and Israel that was created based on years of research on the principles of language development and learning patters. The goal of the program at Akiva is to develop children that are literate in the Hebrew language and equipped with the knowledge and skills to inspire informed Jewish living. In the spirit of educating the whole child, Ivrit takes place in the General Studies classroom this year, in order to ensure maximum integration and continuity.

Students in the classroom are surrounded in a stimulus rich environment. Knowledge is acquired through a variety of activities using the five senses, including stories, songs, visual aids, and games. Our students develop their Hebrew and heritage literacy in a gradual, spiraled process each year that builds new ideas and concepts onto an expanding foundation of knowledge. The class is conducted as Ivrit B’ivrit – learning Hebrew in Hebrew, so that Hebrew is acquired as a language rather than as academic knowledge.

In third grade, the theme of our year is B’Hatzlacha (Good Luck/With Success). The students learn about the guidelines for successful learning and the ways to ensure fruitful and productive study. In addition to this, they become more acquainted with the students of the virtual classroom: their characteristics, hobbies, and are introduced to the new student, Ronen. Through these characters, our students are encouraged to become active observers of the people and things that surround them.

In addition to the Everyday Life unit, the students learn units related to Shabbat, Chagim, and the Torah. Each of these units opens with our Memory Box, an activator that helps remind the students about their learning in the previous years. Each year, there is more learning added to their knowledge about the holidays. For example, the Chanukkah unit reviews the concepts studied in previous years and introduces the halakhot (laws) and Talmudic sources related to the holiday.

In Torah, we will be completing Parshat Vayera (a continuation from second grade). In addition to this, we will learn Parshat Chayei Sara, Toldot, and Vayetze. In our studies, we will further develop our reading and comprehension skills in the Torah, including a formal introduction to Torah commentary. The students will learn specific ways of approaching the Torah text to increase their comprehension, including the identification of key and guiding words and an awareness of the significance of linguistic repetition. They will be learning the Torah in its original form and discussing its contents in Hebrew as well.


The art program at Akiva is presented to students using the Discipline-Based Arts Education approach. DBAE includes four disciplines: arts production, arts history and culture, criticism, and aesthetics. An introduction to the use of various materials concerning both two and three dimensional art will be implemented as well as an appreciation and understanding for various historic and contemporary artists. Students will be exposed to a broad scale of exciting projects appropriate for each grade level.


The Library program at Akiva is based on the Standards for the 21st Century Learner created by the American Association of School Librarians (AASL). The four main standards are that learners use skills, resources, and tools to: (1) Inquire, think critically, and gain knowledge; (2) Draw conclusions, make informed decisions, apply knowledge to new situations, and create new knowledge; (3) Share knowledge and participate ethically and productively as members of our democratic society; and (4) Pursue personal and aesthetic growth. Additionally, in the Technology classes, students will learn computer basics (hardware, software, typing) as well as databases, the Tennessee Electronic Library (TEL), Web 2.0 tools, and Internet safety.

Signature Projects

  • P.R.O.B.E. (Personal Research or Reflections on Basically Everything) – The students will keep a composition book that includes colorful, well-written responses on all of the literature they read during the course of the school year. Each response will include a complete border that reflects the student’s words.
  • Game Board Project –  The third graders will create an educational game board that reflects what they learned in third grade.
  • Classroom Economy –  From the first week of school, students will be actively involved in a year-long economy unit in which they earn credits and debits. The activity is cross-curricular since students are learning major economic concepts, as well as using math skills on a daily basis.
  • Social Studies Fair
  • Kufsat HaZikaron (The Memory Box) –  This is a collection of materials collected throughout their years of study in Hebrew that helps them remember what they have learned and hold on to special pieces of work.
  • Pesach Seder –  Along with the 2nd grade, the students and teachers engage in a Model Seder, learning and teaching each other and reflecting on how their learning impacts their understanding of this holiday.
  • Book about Me –  In their exploration of themselves, the students write a book entirely about themselves in Hebrew
  • Chanukkah –  The third grade is responsible for teaching Chanukkah to the school. Each year, the students take part in learning and leading the festival of lights at Akiva.

Signature Field Trips

  • Discovery Science Adventure Center
  • The Children’s Theater
  • The Frist Museum Exhibit

Classroom Policies and Procedures

Everyday, the agenda and homework will be written on the board so students can copy it down in their planner. The students will have a purple homework folder to take home each day. The homework folders will be checked and returned to each student’s mailbox. It is their responsibility to check their mailbox at the end of each day. Students are responsible for following hallway expectations when traveling between classes.

Behavioral Plan

Classroom Management is the most important component in our third grade class. Daily class community meetings will help students work together and allow them to focus on learning. A blend of setting the tone, interesting and engaging lessons, and effectively including all students in the classroom so that their needs are met is the most effective way to ensure the students are behaving. Open communication with parents will always be expected both to touch base about student’s successes as well as when potential difficulties arise.


The best and most effective way to contact us is through email. If you would like to communicate by phone, please email us letting us know an appropriate time and phone number to reach you.

Kelly Love
Vardit Binstein