Duck into Third Grade

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Making Thinking Visible in Grade 3

We’ve tried two routines from this book over the past two weeks. These routines work with fiction and non-fiction. The first routine we tried was the 4Cs. The authors refer to these activities as routines.
First, I modeled the 4C routine with the class read-aloud, Poppy. Next, we tried it with Cynthia Rylant’s The Journey: Stories of Migration. It’s a very simple routine to teach even though it promotes complex thinking. The kids were engaged throughout the entire routine. Give it a try and see what your students think!
Step 1: Fold a blank piece of paper into fourths.
Step 2: Label the first quadrant Connect. Students worked in pairs to connect with the text.
Step 3: Label the second quadrant Challenge. What were the difficulties that the character encountered?
Step 4: Label the third quadrant Concept. What were the key concepts or main ideas the author wanted readers to understand?
Step 5: Label the last section Changes. What changes occurred in the text?
Step 6: Students used their completed 4Cs to contribute to a whole class discussion on the meaning students made out of the text.
Great activity to make thinking visible! As I circled around the room, it was evident those who struggled with main ideas and those whose comprehension was stellar.

The second routine was 3-2-1 Bridge. I introduced it with a picture book and modeled the procedure.
We previewed the pictures and wrote 3 words, 2 questions, and 1 simile, metaphor, or analogy.
Then we read the text and revisited our thinking. We did another 3-2-1 and discussed how our thinking had changed. These routines get easier to do each time we do them. The students worked in groups to do this routine after I read a chapter of Poppy. They used white boards and shared there thinking. It is a wonderful sight to see kids engaged, thinking, and discussing, quite a contrast to completing worksheet after worksheet of mind numbing test prep. So sorry for the negative comment, it is that time of the year. Hopefully more thinking routines will be in our future, maybe my class will take to them as a duck takes to water just like they did these two remarkable routines!


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Sensational Spring Break!!!


I’ve had this book for some time yet it remained unread until our trip to Oregon to see our granddaughter. I hurriedly shoved books into my bag as we scooted out the door focused on getting to the airport on time. Yes, I should’ve packed the night before and put some thought into my book selections but WOW! Every book was SUPER! I’m thankful God guided my choices because each one gave information that I can use to meet the needs of my class!

Betty K. Garner gave many specific ways to help struggling students and I seem to have plenty this year. I’m excited to have something that might help them learn to connect the dots. My ten favorite take aways from the book:

Students process information and create meaning by:
1. making connections-LET THE STUDENTS bridge from the known to the unknown
2. finding patterns and relationships- all learning is based on relationships (something has meaning when compared or contrasted with something else,
3. identifying rules which are guides you can count on to be the same in most cases,
and 4. abstracting principles-(keeps kids from being overwhelmed) Example: Some things change and some things stay the same is a principle that must be understood so every piece of information is not new and different.

5. Questions to ask: What do you notice? What sense do you make of this? What does this mean to you?
6. Sometimes students confuse recognition with knowing. This explains why students confidently proclaim that something is ‘easy’ only to have the end results show a horse of a different color.
7. Imitation becomes limitation. (Does all the modeling we do limit kids?)
8. Take a few minutes each day for students to quietly reflect on a beautiful of positive thought. Provide an opportunity for them to write about or illustrate their beautiful thoughts.
9. What’s more important understanding or right answers? Some students think that grades are more important than understanding. The true level of understanding is evident in the kinds of questions students ask.
10. Use tic tac toe grid to teach spacial orientation.

I could go on and on but I will stop at 10. I’m hopeful that some of the information in this book will help light bulbs come on for my struggling learners.

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Exploring History


My class seems to be stalled in fantasy land so this week we explored the first man that gave the world a visual of what dinosaurs probably looked like, Waterhouse Hawkins. They could not believe that thugs destroyed his model dinosaurs in New York City and left Waterhouse empty handed after he had worked hard for two years.

Nettie’s Trip South was an eyeopener that took us back to the time just before the Civil War. It’s told from the viewpoint of a young girl from the north as she learns about slavery up close and personal. Nothing can match the honesty of a child.

Stories stick and facts fade. Oh my, what treasures await eager educators!