Valentine’s Day:

We will celebrate Valentine’s Day by giving everyone in the class a card.  We will be making a mailbag or box of some kind at school and the students will deliver their Valentine’s Day cards on Thursday, February 14th. If students would prefer to make cards rather than buy them, I will provide materials they can use. The best way to remember everyone in the class is to look at the list of student blogs.

Great Kids, Great Math Thinking

Today we decided to gather together as a class and share the many different ways we could think about the same addition problem. I am very pleased with how well the students were able to explain their thinking. I was also very happy that they are learning to refine their strategies and adjust them depending on the numbers presented in the problem. Sometimes kids get stuck following one procedure mindlessly even if it is not the most efficient way to solve a problem. It has taken a lot of time to refine our mental math skills, but the kids are proving it is time well spent!



Winter Art:

These snow people are loving this cold weather.  I think they are the only ones!


Country Research Project:

We are working on a country research project in social studies. Students are learning about two different countries and comparing them. As they research, they are keeping in mind two big questions that are intended to guide our learning.

1. Why do people live in communities?
2. How does where people live impact how they live?

It is a good project because students learn to research independently and practice many great reading and writing skills.

Important Dates in February:

Thursday, February 7 – Fortunately The Milk Wind up 6:30-7:30

Wednesday, February 13 – Hot Lunch

Thursday, February 14 – Valentine’s Day: wear red, pink, or white

Monday, February 18 – Family Day (no classes)

Tuesday, February 19 to 22 – February Break (No Classes)

Monday, February 25 – Classes resume

Wednesday, February 27 – Pink Shirt Day

Thursday, February 28 – Grade 3 skating in afternoon

Tower Building:

The excitement has been building and the big day has finally come. It is tower building day! Today, the students are putting their science knowledge to use and building straw towers as a final project for our structures and materials science unit. Hundreds of straws and many meters of tape are being sacrificed for the cause, but it is well worth it. It is great to see how well everyone is cooperating and listening to each others ideas.

When our straw supply is used up we are going to find a more environmentally friendly alternative.

Here are a few pictures to help you get a sense of the joy, cooperation and learning that is going on today.

Writing Samples:

Many students will be bringing home some writing samples for you to see today. I have been meeting one-on-one with each student so that we could have an editing mini-lesson together. The sample includes two pieces of writing stapled together. The top piece of writing is the one we edited together. The next piece of writing is another sample for you to see. If you feel you can help by editing the second paragraph with your child, please do. This one-on-one teaching time is very valuable. Your insight and support for your child’s learning experiences is very valuable. If you decide to go through an editing process please remember we are trying to keep writing experiences as positive as we can. Some children are very reluctant to write and getting over that anxiety is our first goal. You know your children best and I know you will be able to provide a great supportive critique of their work. Thanks for all of your efforts and support! I often find that a few students who were able to attain a Meeting (3)  for their writing in the first term end up with an Approaching (2) in the second term. This is usually because they are not using capitals and punctuation consistently enough to meet the criteria for a mark of Meeting at this time of the year. I am hopeful that some editing focused lessons help make these skills a little more consistent.

Note: If you do not receive a writing sample today it is because I have not quite met with everyone yet. I will send the remainders home for you to see as soon as possible.

Click the link below for a description of grade three writing. It may help you understand where your child is at and the target we are aiming for.

Grade Three Writing Rubric-1kjh0pf

Spelling Practice

I am trying something different this year. I am not sure how it will work, but I think it is worth a try! The students are going to bring home a list of words to practice from time to time. The list will be made up of words they did not know how to spell when they were completing writing projects. Please help them practice their list until they know how to spell the words. There will be no spelling test at school. Doing a spelling test for each student just isn’t practical. Plus, the practice is far more important than the test.

How do the kids create their lists? The process is quite simple. When completing writing assignments big or small, the students know to circle any word they are not sure about. Later, they use the dictionary app on the iPads to find out how to spell the words correctly. These are the words they add to their spelling list. Kids often get hung up on the spelling of a word which can get in the way of getting their thoughts down on paper. This way, they don’t have to worry about it while they write because they know it will be taken care of later.

Thanks for your help!

Two Digit Addition and Subtraction Update:

The students bring rich math strategies with them to grade three. Most of the strategies we generate come from the student’s ways of thinking about numbers. This is good because it often helps them see that they already have good ways of working with numbers. Some of our best thinkers don’t believe they are good at math. Helping kids use and refine their own strategies is the best way we can help them become more confident and value their own thinking.

Estimating Sums: We use the following three strategies to help us build mental math skills. We focus on learning the strategies and practice deciding which strategies gives the best estimate based on the numbers presented in the problem. I can understand that some people may have a glance at the examples below and feel that it seems a bit silly to estimate. I can reassure you that it is worth the short time we spend on it. Many of the mental math strategies people use resemble some of these estimation strategies. For students who are having a tougher time breaking apart numbers and reconstruct them in their mind, estimation is a good first step. It helps them find an easy way to “get close” to the sum or difference and learn to clean up the left over bits later. Students who already have favorite mental math strategies often discover new ones as we discuss estimation. Once they have a few to work with, they can begin learning to choose the most efficient strategies to use depending on the numbers presented in the problem. In short, we have very rich conversations and great thinking springs from our simple estimation strategies.

1. Add only the digits in the tens place.

So, 59+23 is estimated to be 70.

2. Take one number to the closest 10.

So, 59+23 is estimated to be 73.

3. Take both numbers to the closest 10.

So, 59+23 is estimated to be 80.


Estimating Differences:

1.Take each number to the nearest 10.

So, 59-23 is estimated to be 40.

2. Subtract only the numbers in the 10’s place.
So, 59-23 is estimated to be 30.

3.Use only the 10’s from the number being subtracted.
So, 59-23 is estimated to be 39.

Adding Two Digit Numbers:

1.  Add the tens, then the ones to the first addend. (This


2. Add the tens together, add the ones together, then add up their totals


2. Use a number line to count on or count back.

45—–55—–65—–75—–82  (Skip count on by 10’s, then add the 7)

Subtracting Two Digit Numbers:

1. Subtract the tens of the minuend, then the ones.

2. Use a number line to count on or count back.

45—–35—–25—–15—–8 (skip count back by 10’s, then count back 8 more)

The examples above a just a small taste of the many ways your children know how to work with numbers. I look forward to sharing more with you in future posts.