Our lower school students will tell you that they have so much fun each day that they don't even notice the time flying by nor the vast amount of knowledge that they are acquiring. Grade 3 is no different.
When one enters the grade 3 classroom, the free reading corner is typically noticed first. These books range in subject and encourage students to choose books that fit their interests. Next to the free reading corner sits a whole shelf of craft supplies for projects. Students have tables that easily move into various configurations rather than desks, which means student supplies are kept in their cubbies and students move throughout the room as class subjects change.
"Mrs Bratt is nice and really fun. She has a lot of games that are fun for learning." - Novella
Mrs. Bratt, our grade 3 teacher, is a treasure who has enriched the lives of many Reno-area children during her career. She keeps the classroom silly and relaxed throughout the day. Even with the light atmosphere, Mrs. Bratt talks to kids like they are people who can understand the world and have clarity about the expectations put upon them. Basing her lessons on the brain development of children and giving them opportunities for creative expression, grade 3 often works in cooperative learning groups and receives tickets for positive reinforcement.
The Sage Ridge day is split into 6, 1-hour class blocks with a morning break and mid-day lunch placed evenly between. Students take 8 classes and drop 2 each day.
When a grade 3 student arrives at Sage Ridge they typically unpack their bag into their cubby and then grab a stool. Stools are a prized possession that they all share because they rock. The age-appropriate furniture allows students to move while they learn, helping many to focus. "And they are fun!"
Once settled, it is time to get ready for the day. Grade 3 students rotate jobs, so a small group of them are always responsible for raising the school flag each morning. They take this service to the school community very seriously. Their coordinated effort ensures the flag is properly cared for each day.
Students also turn in their homework to the homework box and prepare for a day of learning!
8-10 AM | Morning Self-Contained Block
Integrated Literacy I: Reading & Writing
In reading, grade 3 works on novel studies, which ask the students to dive deeper into what the author is telling the audience and experience things they don't normally experience. In other words, grade 3 students begin to read to learn, rather than learn to read.
In writing, students use the concepts of mechanics, grammar, and the rules of English and incorporate them into their writing. Students write personal narratives, fiction, letters, opinion pieces, and poetry. To increase an understanding of spelling, students learn to identify word patterns.
"I enjoyed writing the packet for my student-led conference because it prepared me for my conference and I like to write." - Jane
10-10:25 AM | Break
Morning break is a time for snack and recess on the playground. Squeals of excitement are obvious as students hang on the bars, teeter on the seesaw, and play grounders -- a game of tag in which the leader must close their eyes if they ascend the playground equipment. And if a student forgot their snack, Mrs. Bratt has a backup stash!
10:25-11:25 AM | Math
Math is taught through guided lessons, often with manipulatives and partner practice. Students learn by working together on problems teaching place value to 100,000, rounding, estimation, bar models to solve word problems, multiplication, division, geometry, angles, and fractions. Hands-on learning with manipulatives makes the math come to life and helps students realize they can solve anything if they are in a real world situation.
Mrs. Bratt frequently uses the ELMO digital document camera to demonstrate with the manipulatives and show student work. Laptop computers are provided by the school in the Lower School for each student's exclusive use. These computers remain at school and allow students to engage in a wide range of technology-enhanced lessons and build their computer skills.
11:25-12:25 AM | Science
Science is a full class just like any other at Sage Ridge, rather than an occasional group activity at many elementary schools. A combination of play, research, hands-on activities, and projects help students explore the topics of celestial bodies, the periodic table of elements, matter, chemical and physical changes, earth changes, life cycles, sound, and electricity. When students learn about sound they make their own pan flutes.
"I liked learning about planets, asteroids, comets, meteors, and phases of the moon. We pretended we were meteoroids in the asteroid belt and crashed into each other!" -Karen
12:25-1:15 PM | Lunch and Recess
Students eat and get to talk and play with their friends. The 50-minute block is plenty of time for both!
1:15 PM - 2:15 | History
Grade 3 investigates history with an eye towards project-based investigations. Students learn about important historical figures, Native American cultures, early American history, and the symbols of America through reading, projects, research, and modeling. In the fall, for example, students create models of the Mayflower and research its structure and journey.
2:15 PM - 3:15 | Physical Education
Physical education is also a full class at Sage Ridge. Grade 3 students engage in a variety of active games as they learn to work together and make healthy choices.
"PE with Ms. Kratzer is nice and fun. She has great activities like tunnel tag, which is tag but if you get tagged you get unfrozen by someone crawling under you." - Jane
Two classes are dropped each day, but here is a glimpse at what else enriches the grade 3 experience:
Grade 3 students switch enrichment classes each semester. This year, students explore visual art and music.
"I like art. Ms. Iverson teaches us art things like watercolors. I also like theatre because they put on great plays. I am excited to see Matilda because my sister is in it." - Violet
Our self-contained, lower school classes use this time for what best meets the needs of their students. Once a week they attend the Lower/Middle School student-led meeting. Otherwise they engage in discussions about the school's pillars, deepen their understanding of social-emotional skills, dialogue about grade-level issues, or receive extra help. This time is an essential part of our program as it allows teachers to tailor the day according to what most serves the class each week.
Students in grade 3 participate in a wide variety of activities in the community after school. They also talk to their parents about their school day. Mrs. Bratt keeps and sends home behavior charts. These are not punitive tools, but teach students to own their behaviors by explaining them to their parents. Students are then rewarded for returning the card with parent signature to signify that they talked together. This system is just another example of how we build self-confidence through both building intellect and character.