Open Window School third graders expand their understanding of the world, both historically and geographically. As eight and nine-year-olds, third graders have a growing sense of self that enables them to look deeper not only at themselves, but at the world around them. Capitalizing on this, third graders learn about the early history of North America and the Native Peoples who populated what is today the United States followed by a deep dive into the geographical regions of the US. Throughout these experiences, the students acquire valuable research and writing skills as they learn to communicate their new knowledge. Third graders also continue to deepen their understanding of the design process by designing a tiny home that meets specific requirements. As with all grades at Open Window, third grade also provides an intentional, age-appropriate learning progression that focuses on social and emotional learning and development.
Building on a solid foundation of reading and writing skills developed in earlier grades, third graders thrive in the Language Arts program that is designed to nourish literacy at all levels. Language arts concepts are integrated throughout the core disciplines in the third grade curriculum. Students’ reading skills are assessed using the Fountas and Pinnell Benchmark Assessment System early in the year and also through ongoing reading conferences. The third grade reading program incorporates the study of Junior Great Books, with a strong focus on developing critical thinking skills. Independent reading and shared reading, which involve literature sharing circles, are additional components of this program. Students continue to engage in phonics building lessons that are selected depending on each student’s need and ability, supported by Words Their Way word study.
Third grade students are becoming independent writers, and are provided the instruction and skill development to make this a priority. Students view themselves as creative, competent writers, eager to share their ideas with an audience. Writing occurs daily and is integrated throughout the curriculum, including writing journals, reader response activities, reading journals, and Handwriting Without Tears cursive lessons. Communication skills are emphasized through class discussions, cooperative group experiences, and personal interactions.
Based on the Bridges in Mathematics program, instruction is differentiated according to students’ needs and abilities math instruction includes hands-on, experiential activities that both build foundational math skills as well as ask students to use their math skills to extend and deepen concepts. Assessment is ongoing and informs the content and pacing of the math instruction. Groups are created depending upon skills students need to learn or practice, and groups may be flexible depending upon the unit, activity or project.
Blogs, lab reports and hands-on projects are an integral part of third grade science. Building on their knowledge of the scientific process, third graders engage in activities such as Stop a Storm Surge Project andAirplane Company Contest. Students learn about the scientific principles behind air density and temperature thrust lift as they study the high-interest topic of Aeronautics. Investigations also include the study of Weather and Earth, Taxonomy, and Life Science. These topics are integrated with homeroom projects and activities. This is also a time for students to develop their ability to create their own experiments, engage in peer review, and defend their work to their classmates.
Devoted strictly to kindergarten through fourth grade learners, the Open Window Lower School Science Lab offers inquiry based, hands-on experiences for young students. Capitalizing on the natural curiosity and zeal for learning of gifted students, the lower school science curriculum develops not only a solid foundation of science skills but a passion for all things scientific. Scientific investigations cover four domains over the course of kindergarten through fourth grade: the physical sciences; the life sciences; the earth and space sciences; and engineering, technology and applications of science.
Instruction in mapping skills introduces third grade students to a year-long focus on culture, people, places, and environments. Students investigate the definition of culture and how cultural assumptions impact one’s point of view. A study of major global holidays and celebrations, representing many diverse world groups, leads to comprehensive compare and contrast activities. Third graders also research United States regions, learning how environment influences cultural traditions. History, geography, economics and citizenship are recurring strands throughout this study. Time for Kids introduces and facilitates an understanding of current events as it relates to the student and the world. Design Thinking projects are another integral part of our curriculum that promotes our students’ creative and problem-solving skills. Students move through realistic design phases (research, interviewing, drafting, building prototypes, etc.) to create a product that meets the needs of a peer or real-world client. For example, in our unit on tiny homes students research the tiny-home movement in various tangible ways and create designs to meet the needs of a specific family. Building prototype models of these homes using makerspace supplies is always an exciting conclusion to this unit!
The lower school exploratory Spanish program follows the natural sequence of language learning: understanding > speaking > reading > writing. Understanding and speaking are the primary focus. The program is designed to provide both an introduction to another language and an appreciation of another culture prior to the more academic middle school Spanish curriculum. Consistent with how a child learns their first language, the Spanish curriculum encourages a learning environment in which the language directly relates to the students and their surroundings, reflecting their needs, interests, and everyday life. Students are exposed to Spanish-speaking cultures through stories, songs and a study of customs. An appreciation of other societies and cultures is fostered through the study of the Spanish language.