As a part of Open Window School's program, the reading curriculum is accelerated by one year. As third graders working a year ahead, students continue to work on the reading comprehension strategies that research shows good readers use to make sense of texts. During third grade, students are formally taught or informally experience using their schema and making connections, visualizing, wondering, and questioning, using text features, making inferences, determining important ideas, analyzing text structures, summarizing, and synthesizing. They explore and practice these strategies at an appropriate level of complexity - both in terms of the reading level of the texts and the types of problems and dilemmas dealt with in the texts. This happens both through shared text read as a class and through individualized reading.
In writing, students write personal narrative texts, fiction stories, expository non-fiction works, opinion pieces, and poetry. Throughout the year, third graders engage in regular opportunities for free writing as well as move through the formal writing process, including brainstorming, creating rough drafts, making revisions and edits, and publishing a final draft. They work to develop a relaxed, uninhibited attitude about writing as they simultaneously hone their attention to conventions, creativity, and sense of purpose in their writing.
In addition to academic skills, students continue to develop socially and ethically as those skills are integrated naturally into the work. As the students work together, they develop caring and respectful relationships, creating a safe and supportive classroom community that is conducive to sharing their thinking. They are encouraged to take responsibility for their learning and to be aware of the effect of their behavior on others. Throughout the year, students think about and act on five areas: responsibility, respect, caring, fairness, and helpfulness. Additionally, the students explore other values that arise in shared texts such as courage, perseverance, gratitude, and compassion. The social skills that students learn as a part of the reading instruction help them to act on these values intentionally.