Third Grade Curriculum Overview
The goal of the reading program in the AIR class is for students to become flexible, resilient readers who read for pleasure as well as academic pursuits. AIR students are offered ample time to read high-interest books in their independent reading levels. In addition, students are explicitly taught skills and strategies of proficient reading. Students’ areas of growth are targeted through one on one conferences, small group discussions, and additional explicit mini-lessons. AIR students learn how to respond to books, and also to push others' thinking around books.
In the AIR class, we teach writers, not writing. The vision of Writing Workshop is to see students cultivate more independence and stamina. In Writing Workshop, students develop a sense of self as writers and personal writing processes for them. Students learn to develop ways of reading the world like writers, collecting ideas with variety, volume, and thoughtfulness. AIR students establish a sense of thoughtful, deliberate purpose about their work as writers, and the stamina to stick with their pieces through the drafting process. As members of a responsive, literate community, they develop ways of reading texts like writers and appreciate craft and genre in writing. Finally, AIR writers gain deeper awareness of audience and how to prepare their writing to go out into the world.
Math is seen as fluid, vibrant, creative, and relevant. The AIR students develop conceptual understanding, procedural skills and fluency, and application. The AIR class program emphasizes differentiated instruction techniques that provide many opportunities for all students to grow mathematically. Students develop a variety of problem-solving strategies by tapping into their own intelligence strengths, while also working on their areas of growth. Problems and investigations invite children to explore, make sense of mathematics while working individually, with peers, and with teachers.
The curriculum incorporates use of visual models, arithmetic fluency, math for understanding as well as accuracy. Math is a social activity, enhancing student articulation and the connection to everyday life. Throughout the school year, formal and informal assessments are used to guide student learning and teacher lesson planning. Assessments include interviews, summative paper assessments, projects, as well as varied forms of daily informal assessment such as responses in class discussions, worksheets, math journal work, and partner and small group work discussions.
The AIR class learns about the geography of the Bay Area, California, and the United States. Students explore the roles of a citizen through election studies and important documents, such as the Constitution and the Declaration of Independence. In addition to developing an awareness and understanding of Native American cultures and how they have continued to shape our history, students develop a modern perspective, and appreciation of Native American Peoples. Through our Cesar Chavez study, students learn about human rights, labor laws, social change for farm workers, how laws are made and changed. Our Service Learning projects include Berkwood Hedge plant care.
Science is taught through observations, experiments, hands-on discoveries, and critical thinking. AIR students use their science notebooks to record their engagement of the curriculum, as well as the scientific method. Third graders use different variations of the scientific method in different contexts but the goal is always the same: to discover the world and relationships in it using questions, gathering and examining evidence, and analyzing findings to make a conclusion. Units include: weather, resources, energy, and plants/farming. Students strengthen their fluency with scientific practices and deepen their understanding through the process of reflection.
The AIR class incorporates social justice on a variety of levels. Starting at the basic level, students explore how they treat each other in the classroom. AIR students think about what they value in a learning community, how they show values to others, and how they want to be valued. Keeping this part of social justice close, third graders navigate conflicts in social and academic relationships. Throughout their learning, students practice talking back to books and curriculum and asking questions about fairness. Across the year, the class reads books which represent a variety of people from many backgrounds.
SOCIAL EMOTIONAL LEARNING
In the AIR class, Social Emotional Learning is an integral component to the classroom community. Students are explicitly taught about the tools of the Toolbox. They also get space for guided practice in using social emotional tools with friendships, issues in the classroom, in class meetings, and on the yard. Furthermore, social emotional learning skills are an integral part of their academic work. The class is guided to intentionally use the tools in partner and group work. AIR students learn to value mistakes and hold a growth mindset, and every week students highlight who they notice using a growth mindset. Understanding that disequilibrium is necessary for learning, the class practices embracing this challenge and works to create a safe space and comfort with not knowing, mistake making, and struggle.