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Language Arts in Third Grade

compass_three.gifWhat Kids Should Learn in Reading
In the area of reading, the teacher's principle goal is that the children view reading as central to learning and as a source of endless information and enjoyment. The teacher also wants each child to gain confidence about being a successful reader. More specifically, the third grade curriculum is designed to ensure that children:

  • Become more skilled in identifying and using the title, table of contents, glossary, and index of a book;
  • Understand more fully the roles of the authors and illustrators of the books they read; readily identify the setting, main characters, and plot of a story; use the dictionary, thesaurus, encyclopedia, almanac, and newspaper, as well as maps;
  • Read a variety of books in all curriculum areas; and
  • Expand their range of reading in children's magazines and newspapers.

    The teacher also wants the children to:

  • Continue their personal libraries at home;
  • Increase the time spent in silent reading;
  • Dramatize what they read;
  • Express their ideas fully, understanding that there are different viewpoints;
  • See connections between what they read and their own lives;
  • Understand the multiple meanings of words; and
  • Increase their familiarity with the library. Teachers should, as I noted earlier, continue to read to children daily, using a broad array of children's literature that includes stories from different cultures.

    What Kids Should Learn about Writing
    Writing is closely related to reading. Teachers make sure that children write every day and see themselves as authors. Children are encouraged to keep journals and to write to one another, to their parents and grandparents, and to classroom visitors; pen-pal correspondences with children in other communities or countries are common. The children also write books.

    The teacher continues to support invented or transitional spelling, but children are encouraged to pay more attention to

  • Punctuation and its relationship to meaning;
  • The fact that many words have several different meanings, and that some words work better than others in certain contexts;
  • The sequence of events and ideas in stories;
  • The personal nature of writing; and
  • The possibilities of revision.

    In regard to revision, the children participate actively in writing workshops where they share their writing and begin outlines of new writing. They also keep portfolios of their writings -- works in progress as well as completed works. Their portfolios help them see that their writing over time offers material for self-evaluation. Third grade writers use prefixes and suffixes, compound words, different tenses, and synonyms and antonyms to add variety to their writing. It is in the third grade that children shift from printing to cursive writing, with an understanding that legibility is important; by the end of grade three, most children should be writing in cursive most of the time.

    What Kids Should Learn about Listening and Speaking
    The oral aspects of language are important and are closely related to the development of children's reading, writing, and thinking skills. Teachers allow children to gain considerable experience in telling and retelling stories, speaking informally, sharing information with classmates and visitors, leaving and taking telephone messages, and distinguishing fact from make-believe. Focused discussion activities are also important; here the teacher guides the children in a slightly more formal discussion of a selected topic. In addition, children participate in readers' theater and plays. They read poetry aloud, learning to match their volume and inflection to the demands of the subject matter. The teacher helps them explore the differences in intensity of various words and speech patterns.

    Reprinted from 101 Educational Conversations with Your 3rd Grader by Vito Perrone, published by Chelsea House Publishers
    Copyright 1994 by Chelsea House Publishers, a division of Main Line Book Co. All rights reserved.

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