3rd Grade: Big Ideas of Systems

Systems is the Universal Theme for 3rd grade. The 3rd graders started by thinking about what comes to mind when they hear the word systems.  They created a definition and shared examples of systems in their notebook. We then looked at the generalizations or big ideas and thought about if our definition fit one or more of the Big Ideas and whether our examples fit, as well.

The third graders grouped up and created a presentation to teach their classmates the understanding of one of the generalizations, or Big Ideas, related to Systems.

3rd Grade: Beginning HOE

The third graders are learning algebra using our Hands On Equations kits. These are videos that were made after one of our earlier lessons, before they started learning the legal moves.  The kids will have to make new videos with their new understanding. They love it as much as I do and we are almost done with Level 1.  Next come the verbal problems, which are also a lot of fun.

3rd-5th First Day of Class

So, clearly this post is a bit delayed as we are now almost at the end of the first semester of school.  I am going with the theory “better late, than never.” I like to post weekly, so my goal is to get back to that habit.  I am also planning on putting these awesome kids to work.  They should be blogging about our week and I should just be adding the footnote.

Two things still stick out for me from my first day with 3rd, 4th, and 5th.  Break the Box and 6 Word Quotes.

Escape the Room has become a fun challenge for adults and kids alike.  My 5th grader is still talking about how much fun she had at Escape Haus in New Braunfels.  Essentially the goal is to use clues to help break out of a room that you have been locked into.  Fun if you aren’t claustrophobic. Many educators have been doing a similar activity in their classrooms, but instead of breaking out of a room you are trying to break into a box.  The 3rd, 4th and 5th graders each had to use clues to open a series of locks that eventually gave them access to a task in the box.  The task was specific to our Universal Theme for each grade level.  There also may, or may not have been a Starburst awaiting them as a reward for success.  The kids loved it.  I loved watching them have to work together, figure out what were and were not clues in my room.  I learned by Thursday to assure them that clues were not hidden in closets and drawers and there was no need to make my room a crime scene. We cannot wait to do it again.

The second thing that still sticks with me is their first day assignment.  Each student was to bring in a quote that meant something to them, that they connected to in some way.  They had to present to the class.  I then hung the quotes around the room and the kids had to write a 6 word phrase that summarized who they are at the core, or something they believed strongly about life.  They had to use only the words from the quotes around the room.  It was challenging, fun, and engaging. Reading their 6 word quotes also gave me incredible insight into the child as a person, as well as the class as a whole.  I hope you enjoy them as much as I did.

My 3rd Graders are a bunch of little Yodas.

4th Grade definitely had a little theme going. It was interesting to see how many of their 6 words were about imagination and creating.

And 5th Grade: Mistakes, Creativity, Never giving up are the building blocks of a good life.

2nd-5th Grade: Mission Statements

We are a Leader In Me school, which means that we are working hard to live a life following the Seven Habits:

Be Proactive
Begin with the End in Mind
Put First Things First
Think Win-Win
Seek First to Understand, then be Understood
Sharpen the Saw

In order to better live these habits we need to have a shared mission.  During the first week of GT, each grade answered the following questions: What are we here to do? How are we going to accomplish it? Why are we doing this.  The kids added their ideas to a chart on our board with post-it notes.


We then looked for patterns within our answers and used those patterns to create one shared mission.  I think the kids did great.

3rd-5th Grade: Parent Meeting

Thank you for taking the time out of your busy schedules to attend the parent meeting. I know that is difficult to do.  It was great seeing and talking to so many of you.  It is always nice to meet the parents of the terrific kids I work with.  Thank you for entrusting me with your children each week.

If you weren’t able to make it, please take a moment to go through the presentation below.  Please do not hesitate to email any question you may have.

3rd Grade: Catapults

In our study of Leonardo Da Vinci as an inventor, the kids had a chance to build a catapult with materials they could find in my room.  Loved their inventiveness.  They had to problem solve and rebuild as they worked to make their catapult fling their fuzzy over the castle walls. 🙂 After testing their catapult, they used DoInk Green Screen and iMovie to bring their catapult to life.  Enjoy.

3rd Grade: Mystery Person

The 3rd graders had to put their detective hats on.  They were given a series of clues and had to record things that they thought they knew to be true about the mystery person, as well as things they might look up to help reveal who the mystery person was.  

After going through all the clues, each team was given an iPad to use to research their clues. Once they discovered who the mystery person they had to chose 4 of the clues and find a specific connection between the clue and their suspect.  

Finally, the 3rd graders penned a letter to their Captain to share how they KNEW for certain who the mystery person was. Enjoy. 

3rd Grade: Air Cars

This year the 3rd Graders will focus on what it means to Become a Thinker.  The goal is for the kids to learn to be strong systems thinkers.  First things first, they needed to be sure they understood the Big Ideas of Systems before transitioning into systems thinking.

To do that, the 3rd graders were asked to go through the Engineering process as they designed, built, tested, modified, and tested a Puff Car. 

We then connected each of the Big Ideas to our Puff Cars design, reinforcing the difference between a heap and a system.

3rd Grade: Taking Risks

“Whether you believe you can do a thing or not, you are right.”

-Henry Ford

The 3rd graders researched Henry Ford to discover how he connected to the Famous Failures we researched previously and to see how he connected to Growth Mindset.

They started with a quote quizzler, which revealed the quote above.  The kids all thought the quote was from one of the Famous Failures that we had already researched, but then I introduced Henry Ford. The kids read about him and added their thoughts to a Padlet.

The kids and I discussed that one pattern that emerged in our study of all of these amazing people is their willingness to take a risk in life.  We talked about how scary it can be to take risks, but that they can also lead to an amazing pay out.  The 3rd graders created similes for taking risks.

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3rd Grade: Famous Failures Part 2

After researching and discovering that many people in our world known for great success also experienced great failure, the 3rd graders chose one of people they researched and considered what they might say about success and failure.

The kids wrote a quote in the voice of their person.  They then researched an actual quote by that same individual and compared the two versions.

The 3rd graders used Chatterkid and iMovie to put both quotes together.