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Field Report: Three

March and early April brought more than spring to our classroom. Marine animal mobiles dance from two ceiling sections of our classroom, inviting students to interact with peer projects as they grab a tissue or take a break in the classroom reading rug and tent. The marine mobiles were a project-based assessment intended to balance out the four page written test from this Science chapter. Carefully written directions and a copy of the grading rubric were sent home the day the project was assigned. Each project was well done, although some were more creative than others. The jellyfish to the right is an example of one of the more creative mobiles, and illustrates the need to balance written tests with project-based assessments - so everyone can shine!

Students have come to anticipate hands-on methods for studying rote memory tasks

such as vocabulary words, step-by-step process charts or keeping track of which

words on the spelling list use oo and which use ou. Hilarious sentences with each of

the words from the shorter list of spelling words helped students smile as they recalled

those list words’ vowel spelling patterns. Students worked on identifying the parts of

the digestive system chart with a return to the small flag labels anchored in a ball of

Play-Doh and correctly placed on the chart. An answer key allows this to be a self-

checking activity requiring no teacher time once created.

The sheer number of vocabulary words in the Science chapter on digestion suggested

student time might be better spent using some teacher-created study tools rather than

writing drill ring cards for the nearly twenty words. Slider plastic storage bags were pressed into service with each vocabulary word written by syllables on the top edge of the bag, just under the zipper. Students slide the tab past each syllable, saying it aloud as they slide past it, then back up and say the word in its entirety as they make one more pass. A 3x5 card was prepared to go inside each storage bag with the vocabulary word on the front and the definition on the back. Students can extend their learning past just sounding out the vocabulary word to learning the definitions. The vocabulary

tools were rolled out early in the chapter, so students are familiar with the many words when they are used in lessons, boosting understanding of what is taught.

Third graders began writing book reviews last month. This is a big step for them

because it requires not only good sentences with proper use of the writing

conventions, but they must be succinct in summarizing the book in the first paragraph,

and then be logical in giving their opinion in the second paragraph. This is a

demanding writing task for a third-grader! The “I do, we do, you do” method was used

to help clarify expectations and build the skills students needed for this very specific

type of writing assignment. Check out the short newsletter article explaining how the

method works as well as the in-depth newsletter article about exactly how the

technique was applied to this writing task.

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