Wednesday, August 8, 2012

Back to School Countdown- 3rd Grade

Our Back to School countdown is going to skip 2nd grade for the time being.  Both Heather and I have things we want to share on the blog, but we are anxious to showcase our friends!  Today, we bring you a guest blogger from 3rd grade, Susan.  We LOVE Susan and her amazing ideas.  Heather and I both had the privilege to work with Susan in her first year of teaching.  She taught second with us on our grade level.  She has WONDERFUL ideas and we learn so much from her.  We are excited for her to show you some awesome ideas!  Take it away Susan...

The first and last 5 minutes of the day……

There are certain simple skills that we know are important for kids to know, but don’t always get the time they deserve because, well, we have a lot to do!  One thing I like to do with my newbie third graders for at least the first quarter is to use a small daily journal to practice handwriting, proper use of capitals and commas, spelling of the months, days of the week and basic forms of a number of the day.  I know that they leave second grade knowing these things but summer has a magic way of fogging their memories.
I had some composition books cut in half at OfficeMax (for $3!) and put a label on it for each student.  Inside, I made a template for them to follow each day as part of their morning work.  As you can see in the photo, they write the current date in word and number form and then show the number of the day in expanded, word and base 10 block form.  They also have to add and subtract 10 from the number and then add 100.  I may start but 2-digit numbers but quickly get into 3 and 4 digit numbers as well.   It doesn’t take them long to discover how they can use the 100 grid on their desk and later, place value, to quickly add and subtract without writing out the equation vertically.  I always go over each of these quickly during out morning meeting.
At the end of the day, they write two things…..can be something that they learned or something they enjoyed that day or something different that happened.  They may also write me a note if they want to.    This helps when they get home and their parents ask “What did you learn today?” or “How was school today?”   At the end of every week,  students turn in their journals  and receive a grade for a complete week of journaling based on a rubric that assesses  correct spelling, punctuation, number forms and calculations and complete sentences on their end of the day wrap-up. 

After I feel that students have mastered the first page, usually by October, I have them use both sides for journaling at the beginning and end of the day.  Morning journal is usually about anything they want but must be legible, make sense and follow basic capitalization, spelling and punctuation rules.  Sometimes they want to tell you all about their sick cat and it’s a great way to connect with them and what’s happening in their lives.   A simple but effective use of those few minutes …… 

Journal entries are expected to become more detailed as the year goes on.

Have a wonderful school year!
Third grade


  1. Very cool! I love how the notebooks are smaller. Did the store give you any problem about cutting the notebooks in half?


  2. Julie,
    I talked to Susan and here is her response.

    No, they charged me $3 to cut them all at Officemax but I bought them there, of course. They have a special cutter for this. Don't try Lowe's or Home Depot....their cutter cuts wood but shreds notebooks (read a blog from a teacher who tried that. ;)

    Hope this helps!
    Thanks for stopping by!!!

  3. I love your morning journal idea! Do you interact with their journals, too and write them notes? I saw Interactive Journals at a training this summer and that is exactly what they do...the students know the journals are private between the themselves and me (teacher)...they can tell me anything...Then the journal is turned in and I write them back as I can and it just keeps going. A great way to practice friendly letters. Spelling and punctuation are not corrected, but instead constantly modeled by the teacher's correctly written responses.

    I can't wait to follow you and your other great ideas! I am so glad I found you!!

    Wishful Teaching