PS/IS 686 | Brooklyn, NY

Third Grade Moves Forward!

First, I’d like to express appreciation to the family of Zachary Kiselev, who donated two wonderful books to our class library in honor of his birthday: an anthology of child-friendly poems about nature coupled with gorgeous photographs, and a picture book biography of Dr. Temple Grandin, a well-known animal expert who happens to have autism. I love poetry, but I particularly appreciate the Grandin book, since it’s a way to introduce the students to someone who probably seemed somewhat different to her peers as she was growing up, and to let them get a glimpse inside her world. It can help them see how her mind (and the minds of other people with autism) aren’t “less,” just different – and that people with autism also contribute to the world.

Thank you as well to Zachary’s and Chiara’s families for sending in contributions for snack time! When children forget snack, it’s so nice when there’s something they can eat.

Now, moving forward: the ELA exam is behind us, and it is time to look ahead. Believe it or not, there are only a few months left in our third grade school year!

We are looking ahead to take the New York State Math exam on May 1st and 2nd. In math we are continuing our unit of study on Fractions. This week, we will be working on fractions of a set of objects. For example:

Frances has twelve apples. She eats 1/3 of her apples and gives the rest to her friends. How many apples does Frances give to her friends?

The idea of fractions of a set is closely related to the operation of division. You need to consider the total set (12) and divide it into 3 equal parts (12/3= 4 apples). In this case, 1/3 is also equivalent to 4/12 (4 apples out of the set of 12 apples). Important ideas of equivalence are developed when considering fractions of a set or group of objects.

Students will be working on open-ended investigations in which they find all the possible ways to divide a set into fractional parts. For example, what are all the ways you can divide 42 into fractional parts? Is it possible to have 1/5 of 42 objects? Why or why not? Students need to justify their thinking based on what they know about factor and multiple relationships, as well as division.

Since the math exam is approaching, we will be giving math homework every evening, Monday through Thursday. You will see homework related to our work in fractions, but also homework that reviews important concepts assessed on the exam.

These important concepts include (not in order of importance): 

  • telling time to the nearest 5 minutes
  • solving problems using elapsed time
  • rounding numbers to the nearest ten, hundred, or thousand
  • solving multi-step problems using addition, subtraction, multiplication, and division
  • using the properties of multiplication (commutative, distributive, and the identity element), although children do not need to name these properties, just be able to recognize them and use them in their reasoning.
  • using arrays to represent and solve multiplication problems
  • solving problems about area and perimeter
  • reading data from a pictograph or a bar graph
  • placing and ordering fractions on a number line
  • solving problems using fractions of a set

If you see from your child’s homework that he or she needs support in any of these areas, you can use the following websites for additional practice: