Hello Third Grade Families!
Our third grade readers are settling into the routines of Reading Workshop and its predictable structure of whole class mini-lesson, independent reading and conferences or small group work. We are finishing our first Reading Unit – A Readerly Life. We have been reviewing good reading habits and introducing new skills and strategies.
Third grade reading can take a period of adjustment for our students and for you, their families. Students are shifting from learning how to read by sounding out words and identifying story elements to really thinking about their reading and making meaning.
Reading in third grade is about slowing down, looking for patterns, asking questions, and making inferences. Most importantly, reading this year is about thinking – not only about what is happening in a book but also thinking about our thinking (metacognition) as we read.
While reading should always be enjoyable, this year it is less about speeding through a book to finish it. It is more important to take the time to recognize our own confusion and outrage when a character does something surprising or unexpected, ask questions about an author’s craft choices, recognize or empathize with a character’s decisions, and hopefully open up our understanding of the world through multiple perspectives.
To help our third graders slow themselves down and make visible the often invisible work of reading, we have been using some tools in the classroom that you will also see at home. You may have noticed a flurry of yellow post-it notes stuck in your child’s books. We use these “jots” to record our thinking as we read. Jotting every 5-7 pages or at the end of every chapter (depending on book length) helps to instill the habit of stopping and checking in with your thinking as a reader. It also helps to remind ourselves of major plot developments and events as well as a place to record confusions and questions.
We have also introduced the Narrative Reading Progressions for the skills of Summarizing and Envisioning/Predicting. These scales show a range of 2nd, 3rd, and 4th grade level work and explicitly state the type of reading work students should be able to do, verbalize, and write about. These help students recognize the amount of thinking work they should be engaged in while they read.
Finally, it is very important for readers to talk about their reading with the adults in their lives outside of school. Please ask your children questions about the books they are reading. If you can, read a book together – it is a great way to provide support, especially for those high interest books that may be just a bit too challenging for them to read on their own.
Some questions you can ask your child:
What just happened in the part you read?
Why do you think (character) did that? What makes you say that?
How are you alike or unlike from the main character in your book? What makes you say that?
What do you think will happen next? What makes you say that?
What surprised you in your book? Why?
What patterns are you noticing in your book?
What questions are you having about your book?
Why do you think (the author) decided to make the story unfold in this way?
Why do you think (the author) chose to use this particular language in this part?
What beautiful words or language are you noticing? How does it affect how your understanding of the story?
Ms. Sonya and Ms. Marcy