Manchester Public Schools
Office of Equity and Partnerships
Grade 3 English Curriculum Information
Reading
Writing
Here are the things your child will be expected to accomplish during the school year…
Fall

  • Students will keep track of their reading and studying their data to set goals and make plans. The teacher will equip students with ways to check on their literal comprehension and to use fix­up strategies when they’ve lost the thread of the story. Teachers will stress key foundational skills such as synthesis. As books get longer, it is important for readers to grasp how a new part of a story fits with earlier parts. Without foundational skills in word solving and vocabulary, third graders will not be able to do the work expected of them in literal comprehension, interpretation, or analytic reading. Teachers will support students who need strategies for tackling multi­syllable words and figurative language. Fluency is also a very big deal for third graders. The unit will not only help children who read robotically, in two­ or three­word phrases, but it will also help proficient third­grade readers who are finding that as the sentences they’re reading become longer and contain more subordinate clauses and parenthetical phrases, they again need some support with fluency. The unit also supports envisionment and prediction—two foundational skills that are almost extensions of each other and that when taken together, allow readers to walk in the shoes of a character. For readers to predict
    what will happen next in a story, they must draw on their theories about characters’ traits, about the theme of a story, about the unfolding story structure. 
  • Teachers will show students examples of third­grade writing notebooks. Then, as students generate personal narrative writing, they’ll be coached in setting goals for themselves. For some students this will mean increasing their volume and stamina; for others it will mean writing with more attention to conventions or craft. Students will learn to re­read their notebooks, to select a seed idea, and then to develop that seed idea by storytelling different ways the story might go (sound, start and end, etc.). Writers will draft by writing fast and furiously, reliving each moment as they go. Students will spend time on revision, studying the work of mentor author Karen Hesse; they’ll try her techniques in their own drafts. Teachers will introduce paragraphing and discussing how to develop paragraphs by adding step­by­step actions, dialogue, thoughts, and feelings. Much of what is taught during this time will depend on what is observed when teachers compare the students’ writing with the narrative writing checklists. In addition to this revision work, they’ll teach students the conventions of punctuating dialogue. After students have selected the draft they will publish, teachers will rally them to tackle a whole new fast draft on that topic. Finally, they’ll show students how to use an editing checklist. As a final celebration, teachers will create a bulletin board that has a space for each child’s writing and then invite classroom visitors to read and admire the work put forth by these blossoming third­grade writers. 
Winter

  • Teachers will help your third graders know that it is important for them to be able to read an informational text in such a way that they can turn around and teach the main idea and supporting details to their peers. If the third graders expect an
    infrastructure of big ideas followed by supportive information, and if they learn to use text features, white space, and transitional phrases to help discern that infrastructure, they will be able to glean what matters from texts. Teachers will remind them that they read differently when they know they are going to participate in conversations about their reading, and they’ll help them know they can have conversations in their own minds as a way to grow ideas. This unit not only spotlights nonfiction, it also provides students with skills that are foundational to reading nonfiction in our 21st century world.
  • Students need to have chosen the general topic they’ll be teaching others about through their writing—a topic on which they already have expertise. As they get started writing, teachers will teach them ways to write with authority by inviting them to teach their topic to others and take what they learn from teaching it back to their writing. Students will learn increasingly complex revision strategies, now involving choosing grammatical structures and using research to feed elaboration. They will continue to use ways to improve their writing learned in the primary grades. Students prepare for publication, emphasizing the importance of being aware of one’s audience. Teachers will also ask students to keep in mind the sorts of things a nonfiction author attends to while preparing for readers: using text features, checking facts, and attending to conventions. Students will learn ways to
    write informatively, in a variety of genres, about a topic they’ve been studying in social studies, thus discovering how transferable writing skills can and should be once they are learned. At the end of the unit, students have an opportunity to teach their writing skills to younger students as a celebration of what they’ve learned and as a way to bring full circle the theme of teaching. Throughout the entire unit, you will see a renewed commitment to grammar, vocabulary, and conventions, all carefully aligned with the Common Core State Standards.
  • This unit begins with a close study of characters. Readers will use theories to make predictions as they follow their character on his or her journey across the
    story—a journey that follows the shape of a predictable story mountain, as they will learn in the next part of the unit. This focus on story arc, and on the interaction between character and other story elements, is part of the work of seeing the character as part of the larger story. Has the character come to a new realization? Did the character’s behavior change? And what key moments contributed to the change? This unit will continue to support students in the foundational skills that were front and center during the first fiction unit of the year. Teachers will assess your children’s abilities to be resourceful word solvers, drawing both on context clues and on their knowledge of prefixes, suffixes, and some common root words to figure out new words. You’ll notice whether your kids’ abilities to envision and predict are strong. Teachers will pause at a spot in a readaloud when most readers would predict, and then
    say to the students, “Jot what you think will happen next!” Students will also be engaged in the work of compare and contrast, not only the characters, but also
    the problems characters encounter and how they react, the settings, and the lessons characters learn (the themes authors convey).
  • Teachers will rally your third graders to support bold, brave opinions as they write persuasive speeches. Children first work together on a shared topic; this allows them to receive lots of help writing structured texts that contain a claim, reasons, and examples. They immerse themselves in the genre by writing this speech, revising it, and delivering it to the school principal. Then students write many more persuasive speeches in their notebook—at
    least one or two a day. As they do, teachers will coach them to apply and extend the opinion writing skills they learned in previous grades. Students use a checklist to assess their work, set goals, and create action plans for meeting those goals. They gather facts and details and organize them. They “write long” about their topic, categorize the evidence they collect, and decide which evidence belongs in their speech. They then deliver their speech to at least a small group. These speeches may be filmed. Students transfer and apply everything they have learned about writing persuasive speeches to writing other
    types of opinion pieces. While working on their new project, students generate ideas, plan, draft, revise, and edit, going through the writing process more quickly and with greater independence, at the same time learning strategies for raising the level of their work. Students work collaboratively
    to support causes through writing in various genres. Teachers may have a group of students dedicated to recycling, for example, or another group dedicated to animal rights. To publish their third and final piece, students will consider where in the world the text should go to reach the particular audience the writer had in mind. The culminating celebration of this unit showcases all the pieces students have written as well as the process they have gone through to ensure that others will see and be moved by their work .


Spring

  • To begin this unit, the students will form clubs, and each club studies an animal. Teachers will teach your children to preview the collection of texts on their animal and then to each take a subtopic at a time and read across books on that subtopic, starting with an easier book so as to develop the background knowledge needed to handle more detailed and challenging texts. As one club member researches the animal’s habitat and another, the animal’s life cycle, they’ll teach them all to synthesize and organize what they are learning. Clubs then transfer what they learned into the study of a second animal. Eventually they’ll be taught to compare and contrast
    across animals—the teacher and the children will be surprised to learn that yes, spiders and tigers actually are the same in some ways! The unit will end with children applying their knowledge of animals to solve realworld problems, such as creating a better habitat for
    animals in zoos or investigating why certain animals are no longer thriving in their environments. This unit, then, is more than a unit on information reading. It is a unit on research. This unit has the power to change the students’ lives, not because they will learn about
    dolphins or turtles, but because they will learn to learn—perhaps the single most important academic skill we can offer our students as we set them out into the world. This unit also sets the stage also for independent research projects that students tackle in fifth grade.
  • In this very special unit, teachers will rally each child to adapt a fairy tale—we suggest children choose either Little Red Riding Hood or The Three Billy Goats Gruff. Once writers have chosen a tale, they will first need to reread the classic version, then study and annotate it, noticing the plot as well as the qualities of a fairy tale. Children then plan their adaptations, thinking about significant changes they
    could make to alter the course of the tale. At first the children are apt to write their stories in a just thefacts way. Their attention will be on getting the adaptations right. This will probably change midway when taught storytelling as a way to rehearse and plan their adaptations. Suddenly, in partnerships, children will use gestures, small actions, expressions, and dialogue to act out their adaptations and bring their imagined stories to life. They’ll teach a series of lessons that support students in applying what they learned in the previous bend. Teachers will address common pitfalls of thirdgrade narrative writing—drafts that are swamped with dialogue, sentences that lack variety, and scenes that are summarized rather than stretched out with detail. To celebrate the students’ growth and ensure that it continues, teachers will teach them to apply all they’ve learned in writing an original fairy tale. They will teach
    children that writers of fairy tales use what they know about narrative writing, creating characters with wants who encounter trouble and then—tada!— there’s a resolution. Once writers have generated possible story ideas, they draft and, more importantly, revise until they exceed even their own expectations. Then teachers will coach them in editing and finally publishing their favorite tale.

  • ​In this interdisciplinary inquiry based unit of study, students will discover how Manchester has developed and changed over time by generating research questions and creating a final artifact for a “Living Museum”. Teachers will show students why our town is called The Silk City. Students will participate in the Manchester Walking Tour to learn about how the Cheney family influenced and shaped our town. Teachers will support students’ development of an interactive timeline throughout the unit that illustrates how Manchester has changed over time.

  
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