In this course, students build on the language and literacy foundational skills established in the primary grades. The course is structured, systematic, phonic-based (matching the sounds of spoken English with individual letters or groups of letters), multisensory, and scaffolded to include a written spelling component.
The third-grade units are written to support the crucial transition children make from learning to read to reading to learn. The opening unit, Building a Reading Life, launches students’ lives as upper elementary school readers. Children ramp up their reading skills by immersing themselves in within-reach fiction books while working on word solving, vocabulary development, and more. The second unit, Reading to Learn: Grasping Main Ideas and Text Structures, addresses essential skills for reading expository nonfiction, such as ascertaining main ideas, recognizing text infrastructure, comparing texts, and thinking critically, as well as the skills for reading narrative nonfiction, such as determining importance by using knowledge of story structure. The third unit, Character Studies, lures children into fiction books, teaching them to closely observe characters and sharpen their skills in interpretation. The final unit, Research Clubs: Elephants, Penguins, and Frogs, Oh My!, shows youngsters how to turn to texts as their teachers. Children work in clubs to gather, synthesize, and organize information about animals, and then use this information to seek solutions to real-world problems.
The third-grade units of study take into account that many third-graders are writing on full sheets of notebook paper and in writers notebooks for the first time. The opening unit, Crafting True Stories, extends students’ work with personal narrative while engaging them more fully in the complete writing process, with increasing emphasis on drafting and revising their work. In the second unit, The Art of Information Writing, youngsters write chapter books that synthesize a wide variety of information and learn to section their topics into subtopics. They are supported in this challenging work because they are writing about topics on which they have firsthand, personal knowledge: dogs, soccer, gymnastics. Changing the World: Persuasive Speeches, Petitions, and Editorials rallies third-graders to use their newfound abilities to gather and organize information to persuade people about causes the children believe matter: stopping bullying, recycling, saving dogs at the SPCA. The final unit in third grade, Once Upon a Time: Adapting and Writing Fairy Tales, uses familiar fairy tales to explore techniques of fiction writing such as writing in scenes, employing an omniscient narrator to orient readers, using story structure to create tension, and crafting figurative language to convey mood.