Third Grade



READING WORKSHOP: Students continue to work on skills and fluency as needed, but the third grade emphasis is on comprehension and interpretation. We focus on strategies used by good readers and on choosing “just right” books to read. Students select books of their own choice from our classroom library. We read silently, alone, in pairs, in small groups, and with the whole class. Each student keeps a reading response journal.

Students are exposed to as many different literature forms as possible, including many categories of fiction and nonfiction, and poetry. Some reading material is integrated with the science and social studies units and is research based (reading to find general or specific information.)

WRITING WORKSHOP: Writing takes many forms in third grade. Writing Workshop focuses on narrative, opinion, and information writing. Students collect their pieces in writing folders and add to them throughout the year. Selected pieces may be chosen for revision, editing, and/or sharing. Students keep journals in each subject area, as they explain strategies, make observations, and reflect on what they’re learning.

WORD STUDY/SPELLING:  Third grade uses the Words Their Way program for word study, vocabulary, and spelling. This is a developmental spelling, phonics, and vocabulary program; it is based on extensive research literature.

HANDWRITING: Most written work is in printing, and both mastery of form and neatness are expected. Cursive is introduced, with mastery and a degree of fluency expected by year’s end. We use the “Handwriting Without Tears” program.


Illustrative Mathematics is a problem-based core curriculum for 21st century learners designed to address content and practice standards to foster learning for all, preparing students to solve problems, reason, communicate, and think critically in the classroom and beyond.. Math is integrated with other subject areas when appropriate. There are opportunities for individual and small group enrichment activities. It is expected that students who do not already have mastery of their one-digit addition and subtraction facts will master them this year, and will go on to some degree of familiarity with multiplication facts.

McCarthy-Towne uses Scott Foresman-Addison Wesley’s enVision Math, with supplementation from other programs including Investigations (TERC) and Marilyn Burns. Math manipulative materials, including base ten blocks, snap cubes, pattern blocks, and color tiles are used throughout the year.


Our major focus is the state of Massachusetts, starting with the Wampanoag and Plimoth Plantation as early settlements, Paul Revere and his famous ride, the development of the mills of Lowell, and modern day Massachusetts. This includes geography, integrated art, related reading and writing, as well as field trips. We will also study the city of Paris in the middle of the year, and will learn about Impressionism, Parisian landmarks, and a little French.


All science units include many hands-on activities as well as integrated art and related readings and writing. Our major science units in third grade are:

  • The Web of Life, which includes a study of soil, earthworms, owls, food webs, and the predator/prey relationship.
  • Electrical Circuits, which introduces basic properties of electricity using batteries, bulbs, wires, conductors, and insulators.
  • Investigating Things in My World, which explores materials, their function, mass and volume.

Students and keep track of experiment results and the questions they have in a scientist’s notebook.

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