Category Archives: Language

Students as Teachers

Ms. Sophie Tsai, executive secretary to Dr. Hennesy, and current education student, requested help for a project she is working on for a class she is taking. She needed information about “Scratch,” an animation program that our class used when developing characters for their realistic fiction.

Since the children were the experts, I had her interview four of the class members. That worked so well, that she wanted to videotape the same students so she could show it to her class. I just watched the video and am very impressed by the information the four children shared. Click here to watch: Student Video



At the end of last year, I volunteered to have the Alphasmart Danas in my classroom. These were purchased for Middle School use some years ago, but with the one-to-one laptop initiative, they became available for lower school use. These are fantastic tools. Because we have only 24 laptops available for all six third grade classes, these Danas act as a good stop-gap measure.

We started using them with the realistic fiction story scenes. When students were finished writing one or more scenes, they then got out their Danas, and word processed their writing. Once that was done, at intermittent intervals, that work was sent to their own personal files, then they could work on the laptops for publishing when I had them scheduled for our classroom.  Coming into third grade, our students had a basic idea of how to use technology. I am amazed at the progress they have made in figuring out how to manipulate the tools to make their writing and publishing complete.

Enjoy the following photos:

Emerald taking her Dana out of the cart

Rachel and Darren at work on the laptops

"Sending" work from the Dana to laptops...lots of cords involved! Students are independently doing this on their own now.

Writing, writing, writing!

We are following the Lucy Caulkins models of writing, and while they are time consuming, they are good for getting students to write in depth about the genre. Our first genre was a personal narrative; writing a little seed story instead of a big watermelon topic. And our second genre, which is finally nearly finished, was realistic fiction stories. Once the final three stories are revised, and edited, they will all be ready for publishing on a class web page. We’ll be going to the computer lab the Thursday and Friday following Christmas vacation to do the publishing. I’m sure you will all enjoy the stories.

Here are students in various stages of the writing process.

MinJi is thinking about what to write next, while In-Kyung, Emerald, and Sarah are adding to their scenes in their story booklets

Here Rachel is modeling how to add more detail to scenes

Cheyenne, Andrew, Emerald, Ethan, and Calvin are using the Alphasmart Danas to type in their scenes from their story booklets

Sentence Scramble

To help students learn and remember parts of speech, we have played a game called Sentence Scramble. Students use the word strips they are given to generate sentences that make sense.

Cheyenne, Andrew, Ethan, Andrew, and Emerald working together to make as many complete sentences as they can

Ms. Quince, the ESL teacher, working with one of the table groups

Read a Good Book Lately?

We have! Here are some photos capturing a bit of the reading going on in room 3A01.


Lucas and Nathan W.

A bit of science reading together


As you may remember, our class trialed Handwriting Without Tears this year. We have finished the book, and are now working on improving handwriting by practicing. This is a great method of handwriting, as it is an easy transition between manuscript and cursive. We liked it so much that the entire third grade will be adopting it for next year.

Here are a couple pictures of students in action…practicing fluidity of stroke movement by “writing” on each others’ backs.

You can clearly see Edward, Lucien, Andrew, and Minji

Nathan T., Tomoki, Lucas,Kendra, and In-Kyung

Storytelling and Hunger Day Presentations

We are so very lucky to be at a school in which we can participate in special presentations put on by Upper School students. We thoroughly enjoyed Mr. Bishop’s storytellers. Not only were they enthusiastic and entertaining, but by seeing their expertise, our class learned a little better about how to orally read their own books and stories.

Our three outstanding upper school storytellers

Listening intently...

Andrew, Nathan W., and Calvin enjoying the storytellers

Each year, Mr. Arnold’s Orphanage Club students prepare a detailed presentation for Hunger Day. They get a chance to improve their speaking ability and our students get a chance to learn many things about world-wide hunger and what they can do to help out. What most impressed me this year was the excellent discourse between our third graders and the upper school students. The upper school students said later they were blown away by the amount of knowledge the 3rd graders already had.

One of the presenters and our class with hands held high just waiting for him to call on someone else