Dear Third Grade Students and Parents:

Welcome to third grade! This is a letter to inform you of what goes on in the third grade classrooms.  I am looking forward to being your child’s teacher this year. I am so thrilled to be teaching at Potlatch Elementary again this year.  This is my ninth year teaching in Potlatch and my seventh year teaching third grade.  I graduated from the University of Idaho in 2002 with a B.S. in Elementary Education. I followed up and completed my masters in reading in 2007. I have earned endorsements in both reading and gifted education. I live in Moscow and carpool to Potlatch every day. I live with my husband Jeff, daughter Maya, son Reid and our dogs Gruff Gruff and Cubby. I have been an active volunteer of the Humane Society of the Palouse for over 20 years!  I love to teach, learn, hike, travel, volunteer and hang out with my family and friends.  

Here are some things to expect this year in third grade. 

Reading: Our Whole Group Reading is daily from 9:30-10:00. During each week in Whole Group Reading, the class will read a story and discuss ideas and concepts such as character, setting, phonics, grammar, vocabulary and other literacy skills.  Our reading series is designed to encompass all areas of reading and language arts. We also have a daily Small Group Reading block from 10:45 – 11:30 a.m.. During this time students are divided into smaller groups according to their reading ability and rotate rooms for instruction.  Mrs. Dawes, Mrs. Lanham, Mrs. McKinney, Mrs. Tia, Mrs. Savage and I each work with small groups of students on specific skills and levels.  These are flexible groupings and change as the students change.

Spelling:  Each week your child will bring home 18 regular spelling words which will focus on a specific phonics skill. We will practice the words daily in class.  Please help your child learn these words.  Spelling tests will be on Fridays. Spelling words can be found in the student planners after each Monday, or on the reading webpage (http://www.theteachersguide.com/mcgrawhillwondersthirdgrade.htm). There will be two extra challenge words given each week.  These words are optional and do not against your child’s spelling score. Although they will count towards their scores, so it is possible to miss 2 of the 1-18 words but earn their points back with challenge words spelled correctly. They won’t be able to earn more than 100% on our weekly tests. I encourage each child to attempt the challenge words weekly on their spelling tests. 

Mathematics:  Our school has adopted a new math program last year.  We have a daily math time (8:30-10:00) where we work as a group to explore topics such as addition and subtraction strategies, understanding number sense and grouping. There is math homework Monday- Thursday.  Sometimes the students will have the opportunity to complete their homework in class, but they will still bring it home to double check before turning it in the following day. Homework pages are recorded daily in planners. 

Accelerated Reader (AR):  We use accelerated reading in the classroom.  This allows students to read leveled books and take coinciding quizzes.   We will set an appropriate goal for each child during each quarter.  Their goal will be easily reached with the completion of their daily reading log homework. We try to allow free reading times in our daily schedule, but sometimes it is not always feasible.    Students who meet their goal earn a reading prize in the classroom and are recognized school-wide.  AR helps students gain fluency, increase comprehension and gain a love of reading.  *Check out arbookfind.com to find out if books from home are on the AR list and what their levels are.

Reading logs: Your child is being asked to read 20 minutes each night this year for a total of 80 minutes a five-day week.  Please help your child fill out the reading log if needed towards the start of the year. New logs will come home on Monday in the homework folder. The logs need to be turned into the teacher each day to check for completion. Grades will be recorded on Fridays. Your child may read a book, magazine, newspaper or article; it does not have to be an AR book. Students can “hit two birds with one stone” if they do decide to read an AR book for homework. This way they will be working towards their AR goal at the same time. School library books can be brought home. If for some reason you cannot find the Reading Log homework sheet, feel free to write what was read, and how long on a note, in an email or in the planners.   If your child does not return homework to school, he or she will read during recess time. 

Social Studies and Science:  We will use our text books and other resources to explore these areas of the curriculum.  

Writing:  We focus on five major writing projects over the year in third grade; personal narrative, response to literature, friendly letter, story and poetry.  There is a link to our school wide writing handbook on the district webpage. 

Penmanship:  Your child will learn cursive writing this year.  This can be very exciting for some students and very frustrating for others. Please help encourage your child to practice this new skill as we learn the letters.

PE:  Mrs. Wiggum is our fantastic PE teacher.  It is an important part of our week and the students look forward to the exciting games and skills.  We have PE on Tuesdays and Thursdays from 12:55-1:40.  Remember to send PE shoes to school for your child to keep in the classroom. Keep clothing appropriate for PE on PE days.

Music:  Students explore Music with Mr. Richards three times per week: Monday, Wednesday from 12:45 -1:20; and again on Friday from 12:10- 12:45.   Mr. Richards has a motivating rhythmic classroom. We will look forward to our seasonal concerts.

Library: Tuesdays, 2:10- 2:40. Students are allowed to check out 3 books at a time, bring them back each week to check out new ones. 

Computer Lab: We go to the computer lab regularly throughout each week. We will mostly be working on a Type to Learn program, Math Facts in a Flash, as well as have some Microsoft Word lessons. 

Planners:  Student Planners will come home with your child each day.  Please read what they have written, check for messages from the teacher, and initial on the yellow “Parent/Teacher Comments” box to show you have looked at the planner. This is my way to communicate with you on a daily basis about what your child is doing in school. It is an important reflective part of our day. We also record our test scores in the planners each week. 

Birthday celebrations: Your child’s birthday will typically be celebrated on the last Friday of their birthday month.  We celebrate during the last part of the day (2:25-2:45). Summer birthdays will be celebrated at the end of the year. Please do not send treats for your child’s birthday! Birthdays will be celebrated with the opportunity for your child to have “show and tell.” Your child may bring anything that they would like to share with the class on that day! It can be a collectable, a favorite thing, a family member, or even a pet. Please let me know ahead of time what is coming in so that I can be prepared. In case of too many birthdays in one month, we may split “show and tell” birthdays to a couple of days. If treats are brought to school, they will be sent back home with your child. I feel this will help put a focus on the special birthday child for a moment and not an emphasis on sweets. Don’t worry; we’ll have treats during other parties throughout the year, Winter Celebration, Valentines, and the End of Year party.  

Class Dojo: I use an online behavior tracker. I will send you a request to join. On this site parents will all be able to log in to see how their child’s day is going. This is a great way to keep communication open between home and school. I also enjoy using the "Class Story" part of this program where I can post pictures of your child's day and send updates through a messaging system. 

Online Grades:  I post student grades online. With access permission, parents can view their child’s grades online, anytime. Go to the district website and sign up for this great opportunity!

Webpage: Our class webpage can be found under elementary staff on the school website. www.potlatchschools.org   

Air cushions: Some students tend to learn better if they get to have a little wiggling at their desks. Feel free to send your child to school with an air cushion to use on their chair at their desk. You can find these under: stability cushions, or balance disc, etc. on Amazon and they sell anywhere between $12- $20. I have a pump in the classroom that will fit most seats. 

Water Bottles: Students like to get drinks often. We do not have a water feature in our classroom. Please send a water bottle to school with your child. They can fill it with water and keep it in the room for drinks. Water bottles will be sent home regularly for cleaning. 

Contact: Please feel free to contact me with any questions, comments or concerns throughout the year. I am available by phone or by email. Contact info: Work: 208-875-1331 Home: 208-596-6224;  emily.spellman@psd285.org

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