Art is a significant part of the McLean School experience. Our Lower School program teaches students to develop planning and problem solving skills and the knowledge that is necessary to create, learn and respond to art. We introduce the elements of art and principles of design by studying famous artists and working with a wide range of media including drawing, painting, collage, ceramics and printmaking. Each grade level meets twice weekly and continues to build on previous experiences by extending projects, increasing vocabulary and working more independently. Art history and world cultures are important sources of inspiration and information. Art happens in the studio and classrooms and is often integrated into math, science, social studies and language arts. Beautiful student art is displayed throughout our building and reflects our dedication to the process of creating art, self expression and development of presentation. We are delighted to be present in community art shows and school events.
Grade 3 students have the opportunity to join Chorus class in which students participate in active music-making activities including chanting, singing, movement activities and the playing of non-pitched and pitched Orff percussion instruments. Students who enroll in Chorus increase their vocal technique while further developing their musical vocabulary through active music-making. Members of the String Ensemble and the Chorus participate in seasonal concerts throughout the year.
The Lower School Counselor teaches a weekly Communications class in Grade 3 for one semester. The course pulls from several programs and curricula to teach skills, such as conflict-resolution and problem-solving with peers, for social and academic success.
Handwriting and Keyboarding
Cursive handwriting is developed and practiced, fine-tuning the individual student’s cursive style, using the Handwriting Without Tears program. While students continue to improve their handwriting skills, keyboarding is also introduced. Grade 3 students are introduced to the QWERTY keyboard and utilizing the home row method for keyboarding tasks on the iPAD with touch typing and use of bluetooth keyboards. Components of the Grade 3 keyboarding curriculum include formatting and typing sentences, progressing to typing multiple paragraphs that are three to four sentences in length, reinforcing fine motor memory, and increasing typing speed and accuracy. They review and master foundation keyboarding skills such as learning numbers, shift, and function keys. They also are creating sentences from provided grade-level spelling words to type with bluetooth keyboards in the Notes App.
Third grade students are assigned to groups appropriate to their math skills and learning needs. Groups are fluid throughout the year in order to provide appropriate support and challenge. The JUMP Math program guides the sequence of instruction. Visuals, manipulatives, games, and centers are used to teach math concepts. Students cover place value, numeration, addition and subtraction with regrouping, multiplication concepts, multiplication with regrouping, and division with exposure to remainders. Additional topics include fractions, measurement, money, time and elapsed time, graphing, geometry, and word-problems. Supplemental materials include Marilyn Burns’ research-based Do-the-Math series. Math instruction is enhanced through the use of cooperative games, manipulative materials, and real life application during our math lab periods. All students are exposed to each concept, but coverage and mastery is dependent on students’ skills and needs.
Students build on previous concepts and skills learned in music class, including such concepts as: steady beat, loud and soft, sound and silence, high and low, fast and slow, identification of instrumental timbre, and active listening. Concepts are presented using multisensory activities which include chanting, singing, movement and the playing of non-pitched and pitched Orff percussion instruments. Third grade students continue to discover the elements of music and develop a musical vocabulary through active music-making. Vocal abilities are strengthened through the singing of traditional childhood songs and folk tunes. Students continue to determine components of form in musical compositions (like and unlike sections), aurally differentiate between instrumental timbres and represent concepts and objects with instrumental timbres through active creation of group arrangements of songs. Students create new verses or chants to augment songs for performance. Students also learn about the woodwind, brass, percussion and string families of instruments, focusing on visual and aural identification. Students are exposed to different musical styles and multicultural music through hands-on performance and active listening.
Grade 3 students receive daily Physical Education in classes that focus on games and activities that promote healthy exercise, cooperative play, and good sportsmanship. Basic locomotor movements and spatial awareness are reintroduced through throwing, catching, kicking, striking, and balance and tumbling. Grade 3 students also begin to play lead-up games to various team sports. Basic concepts of physical fitness and healthy living continue to be stressed; and health education is periodically incorporated into the curriculum. Facilities at the Lower School level include an indoor gymnasium, a multipurpose room, a large outdoor grass field and blacktop space.
Teachers group students across the grade level based on ability and learning profile. Groups remain flexible throughout the school year. Differentiated instruction allows each child to receive an individualized program based on their areas of strength and need. The Grade 3 reading program uses a variety of strategies and programs to enhance students’ overall reading skills. Students receive instruction to develop phonic skills using the multisensory Orton-Gillingham, which helps them link sounds and symbols through auditory, visual, tactile, and kinesthetic modalities. Additional materials include chapter books, controlled reading passages, games, and other multisensory tools are utilized to target specific skills. Students develop strategies in order to comprehend and gain word attack skills. Using novels, biographies, and other authentic literature, students reinforce their ability to actively interact with the text to understand main ideas, predict outcomes, empathize with characters, sequence story events, develop vocabulary through context clues, and recall factual information. Vocabulary and comprehension skills are further developed through read-alouds and activities. The overall objective is to instill an appreciation for literature, while reinforcing students’ reading skills.
Grade 3 Social Studies follows the Social Studies Alive curriculum. Students begin the year by studying the geography of the United States. Students label features on maps and diagrams and explore longitude and latitude. They move into a study of the Chesapeake Bay as they examine the lives of the Native Americans, who were the first people who lived there. They expand their study of Native Americans across the American continent, as they discover how they adapted to different environments in North America, and how the cultural regions differed. Students then turn to the travels of Europeans to the New World during the Age of Exploration. They study the challenges that came during various settlements, including the Jamestown Settlement and the Plymouth Colony. Grade 3 students focus their country studies on Australia and Kenya. Students explore the cultures, customs, languages, and traditions of their countries of study using a number of resources. The students present their culminating knowledge of Australia and Kenya at the school-wide World Culture Day event.
Grade 3 STEM instruction is delivered with a hands-on approach to instill a love of science, technology, engineering and math. Students are challenged to share knowledge and synthesize it with personal inquiries and curiosities. As they report what they see and look for changes, they sharpen their observation and description skills. Grade 3 students explore many topics, including space, types of transportation, the Iditarod dog sled race, plants, crime science, and coding and robotics. Projects may include creating a scale model of the solar system, making a detective kit, designing and constructing different types of transportation, creating a digital detective book, making a home planetarium, programming droids to follow a map, creating a green screen project, and using stop motion video to demonstrate different modes of transportation. Students begin to relate science to their everyday lives and the goal is to encourage curiosity and exploration.
Grade 3 students have the opportunity to join the String Ensemble and learn to play either the violin, viola or cello. Students learn proper bow hold, hand position, note reading, and ensemble skills. Students who enroll in the Strings Program are required to take weekly lessons. Private string instructors are on campus to provide lessons for an additional fee.
Writing is taught separately from handwriting so that the focus is on content and the organization and expression of ideas. Several different venues are employed to make writing more accessible to all students. Third grade students write daily in structured activities based on the The Writing Process and Being a Writer. Writing instruction begins with identification and construction of simple and complex sentences by incorporating the 5W’s (Who, What, Where, When, Why), as well as conjunctions. Once the students have a strong foundation in sentence development, they delve into writing paragraphs, including narrative, persuasive, informational, and opinion paragraphs, by brainstorming and organizing ideas with planners and graphic organizers. Each student author confers with teachers and peers to share their written pieces and to receive feedback on their writing. After the conferences, they revise and edit their rough drafts, producing improved final drafts. To foster listening and speaking skills, students share their published work. Technology is also utilized to produce and publish writing as well as to interact and collaborate with others. Additionally, the students continue to expand their knowledge of grammar, spelling, and mechanics through multisensory methods, as well as examine the fundamentals of poetry and how to conduct research.