Thursday, May 15, 2008

May Update

Hello Families!

This is a long update. We have put action items at the top. Please keep reading for more details!

We have finished Word Study! We decided to end a week early to gain more time for our Washington, D.C. projects. Thank you very much for your support and flexibility. Thank you so much to those who came to help! We couldn’t have done it without you! Feel free to recycle the last set of words. Students thought our suggestion of saving them for summer review was hilarious! (If you are signed up for next week, consider next Friday instead, more details below!)

We are kicking off our Washington, D.C. unit! Those of you with older siblings will probably remember this one! There is a lot of detail below, but here are the “must know” pieces of information:

Students are not required to do ANY work outside of school! All bonus projects are purely voluntary.
Students will be giving VERY short speeches on their projects May 27-30. We will send out a schedule next week so you know when your child is presenting. We would love to have you join us if you can make it!
We would love volunteers to help kids practice their speeches on FRIDAY, MAY 23rd. We need help from *9:00-9:30* for the Amerindiens group and *10:00-10:30* for the “Voyageurs” group. Please e-mail if you would like to help. If you are unsure of which group your child is in, check the “wiki” website: and click on West English Groups.

Students will be choosing their monuments this Friday.

Okay- now for the details! Part of the Social Studies curriculum in third grade is government. Homeroom teachers cover the state and local governments in class, but the federal government has always been covered in English. As you can imagine, it is hard to find good materials in French! This is always one of the high points of the year! The state standards changed recently from a focus on the city of Washington, D.C. to the three branches of government and the Constitution. The monuments are still part of the standard, but are no longer the focus, therefore we are not doing the huge research project we have done in the past. We have covered a brief history of the city. We have been working on text mapping and brace mapping to organize the information on the branches of government. We have tried to do interactive reading to highlight main ideas and new vocabulary. It’s a great way to really delve into the way non-fiction is organized. They are also looking at the way the branches of government work together. On Friday, we will select monuments to research and begin looking at information. They will be writing a short descriptive piece on the monument, with an emphasis on sensory language. Because these are short pieces, they will be able to polish and complete the project in about a week. They will give a very short (some may be 30 seconds!) speech about their monument. Our main goals here are to speak loudly and clearly and try to make eye contact. These are the required elements to the project and they will all be completed during the regular school day. No homework is required....however...

Over the years students have LOVED the idea of doing extra projects around this theme! It is a great topic with so many potential projects! Students may complete all kinds of projects outside of school. Some popular ideas are:

Build a model of the monument they are writing about. They could also make a poster with pictures.
Do a report about a famous American, such as George Washington, Abe Lincoln, Benjamin Franklin, Eleanor Roosevelt, etc. A few students asked if they could do a report on a current presidential candidate. I think this is fine as long as it is a factual report and not a political speech. It also would have to be about the candidate and not contain negative information about opponents.
We will study the White House, Washington Monument, Jefferson Memorial, Lincoln Memorial, Capitol Building and Viet Nam Veteran’s Memorial. Students could select another monument to research. A model could be part of it. Some ideas include the new World War II Memorial, Arlington National Cemetery, the Smithsonian, or Library of Congress. You may have other great ideas!
Students could research a monument outside of Washington, D.C., such as the Statue of Liberty. I had an excellent project on the American flag one year.
Students could read Where Were You When They Wrote the Constitution by Jean Fritz. They could write a letter to the authors of the Constitution saying what should be included or summarize what happened.
If your child has a passion, let’s try to find a project that could work! Let me know if you have questions!

If your child does a bonus project, we would love to have it here for the speech. Students are welcome to do their speeches on their bonus topic, if it is different from their monument.

As students finish, we will squeeze in one more novel study at the end of the year. It’s going to be an action-packed few weeks! Please let us know if you have any questions! We will get the speech schedule out as soon as we can! Please let us know if you have questions!


Lynnea West and Amby Takekawa