Spring Into RPCS!
Third grade girls discover an increased independence and are ready to take charge of their learning.
Grade three is a transitional year between primary and intermediate grades. Girls make the total transition from learning to read to reading to learn, and in this process, they begin to develop the critical thinking skills necessary for evaluating the world around them. They still ask questions, and are encouraged to do so, however their inquiry becomes more specific and purposeful. Third grade girls develop increased independence at this age. They often take charge of their learning and make choices about how to best display their knowledge. They may create a podcast, iMovie, or invent a clever game to demonstrate ideas. Third grade girls are curious and enthusiastic. Their love of learning, and growing ability to connect ideas across disciplines, deepens the experience of school for these young students.
The goal of our literacy program is to develop confident and self-motivated readers and writers. Individual needs are met as skills are introduced and developed. In grade three, the focus is on building fluency, comprehension skills, and learning to read across disciplines. Our novel-based approach to instruction offers young readers daily opportunities to make connections, predict, infer and derive meaning. We expose children to a wide variety of genres and give them the tools to achieve a deep understanding of text, so ultimately, they attain a more perfect appreciation of literature as well as a hearty spirit of inquiry.
Lower School students grow into effective creative and analytical writers. We deliver classroom instruction along with personalized attention that builds each writer’s unique skill set. In third grade, students continue to learn about sentence structure, mechanics and presentation. These basic elements of written language lay critical foundation for more complex endeavors down the road. All grades consider formal projects that cross various genres while inspiring heart in the writing process.
Third grade girls will focus on:
● Effective communication through written and oral presentation
● Novel study to learn literary elements, plot, and character analysis, use of Notice and Note’s 6 Signposts
● Individualized spelling
● Introduction to more genres and choice in reading including fairy/folktales/pourquoi (origin) stories
● Novels may include The Hundred Dresses, Fantastic Mr. Fox, Matilda, Peril at King’s Creek
● Writer’s Workshop – creative story telling that builds confidence and foundation
● D’Nealian handwriting – cursive writing
● Introduction to keyboarding
● Writing includes poetry, pourquoi stories, non-fiction paragraph, creative writing, written responses to reading prompts
The Lower School math program is founded on best practices and research-based mathematics education. The goal of the program is to help our girls construct deep conceptual understanding, build strong problem-solving skills, and develop computational fluency. From the earliest age, students are driven to develop a clear number sense that gives them confidence and power over numbers and computation. They analyze mathematical relationships, build their geometric and numeric reasoning, and draw conclusions from this deeper thinking. An emphasis on understanding allows students to construct meaning and think flexibly about procedures that are efficient and effective. It is our hope that our approach to math instruction will empower our girls to feel increasingly confident about their mathematical ability and understanding. This confidence and depth of understanding will expand their future possibilities in all STEM fields.
During the third grade year the emphasis is on developing strong number sense, understanding patterns and relationships, and practicing flexible thinking when solving problems. Lessons include:
● Continuing to build number sense and increase confidence with operations
● Introduction to two and three digit multiplication and division, addition and subtraction
● Two-dimensional geometry, data analysis and Venn diagrams
● Developing an understanding of fractions as numbers
The purpose of the Lower School social studies curriculum is for students to understand their place in the global community and in historical time. Starting with understanding self and family, students progress to understanding local community, city and state, country and global topics. Geography and research are integrated throughout the curriculum. An emphasis is placed on the power of the individual to impact the world in which we live.
The goal of our third grade social studies curriculum is to look at these enduring understandings:
• History is connected to geography is connected to economics is connected to culture.
• Historians interpret past events with different lenses and perspectives.
Activity revolves around a year-long study of Maryland. Using the text, A Maryland Adventure, students learn the rich history of their state and look at the geography and natural resources that help the economy continue to prosper. The girls enjoy many hands-on activities, including a trip to St. Mary’s City. They build confidence in non-fiction reading and the study skills required to prepare for assessments.
All science units in grades K-5 derive from the Next Generation Science Standards and engage girls in the areas of life science, earth and space science, physical science, and engineering design. Units are hands-on and performance-based and strive to enhance our girls’ natural curiosity. As girls explore the science content and how it connects to the natural world, they develop key learning skills – communication, collaboration, inquiry, problem-solving, resilience and flexibility.
Learning is extended to the outdoors while working in the Lower School garden or visiting the Backwoods. Our garden program teaches basic skills in growing and harvesting plants, caring for the environment, and encouraging individual wellness. During science class, the third graders study:
• Plant and animal life cycles
• Force and motion
• Electricity and magnetism
• Harvest “Three Sisters Garden” in fall
The music program uses a combination of Orff and Kodaly teaching methodologies. The Kodaly method is based primarily on singing and follows a child-developmental approach to learning basic rhythms and intervals. For example, children learn quarter notes and eighth notes first since these rhythms can be related to their walking and running paces. These rhythms are also the building blocks of most of the folk songs and games we play in class. The Orff method utilizes singing, moving, speaking and various instruments (both pitched and unpitched). The Orff instruments provide an ideal medium for texture and color exploration and provide a visual representation of pitch relationships that becomes especially useful when learning to read music. Playing in an instrumental ensemble requires focus, cooperation and an ability to hear one’s part within the whole. As children progress through the program, they begin to improvise and compose their own music and accompaniments to poems, rhymes and simple folk songs.
During the third grade, students:
• Review rhythms of eighth notes, quarter and rest
• Learn melodic elements sol and mi
• Are introduced to handbell and work with Orff instruments
• Participate in two concert performances a year
The Lower School art curriculum covers many of the skills necessary for meaningful self-expression. These skills include: use of shapes, both geometric and free form, understanding the color wheel, qualities of 2D and 3D design, as well as composition, using balance and spatial relationships. The Lower School curriculum also takes on an historical perspective that includes art units inspired by famous artists and varied cultures. Some examples of these artistic influences include Warhol, Chagall, Kahlo, Matisse, and Monet, as well as cultural inspirations from the Ancient Egyptians, Greco-Roman Bas Reliefs and mosaics, Native American artifacts, Peruvian weavings, and African tribal masks. Art movements are also incorporated into the curriculum units, such as: Pop Art self-portraits, Surrealist paintings, Impressionist landscapes, and Cubist compositions. Students in Lower School are encouraged to utilize artistic expression within a variety of media and techniques to extend their learning inside and outside the classroom. Media that are explored include everything from painting, drawing, and collage to beading, building, and sculpture. Students at RPCS can stretch their imaginations and intellects thanks to their involvement in the Visual Arts.
During the third grade year, girls are introduced to a variety of artist's mediums and forms of expression. Topics covered include Native American art and craft, self-portraits, Surrealist clay figures, and artist studies include Chagall, Lichtenstein, Matisse and Monet.
The Lower School dance program introduces emerging to developing techniques, and students evolve throughout the various levels of instruction. Using a variety of dance styles such as pre-ballet, ballet, modern, jazz, hip-hop, partner work, and choreography, the dancers mature in their overall knowledge of many styles and forms. Emphasis is placed on motor control skills, spatial and motor awareness, muscular development, core conditioning, stretching, yoga, and posture. Dance classes are specifically designed to support multiple learning styles. Dancers work together in ensembles, to engage in and connect with problem solving activities, teamwork, and leadership skills.
Third grade girls experience dance three days out of the 10 day cycle. They receive an introduction to basic ballet (pre-ballet) and learn to focus on breathing, movement, posture, spatial awareness and core conditioning. Girls practice performing as an ensemble for the winter and spring recitals.
Third-grade classes meet five days out of 10 for 50 minutes. The main emphasis of the physical education (PE) program is individual skill development and cooperative interaction. PE in the Lower School strives to provide the best opportunity for physical activity for students. The goal is to develop healthy, responsible students who have the knowledge, skills, and mindset to work together in groups, think critically, and participate in a variety of activities that lead to a sustainable healthy lifestyle. The students explore and refine basic movement patterns and are exposed to exploratory and discovery experiences involving body awareness, spatial orientation, basic body actions, eye-hand and eye-foot coordination, rhythmic movement, and an introduction to team sports such as badminton, soccer, tennis, and basketball. Yoga continues to be a part of the third grade students’ curriculum as part of a focus on overall mindfulness and well-being.
Three languages are offered in the Lower School: Chinese, French and Spanish. In K–2, students practice each language with an emphasis on oral communication reinforced through songs, games, role playing, language-based websites and a broad survey of the representative culture. In grades 3-5, students focus on one language, utilizing a variety of learning tools such as total physical response, Symtalk, poems and plays. Writing and reading skills are developed with the support of books, audio and interactive technology.
Girls choose their focus language as they enter third grade. Chinese and one Romance language are offered each year. The Romance language could be Spanish or French, depending on the student’s year of entry. Classes are taught five days out of the 10 day cycle for 50 minutes. Projects, games, and performances at our Lower School morning meetings showcase their learning.
With over 11,000 books in the Lower School library and an iPad for every student, girls are given endless access to thoughts, ideas, stories, and research that are both current and timeless. Girls in grades K-5 receive weekly instruction in using the library for research and literature appreciation. Library classes provide exposure to many kinds of literature genres and monthly book clubs provide enrichment opportunities for young readers.
RPCS believes that technology can foster and ignite some of the most creative ideas. With our 1:1 iPad program and a dedicated Innovation Lab, we provide students with endless ways to be curious and creative. Our technology program provides tools that are completely integrated into our classrooms and supports learning across all content areas. This integration provides students with purposeful access to research tools, digital libraries, content specific apps, and creative tools. Our Innovation Lab provides a dedicated makerspace filled with state of the art 3D printers, building tools, green screens, and materials for students to design and develop their ideas. The Lower School has a dedicated technology integrationist to help provide instruction and support for students, as well as, learning opportunities and technology integration planning for our faculty.
At each grade level of the Lower School, girls’ social and emotional intelligence is intentionally developed. This attention to the whole child is woven into every activity, not just a once-a-week course. Through the use of Responsive Classroom and The Toolbox Project curricula, girls in grades K-5 learn how to recognize the traits in themselves and others that lead to healthy relationships and a sense of personal well-being. Toolbox lessons are taught by the Lower School counselor to give the girls access to the 12 tools within themselves that build self-regulation skills. The Responsive Classroom approach fosters respect and empathy. In addition, daily morning meeting time is used to build an understanding of unique qualities of culture, race, and circumstance that enriches our community. Our girls leave Lower School with a moral compass, prepared to see the good in others and appreciate the good within themselves.
• Third grade girls are introduced to the 12 Toolbox tools: breathing, quiet/safe place, listening, empathy, personal space, using our words, garbage can, taking time, please and thank you, apology and forgiveness, patience, and courage.
• Through Responsive Classroom, the girls develop classroom expectations and practice being a good citizen. They learn to express themselves and solve conflict through listening and conversation. Morning meeting time builds community and empathy for each other. During the third grade year, morning meetings often include mentorship and role playing by students in Middle and Upper School to help the girls build more comprehensive social skills.
• Lunch as a classroom is a time for the girls to explore the ideas of healthy eating, make colorful choices on their plate, hold respectful conversations, and use quiet time to listen to stories of individuals that made a difference in the world.
The grade three experience is highlighted by a number of special events, including:
• Hundred Dresses project and presentation
• Irvine Nature Center trip for Native American studies
• Trip to the Baltimore Museum of Art
• St. Mary’s City trip for Maryland History studies
• Impactful Marylander report and Wax Museum