December 5, 2017
Dear Families,
Thank you for your help in getting your third grader's Plimoth project safely to school today. Each project is unique, and every student clearly worked so hard. Thank you for all of your efforts to support your child!

Because students have worked so hard in the past few days to finish these projects - and since I'm just returning from two days of absence due to illness and assessing what students were able to accomplish - I would like students to read for 30 minutes tonight and 30 minutes tomorrow night. This will likely help with the addition of the special evening concert tomorrow!

Students can "spend" their 30 minutes of reading either: *reading independently, *having an adult read to them, or *reading independently for half the time and being read to for half the time.

Thanks so much!Sincerely,Kristin Murphy

November 27, 2017

Dear Families,
I hope you enjoyed the break, and found some time to be with family and friends. I am thankful for the many ways you've supported both your third grader and me throughout the fall. I so appreciate the many volunteers who have donated their time and expertise, and I want to thank you for your wonderful messages of support throughout the fall and during our conference season. I look forward to a productive and healthy December!

This week, students will be putting the finishing touches on their wetu or Pilgrim house projects. I will send home the grading page which I will use to score each student's projects when they come in (next Tuesday, December 5). I very much would like students to review this rubric and to make sure that they have all of the "parts" of their project finished this week. In addition, students this week should write their paragraph about their Pilgrim house or wetu. I'll be sending more specific information regarding the paragraph tomorrow. If you have any questions regarding this (or any) part of the homework, please feel free to contact me for more information. In addition, this week, I'll be sending two short homework assignments, as students have likely finished a good deal of the work on their building projects. Thanks so much for your support as your third grader finished his or her project!

Students in November have completed many science lessons! After our exciting science "kick off" on October 30, students have again enjoyed five science lessons. In these lessons, students explored the properties of water of different temperatures. They made a homemade colored water thermometer and used it to measure the relative temperature of water samples. They learned that water expands when heated and contracts when cooled. The learned that, just like a material that floats in water is less dense than the water, hot water added to a cup of room-temperature water rises to the top of the cup. Similarly, they experimented to find that, just like a material that sinks when put into water is more dense than the water, cold ice water added to a cup of room-temperature water sinks to the bottom of the cup. Students experimented with ice to find that ice cubes were less dense than room-temperature water. Students also prepared two vials with lids and a scientific syringe (no needle!) with a specific amount of water and we froze these containers overnight. The following day, students were surprised to find that the vials had "popped their lids" and the syringe's measurement of solid water was greater than the amount of water they had used. The most surprising part of this lesson though, was when we compared a beaker of what had been 80mL of water that I had frozen overnight (which was in excess of 100 mL of ice with a new beaker of water which matched the level of the ice. Students predicted that the mass of the ice as measured on our balance would be greater than the mass of the new water in the beaker. They were astonished when both the beakers were put on the balance and the water was heavier! The conversation which ensued was rich with discussion about how ice is less dense, the amount of water that was frozen was less than the new beaker's water (since the water in the first beaker had only been 80 mL and had expanded when frozen), and therefore, the water in the new beaker was really more, and therefore heavier, than the ice beaker. I have been impressed with students' cooperation in these lessons, their discussion, and their enthusiasm!
Our next lessons will focus on air and water, as they are related to weather.

Our work in math has included learning about some of the properties of multiplication, including the commutative, associative, and distributive properties. This week, we will continue to work to solidify students' understanding of these properties, and also name two other properties about which our class has already talked informally: the zero property of multiplication and the identity property of multiplication. In addition to this work, students will use the multiples packets they have completed to find some general patterns about multiplication, including generalizing a rule about multiplying odd factors, even factors, or an odd and an even factor.

This week, students will complete their final Opinion Essay project; this time, students will read a short passage about Wampanoag and Pilgrim children, and then they will write an essay to tell whether they would prefer to be a Pilgrim child or a Wampanoag child. Our reading work also centers around Social Studies and Science. Students will finish reading, discussing, and answering questions about Sarah Morton's Day, a work of historical fiction. In addition, students will read some short text to further supplement the lessons they have learned about water.

Enjoy the week!
Kristin Miurphy

Oct. 30, 2017

Dear Families,

Students enjoyed many special events last week. On Tuesday, we had the fun of visiting the Book Fair. On Thursday, students met their Kindergarten Buddies and read their buddies the books third graders had practiced. I was impressed with both their reading, and their friendliness as they met their new friends.

Students are working on their next opinion essay during Writing lessons. We have had good and spirited conversations about whether or not students would like to be children passengers on the Mayflower, and we have learned about how to find evidence in a text to support our opinions. I look forward to reading their compelling reasons as they finish their essays.

Our work in Reading has focused on reading for meaning. Students are working to listen to their inner voice as they read, and - if they don’t understand what they are reading, to “get a running start” by rereading. Students also have learned to stop and consider new words. We are reading Sarah Morton’s Day by Kate Waters, which includes a glossary in the back of this book about a real girl who lived at Plimoth Plantation. Students chose four words or phrases to learn, shared their choices with a partner, and then with the class. In this way, students previewed this new “colonial” vocabulary before we read the first half of the story together as a class. Students have learned to ask for the meaning of a new word they encounter in text, or to find its meaning from context. We’ll continue to practice these strategies next week.

In Math, students enjoyed another “rotation” of Math Stations. They played a special “Math Array War,” which asked students to match cards to find which student had the highest product, after stating the whole equation associated with the card. That student took both of the cards and then students played the next card. As with the “regular” War card game, occasionally they found that both math facts had the same product, and they both “risked” three cards before turning over their fourth card to compare. In another station, students have begun to chart multiples of 2, 3, 4 and higher on a hundreds chart. They have found that each set of multiples forms a pattern; sometimes they are arranged in columns, sometimes in a diagonal, and sometimes in a more interesting pattern. We will continue this work next week. Last, students have been working to write multiplication stories based on real-life objects. For example, students might choose to write about six cars, each with four wheels, and ask the “solver” of their problem to find the total number of wheels on all of the cars. They have provided an answer key for their problems.

Team 1 is looking forward to our trip to Plimoth Plantation next week on Friday, November 9! If you volunteered to chaperone the trip, please consider yourself "hired!" We take all interested adults; please make sure you have stopped by the office before Friday to be CORIed, so you may join us. Parents will meet us at Plimoth Plantation; we’ll send home a chaperone guide with more details in the next few days. Students will return to school before the buses pull in at dismissal.

The homework schedule this week will be a bit different, due to our special Science Day today which begins our Water and Weather Unit, and, because I know many families will be enjoying seasonal fun tomorrow night. Please note that there is no written homework tonight nor tomorrow; instead, please encourage your child to read independently or read together with your child for 30 minutes. I sent home an index card today so students may collect your signature to “certify” that they have read. We will have regular homework on Wednesday, and Thursday.

Enjoy the week!

Kristin Murphy

Oct. 23, 2017

Dear Families,

*Special Note: Our class' Book Fair time was accidentally left off the list that came home to parents. Our time is Wednesday, Oct. 25 from 10:30-11:00.

Team 1 enjoyed a fun-filled Pajamas and Stuffed Animal Day on Friday, Oct. 13! I have attached pictures of some of our hard working “students” from the day. :) Students who completed the extra credit math project also enjoyed a “math lunch” on Friday, Oct. 20th in the classroom, where we talked about the problem and about math in general!

This week and last week, students worked on many projects.

In Writing, we continue to work on opinion essays. This past week, students began to "score" essays, using a scale, as a way of making sure that the important elements of an opinion essay were represented in each sample. We are revising our writing to include every part, as well as focusing on rich vocabulary (“silver-dollar” words) and sentence variety. I’m excited to see the first final copies finished, and I look forward to helping everyone finish their first essay this week. In addition, students read the book The Mayflower by Mark Greenwood, and began to look in the text for ideas to help them answer this question: Would you like to be a child sailing on the Mayflower? I look forward to their responses!

In Reading, we are rehearsing our Reader's Theater play; we'll record it this week. We are also eagerly anticipating our first “Kindergarten Buddy” reading visit. Thanks to every family for your assistance in helping your children get additional “out-loud” reading practice at home. Thanks also to families for helping students with their “Making 10” Reading Menu. Many students expressed their excitement about going to the Wayland Library and getting the children’s librarian, Pam McCue, to sign their menu!

This week, we also began work in our more formal spelling groups. Students are working to identify patterns in words in order to “sort” words into related groups. I enjoyed hearing about the many different ways students had sorted the same set of words. We have been practicing these words daily in different ways.

During our Math work in the past few weeks, students learned a simple five-step problem-solving process: Understand the problem by picturing it in your mind while reading and writing an answer statement; Star the "star" of the problem and find out what he or she is doing; Chunk the problem by finding important information and draw a bar model or other picture; Compute; and Check your work. Students have practiced solving one-step addition and subtraction problems and this week worked on solving two-step problems. In addition, we took our Place Value assessment and began our Multiplication Unit.

During Social Studies lessons, we have been learning more about the Pilgrims and the Wampanoag nation they encountered when they came to the New World. Our first field trip will be a trip to Plimoth Plantation on Thursday, November 9. On this field trip, we typically invite all interested parents as chaperones. Because of tight space on the bus, we request that parents caravan with us in cars (carpooling is an option). If you are interested in chaperoning, please take care of any CORI preparations with the main office this week. Thanks so much!

Special Requests:

*Please could you help your third grader to get his or her homework back into the homework folder and into the backpack which travels to school? Many students this past week have told me that they did their work, but left it at home. I’ll contact parents directly if your child has not turned in homework twice or more during the week, but it would be so helpful if you could help the homework leap into bags, after students work to finish it. Thanks so much!

*Please return your child's permission slip and fee early this week. I've returned a few checks which had amounts other than the student fee ($25) or the student-plus-chaperone fee ($46). Thanks so much for returning a check with these amounts!

And, as always, thanks so much for all you do for your third grader!


Kristin Murphy

Oct. 10, 2017

Dear Families,
I hope you enjoyed a long and refreshing weekend! Team 1 has been working diligently on many projects! One project our whole class has worked on together is to respect people’s right to answer without other students interjecting during the time another student is answering a question. We’ve also improved our attention during class discussions. To that end, we are almost ready to celebrate our success - with a pajama and stuffed animal day! More details to come, as soon as we meet our goal!

I want to devote this week’s newsletter to talking about some research about reading. Coming home with your child today (on green paper) is s short graph which details the importance and the benefit of reading for just twenty minutes per day. Research suggests that the more reading a child does each day, the better skill they develop when reading. Children who read only 5 minutes per day score at about the 50th percentile, while children who read just 20 minutes per day score at the 90th percentile. Being read to, as well as reading oneself, also brings these benefits. Any sports team would agree that the more time the team devotes to practicing a skill, the more likely they are to be able to use that skill in a game. So, it is no surprise that this effect (called in the research “The Matthew Effect”) holds true for reading skills. Thanks so much for your help in finding just 20 minutes a day for reading time.

Other reading research has found that the more libraries from which a child borrows books, the better their reading skill. So, a child choosing from a classroom library, a school library, and a public library branch will likely be a better reader than a child who only chooses from one (or none). Because I would love my students to continue to progress as readers, I ask you to please help your child to bring back his/her school library books from home each Friday. I arrive at the class’ Library class ten minutes before it is done to advertise some special “book picks” which I “sell” to interested students. My goal is for each child to take out three books per week from their school library. I would also LOVE each child to take out books from the public library just twice per month. I know how tight schedules are - having two active and busy children of my own - but I would love your help in getting school library books in the bag on Fridays and having students visit the public library twice per month (or more). Thanks so much for your partnership!

This week, students will pick a picture book to practice reading for his/her “Kindergarten buddy.” Our third graders seem thrilled at the prospect of being the “big buddy” for the first time. This week, students will practice reading their chosen book OUT LOUD for at least 15 minutes. Thanks so much for finding just a few moments to listen to your child read.

Enjoy the week!
Kristin Murphy

Oct. 2, 2017
Dear Families,
Students have been working hard on many projects. I am sure we will appreciate the more seasonal temperatures this week! Please let me know by tomorrow (Tuesday, 10/3) if you would NOT like me to share your email with our room parent, Ms. Spilman. Thanks so much!

In Writing, we continue to work on opinion essays. Students this week will begin to write Massachusetts Travel Guide entries, weighing in on their pick for the best place to visit in Massachusetts. Also students will begin to "score" essays, using a scale, as a way of making sure that the important elements of an opinion essay which they have learned about in previous lessons are represented in each sample. I’ll be excited to see the first final copies finished, and look forward to helping everyone finish their first essay this in the coming week or two.
In Reading this week, we will rehearsing our Reader's Theater play, and we'll record it this week. We will choose books to practice reading aloud to our Kindergarten buddies, and begin to practice at school - reading it alone and then aloud to sticker partners. We will also been working in small spelling groups.
In our Math work this past week, students reviewed the strategies they learned for addition, learned and practiced the “trade first” (U.S. historically-taught) algorithm for addition, and learned and practiced the number line strategy for solving subtraction problems. In addition to some more addition and subtraction work, students this week will learn a simple five-step problem-solving process: Understand the problem by picturing it in your mind while reading and writing an answer statement; Star the "star" of the problem and find out what he or she is doing; “Chunk” the problem by finding important information and draw a bar model or other picture; Compute; and Check your work. Students will practice solving one-step addition and subtraction problems.
This week, we’ll also have the fun of beginning our first Science unit in earnest! Students will begin a “I Know…, I “Think I Know…”, I Want to Know chart to prepare them before they begin lessons.
Thanks so much for all you do for your third grader!
Kristin Murphy

Sept. 25, 2017

Dear Families,
Students have been working on many projects this past week! We began our first social studies unit - learning about the Pilgrims' journey to the New World, the native nations they met, with a focus on the Wampanoag, and the relationship between the two groups. We read the book Three Young Pilgrims, which chronicles one family's experience as they sailed on the Mayflower and began their life in the New World. This week, we will continue reading together and discussing some picture books to help students get an idea about what it would be like to travel on the Mayflower and try to begin a life as winter in Massachusetts began. We will also begin to learn about the Wampanoag, their lives in the New World before and after the Pilgrims' arrival, and how the two groups related to one another. This week's homework will help students to extend their learning and prepare for our next Social Studies lessons. Thank you for helping your third grader make a half an hour available in order to complete the homework and get it back to the backpack!

In Reading, we have been learning about how building reading stamina makes us better readers (and therefore makes us happier to read!). We practiced collecting our books to read, settling into our places, and reading without distraction or interruption. Students suggested ways that we could avoid distracting themselves or others around them, building a list of strategies. We then - read! We collected data on five of the days, and learned about line graphs in the process, which best measure how data changes over time. On the first day, everyone in the class read for a little more than 16 minutes before some students were distracted or interrupted. The second day, we faltered and read for 7 minutes before someone was distracted. The third day, we reached 18 minutes, after a discussion about how to rebound. The next day, students read for 13 minutes without distraction. The last day, we read in excess of 30 minutes, which makes quite a spike on our line graph! Bravo, Team 1!
In our “Reader’s Theater,” we read and enjoyed Maya Angelou’s poem “Life Doesn’t Frighten Me.” This week, we will begin to work to improve our fluency by practicing our first "reader's theater" play, which is a folktale called "The Calabash Kids." Students will practice their parts beginning this week, and we may soon be ready to record our play - complete with student sound effects.

Students have been learning about how to write a strong opinion essay during Writing periods this week. They used what they learned as last week our class wrote a class essay on which kind of ant was the hardest-working ant. This week, students will write notes (in short "cave man" form) to help them write their first draft of an opinion essay to answer the question, "Which is the Best Place to Visit in Massachusetts?” We aim to publish our final essays in a Class "Travel Guide!" Students also had a moment last week to read the letter I wrote back to them and then to write back to me in their "Write Back" book.

Our math work this past week has been focused on place value, on writing numbers in standard, word, and expanded form, and on rounding to the nearest ten and hundred. This week we will review the "partial sums" algorithm for addition of three-digit numbers, and learn the US historically-taught algorithm (we call it the "trading" or "regrouping" method, but if you went to school in the United States, you likely called this algorithm "carrying," as did I, when I was in third grade.) I like to make a game out of the trading (which also cements the trading imagery in students' minds) by having volunteers race up to the front document camera, grab ones or tens and race back to the "bank of Murphy" to exchange ten ones for one ten, or ten tens for one hundred. We are sure to make a fair amount of noise cheering on the runners!

Thanks for all you do for your third graders! Please take a moment and read my fourth "Reading Secrets Revealed" page (listed in the email I sent, or listed at the left on my website. Enjoy the week.

Kristin Murphy