Third Grade

Welcome to Third Grade!


Dear families,

Last week was another short but exciting week in third grade.  Many thanks to Irena’s mom for donating plants and helping us plant them on Tuesday.  It was the perfect way to end the day!

Last week, we moved forward with both cursive and our word study program, Words Their Way.  There was some confusion about “spelling words” this year.  To clarify, it is a little different than second grade.  Children were assessed and placed in a Words Their Way book that meets their level.  The books address phonics, spelling, and vocabulary, so the program is much more than a spelling list and not something that they need to just memorize for a test!  (It’s about showing understanding and application throughout an allotted time period.)  During Word Work time in class, children sort the words, read them to a partner, and articulate why they sorted the way they did (which is the spelling “rule” for that sort).  Then the children work on an activity with the words in their Word Work notebook.  Some evenings we will assign Word Work homework where they are supposed to sort the words, read them aloud, say why they sorted the way they did, and complete an activity with the words — such as extending the pattern, drawing and labeling, or writing them in sentences.  There is an assessment and if the child masters the sort they will move on to the next one, but because there is so much work with the words in class and at home it is not the sort of list you should need to quiz your child on at home before a spelling test per say.

In Mindfulness, we read a wonderful picture book, entitled Mindful Monkey, Happy Panda by Lauren Alderfer, in which a wise panda teaches a monkey how to be mindful by thinking about whatever he is doing in the moment.  This led to interesting conversations about how easy it is to get distracted or worry about what you are going to do next instead of paying attention to where you are and what is happening right now.

We also continued to progress through our Personal Narrative unit in Writing Workshop.  Last week the students learned about editing their writing as they go.  They focused on finding words they almost spell correctly when they write or that they can spell correctly if they really concentrate.  They also practiced capitalizing and using punctuation correctly as they write instead of trying to rely on catching mistakes during the editing process.  We finished the week by having each student select a “seed” idea, one of their stories that grabs their attention, which can be rewritten and “grow” into a published piece.

In Math, we continued working on strategies to help us with mental addition and estimation.  We reviewed rounding to the nearest hundred or thousand, and we learned about “front-end estimation” so that we can get a very rough and quick estimate by just looking at the leading digit.

We ended the week by electing two student council representatives for the third grade!  Everyone who ran may take part on the service committee for the student council, and will be called on to help the student council with big projects this year.  Congratulations to all candidates for doing an impressive job with public speaking.  We were very proud.

Additional school news:

  • Today is the final day to complete the sign-up form and send it to Mehul Mankad if your child wants to participate in the TDS Talent Show will be on Friday, October 6th at 1:30pm.  All parents are welcome to attend.  If your child wants to show off a special talent — piano, singing, dancing, comedy  — you name it, and we’d love to have them!
  • Lower School Spanish has its own website, accessible by clicking here or by visiting the classroom pages part of the TDS website.

  • The first TDS Dine-Out of the year will be on Tuesday, October 10th at Smashburger.  The restaurant is located at 2608 Erwin Road in Durham, and is open from 10am to 10pm.  We hope to see you there!

If you have any questions, please do not hesitate to email us at or

Dr. Howell and Ms. Morgan