Parent Handbook 2013 - 2014

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Welcome to Third Grade


Welcome to third grade at Catlin Gabel School. To help you understand your child’s classroom and program, we have put together this packet for your information. Hopefully, it will be a useful reference, letting you know all about the year ahead for your child. Don’t hesitate to ask questions about any of the information. 





A vital part of a successful school year is open and consistent communication between home and school. For our part, we will try to keep you informed of class news with regular email notes and a weekly emailed newsletter. Let us know if you are not getting regular email from us and from our PFA representatives.


In September, you will have had the opportunity to tell us about your child and ask questions during the short “Get To Know You” conference. Your child’s progress will be formally discussed with you twice a year with conference notes made available to you during the November conferences. The students will participate and lead the conferences in March. An end of the year narrative report will document your child’s progress.


Besides formal conference times, we are available to discuss aspects of your child’s learning throughout the year by way of e-mails, meetings or phone calls. You can reach us at school between 8:00 a.m. and 4 p.m.  Along with personal contact, e-mail is the best way to reach us.  Our email addresses are and You may also leave a message with Julie at: 503-203-5102


We have a third grade website that includes this handbook and our schedule.  You can reach the site by going to; click on Lower School, then click on classroom pages, then Third Grade Homeroom.


Parent Involvement


Taking an active role in your child’s education is an important part of the home/school relationship. In third grade there are a variety of ways you can get involved. We will have opportunities for parents to sign up for visiting and helping out in the classroom and also for helping with field trips and special projects. Our P.F.A. representativeswill be coordinating all of our volunteer needs and contacting parents for specific tasks and events. You are also encouraged to contact us regarding special interests you can share with the class.



Class Events


Birthdays:  We celebrate childrens’ birthdays on their birthdays (or as close as possible) with a little birthday recognition. Each student will receive a special birthday stone and pencil to mark the day, and during the month of their birthday they are asked to share with “Me in a Bag.” The student will bring 4-6 items (not valuable ones please) in a grocery bag to share with his/her class. Photos or artifacts that help tell the story of your child’s identity are welcome. 


Parties: Our P.F.A. volunteers will ask for parents to take leadership and volunteers to guide and organize parties. They will also send home notes regarding the details of the parties.




Third Grade Curriculum


Language Arts


Language Arts is made up of reading, writing, listening and speaking. Developing interests and skills in these areas is at the core of the class curriculum. Instruction and practice of skills are initiated then applied and honed through creative reading and writing activities.


Reading: Expanding on newly acquired reading skills is a primary objective in third grade. Emphasis is placed on selecting appropriate books, using efficient decoding strategies, fluency, comprehension, vocabulary, developing skills for discussing books and most importantly, developing life long reading interests. Our multi-faceted program includes read alouds, guided reading sessions, reading activities, content reading for research and independent reading. 


Writing: In third grade, we use the writing process of plan, write a rough draft, revise, edit, create a final draft, publish and share. A variety of writing techniques are taught through the use of writing for different purposes and audiences.


Spelling and Grammar: We build upon the spelling program used in second grade. Students will engage in spelling and grammar exercises and practice to help build understanding of how words work. Emphasis is on spelling patterns and working towards conventional spelling in everyday writing.


Handwriting: Third graders will be introduced to cursive italic handwriting through the use of Getty & Dubay’s Italic Handwriting Series. Weekly practice will be carried out in class throughout the year.

Social Studies


Our central thematic focus is a study of water using our local region as well as water around the world. We will concentrate on water as a source of life, Oregon geography through the lens of waterways, and the importance of water in the history of Oregon. The study will integrate social studies concepts with language arts, science, math and creative arts. Children engage in a number of research and creative projects and read appropriate historical fiction selections.


In addition to water, we are expanding on the brain strengths work done in 2nd grade, striving to help the 3rd graders understand their brains better and use that information to be successful in school.


We use the Inquiry Process to help students use their curiosity and sense of wonder and questioning and develop skills for uncovering answers to their questions. Here is a broad outline of the process:



  • observe deeply
  • notice
  • preview
  • invite curiosity
  • roaming the known
  • build background



  • develop questions
  • identify problems
  • make conjectures



  • make a plan
  • search for information
  • Research


Put It Together

  • coalesce information
  • synthesize
  • analyze
  • determine solutions



  • share learning
  • demonstrate understanding
  • take action



  • New Questions
  • What do you know now?
  • How have you changed?



Outline of Social Studies Topics


Learning About the Attention, Memory & Identity


  • Brain phyisiology: How we store memories
  • Strategies for thriving as a community and an individual in school


From Reservoir to Tap and Drain to Ocean.


  • Bull Run Reservoir
  • Portland’s water system
  • Water conservation 


Water & People


  • Water as a resource
  • How rivers effect community
  • How community effects rivers
  • Global examples of water access and environmental factors
  • United Nation’s Children’s Rights


Rivers to the Sea: Oregon Geography 


  • Watersheds and Rivers of Oregon
  • Maps & Globes
  • Geographic terms
  • Regions of Oregon


Oregon Coast


  • Tide Pools and their inhabitants
  • Ocean habitats
  • Waves/Tides
  • Ocean Food Web





In third grade children use the mathematics curriculum Investigations along with other matehmatical resources. This program is used in Grades 1-5. The program is divided into a number of units that engage students in the exploration of mathematical ideas. 


    * Spending time exploring problems in depth

    * Finding more than one solution to many problems

    * Developing their own strategies and approaches, based on their knowledge and           understanding of mathematical relationships

    * Choosing from a variety of concrete materials and appropriate technology, including calculators, as a natural part of their everyday mathematical work

    * Expressing their mathematical thinking through drawing, writing, and talking

    * Recognize and use number patterns, relationships and logical thinking skills to make predictions to solve, and to check problems

    * Recognize patterns and relationships 


Each grade level is organized into units that involve students in the exploration of major mathematical ideas, and may revolve around two or three related areas-for example, addition and subtraction or geometry and fractions. 


Math in third grade is a balance between developing in-depth understanding of strategies with basic skills and fluency of facts. Students are asked to communicate and record their thinking. Our goal is for students to develop an appreciation and a love for math that will last a lifetime. Developmental understandings


Math Skill areas


• Place Value • Fractions

• Number operations • Problem solving

• Addition • Algebraic thinking

• Subtraction • Patterns

• Multiplication • Estimation

• Intro to Division • Geometry

• Graphing • Measurement


Supplemental Program: First Steps in Mathematics, 

Department of Education & Training of Western Australia, 2007





In Third Grade we begin the process of guiding the students towards becoming responsible digital citizens by teaching them how to use technology appropriately, efficiently, effectively, respectfully and kindly. We begin teaching keyboarding. Through lessons by classroom teachers, children will learn correct finger placement and are expected and encouraged to use what they learn throughout the year. We will use the online program Typing Pal. Other technology skills including publishing and multi-media programs will be introduced using iPads and laptops.



Third Grade Responsibilities


Upon entering third grade more responsibilities are assumed by the children. They will be asked to take care of all their own supplies, clothing and lunch ordering. They are asked to take home notes and return papers from home. Weekly homework packets need to be taken home on Wednesday and completed and returned by the following Wednesday morning. You can help keep your child organized by establishing routines like emptying the backpack upon arriving home, putting homework folder in a safe place and providing a comfortable study space free of distractions.





The purpose of homework in third grade is to connect what’s going on in school with home and to review and practice skills and concepts we’re working on in school. Third grade is a time for students to take on more responsibility for bringing home their homework, taking care to complete it well, and returning it on time. 


Homework is given out as a packet each Wednesday. It will focus primarily on reading and math facts. We want all third graders to read at least 30 minutes each day. Reading in the car on the way to and from school can be a great way to get this done. Math facts, using the Fastt Math program, should not take any longer than 15 minutes a session. Establishing a consistent homework routine will greatly help your child develop conscientious study habits. Homework should be able to be completed Wednesday, Thursday, Monday and Tuesday nights. If it works better for your family to complete some over the weekend, that is up to you.



Third Grade Special Events


Oct. 1, 2013 - Fall Celebration of Learning - Celebrate the 3rd Graders’ early work on identity and join us for a whole class birthday celebration!


Oct. 31, 2013 - Kruger Farm and Halloween party 2:00 - 3:00


Feb. 12, 2014 - Valentine’s Party 2:00 - 3:00


Spring Lunchtime Concerts - TBA


May 29, 2014 - Spring Celebration of Learning 6:00 - 8:00


June 6, 2014 - Egg Drop 1:00 p.m.

Third Grade Field Trips


Willamette River Jet Boats Tour - Leave campus at 9:00 a.m. Back on campus at 11:30 a.m.


Dirksen Nature Park, Tigard - Field work with Tualatin River Keepers. Leave campus at 8:30 a.m. Back on campus at 1:30 p.m.


Bull Run Reservoir Field Trip - Leave campus at 8:30 a.m. Back on campus at 3:30 p.m. (Notice we will be back late!)


Rock Creek Waste Water Treatment Facility Tour (Herb's Side) - Leave campus at 9:30 a.m. Back on campus at 11:30 a.m. (Chaperones welcome!)


Rock Creek Waste Water Treatment Facility Tour (Marcelle's Side) - Leave campus at 9:30 a.m. Back on campus at 11:30 a.m. (Chaperones welcome!)


Eagle Creek Field Trip - Leave campus at 8:45 a.m. Back on campus at 2:30 p.m. (Chaperones welcome!)


Kruger's Farm - Leave campus 9:45 a.m. Back on campus at 1:00 p.m.


Bonneville Dam Field Trip - Leave campus at 8:45 a.m. Back on campus by 2:00 p.m. (Chaperones welcome!)


Overnight Field Trip to the Oregon Coast - Leaving Wednesday morning returning approximately 4:00 p.m. on Friday.