Third grade teachers are working to ensure that their students continue to gain confidence in their reading, writing and speaking skills. Students are able to make choices from a wide variety of texts appropriate to their reading level. They can choose from poetry, fiction, nonfiction, drama and information from sources other than books such as magazines or online. Students have mastered the basics of reading and are refining their skills to improve their silent reading, research skills, writing technique and oral presentations. They are also able to read and comprehend written instructions.
Students work on their word recognition and on increasing their vocabularies. Reading at this level requires the student to recognize and use complex word families to discover the meaning of unfamiliar multisyllabic words. They also are expected to use the surrounding words and sentences to decipher meanings of unknown words. They learn the meanings of common prefixes and suffixes to help them deconstruct and understand new words. Students are expected to use dictionaries to improve their vocabularies and spelling skills.
Reading comprehension can be improved upon by the use of informational texts. Students are taught to ask questions, use glossaries, tables of content and chapter headings and title information in expository texts to locate information. Students are expected to support their answers with knowledge they can prove by using the text itself. In third grade, students should be able to remember main events and predict future events in the text. They should differentiate between the main idea and secondary supports and be able to pull important facts from the text to prove their answers.
Teachers expect the students to understand characters by their actions and words and how the author describes them. They should recognize and understand the universal themes present in literature and how they relate to contemporary issues. Third graders should be able to categorize literature by its forms, knowing that drama is written as mostly dialogue with stage direction, poetry has unique or sometimes no structure and prose can be fiction or factual. They are expected to know the plots and literary devices of classic fairy and folktales and should be able to compare myths from various cultures to find the differences and similarities.
Students learn more about the words themselves and how they can be used to evoke deeper meaning by their arrangement or usage. New writing techniques are introduced and students learn how authors use word patterns and imagery to add interest to their writing.
In writing, students focus on writing paragraphs with a topic sentence and supporting sentences. Students are introduced to cursive writing and learn the structure of spacing and margins. Third graders learn more about libraries and reference materials and how to use them. The students learn the rules of writing narrative and start to include more facts and information to drive the plot and show why the specific subject matter was chosen. Students are encouraged to provide details that cause readers to experience the narrative through their senses. Conventions of writing personal business letters and forms are introduced with the student expected to be able to write invitations, thank you notes, personal letters and business correspondence.
The elements of grammar that are so important in speaking are just as important in writing, if not more so. Third graders are taught to keep their subjects and verbs in agreement, keep verb tenses consistent throughout the piece and use subjects and verbs correctly. More punctuation rules are introduced, as are more rules of capitalization. Students are expected to recognize common homophones and know which one to use. Vocabulary lists contain more words that are contractions or have irregular endings when pluralized or orthographic patterns.
In the third grade classroom, students are encouraged to listen to a speaker and be able to ask questions that show they have comprehended what has been said. They should be able to identify individual phrasings used by the speaker and be able to paraphrase and tell the story in their own words.