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Effective Strategies & Practices for Third Grade Students

by Jennifer Cutler

Third grade is a major transitional year in elementary school. In the earlier grades, students are learning how to read and write, basic arithmetic and what school is all about. Third grade begins a shift to more academic subjects and students are expected to read for information. Higher-level math -- including multiplication, division, fractions, rounding and probability -- is also introduced. Third grade is also the first year of statewide standardized testing. There may be a learning curve for students to adjust to the higher expectations of third grade. Developing good skills and habits is necessary in order to ensure success and preparation for later school years.

Read

Students should read a wide variety of print material and begin reading chapter books. Lengthier books will build comprehension and retention as students are asked to remember characters and plot for a longer period of time. The length and depth of the material and the reading level can be increased as the student grows. Branching out from simple picture books should be encouraged at this grade. Encouraging students to try a diverse range of genres is also helpful and provides greater preparation for later class requirements.

Find the Answer

Students will be asked comprehension questions of greater depth throughout the year. A common mistake students make is to rush and write answers off the top of their head, or, in the case of multiple choice questions, to just pick one that sounds acceptable to them. A very helpful strategy is for students to go back into the text to search for answers to comprehension questions. Asking third-graders to "prove" their answers builds their test-taking skills and helps them catch their own mistakes. They will enjoy greater academic success as a result of utilizing this skill.

Outlining

Students are expected to write longer, more focused works within specific guidelines. A common mistake made at this age is to produce stream of consciousness-type writing without organization or direction. This often results in run-on sentences and work that does not flow well. Teaching third-graders to take the time to outline and plan their writing will lead to more focused and skilled creations. Learning this skill early will prepare them to write well throughout their academic career.

Memorizing Math Facts

Although it is expected that students enter third grade ready to learn their multiplication and division facts, many are not yet proficient in addition and subtraction. Taking the extra time to drill and memorize math facts for all four operations will significantly aid success in math. These foundations are critical to success in later math courses as well, and students who do not master these skills will make computing errors and other mistakes that could easily be avoided if basic facts were automatic.

About the Author

Jennifer Cutler is a licensed educator in Virginia and has experience in both private and public schools. She has a Masters degree in Multicultural Education from Eastern University and a Bachelor of Arts in elementary education with concentrations in early childhood, teaching English as a second language and anthropology.

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