Category Archives: Math

Thanksgiving week.

It’s been a busy Thanksgiving-themed week!  Our class has been having conversations about all of the things we are grateful for.  We filled out feathers to add to the school turkey and we wore tags displaying our gratitude.


In math we have been working in groups to solve our turkey problems.  It has proved to be fun and engaging.  Check out our hard work below!


Suggested Interview Questions” for the Molly’s Pilgrim Project are due Monday, December 5th.  Students should interview their “pilgrim” (or relative/friend of a pilgrim) and record their answers on a separate piece of paper.

What is your full name? Are you a pilgrim? If not, who is the pilgrim you will tell me about?

What country and city did you come from?

Was it a difficult decision to come to America?

Tell me about your life in your home country, such as friends and things you did in your spare time.

What city and state did you arrive in (U.S.)?

What year did you leave your country to come to the United States?

Tell me about the journey from your country. Did you come on a boat, plane, or car to the U.S.? How long did it take? Explain in detail.

How old were you when you came to the U.S.?

Why did you leave your country?

Did you come to the U.S. with anyone else? If so, who?

Tell me about your family.

What was your job in your first country? What was your job in the U.S.?

When you came to the U.S. what did you do first?

What do you miss about your home town?

What do you love about the U.S.?

Do you ever travel back to your old country? Why or why not?

Are you happy with your decision to come to the U.S.?

If the person is no longer alive, when did they die?

*Feel free to write your own questions!


I hope everyone has an enjoyable and safe Thanksgiving with family and friends.


Math homework.

Students need to be able to add and subtract three digit numbers using different strategies from class.  Homework will continue to practice these strategies for adding and subtracting numbers.  Here is an example of what I expect to see for student work on the homework assignments.  math-homework-example

CUBES strategy.


This week the students have learned a new strategy to assist them when solving math word problems.  The CUBES strategy should be especially helpful on the upcoming math MCAS test.  Here are some examples of how the CUBES strategy can be used to solve math word problems:

cubes student workcubes open response

Please encourage your child to use the CUBES strategy on any math homework involving word problems.



Gratitude week and curriculum.

gratitude week turkey

Students at the Kennedy School have completed a week of “Gratitude” activities.  Students shared the things they are grateful for in classroom discussions, on a turkey in the cafe, and on a sticker that they wore for an entire school day.  Many students also participated in a canned food drive and they met with their fifth grade buddies to write a letter to someone they are grateful to have in their lives.

In mathematics, the children have been practicing their multiplication facts on daily timed tests.  Some students are still trying to beat the two facts, while others have moved onto the three and four tables.  Students should be practicing their multiplication facts at home to increase their fact fluency.  Also, since we are focusing our time on multiplication in school, please review addition and subtraction on the number line in order to maintain and improve these skills.

In English Language Arts, students have been learning and practicing the roles of clarifier, questioner, and predictor as part of the Reciprocal Teaching model.  Reciprocal teaching refers to an instructional activity where students become the teacher in small groups.  The students are learning these roles so that they can learn to guide group discussions about the texts they have been reading.  After the Thanksgiving break students will be learning about the summarizing role and how to identify the main idea and details about what they’ve read.  Below you can see the cards students use to guide their discussions in their groups.

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The students have been learning many new things about nonfiction texts, such as how to identify nonfiction text features and how to use strategies to figure out what new vocabulary words mean.  The children have also been using “stems” to write about their predictions, to share what they’ve learned, and to tell how they know what a new vocabulary word means.  Below are a few of the anchor charts students use in the classroom to assist their learning.

anchor chart nonfiction text featuresanchor chart meanings vocab wordsanchor chart prediction stems

anchor chart what i've learned

The children have been working together in their groups and they are continually self-assessing what is working well in their group discussions and the things that they need to work on.  Here are some photographs of the students in their groups from this past week.


reciprocal teaching group 3reciprocal teaching group 1reciprocal teaching group 4reciprocal teaching group 2

In the upcoming week we will be reading Molly’s Pilgrim by Barbara Cohen,  developing interview questions for our pilgrim interview project, and solving a challenging Thanksgiving turkey math problem.  I hope everyone has a wonderful Thanksgiving with family and friends!

Classroom update.

We’ve had a busy first few weeks of school getting to know each other and our new third grade rules and routines.  Now that each student has returned his or her paperwork I can now start posting some photographs.  I’m very excited because each and every student has permission to appear on our classroom blog and website!

The first week of school everyone enjoyed participating in a puzzle team building challenge.  Groups were randomly selected using popsicle sticks and the students had to work together to assemble their puzzles without talking.  Every group developed different strategies for communicating without using their voices.  Each group successfully participated and three of the four groups completed their puzzles.  The only reason that one group did not finish was that the puzzle had many more, smaller pieces.  It was a successful team building activity and I’ve had many requests to do another puzzle activity!

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We have also been spending time learning how to solve addition and subtraction using a number line.  This method is quite different from the conventional method that students have been using.  Here are a few examples to illustrate the method we’ve been working on in class:


There are many more word problems in third grade and we have been practicing doing three things in third grade: Showing our work (two different ways if possible), showing equations, and writing a sentence with our answer.  This is essential for all word problems solved in class and for homework assignments.  We have this chart on display in class to remind us:


We’ve also started learning about rounding to the nearest ten.  Here’s a video illustrating how we round a number to the nearest ten.

In English Language Arts we have been talking about common elements of fiction, such as characters, setting, plot, problem, and solution.  The class has enjoyed reading Something Beautiful by Sharon Dennis Wyeth and My Rotten Redheaded Older Brother by Patricia Polacco.  Towards the end of the week the students identified the character traits of the sister in My Rotten Redheaded Older Brother (see chart below) and they are currently working on developing a paragraph explaining her character traits.

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One thing I remember most about my own elementary school experience is my teachers reading to me.  I can vividly recall which teacher read which book and I am continuing this read aloud transition in our classroom.  The students love listening to George’s Marvelous Medicine by Roald Dahl because it makes them laugh.

Students have also been reading about Massachusetts and soon they will have their Massachusetts maps on display in the hallway outside our classroom.

Come by and visit any time!

Perimeter and area.

It’s been a long week of MCAS review.  The children have been taking practice tests and reviewing the concepts they learned this year.  Students were mixing up perimeter and area so we looked for fun ways to remember the difference between them.  Here are the key points we need to remember:

Perimeter–the fence around the outside, add up the sides

Area–the grass on the playground, multiply length times width OR tile in the squares

We watched some videos on Brain Pop Jr. and we watched some songs online.  These were our favorites:

Mrs. Burk’s Perimeter Rap made us laugh!  (And it helps us remember to multiply to find the area!)

This Perimeter Area Song was fun to sing along with!

Hope you enjoy them as much as we did!


Math MCAS prep.

I hope everyone had a safe, restful, and enjoyable April vacation.  Now that we’re back, it’s time to focus on math.  We will be spending the next two weeks reviewing math concepts for our Math MCAS on  May 12 and May 13.  Students have learned all math topics for the test and they have been working very hard in class.  They know how important it is to show ALL work, to write equations, and to write a sentence with the answer for open response questions.

Students have also learned a strategy called CUBES to help them solve word problems.  CIRCLE the numbers, UNDERLINE the question, BOX in the key words, EVALUATE and draw, SOLVE and check.

Some ways parents, family, guardians, and friends can help at home:

1.  Review math morning work problems with your child.  You will find a daily worksheet in your child’s yellow homework folder.

2.  Review math practice MCAS questions with your child.  Today we reviewed data–line plots, tallies, bar graphs, and pictographs.  These questions can also be found in the homework folder.

3.  Review any concepts that confuse your child or that your child requires extra practice on.

math morning work
Our math morning work activities come from this book, Common Core Math 4 Today (Carson-Dellosa Publishing).
math morning work 2
The morning work from Monday, April 27th. Your child should show ALL work! This is the answer key.
math mcas practice
This is the MCAS practice packet that reviews DATA.

Thank you for supporting our students at home!  By working together each child can achieve success!

Math fluency practice.


Students have been learning about multiplication and division in school. By the end of the year children are expected to be fluent with all multiplication facts 1-9. I created a class account at and each child can access this site from home or the library. Children can log onto, which has fun games for grades K-8 that are designed to improve math fact fluency. Each student has been provided a username, a password, and a school code (john_107). Under my teacher account I can see when students have last accessed the website. Please encourage your child to use this website to improve math fact fluency.

In your child’s homework folder you will find a letter with your child’s username, password, and school code.  Your child has also taped a copy of this information into his or her homework assignment planner.