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3rd blog – 4/28

We had an eventful two weeks back at school!

We began exploring poetry, as April is National Poetry Month. In this writing unit we examine a specific style of poetry and then create our own poems based on that style. We’ve written one in the style of William Carlos Williams, a poem showing personification, an acrostic, a poem using our five senses, a concrete, a poem about ourselves using similes, and a poem about immigration. At the end of the unit, students will choose 3 poems to publish!

We also began our final read aloud, Save Me a Seat. This novel is written from multiple perspectives. So far we have been introduced to three main characters: Ravi just moved to New Jersey from India, Joe is a Jersey native with sensitivity to noise, and Dillon is the class bully. Each chapter is written from either Ravi or Joe’s perspective. We are deconstructing the characters, thinking about their traits, strengths and weaknesses, and assumptions made about them. We also noticed that Dillon is viewed differently by Ravi and Joe. 

In social studies, we began by looking at symbols. There are symbols all around us, including the peace sign, a sign for car brands, no smoking, etc. Symbols for our country include the eagle, the flag, and the Empire State Building. We focused on flags and looked at how different shapes and colors have meaning on a flag. The students then came up with a flag to represent themselves! Next we looked at another symbol of our country, the Statue of Liberty. We learned it was designed by Bertholdi, though the idea came from de Laboulaye. They wanted to celebrate America’s 100th birthday and encourage the French towards independence. The statue was built in Paris, then disassembled and shipped to New York where it was rebuilt. It is a symbol of freedom for all people who enter the United States. We also looked at the poem written by Emma Lazarus that is on the statue, as well as the meaning behind the many symbols on the statue.


In Judaics we dedicated last week to introducing the topic of the Holocaust and commemorating Yom Hashoah. We read the book Passage to Freedom about the true story of a Japanese diplomat who saved many Jewish lives during World War II. I shared with students that my grandfather was one of the people saved by Sugihara, and students became excited to research and share their own family histories. Many students had conversations at home with parents, and several students even brought in family trees, photos, and stories to share with the class. It was so great to see students become self motivated to research their family’s histories and to see students teaching each other about themselves and Jewish history, emphasizing the point that this is still very recent history which is directly connected to them.

This week was all about Israel as we commemorated Yom Hazikaron (Memorial Day) and Yom Ha’atzmaut (Independence Day) in school. In anticipation of this week’s festivties, we have been following the 8th grade Israel blog and learning through the writings, photos, and experinces of the Senesh eight graders, a bunch of whom have siblings in third grade (Mira, Suzette, Elie). We have also been studying the concept of aliyah, immigration to Israel, and seeing that people moved to Israel from so many different countries around the world, helping to make it the diverse country that it is today. On Wednesday we celebrated along with the rest of the school, including doing Israel themed stations along with the 2nd and 4th grades. Thank you to all the parents who shared pictures of family photos in Israel. The students loved sharing and viewing them, and they really made our Israel studies feel more personal.

Lastly, our week was capped off by inviting a special guest Torah reader into tefillah on Thursday- Shannon! Shannon learned to chant an entire aliyah for her daughters upcoming bat mitzvah this Shabbat! The third graders were a supportive and welcoming congregation to Shannon who layned the entire aliyah for them at our morning Torah service. It was much longer than the one verse that I usually read to them, but they were so excited to hear Shannon read that they listened with great attention! We wish Shannon good luck as she reads Torah for the first time, and we wish her and her whole family a big Mazal Tov on her daughter’s bat mitzvah!


In Music, students have been continuing to learn and notice the patterns of the chords of The Erie Canal song. They are now focusing on playing those patterns of chords to a steady beat. Students have also begun learning the songs they will sing in their end of year play.


In art, students are getting ready for their New York City play, creating props and backdrops. Without giving too much away, we are drawing out scenes dating back from the Lenape to the building of the Erie Canal and the Brooklyn Bridge. Students are drawing, cutting, collaging, constructing, reinforcing their social studies knowledge and art skills.  


In STEAM, we have continued our bridge study with a focus on the shapes and parts of a bridge that make it strong. Through photos, we realized that all bridges have one or more triangles, rectangles, or arches. We built these three shapes out of straws and identified which parts where the strongest and weakest. A virtual simulator then showed us what happens with the pulling and pushing forces on each shape as more and more weight is added. We also did a further investigation into the arch, which seemed weak at first. We learned that once support is added around an arch it’s actually quite strong because those materials are pushing back against the arch.

You can see photos from the virtual shape lab here and the video we watched on arches here.

With the parts of a bridge, we identified that every bridge has 4 main parts: foundations, supports, a deck, and approaches. Depending on the type of bridge, there may be other parts as well such as cables, towers, and trusses. Students set off in groups of 3 or 4 to build a bridge that had the 4 main parts we identified. These bridges were such a growth from their first two bridges! Namely, everyone actually had space for things to go underneath and ways for people to get on and off. Check out the pictures of these bridges in the photos!