At University School of Milwaukee, our 3rd graders begin to fully embody the characteristics of our Portrait of a USM Graduate, as learners, leaders, and citizens. In addition to their academic program taking another leap forward, children continue to make strong connections with their classmates and teachers to further develop their strong sense of community. Extensive community service learning and work is also introduced in 3rd grade, as students learn the importance of being a USM citizen who helps others, including their kindergarten “buddies.” As students begin to use more online tools and resources in their work, the concept of digital citizenship is introduced and reinforced throughout the year.
Children are encouraged to take risks while teachers maintain and support a safe environment to do so, and our 3rd graders are reminded that, in that process, mistakes are OK and are actually opportunities to learn. In the 3rd grade classrooms, children are introduced for the first time to flexible seating options, including wobbly stools and kinesthetic furniture, which allows them to be in motion while they learn and helps with student focus and attention.
The 3rd grade curriculum in USM’s Lower School combines core subjects taught by grade-level teachers with many additional classes taught by specialist instructors.
Subject-area outcomes are an important part of how our curriculum is developed and how our students are evaluated. The following lists, broken out by subject area, provide some examples of student outcomes for the end of the 3rd grade year.
During 3rd grade, students leave campus for many exciting experiences and community service activities. The highlight field trip for the year is a full-day trip that includes a morning at the EAA Aviation Center in Oshkosh, which coincides with their science work on motion and flight, followed by lunch on the shores of Lake Winnebago at Lakeside Park in Fond du Lac, and wraps up with an afternoon at the John Michael Kohler Arts Center in Sheboygan. Another highlight for 3rd graders is the annual Maker Faire, a project in which children use their innovation skills to create something new in one of four categories: technology, 3D design, woodworking, and textiles. As part of their studies of community, children also travel to Riverwest Wood Pantry in Milwaukee, where they help sort, weigh, and label food items while learning about healthy foods. Following that trip, 3rd graders lead a school-wide service project to collect food to donate to the food pantry. In addition, many children participate in student-led clubs for the first time in Lower School, and all 3rd graders also prepare for and take part in both a curricular choir concert and a dance concert, along with our 4th grade children.