Hats off to hands on!

Hello!  Third graders have had so many opportunities to learn in meaningful, age appropriate ways.  They’re having a great time diving into the content.  Words their way has been very enjoyable and students love sorting the words, learning new vocabulary, and looking at “oddball” words.  The English language is actually quite difficult to master, particularly for a person who is not a native speaker.  Approximately 50% of words in our language are not spelled as they are pronounced (through, though, knew, sew…).

Students are also investigating milliliters and liters and we have had a lot of fun pouring, estimating and measuring.  Food coloring is very exciting to third graders!

Mrs. Jaffa introduced types of energy in the science lab, and students rotated to four different stations to learn about sound waves and refraction and reflection.  Students were amazed that they could make grains of salt move by placing a tuning fork near them on a surface.  They are learning about potential and kinetic energy in class by building a paper roller coaster.

I am reading Because of Winn Dixie and students are seeing how a character develops in a story.  They’re having deep discussions with their peers and making connections between this read aloud and Wish (our last read aloud).

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Chag Purim Samech

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Play, have fun & learn about Israel



The countdown to Israel’s 70th birthday has begun.  Play, have fun and learn about Israel.

For students to play, they need to complete the following steps:

  1. Click on: https://countdown70.lookstein.org/

  2. S/he should click on “Student”

  3. S/he should type the school code


  4. S/he types his/her first name and then birthday

  5. S/he chooses their grade

Come back everyday to https://countdown70.lookstein.org for a new challenge.


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Persuasive Writing

“Speech has power. Words do not fade. What starts out as a sound, ends in a deed.” -Abraham Joshua Herschel

We are certainly living in a time when we see the power of words. The ability to share them quickly with an audience all over the world is unique to this time in history. I listen to the courageous, passionate teenagers who survived the horror at Stoneman Douglas High School. I read letters to politicians from students who demand changes because they want to be safe in school. These teenagers are using their voice and will be heard. So when is the time to begin teaching children how to write with passion so that people will listen? It turns out the time is now. Third graders are learning how to write persuasively, and I can imagine in a few years they will follow in the footsteps of those teenagers to make changes we so desperately need in our country.

I introduced persuasive writing this quarter by sharing a letter that a five year old child wrote to the CEO of The Gap. Click here to check it out. We continued by writing a letter to Mrs. Scharf Anderson to request adding some new books to our classroom library. She read every letter and your children were successful in their quest to expand our classroom library! Students have been writing “long and strong” and are learning how to organize their work and support their claims. They recently learned to anticipate what a reader might ask. They are using phrases in their writing such as, “You might wonder why”, or “If you’re concerned about _______, let me explain”. They see a real world purpose to this work and they have conversations with each other where they advise a friend to write a persuasive letter to address an issue. I hope you see the vast difference in this kind of curriculum versus simply completing a writing prompt. I’m excited to show you their progress at parent teacher conferences in March.

Here is a link to the checklist students use to set goals and check their progress.

Illustrated Checklist 3rd grade opinion writing

I love to add photos of the students working together!  Enjoy these too.

Eli D. and Brennan using watercolor colored pencils to combine art and writing

Aaron and Mason sharing ideas during writing workshop.

Ariadna, Joey, Hank, and Eli Z. enjoying watercolor colored pencils!





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SPECIAL evening on February 13!

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A picture is worth a thousand words!

Nina, Chloe, and Vivi meet a snake.

Itamar, Brennan and Eli D. at Tree Hill Nature Center






Third graders creating a robotic rainstick. Thank you Mrs. Gutterman!

Some students in 4th grade weren’t quite as excited to touch an alligator!

What is Aaron thinking? “I’m glad you’re holding that snake and I’m not!”

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Celebrating Tu B’Shevat טו בשבט

We celebrated Tu B’shevat today with a tasting of the seven species of Israel (שבעת המינים) and a  fun recycle game with Shelly the Jacksonville Sh’licha.  This week we also created a tree from recycled items for the school door competition.

In Jewish Studies we learned about all of the cycles in nature, specifically the growth & water cycle.  Check out our blogfolios to see our water cycle artwork with Hebrew vocabulary.

Thank you to the PTA for the yummy dried fruit.  Thank you to all the parents who sent in recycled material for our tree.

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Jaguars in Jacksonville and beyond

Go Jaguars!  I haven’t watched football with any enthusiasm, well, ever.  This past Sunday I was glued to my couch though, as the Jags played the Steelers.  My sister lives in Pittsburgh, so there was a little friendly rivalry.  In addition to feeling an allegiance to our local team, I have found myself becoming more interested in football because so many of my darling third graders are exuberant football fans.  I actually recognized some of the players’ names because several students have been writing about football in their non-fiction pieces.  It’s important to me to find multiple ways to connect with students and to show them that their interests matter to me.  Building relationships with students and families is one of my great pleasures in life.

Jaguars are an interest on the football field, and also in the Amazon rainforest.  Students have just begin learning about this incredible ecosystem and some of the exotic animals that live there.  This unit of study is really exciting because I am able to combine so many different areas – science, language arts, art, music, technology, and even math.  I am so fortunate to work with our amazing team who make this content come alive for students.  Mrs. Hallett is leading the way teaching students the research process, and they will eventually publish their research using an app called Book Creator.  Mrs. Jaffa is teaching students to create a terrarium and they can see the water cycle.  Mrs. Gutterman has art projects going and students will create a robotic rainstick.  Our study incorporates TuB’Shevat  as well, and you will see that on Tuesday, 1/23 at 6:30p.m.   There are standards that are taught from each content area, and combining them under the umbrella (canopy, if you’d like to learn a rainforest vocabulary word) makes learning relevant and interesting for students.

I’m looking forward to seeing my students tomorrow!  I love starting the day with smiles and hugs.




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Saying Shema at Bedtime

Today we learned from Parashat Vayechi (next week’s Torah portion) that Jacob blessed his grandchildren Efrayim and Menashe a special blessing which included the phrase “May you have as many children as the fish over the land”.

This phrase is part of the prayers said at bedtime, specifically the prayer “HaMalach HaGoel.”  In addition to the Shema and the V’ahavta paragraph that follows it, the complete “Bedtime Shema” includes additional prayers that focus on asking for God’s protection during the hours of sleep. One of the best known of these prayers is Hamalach Hago’el:

“May the angel who redeems me from all evil, bless the youths, and may my name be declared upon them–and the names of my forefathers, Abraham and Isaac–and may they proliferate like fish within the land” (Genesis 48:16).

We listened & danced to this prayer which in class.  It is a beautiful song.

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Torah in 3D printing

What does the Torah portion have to do with 3D printing?


In the 3rd grade Parashat HaShavua curriculum (TaL AM),  each Parasha features a symbol presented as a riddle; through the study of the Parasha the students discover the link between this symbol (which is the central message of the portion) and the Parasha.  At the end of each Parasha lesson the students illustrate a coloring page with the Parasha symbol.   At the end of each Chumash unit, the coloring pages become a booklet.

This year the students are also creating a 3D printout of the Parasha symbol/shape.  All of the shapes are placed on a ring and the students have a visual representation of the central messages from each Torah Portion.


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