The Carlisle Mosquito Online

Friday, February 13, 2009

CSC samples lessons of 3rd-grade

The Carlisle School third grade team presented what they called a “snippet” of the curriculum to the Carlisle School Committee (CSC) on February 4. Superintendent Marie Doyle introduced teachers Chris Denaro, Cindy Morris, Gene Stamell and third grade Special Educator Jennifer Rowland, saying, “We have an extraordinary third grade team.”


Denaro brought in a hands-on demonstration of a third-grade science unit. “One of the units of study we do in science is rocks and minerals,” she explained. “The students become mineralogists,” investigating different characteristics of minerals such as hardness, color and luster. She handed out a sample of the mineral galena to the CSC members. “Your mission, School Committee, should you choose to select to do this,” she said, is to test the hardness of the mineral.

Third-grade teacher Chris Denaro (standing) and Business Manager Heidi Zimmerman (right) watch as Carlisle School Committee members Louis Salemy and Dale Ryder try a science experiment. (Photo by Cynthia Sorn)

Students have been taught to use the Mohs’ Hardness Scale to test minerals, with 1 being the softest mineral (talc) and 10 being the hardest (diamond). Students can use common objects to test unknown minerals. Fingernails are around 2.5 on the hardness scale, a penny is about 3, a knife is 5.5 and a steel file is 6.5. Denaro said students often find it difficult to determine hardness.

She gave the CSC members a minute to scratch the mineral with a fingernail, a nail or other items and then mark the hardness on cards she handed out. CSC member Wendell Sykes asked, “Do we have to stay after school if we don’t get it right?” Denaro replied, “I’ll have to grade it and we’ll talk later.”


Stamell described a unit in English Language Arts (ELA), where students react to the story, Stone Fox. The story has a sad ending, which is atypical for literature at that age level. It is a “tremendous story,” he said, but also “a very emotional story.” As part of their writing project, students create an extra chapter, allowing them to end the book in their own way. Students study the tone of the book and learn how to use quotations, since the book contains a lot of dialogue. The unit takes about a month, he said. Stamell passed around samples of the students’ work.

Social studies unit on Massachusetts

Morris introduced the current social studies project, which is creating an informative tri-fold brochure on Massachusetts. Students choose five topics they will research: famous persons, historical events, interesting places, state facts, and products and resources. The students first research the information, take notes and put the information in paragraph form. “Now they have the fun piece,” Morris said. With the assistance of Technology Specialist Cyd McCann the third-graders create their brochures on the computer. They get very excited, Denaro said, as they learn how to use the software.

Committee member Dale Ryder asked if the brochure was a new addition to the curriculum. Morris said last year the students created PowerPoint presentations instead of brochures, but the team decided to return to the brochures, which they did two years ago. “It is nice you are continuing to enhance the curriculum,” replied Ryder.

Doyle thanked the team for the presentation. “It’s always exciting to visit the third-grade classrooms,” she said. ∆

© 2009 The Carlisle Mosquito