Third-grade students possess a natural interest in their world and enjoy exploring and discovering new ideas. Many are active, social individuals who excel when provided consistent support and encouragement. Some students' learning remains at the concrete level while other students are advancing to a more abstract level. Therefore, as new concepts are introduced, some profit by additional hands-on instruction and practice.
Third graders perform well when allowed to work in a variety of group settings within an active learning environment fostered by a sense of community and collaboration. Within this environment, students build a sense of personal self-worth as they realize their opinions are valued and accepted. Learning is stimulated by exposure to a variety of problem-solving activities, challenging classroom discussions, and engagement in activities that promote the development of higher-order thinking skills.
Content standards for third grade are designed to allow students to learn mathematics concepts with understanding. Learning with understanding makes subsequent learning easier as students are better able to connect new knowledge to existing knowledge. Learning with understanding also allows students to enhance problem-solving skills and become more adept in computational skills. According to the NCTM, development of a balance of and a connection between conceptual understanding and computational proficiency is necessary for students to achieve computational fluency.
Mathematics content at this level focuses on number sense and computational fluency. Students begin to use basic algebraic patterns to analyze mathematical relationships while expanding their current knowledge of data analysis through the use of graphs. Students also strengthen mathematical skills by identifying, comparing, and converting various forms of measurement.