Classroom News

September 17, 2023

have a great day

Hello family! I can hardly believe that this week marks one month together. I’m glad that I can say that it’s been a good start.

We completed our first story week in Wonders. Instead of a typical test, I had students work in teams. They answered the multiple choice questions independently and then had a discussion about why that was the correct answer. The final question was a short answer. Students were asked to choose a character trait for the main character and then support their answer with proof from the text. I was blown away by the discussions happening at each table. Some students used a direct quote - others explained a certain scene that the character acted in that way. Character traits is a reading skill that will be part of our program throughout the year. Right now they have a few adjectives to describe characters - that vocabulary will grow as the year goes on. Two of the stories we read references a similarity from a story they had read in second grade. Again - blown away that they had remembered the fable and could use it to compare with the story in third grade. 

We also worked with the spelling, phonics, and vocabulary activities that are part of the Wonders program. Word work is part of our weekly routine. I want to make sure that we are filling in any missing pieces from previous grades.

On Wednesday we celebrated Roald Dahl Day! September 13 is his birthday. Kids around the world do all sorts of things to celebrate this amazing author. Our class is reading George’s Marvelous Medicine when we are taking breaks between subjects. We will be reading larger chapter books written by Mr. Dahl later in the year. 

On Friday we celebrated International Dot Day. The Dot was written by Peter H. Reynolds. It is all about having a growth mindset and making your mark on the world. If you haven’t read it there are several read alouds on you tube. It is short. Our dot art gallery is hanging on the back wall of the room and on our lockers. I’ll take pictures to post tomorrow. The Dot celebrated 20 years since being published. We have  a growth mindset activity that we will complete on this book tomorrow.

We only have 1 student left to complete the iReady diagnostic. I hope to start chats with students this week to discuss how they did and the goals we can work towards this year. I will be discussing the iReady results with parents during part of our parent teacher conference time. The results are very similar to the last two classes I’ve had.

Spelling words will be short e, o, and u this week. Our grammar skill will be adjectives. We have completed unit 2 in vocabulary and review this week for a test the following week.

I had planned on taking a math test on the second half of chapter 1 this past Friday. The test is scheduled for this Tuesday. It is mainly rounding numbers to nearest ten and hundred. Students did extremely well when we did our review on Friday.

I’m sure that you’ve heard about the math game Prodigy. It is fun, but the students are practicing the skills we are working on in the classroom. I can assign specific objectives for the problems that they receive in the game. Several items they had never done before in regards to addition. When adding larger numbers students are asked to expand the numbers first and then add them. I think everyone got function tables. Finding the rule for the function table was challenging - or filling in the missing number of a function table. Once students worked with me independently they were able to go ahead and work on their own. Prodigy is something we do when other required math tasks are completed. 

Each day after morning work students sign in to Xtra math. They get a progress quiz, and then they race the teacher. The progress quiz only moves them ahead once a day, but they can still practice Xtra math at home to get better at racing the teacher. Their daily goal is to get on green each day. Green - gives correct answers in a timely manner. Yellow - has a few mistakes. Red - has several incorrect answers. Once a student passes the addition level they move right on to the subtraction level. Once the subtraction level is complete students are done with Xtra math for now. We already have 1 student done with both levels - and several close behind. We will work on Xtra math addition and subtraction until September 29. My hope is that everyone is complete by then. Your student can do a practice and show you how many problems they have left in their grid. 

This week our group math lesson will be adding large numbers and estimating sums. Mrs. Tesmond will be taking small groups to practice rounding and introducing them to new math centers for Friday. 

On Wednesday it was the feast of the Most Holy Name of Mary. We learned to draw the Marian symbol with a guided draw. The symbols are going to be decorating our classroom door this week. When we were at Church on Friday it was the feast of the Seven Sorrows of Mary. I asked Fr. Fred to come over to our class after Mass. On his stole was an embroidered Marian symbol that we had just learned to draw!!! This week in religion we will focus on the sacraments of initiation; Baptism, Holy Communion, and Confirmation. 

We have a homecoming assembly on Thursday afternoon. The entire school will gather together to celebrate our chargers! On Friday teachers will have professional development with other teachers in the Archdiocese. Students will have a long weekend. 

We will be switching seats this week. I usually move table groups every 3-4 weeks. 

Have a great week!


Mrs. Bucko

September 8, 2023

Bitmoji Image

Why does a four day week always seem longer than a regular week?

We started off Monday learning more about one of my favorite saints - Mother Teresa. I hope your child was able to share something new they learned about this amazing woman. Many of my favorite quotes line the back of our classroom. Her simple words of doing ordinary things with extraordinary love are what I try to live my own life by. 

Today was the nativity of Mary. We started off by going to Mass. We sang beautiful songs about our mother. Yesterday we cut apart all the words to the Hail Mary. Today we worked to put the words back in their correct order. Sometimes we just say the words to prayers and don’t realize what we are actually saying. I want students to know their prayers - I also want them to understand what they are saying. 

Today everyone completed their first google form assigned on google classroom. I split the first math chapter into two parts and created a google form to test what we’ve learned so far. They learned how to submit and then check that their assignment was turned in. I’m taking small steps because I know this is all new. 

We already have 7 students who have passed the addition level of Xtra math this first week. We have 1 student who has passed the subtraction level. We will be doing a round of Xtra math each morning. Students race the teacher to see how many correct problems they can get in a row. I love hearing, “I got 5 - then I got 12.”  “I got 10 - now I got 18.” “I got 55.” “I got 63.”

We finished reading Sideways Stories from Wayside School today. I will be reading different genres this year in hopes to inspire a love of reading in all my students. 

We completed our first unit test in vocabulary. We completed our first grammar test on nouns. We took our first spelling test. We had our first fire drill. (They were amazing!)

I’m hoping that students have a better understanding of my expectations and routines now. Grades have been posted on Powerschool and the work folder came home today. Make sure to take out the papers and sign the sheet on the left side of the folder. Folders should be returned on Monday.

We will continue with the iReady diagnostic this week. I would guess that we would be done before the end of the week. Students are anxious to discuss how they did. 

Looking ahead… We have Patriot Day on Monday, Roald Dahl Day on Wednesday, and International Dot Day on Friday. 

Please continue to encourage good practices at home by charging chromebooks and putting chromebooks in the bookbag in the morning.


Mrs. Bucko

September 2, 2023

happy september

I had a wedding yesterday of a past student. There were “kids” in their teens, twenties, and even thirties there that I had taught. It was so fun to visit and dance with all of them. It was particularly nice to be able to share what a nice group of students I have this year!

Thank you to everyone who came to parent night on Wednesday!!! I walked out with Ms. Hanrahan at the end of the night and was extremely happy to let her know that 23 out of 24 students were represented. That is amazing!!! 

We started the iReady diagnostic on Wednesday. Half of the class finished the reading section and will move on to the math section on Tuesday. We will continue testing throughout this next week. When everyone has completed the diagnostic I will sit down with each student and create goals for the year.

I informed everyone on parent night that each week there is a different grammar concept. This past week it was nouns. Students are presented with the concept, create an interactive notebook page, write with the concept, participate in a scoot review activity, and then take a short quiz at the end of the week. I found it easier when things are broken up into smaller pieces. Next week it will be verbs. The routine stays the same all year with the opportunity to add extra review elements. This week students read 2 books on nouns with a quiz attached on epic. They also played a noun game on sheppard software with their chromebooks. Everyone that was here on Friday did very well on their first quiz.

The vocabulary book has 10 words in each unit. We have completed the first unit. We will review on Tuesday and Wednesday and then take a test on Thursday. There is an online practice quiz and several different game choices for review on vocabulary workshop. I have created a link for students in google classroom. We have been there twice already.

The class has really enjoyed getting acquainted with their chromebooks. Thank you for taking the time to create a routine of charging them every night. Students have been asking if it’s ok at night to go on the programs that we use during the day for review. The answer is yes! This week we will be logging into the programs attached to the Wonders book. 

We had our first spelling pretest on Friday since we won’t be in class this Monday. There are 15 short a and short i words. The words are in their homework folders - in case your child is someone who needs several days to review spelling words. We will have a test of those words on Friday.

This coming week we celebrate the feast day of one of my favorite saints - St. Teresa of Calcutta (Mother Teresa). Her feast day is September 5th. September 8 is the Nativity of the Blessed Virgin Mary. My intention is that your child will be coming home to share what they learn about their faith on special days like these. Maybe they’ll teach you something new!

Our first unit in math is all about place value and number sense. They are remembering a lot - which I’m very excited about. We started on a fact practice program, Xtra math. I am having them pass the second grade addition and subtraction levels for review this first month. We already have 2 students who completed the addition level already. Every day they take a practice quiz and then they race the teacher. They are given only one quiz a day, but they can go on Xtra math for extra practice at any time. I know it can be frustrating to be timed, but it is at a second grade level. This is not part of their grade at the moment - just practice.

We will be doing a team building activity for science this week. Our social studies focus will be on oceans and continents. Yesterday afternoon teams worked together to participate in a geography challenge. I want to get them used to reading a map and locating specific places. 

I have a busy week planned. You will find that third graders don’t have a lot of down time. There is a lot to cover this year. With that being said, I will be tougher on following directions right away and being a positive role model in the classroom. I have been giving reminders of my behavior expectations. On Tuesday students will need to be practicing those expectations. 

I hope that you enjoy this longer weekend with family and friends. It looks like we’ll have plenty of sunshine.


Mrs. Bucko

ust 26, 2023
back to school

We did it! Even with all the excessive heat, third grade had a great first week!

We packed a lot into the short week. We were faced with our first STEM challenge on Wednesday. We had to plan and work with a partner to “Save Fred”. His boat had capsized while rafting on the Colorado River. His life jacket was underneath the boat. Teams had to get the life jacket on Fred and get the boat turned over so Fred would be safe. The big difficulty was that you couldn’t use your hands to help. You could only use 4 paper clips! Did I mention that Fred is a worm? Anyway, all 12 teams were eventually able to Save poor Fred. Fred is very adventurous. I’m sure that you’ll be hearing more about him during the school year. Take a look at our photo gallery for pictures during the STEM challenge.

We practiced procedures, discussed classroom rules, labeled and organized our supplies, and got to know one another a little better. 

Math centers are a big part of my program. We practiced the money center. Next week the family fact center will be introduced. We also competed in a math quest - School Jungle Jam. There were 7 different tasks that had to be completed. You had to get all the problems correct in each task in order to get the next part of the quest. The math skills involved included addition, subtraction, ordering numbers, and finding the missing addend.

Table groups were inspired to create words using 10 letters. In the past three days EVERY table group ended up with over 50 words - 3-10 letters in each. Word work will be part of our weekly Daily 5 practice.

Sideways Stories from Wayside School has brought some humor into the classroom. We completed the first 5 chapters. We will continue reading the chapter book next week.

On Thursday we had gym and library. We celebrated Mass as a school on Friday. We didn’t have music yet, but we learned two new songs with actions. We completed self portraits that are hanging on our back wall. 

Ms. Soch came at the end of the day to give us our chromebooks and power chords. Every student brought their chromebook home today to be charged. On Monday Ms. Soch will have her first computer class. She’ll go over their new gmail account and get them logged into google classroom. I have been busy getting all their usernames and passwords printed. They will all be on a ring that will be kept in their backpack. 

This coming week we will try to follow the schedule that I’ve set up. I want students to feel comfortable with room 211 routines. Keep an ear out for this week’s STEM challenges and our study of our fantastic, elastic brain.

I look forward to seeing all of you on Wednesday at parent night. I know some of you have multiple children. I have a condensed version of my talk that you can pick up that night if you need to make it to other classrooms first. Please make it a priority to be there. We are a team. A team needs all of its members to be successful. 

Enjoy the nice weekend weather - without the extreme heat. 


Mrs. Bucko



Hello third grade family!
My name is Patricia Bucko. I am excited to start my fourth year at St. Catherine of Alexandria in third grade. I am originally from Stillwater, Minnesota. I moved to Illinois to marry my husband, Jon, of 31 years. We have 3 incredible children. All 5 of us are at home at the moment. My boys are in college and working, and my daughter is a senior at Mother McAuley High School. Thirty-one of my thirty-three years in teaching have been in third grade.
I love my job! Teaching is my passion. I try to create a classroom space where students love to learn and strive to grow to their true potential. My classroom has always been faith based. I hope to create this same learning environment this year. I look forward to meeting you soon!

Mrs. Bucko