Classroom News

October 16, 2021
autumn leaves fallling

We will kick off this week with an out of uniform pass on Monday, October 18. Our class got our golden ticket pulled last week. Along with that, make sure your child has a sweatshirt or jacket with them now that the weather is starting to shift. Our classroom will get cool with air flow requirements, and we do go outside for snack unless it is raining.

We did a little spring cleaning yesterday. We cleaned up lockers and desks. It will be nice to start fresh on Monday. We didn’t get a chance to go through backpacks. Maybe you could do a check with your child over the weekend that backpacks are cleaned out, too.

I have noticed a HUGE improvement in staying organized with materials. It has been such a time saver that students can open a folder and find what they need right away.

Our theme this week will be BATS. We will integrate reading, writing, and science. Students will read several short passages, choose a book on epic, and watch videos. They will learn how to gather information for research and put it all together to present what they’ve learned. We will practice using text to support answers to questions. Students will be asked to respond to text in complete sentences.

The completion of our math chapter on multiple digit addition will result in a test this Wednesday. Vocabulary unit 4 will be tested on Thursday. Friday’s spelling test will be on months of the year.

We finished our first eight week grammar unit. The last week of each unit is a review of the previous 7 weeks. We played a lot of “parts of speech” kahoots to review what we’ve learned. Most students did great on skills in isolation, but mixing them all up showed who had mastery.

Our religion focus at the beginning of the week will be about the different kinds of prayer. Students will be asked to write their own prayers. We continue with the rosary on Tuesdays with our floor mates. We will review the words in the Our Father, Hail Mary, and Glory Be. Students will participate in activities that will show their mastery of these prayers.


Mrs. Bucko

October 9, 2021

We had a great walk-a-thon yesterday! We walked a mile and a half before the older kids took our place on the route. Thank you to all the parents who helped make it such a fun day!

I have a lot of papers to correct this weekend so the grades you saw on Thursday may shift a bit. I’ll send out a reminder email after I’ve entered the new grades on Powerschool.

Apples, Apples, Apples… We packed so many things into this week. Students read about Johnny Appleseed and at least one other tall tale character. They learned about the elements of the tall tale. They compared and contrasted different versions of the stories. We completed a guided draw of Johnny Appleseed that is presently hanging in the hall. We watched a mystery science video about the largest apple – the Hakuto from Japan. Afterwards we used our engineering skills to create an apple trapper that could pick up apples from our orchard. Our design process kept on changing to create the perfect apple trapper. We also made homemade applesauce. It was delicious! We had Fuji, gala, red delicious, honey crisp, granny smith, and golden delicious in our mix. Students cored and peeled their own apples and then we let the crockpot do its magic with a little water, sugar, cinnamon, and a squeeze of lemon.

Our reading lessons this week will come from Storyworks3 by Scholastic. Students will practice reading and responding to literature on slide decks assigned on google classroom. We used slide decks when we did continents and oceans. The students did really well, so I hope that will continue. They will need to log into google classroom at night for homework. This may be a good weekend to have your child show you how they log into their email and access google classroom. They should be able to do this independently – without your help.

Our Lady of the Rosary feast day was on Thursday, October 7. I hope your child showed you the decade rosary we made in class. We also led the rosary for our floor on Tuesday. Everyone did such a great job. During this week students will be doing activities in class and on seesaw that will focus on the rosary. Students who have brought in rosaries from home will be able to share their story of how they got their rosary. Our religion book lessons will be about God, the father.

Addition facts for speed and accuracy still need some practice. They all know addition concepts, but some lack the quick response of simple facts. Xtra math will be part of nightly homework again this week. Congrats to those students who passed addition and subtraction practice on Xtra math and are now on multiplication!

Geography will continue with reading grid maps, deciding which map is the best to use for a situation, and sorting elements included in each of the maps we’ve discussed so far. Geography challenges have been even more fun now that we have more background knowledge.

We will start unit 4 in vocabulary this week. Grammar will be a review of nouns, verbs, adjectives, adverbs, regular plural nouns, and irregular plural nouns. A new writing unit will start that breaks apart the elements of a good paragraph.

I’ve seen so much growth in this first half of our trimester. I hope that you have, too. Enjoy the beautiful weather! What a blessing!

Mrs. Bucko

October 2, 2021

Angel of God, my guardian dear,
to whom God’s love commits me here,
ever this day be at my side,
to light, to guard, to rule and guide.

Happy Guardian Angel Day! October is filled with many celebrations. It is set aside for the month of the rosary and respect life. Our floor will gather together on Tuesday mornings to say a decade of the rosary. Our class will lead this week. The oldest in your house should have brought home a baby bottle. That is to fill with change and bills to help the Women’s Center. We will be having discussions and participating in activities focused on these two themes. There are many inspiring saints whose feast day is this month. We started off yesterday with St. Therese of Lisieux, The Little Flower. Our class shared about her life as we led the Mass with the other third grade. Our students were so respectful and did amazing on the readings! On Monday we celebrate St. Francis of Assisi.

We will step out of our reading text and enjoy a themed week on Johnny Appleseed and tall tales. We will interrupt our geography study to incorporate the apple theme into science STEM activities. Math continues with larger number addition with and without regrouping. Grammar will be irregular plural nouns. We wrap up unit 3 in vocabulary – test Wednesday. We will still have our spelling and grammar test at the end of the week. Our week ends with the walk-a thon and a 1:00 P.M. dismissal.

Progress reports will go home on Thursday. This will mark the middle of the trimester. I hope that when you review the report you take some time to talk about what your child is proud of so far this school year and what they know they need to work on (academic and behavior). We want to make sure that we are incorporating a growth mindset – to know that with hard work we can improve and that there is always something we can do better on.

Angel sent by God to guide me,
be my light and walk beside me;
be my guardian and protect me;
on the paths of life direct me.


Mrs. Bucko

September 26, 2021
a pile of autumn leaves

Fall is here! This is my favorite time of the year.

This past week we learned about an amazing saint, Padre Pio. His message -”Pray, hope, and don’t worry” - was a reminder that God wants us to be in a relationship with him. He wants us to put our lives in his hands. We learned a new word – stigmata. If you don’t know the story of Padre Pio, here is a short summary of this saint.

This week we will have the honor to lead the all-school Mass on Friday. Both third grades will take special leadership in the Mass.

Our math centers will continue to reinforce place value, rounding, money, and number sense. We will move ahead in our instruction with addition. There will be math homework each night to practice the skill of the day, and students will be asked to do Xtra math online each night. The code ring will be kept in the front pocket of their book bag. If they take it out at home, please see that it gets put right back in their bag before they spend time on the computer and forget.

Our social studies focus will continue with geography. We will be learning about the compass rose, map key, and different kinds of maps.

Mystery science will help explain the changing of the seasons and why leaves change color in the fall.

We have started unit 3 in vocabulary and will be learning about regular plural nous in grammar.

We spend 10 – 15 minutes each day going on iReady in both reading and math. I know that most of you did iReady last year, but this year I will be having data chats and conferencing with students to look at the growth they are making. Pretty soon students will be having data talks with you – more to come on that.

I hope you all have a great week and enjoy the nice weather!

Mrs. Bucko

September 18, 2021
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Students learned a lot this week about perseverance, growing and stretching their brains, and looking at things differently. One area this was most prevalent was with math centers. My math centers reinforce skills taught, practice skills we are working on, and challenge those who are ready to move forward. It was exciting to give ovations to so many students who pushed themselves and completed many tasks. Others that had struggled before pushed themselves and didn’t give up. I love the excitement in the room when showing me they understand and can do tasks independently!

We celebrated National Dot Day this week. Peter H. Reynolds is the author of The Dot. He inspires us to make our mark on the world. We painted our own unique dots that are hanging in our classroom. We also looked at how something that may seem like a mistake can turn into something unique and beautiful!

Our geography focus on continents and oceans helped us look beyond our little world at SCA. Part of this study resulted in the completion of our first google classroom assignment. Students completed several google slides to show what they know. We did most of this in class so that I can see that they can do the tasks independently. We will be tested on the continents and oceans on Tuesday.

This year I have implemented a new grammar program. Each week there is piece of grammar that we focus on. So far we have covered nouns, action verbs, adjectives, and adverbs. This coming week we will be working on pronouns. My hope is that learning in small chunks will help students better understand the skill.

This short week will be busy. There will be a test on Unit 2 vocabulary and geography Tuesday, Unit 1 math Wednesday, and spelling and grammar on Thursday. I know that seems a lot, but we have been reviewing a lot this past week. There is a dress down for pediatric cancer Wednesday. There will be no school on Friday. Teachers will be participating in professional development with other teachers from the archdiocese.

Father Fred said Mass yesterday. The gospel message was all about building your house on a strong foundation. He explained to the kids that in order to build that strong foundation we need to have a relationship with Jesus. Everyone can start by doing small acts of kindness towards others. Many saints I admire stress doing small acts of kindness with great love. I will be looking for this among our classmates.

I hope everyone gets to enjoy the nice weather today. I am heading outside now.

Mrs. Bucko

September 11, 2021
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I can’t help but think about all that happened on this day twenty years ago. My first response was making sure that my boys were with someone that would keep them safe until I got to leave school. They were 3 and 5 at the time. I was responsible for my 28 students. I couldn’t go anywhere until they were picked up.  Two of my school parents were on business in New York, and a majority of my parents were first responders. My husband worked downtown – somewhere they would target if they chose to strike in Chicago. I had to be calm. I had to be a distraction. I had to rely on others to keep my children safe until I got there. Looking back now I feel blessed! I went home to my family. I tucked my boys in their beds that night. My thoughts and prayers go out to all the families that suffered loss that day.

I relied on prayer and my faith to keep me strong. My hope this school year is that my students learn a lot more about the Catholic faith and deepen their connection with Jesus. September is the month dedicated to Our Lady of Sorrows. I’ll be explaining the seven sorrows of Mary. Last week we celebrated the Nativity of Mary and the feast day of Mother Teresa. Part of our religion discussion this week will be learning more about Mother Teresa. Religion is not just a subject in my room. I want it to be a celebration of our faith.

Our first unit in math includes place value and number sense. We will spend the beginning of the week practicing rounding to nearest ten, hundred, and thousand. We will move on to rounding to the nearest dollar. I have created several different games and activities to help practice this skill. Part of number sense is the value of dollars and coins. Students haven’t had a lot of opportunities to go shopping and use money at the store. I will be sending home activities that you can help with that provide opportunities to count coins.

For the first reading unit, spelling words come from the reader. We will also be including 5 of the vocabulary words to the list. We felt this would be an easier transition to third grade. Typically the vocabulary words are tested for both spelling and meaning. This will start after we finish our first reading unit. Lists will always be in assignment books and on our web page for reference.

I told you in my parent video the three most important words to third grade: organization, responsibility, and independence. This is something we work on daily. I model every afternoon what students should write down and what they should have on their desks before we pack our book bags. If your child is coming home without something – they are not listening and following directions in class. We will be using google classroom soon for assignments. I need to make sure that students can do all the things we do in school at home with independence. They need to get on the computer and log in. They need to know how to navigate the site. They do it in school. They should be able to do it at home. We will be having zoom practice sessions so that they can get on by themselves, without your help. You can ask parents from last year. We practiced a lot, but when we had to go remote after Christmas, the third grade students were amazingly independent. We had a few that needed an adult nearby (just in case), but most did what they needed to do by themselves.

We have been having geography challenges to get more familiar with our world and using a map. Part of our science/social studies this week will continue our discussion of having a growth mindset and how we grow and stretch our brains.

We were able to have our first math center rotations on Friday. They did a great job. Ask your child to tell you about it. This is a huge part of my math program that I was unable to do last year. It allows me to give extra practice to those who struggle, but it also allows those who excel at math to keep moving ahead.

I will stop there for now. Have a great week!

Mrs. Bucko

September 3, 2021

Hello everyone! I couldn’t wait until Sunday to post our class news. Today was such a great day!

We finished reading our chapter book Sideways Stories from Wayside School by Louis Sachar. The book was 30 chapters. Today each student chose a chapter from the book to summarize and created an illustration to go along with it. On Tuesday everyone will get a chance to share what they wrote.

We finished the first half of the math chapter on place value. Everyone applied their knowledge to two different “Roll and Expand” activities. I feel confident that we can move ahead to part 2 of the chapter on Tuesday.

Besides math assessment, we took our first spelling test today and completed two grammar assessments on nouns and action verbs. We will take a vocabulary unit 1 quiz on Tuesday.

I hope your child was able to come home and share our challenge: Can You Fit through an Index Card? Today we showed Mrs. Kehoe that our entire class (Mrs. Bucko included) could fit through a piece of copy paper. Some of the pictures are on our photo gallery. Next week we will shift to geography and learn about the continents and oceans of the world.

Our religion focus will move to the sacraments of Christian initiation. We will also focus on the 7 sorrows of Mary. September is set aside to remember. It is also the month of one of my favorite saints. (More to come on that)

It has been two weeks since our start. I will expect our class to do better on listening, following directions, and being the best they can be.

I hope you have a safe and relaxing weekend!

Mrs. Bucko

August 27, 2021
school buddies
We made it through our first full week of school. It was nice to establish routines and get to know each other a little better.

We started taking the iReady diagnostic this past Monday. Most students completed the reading portion. We will complete the math section this next week. iReady will run a little differently in third grade. (More to come on that after we complete the diagnostic)

We've had lessons on place value, ordering numbers, inequalities, and finding patterns. The class really enjoyed our first "Fast Fact Friday". We logged into different sites that we will be using throughout third grade that will help keep skills sharp.

We've been reading the chapter book Sideways Stories from Wayside School. It is giving us a taste of what sharing in literature circles is like. We also read My Fantastic Elastic Brain. It is the first book to help promote a growth mindset. We will continue with that theme all of next week. 

We completed our first grammar skill - nouns. Each week we will focus on a different skill. Next week the focus will be on verbs. We dove right in to the new vocabulary books. Each unit takes around 2 weeks to complete. Our first spelling pretest will be on Monday. 

We attended Mass as a whole school again this morning. It is so nice to come together and share our faith with each other.

Please take time to watch the open house video when it is sent out on Monday. It will give you a lot of information about what happens in third grade. I really missed getting to meet you all face to face. 

Thank you for sharing your children with me!
Mrs. Bucko 

August 19, 2021
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Hello third grade family!
My name is Patricia Bucko. I am excited to start my second 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 29 years. We have 3 incredible children. All 5 of us are at home at the moment. My boys are in college, and my daughter is a sophomore at Mother McAuley. Twenty-nine of my thirty-one years in teaching have been in third grade. I will forever be thankful of my first class here at St. Catherine. Their families welcomed me with open arms. We truly fulfilled our quest to become a family. That meant a lot because I had been at St. Walter for 29 years previous to coming here.
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