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Third Grade Content Connection Sample: Systems and Structures

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Systems and structures are ways of describing the patterns and organization of our world. A system consists of many parts, and structures allow these parts to work together. Third graders are beginning to recognize, understand, and use the concepts of systems and structures to describe and organize their world. This concept builds on community and relationships and extends the work of interrelationships. 

Systems and Structures can connect all 10 content areas as detailed below. 

Comprehensive Health and Physical Education

In comprehensive health and physical education, systems and structures are related to health and safety. For example, the systems of the body are interconnected. Following safety rules and planning for personal and community wellbeing fosters students’ awareness of their agency in maintaining personal and community wellness and is an application of the concept of structure.

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Comprehensive Health
Physical Education


In dance, systems and structures involve creating a systematic dance technique by moving with intent through coordinated control of the body. Examples include applying knowledge of body structure to produce a dance phrase or sequencing body movement based on systemic patterns and structures within the choreography.

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Drama and Theatre Arts

In drama and theatre arts, systems and structures refer to stage environments and scripted scenes. The ability to understand how a full production relates systems between the audience, performers, directors, and the elements of lighting and sound builds a fundamental understanding of the structure of these interconnected systems.

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In mathematics, systems and structures are discerned by an analysis of patterns and can be used to develop strategies for solving problems. For example, the structure of the base-ten place value system provides the basis for multi-digit arithmetic. Third graders are developing efficient algorithms using properties of numbers and the concept of place value.

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In music, systems and structures of basic western notation include the musical staff and elements of notation such as notes and rests. Third graders begin by applying teacher criteria to their musical compositions and then transfer their understanding of these criteria to basic music theory. 

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Reading, Writing, and Communicating

In reading, writing and communicating, systems and structures focus on grammar and language structures and communication organization. In third grade, this involves learning and applying the conventions of written and oral language. The knowledge and application of word analysis skills and comprehension strategies allow learners to interpret and construct text.

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In science, systems and structures involve examining the sum of many individual parts and how those parts interrelate to form the whole. For example, to understand why matter changes states as temperature changes you must examine the system (a large quantity of matter), the parts (the molecules that make up the matter) and their relationship to each other as the temperature changes. Understanding why many natural phenomena happen is dependent on looking at both the system and the structures underlying it.

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Social Studies

In social studies, systems and structures are ways of describing patterns and organizations of our world. History provides a lens to examine patterns of human interaction over time. Economics provides context for how communities produce and exchange goods. Civics examines how groups and governments work together to create a safe community. Geography provides perspective on how human and physical systems interact and impact one another. In social studies the examination of systems and structures provides the context for how communities interact and develop.

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Visual Arts

In visual arts, systems and structures require an understanding of the structural elements of art. For example, identifying patterns and relationships and ways to depict real-life situations through art are based on criteria and structural elements of proper techniques as well as the creative process system.

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World Languages

In world languages, systems and structures of sentence construction and grammar helps the understanding of written text or oral communication. For example, understanding the structure of German train schedules supports good transportation decisions. Understanding word structure helps learners move from learned vocabulary to unfamiliar vocabulary.

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Summary Document: All standards pages for systems and structures