I would say that third grade was the peak of my elementary years. That was the year of Mrs. Caldwell, a tiny woman who made education entertaining. One might say she was a pioneer in edutainment. You may be asking, how is it possible to make school into something fun? I'm glad you asked.
Mrs. Caldwell taught us through the use of games and rewards. Every couple of weeks, we would be introduced to a new set of spelling/vocabulary words. Normally, one would find small children scoffing at the idea of learning the definitions of these third-grade-reading-level words. But Mrs. Caldwell, being the sneaky edutainer that she was, had us playing Concentration.
She had two boards, each with 16 individual cards. One side had the words. The other had definitions. If you've heard of Concentration, you know the object is to match the card on one board with the corresponding card on the other. For example, if you chose number 5 on the first board and got the word Superman, you would want to match it with its definition, "strange visitor from another planet" on the other. But where could that definition be? It could be 5, but probably not. Chances are it's some crazy number like 13 or 1. You just never know. We were always boys vs. girls (or as we liked to say, good vs. evil, but it was always an issue of debate who the good guys were, so we stuck with boys vs. girls). The winning team, got to eat popcorn in class the next day.
Mrs. Caldwell also held a classroom spelling bee each quarter. The winner of this special event was given a quarter and a pass to walk directly into the teachers' lounge to buy the student's soda of choice from the secret vending machine. That dream came true once for me. My arch-nemesis, Josh, won the spelling bee twice that year. Over-acheiving sack of crap. I never liked him. He always bugged my friend Justin for a nickel that he had let him have to buy lunch one day. I don't think he let go of that nickel until high school. Over-acheiving sack of crap.
Third grade was the year that we were introduced to team teaching. There were two classes, so the teachers would switch off on certain subjects. This is a popular method in our public school systems. This meant that I would have math with a familiar teacher: Mrs. Atkinson. She had moved up to the third grade from the first. It's like she was stalking the class of '98.
Third grade also reunited me with my friends Justin and Jessica, who had the good fortune of being in a different second grade class. Lucky them. Once third grade ended, I realized it was all downhill from there. Little did I know I wouldn't have it so good until I reached college.