Friday, December 19, 2014

Thank You!!!

Thanks for the kindness you have shown me during my first year as the PA teacher at Brookdale, and for making me feel so at home in a school I first walked into over 20 years ago.  All of the gifts and treats were so very thoughtful, and they will be shared with my family over the break.  Have an amazing holiday!

Mr. Schumann

Monday, December 15, 2014

5th Grade Middle School Qualification

As you know, all of the 5th graders will need to requalify for middle school Project Arrow.  The first batch of testing will take place during the first week of February.  These tests will be used for qualification for the ELA Project Arrow program.  We will take the math tests in the spring.  The following information may be helpful for you to review.

What is the format of the Iowa Assessments?

The Iowa Assessments are multiple choice tests so students use an electronically scored answer sheet to mark their choices.

 How are the tests scored?

Scores are reported using National Percentile Rank.  A percentile rank indicates the percentage of students in the same grade group whose scores fall below the score obtained by a particular student. For example, if a fifth grade student obtains a PR of 67 on the Reading Subtest, it means that 67 percent of the fifth grade students in the standardized sample received lower scores than this particular student. Please note the percentile rank is not the same as the percent of test items correct.

 Other frequently asked questions can be found at the following link: 


Friday, December 12, 2014

One More Week...

Kindergarten talent development students will only be coming to see me twice this week because of events in the classroom.  During our time we will explore the geometry of snowflakes and read an informational text, Snowflake Bentley, about the first man to capture close-up photography of individual snowflakes. 
First grade talent development students will also be exploring the geometry of snowflakes this week, but at a higher level by exploring the different shapes and attributes of those shapes.  The kids will be designing their own snowflakes using black paper and chalk.  We will also be reading a few fun stories that have a lot of connections to how the Brookdale neighborhood sparkles at this time of year.

Second grade PA will be finishing their posters about natural disasters that we began last week.  The kids did a lot of great research that was put to good use!  The rest of our time will be spent writing a short story about snowmen as a way of reviewing important story elements.  I developed a presentation with nine photographs of snowmen that will become the characters in a story that we will write in class.  Here are a few of our characters...snow.jpgsnowman.jpgfrosty-snowmen-instachallenges.jpg
snowman-rage-face.jpgsnowman eats child.jpgsnowman-does-handstand.jpg
Third grade PA will continue to explore how thinking can be the key to survival in The Girl Who Owned a City. There will be a few nights of reading and a reflection journal or two to write at home.  I am thrilled with how the kids have responded to this text.  You should see how completely engaged they are as we read and the extreme disappointment they show when we need to stop!

Fourth grade will also be writing creative snowpeople stories using the same photos as the second graders, but with more advanced story elements.  The kids will also have time to complete their group posters illustrating what life was like in Korea from 1910-1953.

Fifth grade PA will have some Capstone time this week and we will be reading an essay by Robert James Waller titled "One Good Road is Enough" about the journeys one can embark on in life.  The students will be writing their own version of the essay as well. 

Have a wonderful break!!!!!

Monday, December 8, 2014

This Week in PA

Kindergarten and first grade talent development students will be reading a version of Rumpelstiltskin in class on Monday and using the story throughout the week for a variety of critical thinking activities.  We will use text clues to create a mental image of Rumpelstiltskin that we will then draw, we will reconstruct his hut based on clues in the text and make inferences about what might be inside, and the kids will be asking thoughtful questions about the story to share and discuss as a group. On Friday we will read a different version of the tale and compare the two.

Second grade Project Arrow students will begin a mini-research project that ties into what the kids are working on in their own classrooms.  The second grade students are learning about natural disasters in their rooms, but in PA we are going to investigate three new natural disasters not covered in the classroom curriculum.  The kids and I will explore tsunami, lahars, and sinkholes.  I will share a few video clips showing the events as they happen, we will read a picture book about a tsunami that happened in Japan at the turn of the last century, and we will discuss the geology behind the disasters.  The kids will be using Instagrok to do their own research and create a poster to share in the classrooms.

Third grade PA will begin a novel study this week, once the novels I ordered arrive, hopefully by the time we have class today.  The book is titled The Girl Who Owned a City. This is a novel that I have used for years in the classroom, and former students almost always name it as a favorite.  The story is set in my home town of Glen Ellyn, so it was read by everyone when I was a kid. Parts of the story take place at my old elementary school, the neighborhood I grew up in, and the high school I attended.  The story begins at the end of a plague that kills everyone over the age of 12 across the planet leaving the kids to figure out how to live in a world without adults.  The main character, Lisa, is a strong 10 year old who uses her head to figure out how to survive.  It is a story of working together to make a difference in the lives of all the kids in her neighborhood.  The theme of making a difference will be the main focus to tie into the work that the third graders are doing in their own classrooms. Although the premise of the story sounds scary, it truly is a tale about working together and how thinking can save your life.  I'm sure you will hear all about it!

Fourth grade PA is going to take a break from all of the heavy material we have been covering on Monday to escape into a fun picture book.  The kids should continue to read the novel The Year of Impossible Goodbyes, the story needs to be read by next Monday.  This is a complex book about a family during the Japanese and Russian occupations of Korea from 1910-1953. Last week the kids learned some background knowledge about what life was like during this time and we had complex discussions about difficult circumstances the characters face.  Moving forward, this is a story about hope and how to rise above conflict.  The kids will be exploring some Korean history online during our time together as we continue to read and discuss how conflict can lead to change on different levels.

Fifth grade PA is going to be learning about GMO's, or genetically modified organisms and the farm to table movement in restaurants and farmer's markers across the country.  We will learn how to make a GMO, what Monsanto does for farmers, and discuss the positives and negatives of this technology.  The students will be reading a few articles on the subject to prepare for a class discussion about the use of these crops.  There will be homework on Wednesday night to prepare for the discussion.  There will also be Capstone time on Wednesday.

Sunday, November 30, 2014

PA for the Week of 12-1

Kindergarten talent development students will be working with an online database of literary and informational texts this week. Pebble Go houses ebooks on a wide range of topics that we will explore together.

First grade talent development kids will be exploring Tumblebook Cloud, an online library of informational and literary texts. 

Second grade PA students will be reading fractured fairy tales this week. Students will be comparing the original versions of stories we have read to modern "fractured" versions of the classics. 

Third graders will be exploring the idea of identity and change this week. We will begin with a picture book titled Enemy Pie. This story shows how characters change as our understanding of others evolves. The kids will be thinking about how our identity is influenced by relationships and experiences, and how change impacts people and our relationships in books we have read together in class.

Fourth grade PA will begin a novel study of The Year of Impossible Goodbyes this week. This is the story of a Korean family during the 30 year old struggle for Korean independence. The novel covers both World War II, when Japan occupied Korea, and the fight for one family to find freedom during the Korean War. The theme of conflict will be central to our conversations in class. How does conflict lead to change? How does conflict influence a character's life?

Fifth grade will be taking a standardized reading test in class two days this week, so we will only have three days of PA. The students will continue to read Little Women, translating it to 21st Century language, and we will continue the capstone project. 

Friday, November 21, 2014

PA for the Week of 11-24

I hope you all have a wonderful Thanksgiving!  Here is what we will be working on this week...

Kindergarten students will begin making an alphabet book based on Q is for Duck.  This is a fun story that mixes up the traditional ABC book by naming an action, quack, for the duck rather than putting Mr. Duck on the predictable D page.

First grade students will be learning about schema, or prior knowledge.  We will use a Cinderella story to discuss what we already know about the tale, our schema, and then after reading we will update the information with newly learned facts from the text.

Second grade PA will be reading the classic fairy tale Beauty and the Beast.  The kids in second grade will also be learning about schema with this story, but under the umbrella of our theme of change. 

Third graders will be finishing our time with Mr. Popper's Penguins this week.  Our seven word summaries will be discussed and teams will be working on a change matrix to show different examples of how characters changed in the novel.

Fourth grade PA will be looking at different examples of conflict in literary texts this week.  We will be reading the Bill Peet picture book The Wump World to examine different categories of conflict in the story. We will also begin our grammar unit this week.

Fifth grade PA will be reading a passage from the classic novel Little Women this week.  The focus will be on how Jo's actions impact different systems like her family system and economic systems.

Thursday, November 20, 2014

5th Grade Before School Session

Some of the 5th graders were not able to finish their films during PA today because of technical difficulties.  I am going to be in the PA room at 8:15 tomorrow morning, Friday, for any of the kids who need to finish their projects. 

Friday, November 14, 2014

PA for the Week of 11-17

Kindergarten talent development students will continue working on charting story elements this week.  The kids will be using a picture book about a five year old who tries to do her dad's job titled Bea and Mr. Jones. We will also be charting story elements using a few British commercials that feature stuffed animals coming to life.  The advertisements will be a jumping off point for creating a story about what our stuffed animals would say about us and what we would do with them if they came to life.

First grade talent development students are going to be reading literary and informational texts on the same topics and charting the differences. We will explore the hallmarks of each genre with the texts about dolphins and insects.

Second grade PA spent all last week dissecting the original version of Hans Christian Andersen's classic fairy tale The Snow Queen.  I did not expect the book to take a full week, so we will be continuing to read other fairy tales like the Grimm version of Little Red Riding Hood and Hansel and Gretel.  Later in the week we will be reading the 1875 version of The Gingerbread Boy and then exploring the idea of change with our readings of many modern versions of the story. 

Third Grade PA will be creating a British ABC book for Brookdale's World Culture Fair.  We will be examining the differences in vocabulary across the pond with words like "boot" and "bonnet" which we would call the trunk and hood of a car.  The class will also continue reading Mr. Popper's Penguins as we learn more about important story elements and point of view.

Fourth grade PA is going to be writing our critique of the film version of the Secret Garden, but this is an in school assignment, so don't plan on any homework for this writing project.  Later in the week we will begin reading a folktale from Japan titled "The Tongue-Cut Sparrow" that we will use for an in-depth discussion about theme.

Fifth graders are going to be creating their final films on an influential agent of change in South Africa.  If all goes well, this is the first time I've used this website, I will post the videos on my You Tube channel and send out links next week so you can watch from home.  Wish us luck!

Friday, November 7, 2014

5th Grade Film Project Links
F. W. de Klerk Biography
The Steve Biko Foundation

Dr. Christiaan Barnard, inventor of the human heart transplant operation
Nelson Mandela Foundation
Film program we will be using

Tutorial videos on how to use We Video

PA for the Week of 11-10

Kindergarten and first grade talent development students will be working on comparing story elements between a selection of texts I have in my classroom.  I will be using a comprehension strategy that the kindergarten and first grade teachers use called CLAPS (Characters, Location, Action, Problem, Solution).  I will be modeling how to fill in a graphic organizer, then the students will work in pairs, and finally the kids will do one all on their own. 

Second grade PA will be exploring fairy tales and what sets this genre apart from other stories.  We worked on this last week, so ask your son or daughter what makes this genre unique.  We will be reading Little Red Riding Hood, Hansel and Gretel, and The Snow Queen, the jumping off story for Frozen.  The kids will be creating a Venn Diagram showing how the stories are similar and different along with pulling out the key elements that make these three tales part of this genre.

Third grade PA will continue our grammar voyage using the Michael Clay Thompson book Grammar Island kids will also be reading the 1938 Newbery Honor book Mr.Popper's Penguins by Richard and Florence Atwater.  The focus of our reading will be to identify the key literary elements of plot, central themes, setting, protagonist, antagonist, and the point of view. 

Fourth grade PA will be spending the week evaluating Call it Courage, participating in a class debate about whether this novel was worthy of the Newbery Award, and we will begin an essay comparing the film version of The Secret Garden to the text we read last quarter.  There will be a one page writing assignment on Wednesday evening for homework.  In this piece, I'm asking the kids to write a letter to The Newbery Committee that explains the reasons why the book deserved the Newbery Medal, or why it did not, using the criteria we used to evaluate the book in class and the evidence they recorded on the form while reading.

Fifth grade PA will begin our film project about an agent of change in South African society who demonstrated courage.  We will be using the site to create the final product.  This will be a team assignment and groups will be dividing up the research tasks, storing images or video clips in their Google Drives, and then putting the final films together before the World Culture Fair on the 21st. 

Friday, October 31, 2014

PA for the Week of 11-3

PA progress reports were given to all of the students today, Halloween.  I know it gets crazy tonight, do be sure to ask your son or daughter to share their progress report with you this weekend.

Kindergarten talent development students will begin the week making inferences from a variety of National Geographic photography that has a message or story to tell. 

Here is an example...nature.jpg....and there's a story inside this image.  We will also be working on how to partner read, how to take turns reading, creating story maps, and reading a picture book titled Memoirs of a Goldfish

First graders will be reading a variety of books in small groups and creating story maps based on the important parts in the text.  The kids will also be using "story cards" with characters, settings, and events, to create stories of their own.

The second grade PA students are going to be finishing their "graphic novel" based on a page from The Mysteries of Harris Burdick next week.  When we are done with this project, the kids and I are going to begin to explore fairy tales, the components of fairy tales, and some of the history behind this genre.  Go crazy at the library in the 398.2 section and find some fun stories to read at home.

Third grade PA is going to be investigating the concept of theme in literary texts.  What is the theme of a book?  How do you figure out what the author was trying to tell the reader?  We will begin with some fables and move into a complex picture book about a mysterious object found at the bottom the sea. The third graders will also begin their grammar voyage this week! This will be an ongoing part of the third grader's time with me in PA.

Fourth grade will be continuing to read and analyze the 1941 Newbery winner Call it Courage.  The students should be finished with the book by the end of the week, so know that there will be some light reading homework for some of the students.  We are also going to be film critics this week as we will be comparing the novel The Secret Garden to the Francis Ford Coppola film version with Maggie Smith from 1993. This is going to be a fun week of PA!!!!

Fifth grade will be working on their Capstone projects this week on Wednesday, but we are also going to begin a mini-research unit on people who had the courage to change the apartheid system of government in South Africa.  Our research will include Nelson Mandela, F. W. DeKlerk, Steve Biko, and anyone else the kids come across in their research.  The product will be a short subject documentary film, narrated by the kids, including music that matches the theme of courage and change.  It's going to be great!

Have a great week everyone!

Thursday, October 30, 2014

The Raven by Edgar Allen Poe

The Raven written by Edgar Allan Poe. Read by James Earl Jones. 

    Poem text and reading by Sir Christopher Lee

Monday, October 27, 2014

Friday, October 24, 2014

PA for the Week of 10-27

As the first quarter comes to an end, I want to celebrate all of the hard work that the kids have done in PA.  The collaboration, critical thinking, research, exploration, and thoughtful conversations about the complex texts that we have read made coming to school a treat.  I am loving this new job and the little people I spend my days with. 

PA progress reports will be coming home with all of the students on Friday.  The district generated this progress report and all of the schools use the same form.  There are no letter grades given in PA, but progress is assessed in four categories.  The expectation is that every child should be at a level 3 on the form.  A 3 means that your son or daughter is performing right on track.  A score of 4 means that your son or daughter is doing extraordinary work in PA, so these scores will be rare.  Earning a 2 is an indication that some of the work done this quarter falls below the expectation for work completed by students with academic talents, while a 1 indicates that your son or daughter is doing inferior work that reflects little effort or dedication. 

 Here is what's going on in Project Arrow this week...

Kindergarten talent development time will be spent reading and investigating three of Aesop's fables.  We will be reading "The Crow and the Pitcher", "The Dog and his Reflection", and "The Lion and the Gnat" followed by conversations about the lesson or moral in the tales.  If you'd like to read some at home, this is a great resource:

First grade talent development students will be reading "The Fisherman and his Wife" by The Brother's Grimm.  After reading, we will be working on a sequencing activity and have conversations about cause and effect.  If you'd like to look at some of the work by these iconic authors, check out this link:

Second grade PA will be diving into one of my favorite picture books The Mysteries of Harris Burdick by Chris Van Allsburg.  If you are not familiar with this author, become familiar.  I have every picture book he has written and will be using them with all of the students at Brookdale over the years.  Our main focus will be discussing how words can change the way a reader looks at and thinks about a picture in a book.  At the end of the week, the kids will be writing a paragraph/short story about one of the images from the book.

Third graders are going to be reading a short story by Gail E. Haley titled "The Green Man" looking at the theme, main idea, and how characters change over time in a story. There is going to be a literature response homework assignment on Monday and the students will come home on Wednesday night with a 20-30 minute homework task as well.  There will not be 3PA on Friday because of the Halloween party.

Fourth grade is finished with The Secret Garden and will begin a new, shorter, novel by Newbery winner Armstrong Sperry titled Call it Courage. The book is about a Polynesian boy named Mafatu who longs to overcome his fear of the ocean on a lonesome journey that will change him forever and make him a hero in the eyes of his people.  The kids will be selecting a project to work on based on the novel, but most of the work for this will be done in class. 

Fifth grade PA is going to spend our week with a short story by Donna Hill titled "Ghost Cat" which can be downloaded for free here:  The kids will all be given a list of 8 questions I developed for a two day Socratic Seminar about the text.  The questions do not need to be answered in writing, but it is an expectation that students will take detailed notes, giving explicit examples from the text to support their thinking, and be ready to discuss each question on Thursday.  Moving forward, every Wednesday in 5PA will be devoted to the Capstone project.  Kids will have time to conference with me, work on research, and continue to develop their resources for this year long endeavor. 

My Wish for my Students