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. 

Friday, October 17, 2014

PA for the Week of 10-20

Kindergarten and first grade talent development time this week is going to be spent crafting poems about Autumn.  Last week I took the groups outside and we recorded what we saw, felt, heard, and smelled during the peak of fall.  We will be using these sensory images to write poems about the season.  Later in the week, the kids and I will be reading an Iroquois folk tale titled "Chestnut Pudding" which has some similarities to the Tomie De Paola classic Strega Nona, so we will soon be drawing the parallels between the two tales.

Second Grade PA really got into the Haiku writing we worked on in class, so we are going to make a short book featuring the poetry styles of the Brookdale 7 in 2PA.  The kids will also begin working on a change matrix showing how characters in Frindle changed and how a character in the other Andrew Clements novel each second grader read changed.  The main focus of this activity will be to pull specific evidence from the text to illustrate the change in the author's own words, not simply an opinion held by the reader.

Third Grade PA will have Monday to rehearse their presentations based on The Green Book and the informational text Off to Class.  The teamwork, emerging leadership skills, effective communication, and planning I have observed in the kids has been the main focus of this project and the kids have done a great job. The kids will have work to do for this project over the weekend to be ready, so please help your son or daughter to remember their part.  Once the presentations are complete, the class will be reading several examples of poetry about Autumn.  I have assembled a collection of poems by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, Mark Slaughter, Gulliver Gimble, and a great poem about paying attention to the day by Eileen Spinelli that will be the jumping off point for a poem of their own creation that will be written in class next week.

The Fourth graders will have Monday-Thursday in class to complete their Secret Garden essays using their Google accounts.  The Google drive is cloud based so the kids can, and should, be working on this project at home for homework.  On Friday, we will be reading the Chris Van Allsburg picture book The Widow's Broom. This is a great picture book about a witches' broom that looses its power of flight and moves in with a widowed farmer and ends up causing quite the stir in the small town.

Fifth grade PA will be writing the proposal for their Capstone project this week.  This project is going to be due in May, but the planning, research, and critical thinking is going to take that long to complete.  The final presentation is going to be in the style of a TED talk. "TED is a global community, welcoming people from every discipline and culture who seek a deeper understanding of the world. We believe passionately in the power of ideas to change attitudes, lives and, ultimately, the world." The quote is from the TED mission statement and is at the heart of this project designed to have the students develop an idea that can change the world. Not all TED talks are appropriate for school, so I will be sharing a few with the kids in class and post links next week to a few that will, I hope, provide inspiration for the students to use as they begin the real work of this project.  Here is an example we will watch in class:

Have a great week everyone!

Friday, October 10, 2014

Malala Wins the Nobel Prize!

This morning, Malala Yousafzai became the youngest person ever to win the Nobel Prize.  Her prize was for Peace, and if you watch this young lady in action you will immediately know why.

PA for the Week of 10-14

Kindergarten and first grade talent development will be exploring imagery, specifically the imagery of Autumn.  The kids and I will spend some of our time outside exploring the grounds of Brookdale with graphic organizers to record what we hear, see, feel, and smell.  The organizers will be used to create a fall poem after we read some examples.

Second grade PA will be finishing up our work with "Lemonade" poems where one large word is broken into all of the other possible words that can be created using the letters of the original word.  The list of words created are then used to write a poem about the original large word.  These poems will be written as concrete poems, or a poem that looks like the topic of the poem...see the image below. At home this week, discuss the difference between things that are concrete and abstract.  Concrete things you can see or touch like the grass, and abstract things you cannot like love or friendship.

Third grade PA will continue working on their Shine projects and develop the presentations which will be given in class next week on Tuesday.  We will also be discussing "making a difference" using the Chris Van Allsburg book Ben's Dream next week when the presentations are complete. The kids have been working together, brilliantly, in teams for this project, and I have been blown away by what I've observed. Third graders are having complex conversations about learning, what should be learned, how to share and explain their ideas to peers, and what the kids of Shine need to know to survive. 

Fourth grade PA will finish The Secret Garden this week.  The kids and I have had a great time reading and talking about this classic novel. The students will be writing a summative essay on the book in class this week and next week. Everyone will have some homework to finish this 2-4 page piece by Thursday the 23rd.

Fifth grade PA will be working on a summative piece that connects all of the stories by Ray Bradbury we have enjoyed over the past few weeks. The kids and I will also discuss a final Bradbury story titled "The Veldt" about a nursery in the future where the walls can project any scene a child wants, but the veldt of Africa brings a few unwanted guests!

Tuesday, October 7, 2014

Lunar Eclipse Tonight

The third graders and I were talking about the lunar eclipse today in class and I wanted to share.  The eclipse will be visible at 5:55 AM if you want to wake up early and have a science moment with your son or daughter.

Friday, October 3, 2014

PA for the Week of 10-6

The new conference sign up is now on the blog.  Please sign up when you have a few minutes if you'd like to meet with me this November.

Kindergarten and First Grade Talent Development will be exploring an amazing picture book titled The Fantastic Flying Books of Mr. Morris Lessmore all week long.  This book inspired the Academy Award winning animated short film by the same name that we will also watch to compare the different ways of storytelling. Watch it at home after school on Monday

Second grade PA finished Frindle last week, and all of the students checked out another book by Andrew Clements to read for fun at home.  We will be comparing the similarities and differences between their independent book and the shared novel. We will also begin a poetry writing project using the book Lemonade and Other Poems Squeezed from a Single Word. The kids are going to brainstorm a list of very long words, cut them into their individual letters, and then make words using those letters to write a poem about the word itself.

Third Grade PA will be working on their school and accompanying curriculum for the students on planet Shine this week.  The kids will also be using to research uses for algae and jellyfish using BYOT devices or laptops.

Fourth Grade PA will continue our work with The Secret Garden, everyone needs to be at least to chapter 21 by Friday. We will be discussing the omnipresence of magic in the text, the symbolism of the robin, and the difference between Colin's life and Dickon's in our classroom conversations.

Fifth Grade PA is going to have a few weeks to explore the wonderful storytelling of Ray Bradbury. The kids came home with a short story to read this weekend called "The Pedestrian" and next week we will read "August 2026" and "Veldt" to further understand the 1950's, science fiction as a genre, and to analyze Bradbury's writing style.  I'm also planning on reading a great story to the kids called "The Scythe" about a farmer during the depression.


Please use the following link to sign up for November parent teacher conferences and please use your son or daughter's name.

My Wish for my Students