Friday, December 18, 2015

Thank You!!!

Thank you for all of the warm wishes, gift cards, treats, and tokens of kindness this holiday.  Have an amazing two weeks with your families and look for a new post for our first week of 2016 on the 3rd.  Merry Everything!!!!

Mr. Schumann

Friday, December 11, 2015

A Poem....

One of the fourth graders wrote this version of Dream Deferred by Langston Hughes in class today.  I had to share...

What happens to a dream deferred?
Does it fall continuously through the dark?
Or, does it slide around like sap in the bark?
Does it jump and move trying to be free?
Or, does it get afraid and then flee?
Maybe it just mopes.
Or does it suddenly get tied to ropes?

Sort of love my job!!!!

TED Talks to Watch with Kids

The 5th graders and I got inspired by the TED talk titled In the Internet Age, Dance Evolves.  It's pretty amazing! 

PA and TD for the Week of 12-14

Kindergarten Talent Development will be writing final copies of our Snowmen at Night stories, illustrating them, creating a cover, and sharing the books with each other on Friday morning.  The kids have worked really hard on these and came up with some very creative tales. 

First Grade Talent Development will continue to read James and the Giant Peach during our final week of the year.  The students have really been captivated by this adventure story.  Everyone in the group should have brought home a flyer for the trip to see the play over break yesterday.  This is not a school trip, but an event set up by Alex's mom to see James and the Giant Peach, the play at Center Stage Theater on January 2nd at 7:00 PM.  I look forward to seeing some of my first grade friends and their families.  I just looked on the website, and two of my former students from May Watts are in the cast!

For Tickets:

About the play: 

Second Grade Talent Development will be finishing their creative writing projects with me this week.  

Third Grade PA will continue to match poetry with their identity this week.  This is an interesting introspective journey for the kids, reading dozens of poems, and finding ones that speak to who they really are.  We will be writing seven word summaries of the themes, and paragraphs that explain what about the poems connects with how the kids see themselves.  On Friday, we will share some of the poems that the kids picked. 

Fourth Grade PA will be working on our Harlem Renaissance themed poetry and working on analyzing a longer poem titled  "Freedom's Plow" in pairs.  If we have enough time, we will begin reading a short story by Isaac Singer titled "Zlateh the Goat" and discussing the themes of trust and interdependence. 

Fifth Grade PA will be finishing our research for the mini-TED talks we worked on all last week.  The talks won't be given until the second week of January. Students will be developing their visual component to the project and begin writing their scripts. 

Have a wonderful two weeks off everyone! 

Wednesday, December 9, 2015

Program Identification

CogAT scores have been sent home, and many parents are asking about how we identify students for placement in Project Arrow.  Everything you need to know is at this link:

Letters will be sent home with students the academic team at Brookdale have selected for testing along with parent requests on January 7th.

How to read the CogAT results:

Monday, December 7, 2015

PA and TD for the Week of 12-7

Kindergarten Talent Development will be spending the week with a great picture book titled Snowmen at Night.  We will be creating story maps to learn more about story elements, and then the kids are going to be working together to write their own version of the story that shows what snow people do when we are sleeping. 

First Grade Talent Development will continue reading James and the Giant Peach this week.  We will be talking about how this odd group of people create a very diverse community and if there are any traditions that this band of travelers are developing. 

Second Grade Talent Development will switch up this week with a new group of 13 students.  We will be working on a creative writing assignment using photographs of snowmen in interesting situations and poses.  These will become characters in a picture book that we will be working on for the next two weeks. 

Third Grade PA will be presenting their projects in class on Tuesday, and then we will move into a mini-unit on poetry and themes. The students will be searching a poetry database to find poems that express their identity and how they see themselves. We will also be looking at song lyrics for this activity to find a song that your child identifies with.

Fourth Grade PA will continue our work with Langston Hughes' poetry from The Harlem Renaissance. The kids and I will be dissecting some off his poems to better understand them.

Fifth Grade PA will begin their research for the TED talk on an inspirational young person this week.  

Wednesday, December 2, 2015

5th Grade TED Talk Examples

Starting on the 7th of December, the fifth grade PA students will begin a mini-research project on an inspirational young person that they will turn into a TED talk to give to the class.  All of the specifics will be shared in class, but the link above is a great place to start.  The TED talks are all given by young people about one of their passions...sound familiar?  This short TED talk will prepare the kids for the big Capstone TED talk that everyone will be giving in May. I'm sharing this link to Time Magazine's "30 Under 30" list of inspiring young people with the kids next week:
This list is just a suggested starting place, but the students can give their TED talk on ANY inspirational young person.  

Note to Parents: Skip the TED talk titled " A Warrior's Cry Against Child Marriage" as it contains material not appropriate for 5th grade.

Monday, November 30, 2015

Naperville Reads

7 pm - Naperville Reads Family Event  All 18 authors will be present for this event. Tickets are required for this event and can be obtained for free at  

Location: Pfeiffer Hall, 310 E. Benton Ave. (North Central College)

Books will be available for sale at the event.

Tuesday, November 24, 2015

PA and TD for the Week of 11-30

Kindergarten Talent Development will be reading a short story by A. A. Milne titled "Eeyore has a Birthday" together in class.  We will be looking for clues to uncover the truth about he a "bear of very little brain" or is he one of the smartest of the bunch? We will also be trying to figure out why Piglet wants to be first with his present and what we would do with an empty pot. 

First Grade Talent Development will be reading one of the Nate the Great books together and then diving into a much more challenging text.  The kids asked that we read Superfudge by Judy Blume as a follow-up to Tales of a Fourth Grade Nothing that we read last year in Kindergarten, but after rereading the novel myself, I found a few questionable items in the text so I picked another classic.  We will begin Roald Dahl's James and the Giant Peach as a vehicle to understand character traits and an amazing adventure story. 

Second Grade Talent Development will be finishing up our work with Mr. Popper's Penguins this week by discussing the answers to the questions the group has been working on.  The main focus will be the multiple perspectives found in the answers and if a question can have more than one "right" answer.  I will also be showing the group how hearing another student's ideas can shape their own thinking about a topic or a story in a new way. 

Third Grade PA will be creating a Google Slide presentation to give to the class about their plan for a new city based on the novel The Girl Who Owned a City. Teams will be planning for food and supplies, defense of their new city, the location of their city, writing a constitution and set of laws for the city, and developing slides that show how the team's original ideas and thinking would make their city truly work.  

Fourth Grade PA will be developing questions for their Socratic Seminar on all the possible Newbery books we have been reading.  Then, we are going to switch gears and examine a period of U.S. history that brought about a revolution of sorts with the arts. The fourth graders and I will begin learning about the Harlem Renaissance.  To build some background on our PA themes of conflict and how that leads to change, we will be learning about Jim Crow laws that followed slavery in the south and how that led to large migrations of black people to places like Harlem where a rebirth of the arts took place in painting, jazz, and poetry.  Our first poet will be Langston Hughes.   I have 18 pages of his poetry that we will be reading and discussing. 

Fifth Grade PA will have until Wednesday the 2nd to complete the questions about our two poetry novels.  Then, we will be developing questions for a multi-day Socratic Seminar comparing the two books using the 12 pages of writing the kids have completed. The students have done an amazing job with all of this work!!!

Friday, November 20, 2015

Thanksgiving Week

I hope that everyone has a wonderful Thanksgiving surrounded by family friends, and great food.  Here is what we will be doing on Monday and Tuesday.

Kindergarten and First Grade Talent Development students will be working in teams to create a Thanksgiving themed alphabet book.  

Second Grade Talent Development will continue our work with Mr. Popper's Penguins to develop comprehension strategies. The kids can read and work on the questions at home too. 

Third, Fourth, and Fifth Grade PA will spend our time working on our three different grammar units of study.  The students are doing really well with diagramming sentences, so far just the eight parts of speech. 

Fourth graders need to finish reading their possible Newbery books by November 30th.

Fifth graders need to have their second poetry novel finished, along with the six questions by December 2nd at the start of class.

Third graders can read all they want of The Girl Who Owned a City!

Thursday, November 12, 2015

PA and TD for the Week of 11-16

Kindergarten Talent Development will be continuing our work comparing The Day The Crayons Quit and The Day The Crayons Came Home during our time this week. 

First Grade Talent Development will be finishing up their Venn Diagrams comparing an informational text and a literary text on the same topic this week.  The facts students pulled from the texts were very detailed last week!  Later in the week, we will be moving on to explore a few ebooks and pulling out story elements.

Second Grade Talent Development will begin a novel study using Mr. Popper's Penguins. The students will be working on answering complex questions using evidence from the novel and their own experiences. 

Third Grade PA will continue learning about the eight parts of speech this week, examining the ideas of identity and change using The Girl Who Owned a City, and we will be searching for poems that match the major themes in the novel.  The "child families" in class will also be planning for their future just like the kids on Grand Avenue. 

Fourth Grade PA will continue to review the eight parts of speech this week, and we will begin a new reading project.  Mrs. Furstenau and I have used the recommendations from Anderson's Bookstore in downtown Naperville to assemble a collection of books up for the 2015 Newbery Award.  The kids will all be reading a different book and evaluating it using the same criteria we used to evaluate Call it Courage. The fourth graders will be expected to read their book at home for 30 minutes each night.  The kids and I will be having a multi-day Socratic Seminar discussing the qualities in each story that make it a potential award winner.

Fifth Grade PA has been doing a wonderful job keeping up with the increasing demands of the work we are doing.  By Monday the 16th, everyone needs to have completed their first of the two books, Brown Girl Dreaming or Crossover, and answered the six questions in the packet they all have.  This week, we will be working in four teams to use a Visible Thinking strategy called "Connect, Extend Challenge" to go deeper into the text.  Visible Thinking is a project from Harvard that is influencing my teaching this year and changing the way I am approaching PA.  For more information you can read here: 
For Capstone work at home, please review these expectations with your child:
1) Two times per week, for 20-30 minutes students should be researching their subject at home.
2) Each time students work on the project, they need to fill out their progress log on paper or on a Google Doc.
3) Each time students find a new resource, they need to record it on their resource log on paper or on a Google Doc.
4) For every resource, students should record on their Google Doc what important information they found in their own words with the link to the site used, or the title of the book/article. 

Wednesday, November 11, 2015

Thursday, November 5, 2015

Project Arrow and Talent Development for the Week of 11-9

Kindergarten TD students will continue working on comparing story elements this week during our time together.  We will begin by making a Venn Diagram together using two books we have already completed, then it will get a little more challenging.  We are going to compare two books that are very similar The Day the Crayons Quit and The Day the Crayons Came Home. There are so many similarities in the two books, so finding the differences will take some time and a lot of mental energy. The kids will be working in teams using huge chart paper to note the differences in the two books. 

First Grade TD has some homework this weekend.  Everyone came home on Thursday with their copy of the novel Frindle.  The assignment is to read all the way up to chapter 15 by Monday, about 12 pages. We will be discussing the book, but we will also be going to the LMC to check out an informational text and a literary text on the same topics to create a Venn Diagram that compares the structure of the texts, not the information read.  How are the types of books organized? How is information shared?  Are the illustrations and pictures the same?

Second Grade TD will rotate again this week with 11 new students coming to see me for the next month.  Our first task will be learning about the mood and tone of stories and how authors create the mood and tone in picture books. I will be defining tone as "the author's attitude towards the subject of the book" and mood as "the emotions the story arouses in a reader."  Deep topics for second grade, but a fun way to explore the first steps to becoming deeper readers. 

Third Grade PA will be continuing with our grammar unit on parts of speech, and we will begin diagramming sentences.  The class will also continue reading the novel The Girl Who Owned a City.  There are two main questions we will be focused on as we read that come from 4th grade ELA standards:
1) Our identity is influenced by relationships and experiences. How are Lisa and Todd’s experiences changing their identity? Use specific evidence from the text to make your thinking visible.

2) Change impacts people and our relationships by causing us to respond. How are Lisa and Todd responding to change differently than their neighbors? Use specific evidence from the text to make your thinking visible.

The class will be writing 8-10 sentence answers to these questions that will be due on Friday, possible homework to finish.

Fourth Grade PA needs to finish the short novel Call it Courage by Monday. We will be working with a new strategy to share our thinking about the book called color, symbol, image. As we go through Call It Courage, students will make note of things that they found interesting, important, or insightful and choose 3 of these items that stood out the most. For one of these, kids choose a color that they feel best represents or captures the essence of that idea. For another one, choose a symbol that they feel best represents or captures the essence of that idea. For the other one, choose an image that they feel best represents or captures the essence of that idea. These will be shared in groups, and then everyone will begin writing their letters to The Newbery Committee explaining why the book should or should not have been given the medal in 1941 using the criteria set out by the ALA. On Friday, Mrs. Furstenau and I will be giving book talks about the novels up for the Newbery in 2016 that we will begin reading.

Fifth Grade PA will be spending our week working on Capstone projects and reading the two novels Crossover and Brown Girl Dreaming.

Friday, October 30, 2015

PA and TD for the Week of 11-2

Project Arrow progress reports were sent home on Friday in an envelope that will be in your son or daughter's backpack.  Here is the plan for next week...

Kindergarten Talent Development will continue to work on a few logic puzzles this week, but we will also begin something new.  The kids and I will explore three books this week, Dr. Ted by Brookdale's resident author Andrea Beaty, Peanut Butter and Cupcake, and a version of The Three Little Pigs. We will be working on a three stage story map that will compare story elements from all three books and lead to a good discussion about how books can be different.

First Grade Talent Development finished the "Frightening Fruit" stories last week, shared them with the class, and they were brought home.  This week, we will try to finish reading Frindle and work on mapping examples of change in the text. 

Second Grade Talent Development will be finishing their butterfly effect timelines that we have been working on, and then we will be discussing interdependence, a topic being explored in the classrooms.  We will be learning about natural disasters and how the rescue efforts are an example of interdependence.  I have three information articles about responses to different disasters that illustrate how people work together in times of need that we will be reading together. 

3PA will only see me three days this week because of an assembly on Thursday and conferences on Friday.  We will be learning more about how adjectives modify nouns and learning about articles and how they act as adjectives as well.  Then the kids will begin reading a new novel written by O. T. Nelson titled The Girl Who Owned a City. This book is special to me because it is set in Glen Ellyn, IL where I grew up.  The main character's house is only a few blocks away from my childhood home.  The story begins at the end of a plague that killed everyone in the world over 12 years of age, so the kids are left alone to try to figure out how to make things work again.  The narrative fits in perfectly with our themes of change, conflict, and systems as well as our learning about complex story elements.  I've used this book for years and the kids LOVE the novel so I cannot wait to get started. 

4PA will continue with grammar, but we will also start a new project that I am excited to introduce.  The class will be reading the 1941 Newbery Medal winner Call it Courage by Armstrong Sperry.  It is an adventure story about a boy's journey to find courage on an isolated island.  The kids will all be given the Newbery criteria that are used to select the winning book each year and deciding if the committee made the right choice in awarding the medal to this title.  I am anticipating great Socratic Seminars discussing how books for younger readers have evolved since the 1940's, and given the high quality of literature for kids now, if this book would even be a consideration today.  This will lead into a mock Newbery award book club.  Mrs. Furstenau and I have teamed up for this idea.  She bought twelve books that are up for the 2016 Newbery that students will be reading, not all of them, but a few.  The class and I will be evaluating the texts using the Newbery criteria and discussing which text is most worthy of the award.

5PA will be continuing our grammar voyage this week, taking an assessment on theme, and then we get to start a great novel project!  My thanks goes out to the parent who purchased 16 copies of two books I had on my Amazon wish list last year, because without the donation I would not have been able to do this unit.  The class will be reading two different award winning novels that were published last year, Crossover by Kwame Alexander and Brown Girl Dreaming by Jacqueline Woodson.  Both are amazing, and both are written in verse.  We will be using the following questions, pulled from 6th grade ELA standards, to guide our reading:

  1. Describe how each story's plot unfolds in a series of episodes as well as how the characters respond or change as the plot moves toward a resolution.
2. What is the central idea/theme of the text? How do you know?

3) How do the author’s choices impact the development of a text?

4)  How does word choice affect the reader’s understanding of the text?

5)   How does the structure of a text contribute to my understanding?

6) How do the characters evolve from the beginning of the story to the end?

Wednesday, October 28, 2015

All Students Invited to Conferences

For the upcoming PA conferences, I want to include the students.  I have done this in the past and found the discussions to be much more impactful if the student is there because everything discussed will be about their performance and setting goals for the second quarter.  Please make every effort to bring your son or daughter to our meeting. 

Red on Thursday!

As some parents may be aware, this past June our amazing Teacher Assistant, Kelly Skowronski, suddenly lost her teenage son, Matt. 
On Thursday, we are asking students at Brookdale to wear red in remembrance of Matt to help celebrate his birthday, which is on Friday.  We know Mrs. Skowronski would appreciate all the support we can give her.
Thank you again for supporting RED OUT!

Friday, October 23, 2015

PA and TD for the Week of 10-26

Kindergarten Talent Development will be learning about writing a reading response journal entry this week.  The kids and I will be reading a variety of Halloween poems for young kids and writing reading responses about them.  We will also continue to work on logic problems during our time together. 

First Grade Talent Development did an amazing job developing their ideas for "Frightening Fruit" stories last week.  During class we learned about words that describe nouns, adjectives, and I introduced a story mapping strategy used by the first grade teachers called CLAPS. C=characters, L=location or setting, A=important actions in the story, P=the problem, and S=the solution to the problem.  The kids have completed a story map and are now writing their spooky fruit stories.  We have rotting raspberry zombies, caged cantaloupes, chopping cherries, ornery oranges, killer kiwis, bad bananas, and murdering mangoes.  The stories are all very creative and we will continue working on this project this week. 

Second Grade Talent Development students are going to be examining "the butterfly effect" for the next few weeks.  The second grade team asked me to dive into this topic they have been examining in the classroom but at a higher level.  So, I have assembled a collection of Halloween themed books for everyone to read.  Next, we will imagine that we could jump into the story to intervene at a critical part and alter the trajectory of the narrative. Kids will be making a timeline of the original tale, and then creating an alternative timeline showing how the story would have turned out differently after the intervention.  This should be a lot of fun!

Third and Fourth Grade PA will begin our grammar mini-unit this week.  The main focus of the first part of Michael Clay Thompson's Grammar Island and Grammar Town programs we use in PA are the parts of speech. This image will be used in class to show the eight parts of speech and how they are related:
Learning the parts of speech will be our main focus for the week.

Fifth Grade PA will have three days to work on the Capstone this week.  On Monday, I will be showing the class how they will be recording their progress and collecting information from their research.  On Tuesday and Wednesday the kids will be writing their Capstone proposal, or the initial idea they have for their projects.  I have met with every student to discuss their ideas already and am impressed.  I know that there is some anxiety about narrowing the ideas the students have, and some ideas are still vague and underdeveloped, but know that I will be helping to refine and focus the proposals this week.  It's hard with 26 kids, and an hour a week for Capstone to individualize instruction, but I am doing my very best.  That's why we will be spending three hours this week on developing the proposals. The main research focus for the next few weeks will be to identify the problem and find research that PROVES that the issue central to the project is truly a problem. If a student is concerned about air pollution or an endangered animal, then find the facts that PROVE that there is air pollution or the reasons an animal is threatened.  This is a long journey and many of the kids want to rush to the end, not so fast! Imagine we are on the yellow brick road...right now we are just standing next to the house that got dropped on the Wicked Witch of the East, I know that we need to meet the Scarecrow soon and find other friends and go to Oz, but right now we need to take the first steps on the journey.  Our focus for the next few weeks is only identifying the problem and researching facts about it.  The kids will miss one day of PA because of their field trip, and on Friday we are going to have some fun with Poe's "The Raven" and grammar. 

Monday, October 19, 2015

PA and TD for the Week of 10-19

Last week was a bit crazy as I was the music teacher on Monday, and the sub I had for Friday got pulled to teach kindergarten.  Hopefully this week will be a regular week for the kids.  

Kindergarten Talent Development will be spending the week with the Brother's Grimm.  We will be reading Rumplestiltskin, making predictions, and looking for the magic number 3 in this fairy tale.  On Friday we will also begin to work on some logic puzzles that require some out of the box thinking. 

First Grade Talent Development will be revisiting a writing activity we did last year using the book Creepy Carrots.  Last year, the kids worked on a new version of the story using vegetables.  Who could forget Spooky Spinach or Bad Broccoli? This week...we're going for the fruit with our "Frightening Fruit" stories.  I am excited to see where the kids go with this creative writing assignment.

Second Grade Talent Development will spend the week moving through different stations in my classroom to explore the wonderful wordless picture books of David Weisner.  Students will be making inferences to find the narrative of the tales. 

Third Grade PA will finish their presentations for our Shine School on Monday.  On Tuesday, we will begin reading a short story titled "The Green Man", a story with an environmental theme.  The class will have some reflection homework as the week goes on.  We will be investigating theme with this story, and with a collection of fables. 

Fourth Grade PA will have until Thursday to finish their essay on The Secret Garden.  This week, we will be watching the Francis Ford Coppola film version of the book.  The kids and I will have a Socratic Seminar to discuss which version told the story better, the book or the film.  We will then get into teams to compare the concept of change in The Secret Garden and The Miraculous Journey of Edward Tulane which the kids read in their classrooms.  Teams will be making posters to compare the examples of change, and the themes of the two books. 

Fifth Grade PA will be finishing up our work with Ray Bradbury this week with a two day Socratic Seminar comparing the themes of all of the stories we have read, and looking at the stories from a writer's perspective to uncover how this author creates suspense and draws the reader in.  The students are now running the seminars and doing a fantastic job.  later in the week, we will spend some time with a short story titled "Ghost Cat" from The William and Mary curriculum.

Have a great week...go Cubbies! 

Thursday, October 8, 2015

PA and TD for the Week of 10-13

Kindergarten Talent Development will be learning about the game SET next week. SET builds cognitive, logical and spatial reasoning skills as well as visual perception skills while playing a game! Because it has a rule of logic (three cards that are all the same or all different in each individual feature), and because players must apply this rule to the spatial array of patterns all at once, they must use both left brain and right brain thought processes. This fun game actually exercises your brain!We will also be reading the Brother's Grimm classic, "Rumplestiltskin" to learn more about story elements.

First grade Talent Development will be learning about making inferences in a text. I will be using the picture book The Stranger by Chris Van Allsburg to introduce this concept.  We will then use the novel Frindle to continue making inferences as we read. 

Second grade Talent Development will rotate again this week, all new students will be joining me for a three week investigation of making inferences using picture books.  The basic formula for making in inference is like a math problem.  What the text says + my schema (prior knowledge) = my new understanding or an inference.  

Third grade PA will be presenting their Shine projects on Wednesday. The rest of the week we will be reading poetry about Autumn, discussing the elements of poetry, and writing our own poems about fall.

Fourth grade PA knows that our novel The Secret Garden should be finished by the time class starts on Tuesday.  This week, the kids will be selecting one of three comprehensive essay questions about the text. This essay will be written on a Google Doc in class.  There is a surprise on Friday!!!

Here are the three choices for the essay:

1) Throughout the novel, Mary and Colin are described as being "a perfect match" for one another. Why? What are their similarities?
When first we meet them, they are both extremely unlikable.
Does the narrator hold them responsible for their flaws?
If they are not responsible, who is? How do they change as the book progresses?

2)The Secret Garden, as its title suggests, is a novel organized around the motif of secrets. Which are the narrative's most pivotal secrets? How are they discovered? Explain the significance of the ways in which they are discovered. How do the “secrets” change the characters?

3) Compare Dickon's background with Mary's and Colin's.
How is it different? How do class differences function in the novel?
Why is Dickon so often described as "common"? Does this contradict or support the idea that he is "a Yorkshire angel"? Finally, select one of the three characters and explain why he or she is your favorite.

4) Examine the situation of servants in the novel. What is a servant's life like? How are they treated? How does the narrator regard servants? How does Mary’s attitude toward Martha evolve as the story progresses?

Fifth grade PA will be finishing up our look at the writing of Ray Bradbury in the next five days.  This week we will be reading a story about a time travel safari company looking for a T-Rex.  The kids will be focused on the themes of the stories we have read, how the idea of change can be found in every story we read, and what it is about Bradbury's writing that draws the reader in so well.  Wednesday is our Capstone day, the kids will begin to write their project proposals.  The final proposal is due on Wednesday the 21st, and all of the work will be done at school.

Wednesday, October 7, 2015

Go Cubbies!

Maybe Back to the Future 2 was right?

Conference Sign-up

Use this link to sign up for a conference:

Conferences are for PA students only.  There are not enough slots for the many students who come to talent development. 

Friday, October 2, 2015

PA and TD for the Week of 10-5

Kindergarten Talent Development students will continue their work with the five senses this week.  Last week we used books on the farm and the observations the kids made on their field trip to compare how a book and a real experience are different.  This week, the kids will be writing sensory poems about one word, "Happiness sounds like..." using all of the five senses.

First Grade Talent Development is going strong with Frindle.  This week, we will be reading more of the book as a group and playing some dictionary games searching for specific words or for a word that means the same as _____. 

Second Grade Talent Development will be comparing the research we did last week with picture books on the same subject to see if authors really use facts when they write fiction.  What in the book is accurate and what is made up?  

Third Grade PA will have one more week to work on their team projects based on The Green Book.  The groups had some really good conversations as they developed the course descriptions and essential questions for the school on Shine.  I am excited to see what the schools they design next week will look like. 

Fourth Grade PA is doing great work with The Secret Garden. The discussion at our first Socratic Seminar was really impressive.  One of the kids connected the metaphor of "closed doors" in The Secret Garden to Paulo Levi's mother's closed violin case in The Mozart Question AND last year's book The Tiger Rising with Rob's closed suitcase of emotions after his mother's death.  I was blown away with the quality of thinking on display.  This week we will continue reading, discussing, comparing characters, and examining conflict and change in this classic.  I hope to have the kids finish the novel this week. 

Fifth Grade PA will continue our exploration of Ray Bradbury this week with two more short stories, "The Rocket" about a father giving his kids the trip of a lifetime to Mars, and "August 2026, There Will Come Soft Rains" about a house of the future.  The class will also be reading an article from The New York Times about "Marginalia" or the practice of writing thoughts all over texts, a fancy name for annotating the text.  Our Capstone explorations of passions will continue on Wednesday this week.  Last week, kids explored clean water, string theory, protective clothing for athletes, animal poaching, rebuilding after natural disasters, and theater programs for kids with Downs Syndrome.  It was pretty awesome!  On Friday we will have a Socratic Seminar, the first that kids will evaluate each other using our rubric, on what the father in "The Veldt" could learn from the father in "The Rocket." I want to thank Bill Follin for sharing "The Rocket" with me, what an amazing story!

Thursday, October 1, 2015

PA PTA Message

Hello PA Families,
I spoke briefly at the PA curriculum night about the IPPA PTA  (Indian Prairie Project Arrow PTA).  Going forward I'll call it the PA PTA.  The purpose of this group is to show the state how much we care about the PA program since it is not mandated nor funded by the state.  In light of educational budget cuts we need to show the state our desire to ensure this program continues. You can show your support by becoming a member of the PA PTA.  The $10 membership fee also helps support our teachers, bring programs to the kids, speakers to the parents and sends 4 teachers to the IAGC onference.

During the first meeting of this year, Sept 22, Amber Morgan the District 204 Instructional Specialist detailed the PA program.  Mentioning that this year PA will be aligned with the common core standards.  This helps substantiate the program to the state.  PA will also be connecting it's themes with those in the classroom.  She went over how they identify children that are ready for PA and Talent Development (grades K-2).  Using the CBM reading test, Iowa Assement CogAt, standarized test scores and observational data. 

Last year for the first time the PA PTA held a High School Transition forum.  They invited families whose children were in PA classes and asked the teens and their families the effects of being in PA and the transition to high school.  This was found to be very informative and successful.  They hope to do it again this year as well as a forum for those transitioning into middle school.

The subsequent meetings will be:
  • November 2015: Date and location TBD for HS Honors Transition Nigh
  • January 2016: Tentative — Date and location TBD for Middle School Transition Night
  • February 23, 2016: 7:00 – 8:30 pm Crouse Education Center*
  • April 19, 2016: 7:00 – 8:30 pm Crouse Education Center (780 Shoreline Drive, Aurora, IL 60504)
You can get connected with the PA PTA through a google group (provide your email to, a Facebook page (Indian Prairie Project Arrow PTA) and the district website ( and more specifically 

Most importantly please contact us with any questions, concerns and suggestions.

Thank you
The Brookdale PA PTA Liasons
Dina Bradshaw (
Nicole Briggs     (
Kristen Harding  (

Friday, September 25, 2015

Lunar Eclipse

The moon will pass through Earth's shadow in a dazzling total lunar eclipse on Sunday, Sept. 27 between 7:11 and 9:11 our time. Go outside as a family to see how amazing our solar system is in 3D! 

Thursday, September 24, 2015

PA and TD for the Week of 9-28

Thanks to all the parents who came out to Curriculum Night on Wednesday.  As always, if you have any questions about what was covered, please send me an email.  Here is what we will be working on...

Kindergarten Talent Development will spend the week investigating the farm and the five senses using informational texts as the kids get ready for their first field trip to the farm.  When they come back, we are going to make a big Venn Diagram comparing how the books showed how things on the farm look, smell, feel, and sound to what they experienced with their own senses.  I should have said four senses as we will not be tasting any farm things in class.

First Grade Talent Development will continue reading the novel Frindle together in class.  What is Mrs. Granger going to do to try to knock the silliness out of Nick? How are words created? What is Nick going to do this year in school?  All will be answered next week.

Second Grade Talent Development  will spend the week researching a topic of their choice using This is a wonderful research tool that creates mind maps with layers of information.  We will be doing a lesson comparing the usable information found in a Google search to the information found when Groking.  I will be following the research strategy learned in the LMC of plan, do review.  The kids will also be comparing the information found online to a literary text on the same topic.  

Third Grade PA will be continuing our work on the Shine school project this week.  The kids have been working on developing a list of the materials available on Shine before any more planning is done, good idea Joey! Once the lists of what is available are complete, teams will begin designing and planning the school and the classes the kids will be taking up in this strange new world.  Don't be surprised if some of the kids want to do some at home research on the uses of jellyfish!

Fourth Grade PA will be learning about Socratic Seminars this week.  We will be going over the guidelines for a seminar, learning the difference between open and closed questions, and developing questions we will use in our first seminar on chapters 1-15 of The Secret Garden. The students will be given a few choices for an essay on the novel on Friday, but the essay won't be written until we complete the book.  I want the kids to have the questions now so they can gather relevant evidence from the text to support their thinking when it comes time to do the writing.

Fifth Grade PA will be reading the Ray Bradbury short story "The Veldt" this week to examine the role of technology in our lives. The students will be selecting one of the following essay questions write about in class:
  1. Do you think this story would work the same if it were literally about TV in the 1950s instead of the virtual reality nursery? What would be different about that version of this story? Is this story really about TV or is it about some larger issue?

  1. The virtual reality room is important, but what about the rest of the technology? How does the house interact with the family? What other gadgets does Bradbury mention? Is there a pattern to what gadgets the Hadleys have in their house?

  1. Do you feel like you're really there in Africa when Bradbury describes the scene? How does Bradbury describe it? We think he describes a lot of smells (possibly just because the word "odorophonic" is funny and starts with "odor"). But maybe you noticed other senses he uses. How do his descriptions affect your reading?

 We will be having a "Genius Hour" on Wednesday to explore passions for The Capstone project.  The students will be going deeper into their passions to find examples of what breaks their hearts about the topics.  

Wednesday, September 23, 2015

SMA Video...Capstone Related

Here is a video ad for this year's SMA fundraiser that I spoke about with the fifth graders today. Two of my former students created Angie's Hope, would have made a great Capstone.

Angie's Hope Foundation:

Ted Talk on clean water:

Monday, September 21, 2015

5th Grade Capstone Homework

We will take the first step on the Capstone journey this week on Wednesday.  The 5PA students need to read about these 8 amazing kids who are making a difference in the world before class on Wednesday.

Friday, September 18, 2015

PA and TD for the Week of 9-21

PA and Talent Development Curriculum Night is on Wednesday evening the 23rd.  From 6:00-6:30, I will be meeting with Project Arrow Parents who did not have a child in PA last year.  This is a group of 12 parents, so we will be meeting in the PA classroom.  From 6:30-7:00ish, I will be meeting with all PA and TD parents in the LMC to give an overview of what we will be learning about this year and answer any questions you might have. 

Kindergarten Talent Development will begin this week with my first small group of students.  Students are selected for this class based on classroom performance, teacher observations, and CBM data that shows student reading skills that are way above grade level peers.  The kids and I will be investigating story elements using a book about a cat, a spaceship, aliens, and a group of warrior insects titled Mr. Wuffles by David Wiesner.  

First Grade Talent Development will be really going beyond first grade expectations this week as we begin the David Clements novel Frindle. We will be discussing different conflicts in the book, how the conflicts get resolved, and the impact these conflicts have on different characters.  The concepts of internal and external changes will also be part of our shared reading experience.  We will be starting off the week on Monday and Tuesday by finishing up Snow White from last week.  Then on Thursday, the group will be shuffled up a bit after the first grade teachers and I met to review CBM data, classroom observations and performance, and discuss which students are showing the highest reading and thinking skills in first grade. 

Second Grade Talent Development students will be adding a new word to our understanding of figurative language this week, metaphors.  Teams of kids will be trying to unlock the meanings of common metaphors like "She is the apple of my eye" and "You are the light of my life."  Then, pairs of students will be exploring a variety of picture books and poems looking for as many examples of metaphors as they can find. 

Third Grade Project Arrow will begin a group project this week based on the novel The Green Book that we completed last week.  The kids will be developing a school on Shine!  This project is a result of the third grade team and I trying to connect the learning in the classroom with what we do in PA.  The third graders will be reading a book called Off to Class: Incredible and Unusual Schools Around the World in their classrooms, but we will take the idea of unusual classrooms and apply it to planet Shine.  What would the school look like, what would be taught there, what resources are available? The teams will be creating a list of relevant courses for the kids on Shine, a curriculum, and creating models of the actual school building.  The students will be bringing in some materials from home for this, but please don't go buy anything! The kids should be working on their journals, written from Patti's point of view, for 20 minutes each night at home this week. 

Fourth Grade PA really dove into The Secret Garden last week with gusto and ended up reading far more than I originally thought, which is just fine.  I am not the teacher who wants to stop kids from reading.  For the 30 minutes of reading each night, please make sure that everyone has read up to chapter 15 by Friday.  This week, we will be working on creating effective 7 word summaries of chapters 1-10, and debating which were the most accurate.  We will also begin conflict mapping different issues in the novel.  The class will have a short writing homework assignment on Wednesday as well. 

Fifth Grade PA will be dissecting the Ray Bradbury short story "The Scythe" this week.  This is the story of a depression era farmer who makes a very unusual discovery on a farm during the Dust Bowl. The class will be looking for examples of change in the story and developing questions for a two day Socratic Seminar that will begin on Thursday. On Wednesday we will have our first "Genius Hour" connected to the Capstone project. This week, the only goal is to explore the passions that were listed during the first week of PA on the Wordle created by everyone.  This exploration will end with each student developing a guiding question that will focus the research each individual will work on this year.  My goal for the first quarter is only to explore individual passions, develop a broad guiding question that will focus the research everyone will do, and write a proposal for the project.  What can you do at home...nothing yet. 

Wednesday, September 16, 2015

First Graders...Frindle

Next week, my first grade Talent Development group will begin reading Frindle by Andrew Clements.  You can preview the story here:

Friday, September 11, 2015

5PA Socratic Seminars

The 5th grade PA kids had their first Socratic Seminar today based on the short story we read this week.  In 45 minutes, we got through two questions with insightful interpretations of the text, how the way a character says a line could change the interpretation of the reader, and when intent matters and when it does not.  It was pretty cool.  We still need adjust to this new method of discussing issues, and fine tune some of the guidelines, but I wanted to share how impressed I was with what your kids said. Here are the guidelines we follow so you know what we are doing:

5PA Socratic Seminar Guidelines
• Listen carefully
  • Don’t raise hands
  • Come prepared, having read the text and annotated key parts that provide evidence for the questions
• Address one another respectfully
• Base any opinions on the text
• Address comments to the group (no side conversations)
• Use sensitivity to take turns and not interrupt others
• Monitor ‘air time’
• Be courageous in presenting your own thoughts and reasoning, but be flexible and willing to change your mind in the face of new and compelling evidence during the Seminar
• Address each other and not Mr. Schumann!
• Leader will pose the key questions to start, but you can develop questions as well
• Relate your statements to particular passages, to clarify, and to elaborate
• If the conversation gets off track, leader will refocus students on the opening question by restating it.

• Leader will Invite those who have not spoken into the conversation.

Thursday, September 10, 2015

PA and TD for the Week of 9-14

We will only be having PA and TD three days this week because I am going to be giving CBM tests to the whole school in the LMC on Wednesday and Friday.  Here is what we will be working on this week.

Kindergarten Talent Development moves to Mrs. Brauer's class this week to finish our Dot project.  I will be meeting with the kindergarten teachers next week to review classroom observations and data to put together the first K group who will come to my room for literature enrichment this year.

First grade Talent Development kids will be reading "Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs" with me this week.  We will learn about character traits as we compare Snow White with the Queen. This flexible group will also be adjusted after I meet with the first grade team to discuss classroom performance and data gathered in the first three weeks of school.  

Second grade Talent Development groups will rotate this week and I'll be seeing 12 new kids!  We will be learning about figurative language using a variety of picture books in stations set up in the PA room.

Third grade PA will continue reading the short novel The Green Book during our time together.  The kids will be stepping into one of the main characters and writing a journal about their experiences on Shine.  We will also be discussing assumptions we make about characters and how they differ from facts that can be proven using textual elements. 

Fourth grade PA will begin reading the classic novel The Secret Garden by Frances Hodgson Burnett this week.  This is a challenging text with complex vocabulary and extensive use of dialect throughout the text.  I have a copy of the text for each student and I also have included an audio version of the novel under "student resources" on this site.  I do encourage the kids to listen to the text while they follow along, at first, to get a feel for the language and the dialect.  The students will have about 30 minutes of assigned reading at home each night, this will take the place of the 20 minute expectation the 4th grade team has for independent reading at home.  I am very excited to begin this novel with the kids. 

Fifth grade PA will continue with the Ray Bradbury short story "All Summer in One Day" this week.  The kids will be working on a short project playing the role of school board members in the Venusian School District disciplinary committee. What should happen to the students who locked Margot in the closet? And YES Grace, we will be watching the short film based on the story which we will use to make comparisons between the text and the film, along with a 25 minute writing homework assignment on Thursday. 

Thursday, September 3, 2015

PA and TD for the Week of 9-8

I hope that everyone has a great extended weekend.  This is what we will be doing in PA and TD next week...

Kindergarten Talent Development will continue with the kids coming to my room to create a dot.  Mrs. Cunningham's kids are all finished, so next week I will move on to Mrs. Blessing's students. 

First and Second Grade Talent Development students are going to be reading poetry next week, a lot of poetry.  We will investigate how poetry is different from prose and our main focus will be determining the theme of a poem.  I have selected works by Langston Hughes, Maya Angelou, William Shakespeare, Roald Dahl, Dylan Thomas, and a few others to read as a group.  I'm looking forward to great discussions about what the poems mean. 

Third Grade PA will begin reading a short novel titled The Green Book by Jill Patton Walsh.  It is a science fiction story about a group of refugees from Earth who are forced to relocate to another planet, a place the new residents call Shine. I will be weaving the change categories we have discussed so far this year into our conversations as we read, and we will also examine the challenges faced by the people in this foreign world. The kids will soon be working on a project connected to the challenges faced by characters in this fast paced book. 

Fourth Grade PA will be learning about dilemmas faced by characters in the texts that we read this week using a thought provoking short story from China titled "The Old Man and his Affectionate Son." I'm sure you will hear about the dilemma in the story at the dinner table next week.  The kids and I will be discussing the central idea in the text, and then looking at the issue through the eyes of all stakeholders. The discussions should be amazing!  We will also be reading a Native American poem titled "Birdfoot's Grandpa" to find thematic threads to the short story, novella, and poems we read about WWII in class.

Fifth Grade PA will be going back in time this week to the 1950's and 1960's.  I have gathered a few video clips for the group to watch to build some background knowledge about life in another time, the time of master storyteller Ray Bradbury.  The kids will embark on a unit dedicated to his suspenseful science fiction stories beginning with the 1954 story "All Summer in One Day." We will also be learning about a method to discuss literature that we will use for most the year, a Socratic Seminar.  I cannot wait to begin reading these stories with the kids, my students last year fell in love with his writing! 

My Wish for my Students