Wednesday, April 29, 2015

PA for the Week of 5-4

The schedule for PA is going to be shifted around this week because of CBM testing on Thursday and Friday, and due to the celebration on Friday afternoon for the whole school in the gym.  Here is what we will be working on this week:

Kindergarten talent development will continue to work on their PowerPoint presentations based on the animal research we worked on in class.  Everyone has 8 slides, backgrounds, pictures, and now we are working on writing down the facts that were gathered online over the past few weeks.

First grade talent development will be taking the idea of symbiotic relationships, a concept being taught in class about nature, and applying and extending that idea to characters in books.  There are three types of symbiotic relationships: mutualism, commensalism, and parasitism. The kids are going to be reading a variety of picture books to find examples of relationships characters have that fit into these three categories.

Second grade PA will start the week making a top ten list with the "Top Ten Reasons it's Good to Be ________" insert the name of an Olympian God or Goddess.  I got this idea from the PA teacher at Welch, she showed me a few examples, and I cannot wait to see what The Brookdale Seven come up with for this! Next, we are going to begin playing a math based problem solving game called The Athenian Secret.  This was another idea from fellow PA teachers that looks like it will be very engaging and fun. Teams of kids will be solving problems based on life in Ancient Greece.  

Third grade PA is going to finish up our illustrated, annotated timelines of Ancient Egyptian history and get ready for the summative assessment on our Ancient Egypt unit.  We will make a study guide in class that will come home on Tuesday night.  The test will be given on Wednesday and Thursday.

Fourth grade PA will have time all week to finish up their brain disorder presentations.  This is the final push to complete this work, so expect the kids to have some work to do at home as well.  Everyone has the date of their presentations written down, and we will begin presenting on May 11th.

Fifth grade PA will have the next two weeks of class time devoted to working on the Capstone project.  The group seems very excited about putting everything together for the TED Talk.  The presentations will begin June 1st.  Wow, June??? How did that happen?

Tuesday, April 21, 2015

Project Arrow Identification at Brookdale

Project Arrow Program Identification

The PA Letters will come home on Friday. So, I imagine that many of you will be asking, "How does Brookdale make these decisions and what is PA anyway?"

All students benefit from differentiation of instruction and curriculum. Those who demonstrate potential far beyond that of their age level peers may need opportunities beyond the regular classroom. Indian Prairie School District considers multiple measures in PA placement decisions to ensure a student’s academic needs can best be met through the program’s curriculum and structure.

The identification process for the Project Arrow program occurs on an annual basis at each school. The criteria for placement are district-wide, we all use the exact same data for every student.  Specific assessment details and time lines can be found in the Opportunities for Academically Talented Students and the PA Identification Timeline documents which are also available on the District 204 website.

FALL: Screening and Initial Data Review
  • Administration of the Cognitive Abilities Tests to all students in Grades 2 and 5
  • Review of standardized test scores on file
  • Review of District assessments
  • Review of observational classroom data 

WINTER: Data Collection
  • Administration of additional ability and/or achievement tests for students whose prior standardized test scores or classroom performance falls within the top 10% of academic peers
  • Administration of the Gates-MacGinitie Reading Test to all students in Grade 5
Review of:
  • Classroom assessments
  •  District assessments
  • Student artifacts
  • Teacher/Parent input 

SPRING: Data Analysis

  • Completion of Student Profile Worksheet where all the data is collected for a shared review by the academic team.
SPRING: Decision
  • Students whose profile score falls within the qualification range are recommended for the program. Parents will be notified of placement decisions by letter from the school.

  • Parents who receive a letter that their child has not been recommended for PA placement may contact the school’s Student Services Coordinator or the classroom teacher to discuss the results.

  • The final placement decision rests with the school academic team.
What do kids do in PA?
Project Arrow is an English Language Arts (ELA)  based enrichment program designed using standards that are at least one year above grade level.  The texts we read are typically two years above grade level, sometimes even higher, and the tasks students work on reflect a wide range of higher-level thinking skills and complexity that other age level peers would not be successful with.  At the beginning of next school year, Mr. Schumann will have a meeting for all new PA families to explain everything. 

Is there a difference between accelerated math and PA?

Project Arrow is a completely different program from accelerated math.  Project Arrow has an ELA curriculum, students leave their homeroom classes during a literacy learning block time, and the topics we learn about replace other literacy learning with materials and content that better meet the needs of academically talented students.  Accelerated math is taught by classroom teachers on the grade level teams when all math instruction for the grade level occurs, but at a year above age level peers. The accelerated math qualification protocol is unique to the program and is unrelated to Project Arrow.

What happens now that second grade Project Arrow has been replaced?

The second grade program is transitioning to a "Talent Development" model. This small group will will spend part of their day with Mr. Schumann working on literacy enrichment activities.  Students will be selected by the academic team at Brookdale using a variety of assessments similar to how students are selected for the PA program, but unlike PA, students will move in and out of the class during the school year.  Students in kindergarten and first grade will continue to have "Talent Development" with Mr. Schumann during the 2015-2016 school year.  

Friday, April 17, 2015

The Antikythera Mechanism

The second graders have been captivated by the NOVA documentary we have been discussing in class about the first computer ever made, 2,200 years ago in Ancient Greece called the Antikythera Mechanism.  Here is a link to the video.

PA for the Week of 4-20

The kindergarten talent development kids are going to be creating a PowerPoint presentation based on the independent research they worked on last week.  This presentation will be accompanied by a speech on their topic.  The kids seem excited, but there is a lot of technology to learn, so this may take some time.  We will be creating backgrounds, adding slide transitions, inserting pictures we find online, and adding all of the data dashes that the kids have recorded.  Can you believe one of the kindergarteners wrote nine pages of facts? Amazing work!

The first graders are super excited about the alliteration project we have been working on using the picture book Animalia.  The creativity I have seen from the students has been simply awesome.  We will be finishing this up and then moving on to one of my favorite books by Chris Van Allsburg, The Wretched Stone. It will be interesting to see if the kids can figure out what the metaphor of the stone represents. 

Second grade Project Arrow students will be preparing for Wednesday's test on Ancient Greece this week.  We will review what we have learned and discuss what will be on Wednesday's test.  I have complete faith in the kids that they will go well beyond what I expect of them.  We will end the week with some hands-on logic puzzles using toothpicks and dollar bills.  I think they are going to love the puzzles!

Third grade did a wonderful job last week with our investigation of hieroglyphics.  Some of the kids looked as if they had been writing using this form of writing for years.  This week, the kids will be finishing up the majority of our grammar unit and taking a short grammar quiz.  Then we will move on to an illustrated, annotated timeline of Ancient Egyptian history.  I selected five important events in Egyptian history, and teams of two will be selected five more to use on this project.    

The fourth grade Project Arrow students are going to be learning a lot about themselves this week.  We will be exploring the idea of personality this week.  We will be taking two different inventories about who we are, the Myer's Briggs and a left brain vs. right brain  test.  We will explore the results, and discuss how accurate they really are.  I retook the Myer's Briggs last night, and I got the same results that I got 15 years ago. I imagine that the kids will want you to take the tests as well.  There are links on the blog to both, but the kids need to do them in class.

The fifth graders in PA are going to explore a few poems written by former United States Poet Laureate Billy Collins. My hope is that his writing will ignite a spark in the kids to write a few of their own poems inspired by his work. We will be discussing the idea of how change promotes growth, and in what context this happens.  On Wednesday, the 5th graders will continue working on the capstone projects.  Have a great week everyone!

Thursday, April 16, 2015

How to Create a Successful School-Parent Professional Team Lovefest When Advocating for Your Gifted Child

Please join us as we welcome Andy Mahoney M.S., L.C.P.C., Director of The Center for Identity Potential, to speak with our group on How to Create a Successful School-Parent Professional Team Lovefest When Advocating for Your Gifted Child

Monday, April 20 from 7:00-8:30 pm
Naperville Municipal Center
400 S. Eagle St., Naperville, IL
Room BC
By far one of the most stressful experiences can be collaboration between parents, teachers and professionals when supporting a gifted child. So many variables to manage and many personalities to balance. Not to mention the variation in needs and beliefs about who and what a gifted child is about. This presentation focuses on putting together the team in a way that is non-adversarial and cooperative. This process is based on 30 years of experiencing and developing a successful school-parent-professional team model for school related conferences such as Parent-teacher conferences, eligibility meetings, 504’s and IEP’s. The presentation will identify key parts that go into building the team and keeping that team effective over time. The appropriate role and use of testing and assessment will also be discussed.

Key Points:
1.Keeping the team effective through transitions such as elementary school to middle school, etc.
2.How to build strong communication systems and collaboratively design appropriate accommodations.
3.Avoid common pitfalls when collaboration is not facilitated among the team members.
4.How and when to involve the student in the team for self-advocacy.
Andy has shared his experience and expertise with our group in the past and we are excited to have him back. You won't want to miss this!

Thursday, April 9, 2015

PA Progress Reports

Progress reports will be coming home with all the PA kids on Friday the 10th.

PA for the Week of 4-13

Here is what we will be working on this week...

Kindergarten talent development students will be continuing their research on a topic of interest this week using  The kids will be writing a speech using the "data dashes" found online.  Data dashes are what they sound like, short snippets of data on a topic.  The first grade teachers use this phrase, so I'm using it as well.

First grade will be working in pairs to create their own page for our version of Animalia.  You can see the book trailer here:
The kids are learning about figurative language, and this week our focus is alliteration.  We decided as a group that to start the project, every pair needs to generate at least 100 words that begin with their letter of the alphabet. Quite the challenge! 

The second grade PA students will continue on our journey through Ancient Greece this week.  Our week will include some work with maps of Ancient Greece to identify important places, we will read the myth "Pandora's Box" and discuss what it is really about, and we will explore the structure of their political systems.

Third grade PA is going to be working with the language of the ancient Egyptians, hieroglyphics.  We will be writing our names, decoding messages, and creating secret messages to share with classmates. Below is a link to a hieroglyphic typewriter, for fun.

Fourth grade PA had great conversations about what our dreams mean, where they come from, and what influences them last week.  One student cracked me up by saying, "Oh, those rules my mom makes my brother and I follow are sort of smart." This week, we will finish up our work with dreams, plan the timeline for completing our brain disorder presentations (didn't get to this last week), continue our grammar unit, and we will begin learning about Harvard Professor Howard Gardner's theory of multiple intelligences.

The fifth graders will have some Capstone time this week on Wednesday in class.  Last week, we spent two days going over all of the questions kids had about this year long project.  Everyone has the rubric and detailed notes about what needs to be done, exactly what my expectations are for the work, and what the four parts of the final project will look like.  This is going to be a big writing project! The biggest project any of the students have ever done. Plan time at home to work on this because the kids will all need it.   I have eight days over the next two months with laptops, and I am going to set aside two solid weeks of PA time to work on writing the research paper.  The rest of our time this week will be spent finding poems that represent the spirit of Malala from our reading, and poems that represent who we are.  We will be using this poetry search engine:

Monday, April 6, 2015

PA Qualification Letters

All letters for PA qualification for the 2015-2016 school year will be sent home in backpacks on April 24th.

My Wish for my Students