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 www.instagrok.com. 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. 

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MWTT2VfZUGc&feature=youtu.be

Angie's Hope Foundation: http://www.angieshope.org/

Ted Talk on clean water: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rXepkIWPhFQ


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.
http://www.mnn.com/lifestyle/responsible-living/photos/8-amazing-kids-who-have-changed-the-world/get-ready

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: http://www.andrewclements.com/books-frindle.html

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! 

What is Creative Problem Solving?