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.

My Wish for my Students