Thank you so much for all the amazing treats, gifts, notes, and gift cards! Your generosity amazes me. To all my students and to their families, have a wonderful break and enjoy the holidays! See you in January! All my best, Mr. Schumann
Kindergarten and First Grade TD will end the year using their creativity and holiday spirit to create their own version of a house in a really wonderful book for this time of year, The Amazing Christmas Extravaganza by David Shannon. The story is about over-doing holiday lights and making the neighbors a bit cranky. We will read the book, design a light display, and then we will watch a few short videos of over the top light displays...just some fun to end 2016. All of the first graders can take Frindle home over break to finish, if they are not done by Monday.
Second Grade TD will finish our presentations on natural disasters on Tuesday, I hope, and then share them with the group. This may carry over into the first week we are back in 2017. The pairs have been doing an excellent job on this project!
3PA will end 2016 with one of my favorite books, The 11th Hour by Graeme Base. The story follows a mystery at the 11th birthday of an elephant held at the 11th hour of the day. He prepares a feast for the party, but when the time comes to dine, the feast is gone! There are over 1,000 clues hidden in the pictures that lead to discovering who ate the feast. The kids will be using Morse Code, using mirrors to read da Vinci writing, reading the roots of plants, and many more unconventional methods of reading to find out who ate the feast.
4PA will stay in the 1920's for the last week of 2016, continuing to explore the Harlem Renaissance through the poetry of Langston Hughes. We will be expanding our work to look at visual artists and we will be listening to some amazing music from Duke Ellington, Billie Holiday, and Louis Armstrong to round out the year.
5PA will continue researching the good and bad of using GMO's in the human food chain for the three days we will be having PA this week. The kids and I have had some good conversations about the six articles I gave them to read. This week, the kids will be finding their own sources to help solidify which side of this issue they side with.
Kindergarten TD will be introduced to a new reading strategy this week, one that their classmates will be learning the the weeks to come. I will be explaining using context clues in a sentence to figure out what unknown words mean. The K team calls this strategy "Tryin' Lion" and I'm doing the same. We will play some games on the Smartboard using context clues, and I have some big books that will will be using to cover up key words in sentences. We will have to work together to determine a replacement word that makes sense. First Grade TD will continue our work with Frindle by Andrew Clements. Last week, we began writing 7 word summaries of each chapter as we read. This is harder than you might think for the 1st graders, condensing an entire chapter of a book into exactly 7 words. The group will continue to write summaries and we will examine how conflict leads to change in this novel. For more books by this author, check out his website: andrewclements.com
Second Grade TD will continue to research one of three natural disasters: lahars, tsunami, or sinkholes. The kids are working in pairs to find facts, record them, and then we will be learning about Google Slides. The kids will be creating a presentation to share with the class. We are using an great research tool in class, InstaGrok. Have your son or daughter show you how this search engine works and how it is different from/better than Google. 3PA will spend our week on a theme scavenger hunt of sorts. I have several cards with short literary passages that the kids will be reading to determine the theme of the text. We will compare our themes and determine how best to capture the theme of the passage in a sentence. On Friday, the kids will be taking a theme assessment based on a Fable by Aesop. 4PA will be exploring the Harlem Renaissance all week, mostly through the poetry of Langston Hughes. The kids will spend a few days analyzing a poem called "Freedom's Plow" in teams of two. By the end of the week, I hope to move the class onto laptops to explore two new links under "student resources" on the PA site. My vision is to create a virtual gallery of the Harlem Renaissance on CoSpaces that captures the art, music, and poetry of this amazing time in American history.
5PA will spend the week reading and researching the good and bad of GMO's in the food we eat. There is a lot of reading we have to do to develop an understanding of both sides of this complex issue, and to develop an informed opinion that can be debated with the group.
Kindergarten TD groups will be rotating some new students in and some students who have been coming to see me will be rotating back to their homerooms beginning on Monday. The kids and I will be exploring snowflakes together through two books. The first, Snowflake Bentley, is an informational text about the first person to take photographs of snowflakes. You can read more about him here: http://snowflakebentley.com/ The second book is a classic literary text, The Snowy Day by Ezra Jack Keats. We will be comparing the two books, examining the hexagonal structure of snowflakes, and we will create a snowflake of our own.
First Grade TD will start the week off finishing the infographics we worked on last week. The kids are creating giant informational posters on tornadoes, koalas, George Washington, droughts, chipmunks, and more. When these are done, we will begin reading the novel Frindle. A few weeks ago I had Frindle in my plans for second grade, but I forgot that we read the book in first grade, so all of this might sound familiar. It's hard to keep all six grade levels straight in my head sometimes. I know the kids will love this chapter book.
Second Grade TD will also rotate students beginning on Monday. Most of the kids who have been in the group will be rotating back to their homerooms, and a new batch of students will be joining me for a unit on natural disasters. We will be researching tsunamis, lahars, and sinkholes. We will be reading books, watching a few videos, and finding facts online for this project.
3PA will explore the worlds from The Girl Who Owned a City using Google Cardboard on Monday and Tuesday. Some of the kids may need to polish up their work over the weekend on CoSpaces. Moving forward this week, the class will be exploring poetry on poemhunter.com. We will be looking for examples of poems or songs that connect with our identity.
4PA will be exploring the VR Newbery worlds and assessing each other as we use Google Cardboard at the start of the week. The fourth grade PA kids will also have a special opportunity to join the first and second graders at an assembly with last year's winner of the Newbery Medal who will be at Brookdale as a part of Naperville Reads. We will use the questions the kids generated for our Socratic seminar comparing children's literature from the 1940's to contemporary fiction, and then we will begin a new unit about the poetry and art of the Harlem Renaissance. Our main focus will be the poetry of Langston Hughes.
5PA will be taking a standardized reading test, Gates-MacGinnity, in PA on Monday and Tuesday. This is a test given to every fifth grader in District 204. The TED talks will be given in class on Wednesday and Thursday, and then we will move into some informational reading about the pros and cons of GMO's. Bioengineering advancements have allowed for the creation of genetically modified organisms that are in the human food chain. Is this a good thing, or is it a bad thing? We will be reading and researching this for a Socratic seminar in the next few weeks.
Kindergarten Talent Development will be focusing on story elements this week using a deck of "Story Cards" that have different elements that make up a story. We will be learning about the oral tradition where stories were passed down from generation to generation. Pairs of students will be given different cards that they will put together to create a story they can share orally with the class. First Grade Talent Development will be researching a topic that the kids will pick based on their interests. We will learn about infographics, pictures that are annotated with information, and then create one based on the topic that was researched. Here is an example that I will be sharing in class:
Second Grade Talent Development will begin reading a novel by Dan Gutman titled The Homework Machine, and then we will work in groups to create a machine that will do something else that needs to be done, but might not be the most fun to do.
3PA will finish our virtual reality models of Grandville, and then move on to part two of our book. The "City" in The Girl Who Owned a City will be revealed and kids will be taking detailed notes to create a virtual reality model of the second part of this engaging tale.
4PA will finish up the virtual reality models of our Newbery books this week in class. The kids will be creating a rubric for assessing the project, and then, using Google Cardboard, walk through each project and assess them. The kids will also be developing questions for a Socratic seminar comparing books for kids written in the 1940's to the contemporary books we just finished reading.
5PA will continue to work on our TED talk about a young person who was a catalyst for change. The students will begin presenting their TED talks next week. You can see a TED talk about Google Cardboard at the top of the PA site.
Kindergarten TD will be reading two different books on caterpillars this week. The kids and I will be looking for similarities and differences between the two fiction stories. First Grade TD will be working on how to have partner discussions based on the Eric Carle picture book The Tiny Seed. I created a Google slide presentation with scaffolded questions that get progressively more challenging for the kids to discuss in pairs.
Second Grade TD will spend our two days this week with an article about a group of ice cream shops. The article is filled with tables and graphs that we will analyze, looking for customer trends like which day of the week is the most popular, what flavors people buy, and we will make generalizations about the businesses based on the data presented.
Third Grade PA will continue our journey with Lisa and Todd while we discuss how characters respond to change. The class will also begin creating a virtual model of Grandville using CoSpaces.
Fourth Grade PA will also be using CoSpaces to recreate the world described in their Newbery books. This world will show the setting, characters, important events, and it will be annotated for classmates to get an idea of what the book is all about and why the reader believes it was worthy of the award.
Fifth Grade PA will be using our two days for Capstone research.
Kindergarten TD will spend this week looking for sounds we hear in words. This is an extension of the Jolly Phonics work the kids do in their classrooms, but with a twist. The kids and I will go on a tour of the school looking for sounds and we will explore books searching for different sounds. On Friday, I will be trying out a math puzzle the K team asked me to test out. First Grade TD did a great job last week taking notes about two different picture books, and this week we will use those notes to write a book critique. Later in the week, we will be examining text features in informational books and literary books. Second Grade TD spent last week reading two different versions of "Little Red Riding Hood." This week, students will be making Venn Diagrams in teams comparing the different stories. Later in the week, we will begin to explore the elements of tone and mood in the books we read. Third Grade PA will continue to explore how character's experiences shape their identity using the novel The Girl Who Owned a City. This week we will "step inside" the characters and think about what Lisa and Todd might be thinking about with these questions:
What can this person see, observe, or notice?
What might this person know, understand, hold true, or believe?
What might this person care deeply about?
What might this person wonder about or question?
Fourth Grade PA will finish reading Call it Courage this week. Some of the kids have already picked a modern Newbery Award winning book to read and analyze, for the next step in this unit. We will be examining the similarities and differences in writing for young people in the 1940's compared to contemporary fiction. We will also be picking a color, a symbol, and an image to summarize Call it Courage. Fifth Grade PA will continue our close read of a chapter from Little Women on Monday as we try to make sense of the vocabulary and writing style of Louisa May Alcott. On Tuesday, I will be introducing a new unit to the fifth graders inspired by young people making a difference in the world. The fifth graders will be writing and giving a TED Talk based on a young person who tried to make the world a better place. The kids will pick a person from a list I have, or pick someone they are inspired by, to research and share with the class. I have posted two TED Talks that I will be sharing with the kids this week to get the kids excited.
Please bring your son or daughter to our conferences on Monday and Thursday evening. Kindergarten TD will be working on several logic problems this week to develop problem solving and critical thinking skills. First Grade TD will be learning about how to write an opinion piece that is supported by direct evidence from a book. The kids will become book critics as they evaluate two different picture books, form an opinion about which book was better, and writing a paragraph that explains their choice. Second Grade TD will be reading the 1857 Grimm story "Little Red Cap" and comparing it to a Chinese version of Little Red Riding Hood titled Lon Po Po. Third Grade PA will continue reading The Girl Who Owned a City. Our focus is how experiences characters have shape their identity and lead to change. Fourth Grade PA began reading the 1941 winner of the Newbery Medal last week, and we will continue to read this short novel in class this week. As we read, we will be discussing the criteria used in the selection process for the award as well as how Mafatu's journey creates change. Fifth Grade PA will begin the research for the Capstone Project on Wednesday. I'm going to share a few forms with the class for recording the sources found as well as a progress log that will track their work. On Thursday, we will be reading a chapter from the classic novel Little Women. We will focus on how Jo's writing impacts the family system.
Kindergarten and First Grade TD will be talking about "feeling" words and alliteration this week as we read the picture book Walter Was Worried. The kids will be brainstorming feeling words and talking about times when they have had the feeling. Then, everyone will make their own portrait and hiding their feeling word in their image. Can you spot the feeling word in this picture?
Second Grade TD will continue with our poetry theme from last week. The kids and I will be reading the book Lemonade and Other Poems Squeezed from a Single Word. The concept of the book is to take one large word and then scramble up the letters to see what other words can be made using only the letters in the large word. The kids will be brainstorming long words, and then using Scrabble tiles, generating a word list, and finally writing a poem using those words that is about the original word.
Third Grade PA will be focused on how our identities are shaped by our experiences and how those experiences change us using the novel The Girl Who Owned a City by O.T. Nelson. The story begins after a global plague that kills all people over the age of 12. The children are now in charge and need to figure out a way to survive on their own. The story is set in Glen Ellyn, IL where I grew up, in a neighborhood much like Brookdale. This novel always sparks amazing classroom discussions, I'm sure you'll hear about it at the dinner table.
Fourth Grade PA will begin the week with a tug of war using post-it notes comparing the quality of storytelling in the novel The Secret Garden to the film version we watched in class. Then we will shift gears by learning the criteria that determine which book is awarded the Newbery Medal for the most distinguished contribution to children's literature. The kids and I will visit the Newbery website to see which books have won the medal in the past, and then we will begin reading the winner from 1941 Call it Courage by Armstrong Sperry.
Fifth Grade PA will spend the week developing an idea for their Capstone project. We will be going deeper into the "passion examiner" that they have been working on, finding quality articles on the topic, and writing a proposal for their idea to make the world a better place while making an impact on a system. I added several new links in the student resources section of the website that I would like the kids to use when researching their topics.
Kindergarten TD will be spending the week with Osmo. Osmo is a game system that connects to an iPad, and it literally blew my mind when Mrs. Furstenau shared it with me. It would take me some time to explain all it can do, so you can explore the possibilities here: playosmo.com We have ten Osmo's in our LMC at Brookdale.
First Grade TD will be learning about making inferences this week. Making an inference is like reading between the lines in a story. We will be using a formula of sorts, my schema + what the text says = a new understanding. I'm going to be sharing three picture books by Jon Klassen for our work this week. My favorite one is This is Not My Hat.
Second Grade TD groups are rotating beginning on Monday. As I shared at the beginning of the year, the TD groups are flexible so we can provide literacy enrichment to a wide group of our students. The new group is going to be learning about and writing Haiku poetry this week. A Haiku is a three line poem, usually about nature, that follows a 5-7-5 syllable pattern. We will be venturing outside to observe nature as a pre-writing strategy and writing as many examples of this style of poetry as we can!
Third Grade PA will be finishing up our Shine projects this week. The kids will have Monday-Thursday to complete the different stages of the project, and the two teams will present their ideas on Friday.
Fourth Grade PA will complete our work with The Secret Garden this week. Kids know that the book needed to be read by 10-21. The comprehensive essay that I assigned is going to be due at the beginning of PA on Thursday. The kids will have Monday-Wednesday at school to work on their writing, but some of the students may need to work on this at home over the weekend and next week for homework. On Thursday, we will begin the Francis Ford Coppola film version of the novel. We will be comparing the two media in an activity for the following week.
Fifth Grade PA will start the week with a two-three day Socratic seminar on all of the Ray Bradbury tales we have read this quarter. We will be working on the Capstone passion examiners on Wednesday, and the students should also be exploring their passions at home using the form that I gave out last week. Our week will end with a few articles on living in regions of the world where the sun does not rise for months at a time and does not come out at all for part of the year. The kids and I will discuss what impact this has one different systems.
Kindergarten Talent Development will be working with the wordless picture books of David Wiesner this week. You can see his books here: http://www.hmhbooks.com/wiesner/ Our focus will be on story structure and story elements. First Grade Talent Development will continue to work on our writing project from last week, and we will also begin a new writing project based on the Caldecott Honor book Creepy Carrots. Pairs of students will be writing their own version of this book, but with a twist. The kids will be writing "Frightening Fruit" stories. I've done this project for the past two years with first grade and the final books have been amazing!
Second Grade Talent Development will continue our work with Mr. Popper's Penguins this week. We will be discussing mood, tone, the theme of the text, and groups will be looking for examples of change as we move through the novel.
Third Grade PA will be working on the school design project based on the novel The Green Book that we finished last week. The teams will be designing the school using materials available on planet Shine, creating a relevant list of classes that will be taught, creating essential questions for each class that will show what is to be learned, and creating a presentation that will be shared in PA. We will set a due date for this project on 10-21. The journal from the point of view of one of the characters on Shine is due on Monday.
Fourth Grade PA will continue our work with The Secret Garden this week. We will be having a Socratic seminar using questions the kids developed and the class will begin working on an essay responding to one of three questions that were shared last week.
Fifth Grade PA will work on examining the "passion" Wordle that we created last week in order to develop an idea for the Capstone project. The kids will also be reading our last two Ray Bradbury stories, "A Sound of Thunder" and "August 2026: There Will Come Soft Rains." The kids will be creating questions focused on the writing style of Ray Bradbury and thematic threads that flow through all of the stories we read.
Kindergartners in KB will finally make their dots this week! The K team and I will be meeting this week to create the first talent development group of the year. I will see the new group starting on Thursday to begin discussing story structure and story elements using David Wiesner's picture book Mr. Wuffles.
First Grade Talent Development will be reading a new picture book titled Also an Octopus, a great story about what elements make up a story. We will be using the book as inspiration to create our own picture books.
Second Grade Talent Development is not reading Frindle, because as it turns out, I read this with many of the kids when they were in first grade TD, oops! Instead we are reading the 1938 Newbery Honor winner Mr. Popper's Penguins by Richard and Florence Atwater. My main objective for this book is comprehension and using evidence from the text to support answers to complex questions.
3PA is reading a short science fiction novel by Jill Patton Walsh titled The Green Book. It is a story about a group of families who have to leave Earth on a four year journey to a new planet called Shine. We will be focused on how characters respond to change as we read. In their homerooms next week, the kids will be reading an informational text about how schools look different around the globe titled Off to Class, Incredible and Unusual Schools Around the World. We will use our novel and this book as part of a collaborative project to design a school and a curriculum for a new school on Shine in the weeks to come.
4PA is going deeper into The Secret Garden. We will be discussing the motif of secrets in the book, uncovering the many metaphors, and the role that magic plays in the tale. The kids will be creating seven word summaries of chapters 1-15, and then we will be picking the most precise one for each chapter after discussing each one that the kids wrote. The 4PA group will also have our first Socratic seminar using questions they will create.
5PA will dive into our fourth Ray Bradbury story this week. "The Scythe" is about a farmer and his family during the Great Depression who discover something very strange about a field of wheat on their new land. We will be discussing inner conflict, and then the kids will begin to examine the connections between all four Bradbury tales we have read thus far. Teams of kids will be developing open questions for a Ray Bradbury Socratic seminar. We will also begin a "Passion Examiner" that will focus the first steps in our Capstone project.
We are excited to welcome author Aaron Becker to Brookdale on Monday for 3-5 students, and my 2nd grade TD group. Because of his visit, 5PA will only have 30 minutes on Monday. I didn't forget the little kids when scheduling author visits, Olympic Gold Medalist and best selling author Kristi Yamaguchi will be at Brookdale on the 19th to speak to K-2 about her new book Cara's Kindness. Here is what the kids will be working on this week... Kindergarten is still making dots with me, and we are having a blast! This week I'm off to KJ and KB. First Grade Talent Development small groups began last week with the classic fairy tale Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs, the Grimm version from 1812. This week we will be discussing the elements that make up a fairy tale. Common themes of good vs. evil, magical elements, royal characters, poverty, and reoccurring numbers and patterns will be charted as we read Rapunzel as a group, and then student pairs will be reading a variety of fairy tales on their own.
Second Grade TD will begin a great realistic fiction novel by Andrew Clements titled Frindle this week. This is a story about a boy who invents a word that really catches on. We will be discussing word origins and looking for examples of how characters change over time. This group of second graders will be missing some of their specials on Monday to attend Aaron Becker's presentation.
3PA will begin our week with a poem called "Letting My Mask Fall" about being comfortable with yourself and who you are. We will then take a turn into science fiction with a short novel titled The Green Book by Jill Paton Walsh. This is a story about a group of refugees from Earth who are forced to begin anew on a distant planet called Shine. This is an engaging story about how change and challenges faced by characters can lead to thinking about things in a whole new way.
4PA will go deeper into Misselthwaite Manor with Mary Lennox in The Secret Garden. This week we will be analyzing different types of conflict characters face from multiple perspectives.
5PA will take our first steps in the Capstone Project this week. Students will be examining their passions and how they can lead to a positive change in the world. Capstone in a nutshell, all the fifth graders will be developing an idea to change a system for the better this year to make the world a better place. We will be working on this project 1 day a week all year long. Lots more to come, but for now, baby steps! The kids will also be reading our third Ray Bradbury story titled "The Veldt." This is a sci-fi short story about a nursery in the future where the walls come to life based on what the kids inside it are imagining. It's another great read!
Schumann's Selections is a new shelf in the LMC that I am excited about. While the shelf is for all of our students, I'm going to be adding my favorite picks for higher-level readers with my students in mind. Kids are always asking me for book recommendations, this shelf is a way of always having a few good ideas to choose from. Look for it the next time you are at school. Kindergarten students will continue to come to my room to make their "dots" based on the picture book I read with them earlier this month. So far, KK and KC have all made dots which will be turned into 3D dots to be used in an LMC lesson in the coming weeks. This week, I'm off to KP.
First Grade Talent Development will begin meeting with me, four days a week for 40 minutes, this week. Talent Development groups are flexible and students will rotate in and out based on classroom performance, performance in TD, and other standardized measures that all students take during the school year. For our first week, we will be diving into Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs. This is a long story, requiring a lot of mental stamina, but it is also a wonderful fairy tale. We will be learning about conflict in stories and how different conflicts are resolved.
Second Grade Talent Development will start the year off looking at the wordless picture books of Aaron Becker. Mr. Becker will be coming to Brookdale on October 3rd, and my second grade students will join our 3-5th graders at his assembly. We will be discussing how a story can be told using only pictures, we will write a summary of the adventure tale, and the students will begin to create an imaginary world of their own using a doorway drawn with a simple crayon. Second grade TD groups are also flexible and follow the same protocol as first grade, and soon my new K groups.
3PA will continue with our work using "The Ugly Duckling" this week. Teams of three students are creating huge maps of the story that include examples of change, ideas from the text seen from multiple perspectives, evidence that contributes to the theme of the story, and word webs that define the complex vocabulary used in the text.
4PA will begin reading the 1901 classic The Secret Garden by Frances Hodgson Burnett this week. I have a link to the audio book on the left side under "student resources" that will help the students with the complex language and dialects used in the text. The group will be creating a chart with facts and assumptions about the main characters as they read. We will begin the week with a Google slide show intended to build background knowledge about Victorian times in England. I will be showing different images of moors and the plants that thrive there, manor homes, roles of servants, and how the upper class lived to paint a picture of Mary's world.
5PA will be working on a short project to start the week off using Ray Bradbury's "All Summer in a Day." I'm going to ask the students to become members of the Venusian School Board, and give recommendations on how to discipline the students who locked Margot in the closet and prevented her from seeing the sun on the one day it comes out every seven years. We will watch a 25 minute film version of the story to compare which did a better job of telling the story, and then we will begin reading the 1950 short story "The Rocket" by Bradbury. This is a wonderful story about a loving father who wants his children to see Mars using a rocket he builds at home.
3PA is going to begin the classic Fairy Tale The Ugly Duckling by Hans Christian Andersen during our time together. We will be using the text from 1844 to learn more about theme, how perspectives are formed, what influences a perspective, and how these perspectives change over time. This is a challenging text that I am excited to share with the kids. We will begin learning about annotating the text as we read as well.
4PA will start the week with a picture book by Eve Bunting titled The Terrible Things. This story is an allegory, or a story that can be interpreted to reveal a hidden meaning or moral. This tale is about the Holocaust, but as interpreted by a bunny and other animals who are forced out of a forest. This story will lead into a short story by Issac Singer from 1980 titled "The Power of Light" about two children in Warsaw during World War Two. Our focus will be to identify the theme and better understand change.
5PA will enter the mysterious, wonderful world of Ray Bradbury this week with our first short story of his from 1954 titled "All Summer in a Day." This is a tale of a group of colonists living on Venus who only experience summer for one day every seven years. We will begin our exploration of this author using a presentation I created that shows what life was like in the United States in the 1950's, at the dawn of the space age, when Bradbury was doing his writing. The students will be annotating the text with their thoughts, and seeking answers to about 20 discussion questions we will use for our first Socratic seminar of the year.
Next week, I will be doing one-on-one CBM assessments with our first graders and kindergartners Monday-Thursday so there will not be PA until Friday. On Friday, the kids in 3rd, 4th, and 5th will be taking a formative literature assessment used in all PA classrooms in District 204. I use the assessments to inform my instruction and to measure growth on our journey through our literature units.
The school year has gotten off to a great start in PA. Here is what we will be doing next week... Kindergarten Talent Development is starting off the year celebrating International Dot Day 9-15ish, yes it's a thing. This day is based on the book The Dot by Peter Reynolds. I read the story to all of the kindergarten classes during the first week of school, and this week, all of the students in KC will be coming to my room to make their own dots, but there's a twist. Mrs. Furstenau is going to use an app to turn the dots into 3D dots that she can project on the Smartboard in the LMC when she meets with all our newest Bobcats. So cool!
First Grade Talent Development is also starting off the year with some fun activities that I will be doing with the whole class. All of the first graders will be coming to my room to create a class book based on the Chris Van Allsburg book The Z was Zapped. Teams of students will work together to make their own version of this alphabet book. Here are a few examples from the book...
Second Grade Talent Development is going to be for all the classes to start off the year as well. The second graders will be visiting my room to create story maps for images from another Chris Van Allsburg book, I love his writing! We will explore The Mysteries of Harris Burdick to better understand story elements.
3PA will begin to explore a theme that runs through all three years of PA, change. We will discuss the idea of change and try to create categories of change. The kids will be reading a short story by Cynthia Rylant titled "Shells" in order to pull out examples of change that fall into the categories we brainstorm. We will also begin to examine the theme, or the central idea, of a text.
4PA is going to be learning more about key literary elements this week using some poetry and a short story. The kids and I will read the poems together and use the text to identify the theme in the texts. At the end of the week, students will be writing their own version of the poem "Famous" by Naomi Shihab Nye. If we get through that, we will begin a short story titled "The Power of Light."
5PA will review the change generalizations we learned about last year and then put that learning into action with a very special picture book by Quint Buchholz titled The Collector of Moments. This is a long picture book so we will be spending several days reading and discussing the complex themes and messages. If you hear your children talking about hearing the music in paintings or talking about deaf horses, that's from me. This is one of the amazing illustrations from the story about Max and the Professor...
This morning I sent an email to parents of students in Project Arrow. If you did not get an email from me, would you please send me an email letting me know? I will add you to my list. Thank you. firstname.lastname@example.org
To get our year started, I'm going to be doing the same activity with all the PA groups during our first four days as a way of introducing my expectations for the kind of work that we will be doing during PA, specifically lots of collaboration, critical thinking, and explaining our thinking. Groups of students will be told they are stranded on the surface of the moon and given a list of 15 items. Teams will need to put the items into three groups, essential, helpful, and useless and then rank the items in order of importance with an explanation of why the rank was given. Each team member must agree on the rank and category as a result of their thoughtful conversations about the items and possible uses for them. So much of our work in PA relies on students listening to each other, providing evidence of critical thinking, and clearly explaining the rational behind their thoughts. That's the goal of this first week of work. I am looking forward to our first four days!
Welcome back to PA!!! It was so nice to see so many of you at the meet and greet yesterday, and because the kids were already asking "When does PA start?", I thought I'd let everyone know. 3-5 PA will begin on Tuesday the 30th of August. 3PA is M-F 9:20-10:10 4PA is M-F 2:25-3:25 5PA is M-F 1:00-2:00 K-2 Talent Development groups will begin meeting in late September. I will be meeting with every class in the whole school during our first eight days to read a few fun books to welcome all of our new students and have some fun with our Brookdale veterans. If you are new to PA this year, please bring a one inch three ring binder with you on our first day. PA Curriculum Night will be on Thursday 9-22 from 6:00-7:00 in the LMC.
Before the school year ends, I wanted to praise the fifth graders for their outstanding work on this year's Capstone Project. I was so impressed with the confidence and innovation shown by all of the kids. Very well done 5PA!!!
For the 5th graders moving forward in PA next year, the 6th grade team at Hill asked that I pass these links on for summer practice. Everyone should spend some time this summer reviewing grammar topics.
Here are the websites they recommend. They are listed in order of difficulty, so I suggest you to begin with the first website and follow in a progressive order.
The final day of PA and TD this year will be May 23rd. It's been a great year with the kids, but we still have a few things we will be doing next week... Kindergarten TD will be working on something special to share with their teachers during the final week of school. First Grade TD really blew my mind last week with their fairy tale mash-up stories. The way the pairs were working together, the conversations they had, and their ability to truly listen to each others' ideas was impressive. We will be working on these stories all week long. Second Grade TD will complete the Athenian Secret problem solving challenge during out time together. 3PA will finish reading the Kate DiCamillo novel The Tiger Rising during the last days of PA. We are following the trail of three metaphors in this piece of prose and trying to figure out how they connect. What do the suitcase, Rob's Legs, and the tiger represent? 4PA will be making our own version of an art instillation done in Emily Dickinson's hometown of Amherst, MA. The kids are going to make a "little white house" that shows the meaning of one of Dickinson's poems. The conversations we have had about the messages of her poetry have been impressive. 5PA has reached the finish line of the Capstone project! I will have the fifth graders all day on the 18th and 19th. This was the only way to get through 27 20-30 minute presentations. I am so proud of the work that the kids have done on this year-long project and I cannot wait to celebrate all of the amazing work this group has done. Presenting on the 18th:
Thank you all so very much for making this past week so special. Teaching is a great way to spend a day, especially when the students love to learn and think as much as the little people I see every day do. Next year will be my 20th year as a teacher, so I have some experience with teacher appreciation weeks. The thoughtful notes from you and your children recharge that 22year old who set up his first classroom at Brokdale in 1996. Books I buy using your generous Amazon gift card will be added to my collection, some will sit next to books from my first students. There are three dozen roses in my dining room, several Target gift cards, and a month of free coffee from your kindness. Thank you.
Kindergarten TD will be having fun with two picture books this week. Animals Should Definitely NOT Wear Clothes is a silly collection of animals struggling to wear human clothing. The kids will be adding their own page to this book. The other story, The Book of Bad Ideas, is a humorous collection of "errors in judgment" that many kids make. The kids will also be creating a page for this book. First Grade TD have been split into pairs for the final activity of the year. The groups will be taking two fairy tales and writing a "Fairy Tale Mash-Up" using the best parts of both books. I wonder what the three little pigs would do with Cinderella??? Second Grade TD will be working in two teams to solve puzzles inspired by Ancient Greek mathematicians. The "Flaming Lightning Bolts" and "The Greeks" are the two team names the kids selected, and they will be competing against each other doing some out of the box higher-level problem solving. Third Grade PA will finish their Egypt assessment this week and then move on to the final project of the year. We will be reading the novel The Tiger Rising by Kate Di Camillo. This is a wonderful piece of prose that layers many themes and metaphors that we will be discussing as a group. Fourth Grade PA will continue our investigation of the life and poetry of Emily Dickinson this week. Fifth Grade PA has our last five days of Capstone time before the presentations begin on the 18th. The summary should be completed by Monday or Tuesday, and then the group will work on finishing up their implementation plans, the visual, and then the speeches. It is an expectation that the kids be working on this at home each night to get the final parts of the project ready to go. I am thrilled with what I have seen so far from this amazing group of independent learners!
PA permission forms are due on Friday May 6th. PARCC testing is over for all of the PA kids, but this week our schedule for PA and TD will be different because I'm going to be screening our new batch of kindergartners for next year on Monday afternoon, and the whole school will be doing the last CBM testing of the year on Wednesday and Thursday. Here is what we will be working on... Kindergarten TD is going to begin to learn about grammar. We will be playing a few games using my huge jar of scrabble tiles to make groups of nouns, verbs, and adjectives in teams. This group loves to play learning games so this should be a fun way to introduce grammar to my littlest friends. First Grade TD has been reading a lot of fairy tales with me! This week, we will continue to read some of the classics, but then we will take a twist. We will be learning about fractured fairy tales. Fractured fairy tales take a traditional tale and flip it all around. Our work will start with my favorite, The True Story of the Three Little Pigs.
Second Grade TD has changed a bit. With one month of school left, and next year's Project Arrow group identified, I'm only going to work with the kids who will be in Project Arrow moving forward. This year I was able to work with 65% of all second graders and we learned a lot together. Moving forward, last week my new PA group created a time capsule that we will open on the last day of 5th grade. That was fun! This week, we will be reading an article about the lighting of the Olympic torch in Greece, and going deeper into the construction and architecture of the Parthenon.
3PA will complete our Ancient Egypt unit this week with a look at the reign of Cleopatra. The group will also be taking a final assessment on our journey through this ancient civilization.
4PA will complete their summative essay on everything we have learned during our neurology unit. I smiled when group all said the three hours I told them they would have was "not nearly enough time" to write all that they had learned. So, I'm going to give the kids more time this week, and then we will move into our final unit of the year. We are going to learn about the life and poetry of Emily Dickinson. I added two links under "student resources" that the kids can explore to begin to get to know this poet.
5PA will have all week to work on their Capstone projects.