Julia Scalzo, Gifted Resource Specialist


(630) 375-3426


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Primary Enrichment/Talent Development

Week of December 3-7

Wow! We are already into the first week of December! I am looking forward to a very productive few weeks with the kids before they get a well-deserved break!

3PA- This week we continued our analysis of the Creative Problem Solving process, and how characters in popular fables utilized this strategy to solve a problem. We then turned our attention to introducing our focus text/novel, The Green Book by Jill Paton Walsh. So far kids are learning how to identify important ideas such as key words, feelings, ideas/themes, and images/symbols to gain a deeper understanding of the story.

4PA- Holy Moly! Mary sure told Colin off this week when he was throwing his temper tantrum! Watching our kids' reactions to this part was absolutely priceless! Skills reinforced this week were on comparing two characters, settings or ideas in text, as well as noting change.

5PA- Our new focus story this week was titled, The Great Blackberry Pick by Philippa Pearce. Students practiced inferencing skills by noting areas where a character felt comfortable or uncomfortable, based on details. We then put those ideas/directed notes together to make assumptions about change as well as how the relationships between characters changed. We concluded our study by holding a Socratic Seminar to share out thoughts and opinions on what transpired in the story.

Week of November 26-30

I hope you all had a wonderful time with family and friends over the Thanksgiving Break! The extra snow day was also appreciated by the kids, I'm sure!

3PA- We are continuing to work on the Creative Problem Solving process by writing a plan for Rapunzel to solve her problem. In addition, students are analyzing a folktale from Kenya titled, "Bringing the Rain to Kapiti Plain". In the story, the main character has a problem to solve. We will then compare and contrast the elements of the folktale with another folktale titled, "Rain Player".

4PA- We are in full swing with regard to our reading of "The Secret Garden". Our focus this week will be on imagery. Students apply what they know about imagery as the identify and explain the author's use of color, symbolism, and imagery for us to gain a better understanding of what we read. We will also study character as we compare Mary to Martha.

5PA- We are taking a break from our in class work related to our Capstone projects. Students may still be researching at home, but will not return to the class portion of this until after winter break. This week, students will read and annotate "Literary Lessons" by Louisa May Alcott. This is a chapter from her novel Little Women. We will use annotations to determine important information, as well as make connections about how the main character impacted a system.

Week of November 12-16

Yay! Finally a full week of school! As much as I love variety, settling into a full week with routine appeals to me as well.

3PA- Students analyzed the wordless picture book "Free Fall" by Davind Weisner. Main ideas for study included change, symmetry, and tessellations. Students recalled how all of these things played a part in the plot of the story. We also analyzed other wordless picture books, and how the author used picture details to create a story plot.

4PA- We are analyzing the authors use of imagery, and description of setting as it related to the main character, Mary. We will continue to explore the use of color, symbolism, and imagery to uncover complex ideas in the story.

5PA- Students are feverishly exploring possible topics for their Capstone projects through research. In Capstone, students reflected on what was important to them, something they'd like to see improved or changed to make it better, and develop a plan of action for doing so. We are currently in the research phase of this year long study.

Week of November 5-9

It was great connecting with you all at conferences! If there's anything you need, do not hesitate to reach out!

3PA- Students brainstormed a list of "opposites" and created diamante poems, tying in the parts of speech or describe each, as well as showing change. We also evaluated MC Escher's artwork, "Night and Day", noted changes, and even drew similarities between his work and diamante poems. Tessellations and patterns were investigated as well.

4PA- We are in full swing of our novel, The Secret Garden. We are busy practicing annotation skills using our "Think Marks". These will allow for us to use these directed notes for discussion. A big idea of focus is about how the author uses imagery to show the mood in the story.

5PA- Students reviewed "Systems Thinking" as they read the poem Ode to My Library by Gary Soto. They were asked to consider the author's place in the library and how he impacted the library (system). We then will begin brainstorming ideas for our year long Capstone Projects.

Week of October 22-26

3PA- Students learned about the Creative Problem Solving Process in order to figure out what the "real" problem in in various scenarios, then brainstormed plausible solutions to help solve the problem. We also practiced using those ideas to write a plan of action. Such scenarios ranged from real life dilemmas to problems characters faced in popular fairy tales.

4PA- Students wrapped up important ideas mentioned in last week's story, and wrote a response that answered the question, "In what ways was knowledge an important idea in the story?" We then spent some time discussing what imagery and symbolism are in stories. These are main topics kids need to think about as we read our focus novel, The Secret Garden.

5PA- This week 5th graders will shift attention to analyzing non fiction text. Skills include determining the central idea in an article, how the people in the articles impacted a system, and examining different perspectives. As a culminating activity, students will use all the resources (short story, informational article, video clip, and interview) as evidence to answer the question, "How can an unchanging environment impact those within that environment? Is change important?".

Week of October 15-19

3PA- We discussed reading a text closely to determine changes in character feelings as we read the story, Sachiko Means Happiness. We then compared these changes in character feelings to another story, Emma's Dragon Hunt.

4PA- This week students were introduced to the word "dilemma" and applied the definition as we read the Japanese folktale, The Old Man and His Affectionate Son. We noted and discussed big ideas associated with the story, applied reasoning skills, and put them together to answer interpretive questions. As a group, we came up with the question, "In what ways was knowledge an important idea in the story?' Kids did a great job going back into the text to answer the question!

5PA- Students have been practicing annotation skills as they read. In this week's focus story, All Summer in a Day, by Ray Bradbury, students marked places where the main character was "alone" or "apart" from others, as well as places where there were good descriptions. We then used the annotations to analyze parallels of imagery to the character. Students also completed a Performance Task involving the exploration of a central question related to the story. We also compared the story to a short video made about the story. Students compared similarities and differences to video and text.

Week of October 1-5

3PA- Students are learning about close reading strategies involving identifying feelings as well as imagery to gain deeper meaning and insight to our focus story, Shells, by Cynthia Rylant.

4PA- We started the week off discussing the idea of friendship and the different influences surrounding our relationships. We used this discussion as a springboard to our focus story, Lenny's Red Letter Day, by Bernard Ashley. Annotation of the story will focus around students marking places where the main character showed concern for himself, as well as places where he showed concern for others. Through students taking these directed notes, they will use them to gain a deeper understanding and begin the process of being able to answer interpretive questions about what they read.

5PA- Systems Thinking was reviewed this week. We learned that systems are made up of identifiable parts that work together to produce a result. This type of thinking was applied to analyze our focus story from last week, The Hemulen Who Loved Silence. Students will also connect ideas from that story to real life natural disasters, such as Hurricane Sandy and the effects it had on the Jersey Shore, as well as the community.

Week of September 24-28

3PA- We finished up learning the about the 8 parts of speech and evaluating how words are used in sentences. We also learned about what a generalization is, and brainstormed examples of change. We then took these brainstormed ideas and categorized them as they apply to the generalizations of change. This will prove useful as we analyze text.

4PA- This week we reviewed and brainstormed ideas of change, and then put them in groups according to the generalizations of change. We also introduced theme as THEMEssage in a story or piece of text. We read a poem by Joseph Bruchac titled, "Birdfoot's Grampa". Students used what they knew about descriptions used by the author to convey big ideas. We also noted where we saw change happen in the poem.

5PA- We began our week with reviewing theme (remember...its THEMEssage), and introduced the skill of "determining important ideas" as we read the story, "The Hemulen Who Loved Silence". We used these important ideas as we sought to find evidence in the story that supports our important idea(s). This work was also used to aid students in answer interpretive questions.

Week of September 10-14

This year's Curriculum Night was great! It was great meeting new families and reconnecting with everyone. I sent out a slide show to all PA families for reference.

In PA, all grade levels are continuing their grammar study. As stated at Curriculum Night, this unit will better aid in developing complex writing and close reading skills. We are utilizing a multi-level analysis of language, as a result. This week we finished parts of speech and moved in to analyzing parts of a sentence. Critical Thinking and Logic activities are also always available for students as they complete classroom assignments/focus skills for the day.

Week of September 4-7

I hope you had a wonderful Labor Day weekend celebrating with family! Please remember, if you have not done so already, to send in a 1 or 1 and a half inch binder for your child for PA.

This week we reviewed parts of speech as a part of our grammar unit. Knowing the 8 parts of speech and how they are used helps us to become better readers, thinkers, and writers. If your child is having a problem remembering the parts of speech, activities will be assigned that they can access on their Chome books through Google Classroom.

Due to Aimsweb testing K-2 Talent Development lessons may look different. K is still working on "Inventor Thinking". Grades 1 and 2 are on hiatus until next week when testing is mostly completed.

Week of August 27-30

Groups are up and running this week! It has been such a treat seeing our kids again, meeting new friends and hearing about all the wonderful adventures, local or abroad, you experienced this summer!

All grade levels in PA kicked off the year using the "Visible Thinking" strategy of See, Think, Wonder to gain a better, or deeper, understanding of a picture. Such analytical thinkers we have this year! Students also practiced using the Depth and Complexity icons we will be utilizing this year to tell about themselves. We all really enjoyed learning about each other from this experience!

In Primary Talent Development (TD) I had the privilege to visit every K-2 classroom and meet all McCarty's young thinkers. In grade 2 we practiced See, Think, Wonder to practice gathering ideas and questions based on what we see in a picture. Lots of inferencing was noticed! 1st grade thinkers learned about "Detective Thinking" skills. Kindergarten thinkers learned all about "Inventor Thinking".

Welcome Back, PA Families!

We are starting up groups on Friday, August 24. I am so happy to reconnect with the kids, hear about summer, and begin learning with them all! Information will be coming home with them about PA, and hopefully answer any questions you may have.