Julia Scalzo, Gifted Resource Specialist


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Weeks of March 12 and March 19

Due to PARCC testing/schedule changes to accommodate testing, PA times will also change. Some days we will test in place of PA, while other days PA will happen as usual. Here is a summary of our accomplishments over the past couple of weeks:

  • 3PA- Wrap up of our Literature Unit. Students analyzed literature works from different cultures, looking at common themes and lessons.
  • 4PA- We analyzed poetry from various poets including Langston Hughes, Vanessa Howard, Judith Ortiz Cofer, and Martin Espada. We then looked at the theme or message and how the historical context might fit with that theme/idea.
  • 5PA- Capstone was a focus, as well as our third quarter reading response assessment. Students were to independently read a short story and construct a written response to a question, using what they learned in PA about analysis of literature.
  • 3MA- We jumped into learning about long division! Word problems where students need to understand long division were also presented. Students also learned about what a "remainder" means.

Week of March 5

Schedules the next few weeks will be a little different due to PARCC testing for our 3-5 grades. On days when students are testing, there will be no PA. On days when testing finishes early and they are able to come to PA, they will do so. As a result, PA will be abbreviated on those days. 3MA times will be different when kids are taking the PARCC. These times are 1:40-2:30.

3MA- We are working on 4th grade skills dealing with multiplying larger numbers. Today we started with simple multiplication of multiples of 10 to 1000 by a 1 digit number. We will then move into multiplying 2 and 3 digit numbers by one number.

3PA- Students are working on identifying big ideas and theme(s) using selected stories from class. We are currently working on these skills using the story Sachiko Means Happiness. This week we will use what we learned and compare it to another picture book, Emma's Dragon Hunt. During our time, students will practice comparing/contrasting the two stories.

4PA- The last few weeks were spent analyzing works of poetry written by famous African Americans and Hispanic Americans. Ideas about The Harlem Renaissance as well as immigration were a focus to help kids better understand and uncover ideas and themes that come up in the poems. Students are also working on choosing one poem discussed in class, and pairing it with a work of art from The Smithsonian Museum as they analyze how the two "go together". Pairing poetry with art helps to further understand and explain the two pieces. Historical background research will be incorporated as well.

5PA- Students have been working on their Capstone Projects, using research to find a way to help solve a problem related to their interests/passion. These can be worked on both in and out of school. Kids should be working in Google Classroom for 5PA.

Week of December 18

It's hard to believe that this is our last week together in 2017! I guess time flies when you are having fun learning!

3PA- We finished our reading of our novel study, The Green Book. Students' main focus was on answering interpretive questions. We also analyzed the changes the colonists had to make in order to survive. When we return from break we will revisit these ideas and use design thinking to create something that will fulfill a need for the colonists to survive on Shine.

4PA- Students used creativity to pair art with text. Because certain characters changed along with the garden, we paired art (descriptions of the garden at various stages) with changes the characters were simultaneously going through.

5PA- Students immersed themselves in what goes in to giving a good "Ted Talk". They then researched an individual who positively impacted a system. Our PA created "Ted Talks" on the students' selected individual will be created and presented after we return from break.

3MA- We wrapped up our unit on adding and subtracting larger numbers, rounding and place value. Friday we will be participating in holiday themed thinking activities! When we return from break, we will begin a small unit on reading and organizing data.

Week of December 11

3PA- This week we focused on discovering important ideas, feelings, imagery, and "key" words for a deeper understanding of our anchor text, The Green Book. Students will reflect on how the idea of CHANGE relates to the story.

4PA- We finshed our novel, The Secret Garden! 4PA thinkers have become quite skilled at explaining key, or important aspects of symbolism, character, and big ideas as they relate to the story. Mary and Colin would approve of their findings and "growth"!

5PA- We read and discussed a chapter from Little Women titled, Literary Lessons by Louisa May Alcott. In it, students noticed how use of figurative language gives us deeper insight about Jo's feelings about writing. Other big ideas discussed were about the revision process and motivation.

3MA- Students have been applying what they know about place value to add and subtract larger numbers. We will test on this unit on Thursday, December 21. Big ideas are place value to the millions place, rounding, and adding and subtracting larger numbers in word problem format.

Week of November 27

3PA- This week students were introduced to our novel study of The Green Book, by Jill Paton Walsh. Vocabulary and determining important ideas were a focus this week.

4PA- Students continued reading and discovering all the changes in the garden and Mary. We also analyzed the similarities and differences between Mary and Colin, as well as character development. We are getting quite skilled at determining important information such as use of imagery, symbolism and big ideas.

5PA- We took some time this week to work on writing skills as they relate to organization and elaboration (explained ideas). Then we resumed stage 1 (idea finding) of our Capstone Projects. By the end of the week, students should have their proposals finished.

3MA- We began our unit on place value. Big or important concepts are in understanding multiplying or dividing by 10 and how it relates to understanding place value. For example, we learned that 400 is 10 times as much as 40.

Week of November 6

3PA- Students constructed diamante poems that highlight change. We used what we learned about the parts of speech (grammar) to highlight the progression of the change in their poems. We then analyzed some of the works of M.C. Escher and related that to the concept of change and thought about how the selected works were like a diamante poem. Tessellating patterns was also a topic of discussion.

4PA- This week our novel study focus was on reviewing our annotations about determining important ideas in what we read. Students then selected and explained important mood (color), significant things (symbolism), and the author's use of imagery and how it contributed to our understanding of the novel thus far.

5PA- Students continued their study of weather and how it may affect people. Two non-fiction articles were read and analyzed: one where people in a town tried to fix the problem of no sunlight for 6 months out of the year, and another where the Sun was shining for 84 days. Students will utilize diverse media formats (narrative stories, videos, interviews, and the 2 non-fiction articles) to answer the synthesis prompt, "How can an unchanging environment impact those within the environment? Is change important?"

3MA- Students began their short study of perimeter. We will test on this on Wednesday, November 15.

Week of October 30

3PA- Students worked of analyze three pieces of poetry and how the subject matter in each poem relates to change. They also finished up creating their creatures that could survive in an active volcano . Good stuff!

4PA- In our focus text, The Secret Garden, student focus will be on analyzing setting and how it contributes to the novel, as well as examples of changes beginning to be noticed in the character, Mary.

5PA- Students will be finishing the quarter with a performance task relating to the events that happened in our story last week, All Summer in a Day. We then watched a video version of the short story, and compared the techniques that the director in the movie used to the literary techniques the author used to determine which was most effective in telling the story.

3MA- We will be finishing up our unit on finding area of rectangular figures. Our unit test on area will be Thursday, November 2. We will then begin a brief study about finding perimeter.

Week of October 23

3PA- Creative thinkers used what they learned about creativity (fluency, flexibility, originality, elaboration), as well as that they learned about habitats with Mrs. Gillette, to design a creature that could live in an active volcano. I can't wait to see and hear about their invented creatures! Next week we turn back to learning and literature.

4PA- We began our study of the novel, The Secret Garden. We analyzed our main character, Mary, and why she acts/behaves the way she does. Literary elements and understanding use of our Literature Web to deepen understanding are a focus this week.

5PA- This week students are working on developing interpretive questions using quotes from our focus story, "All Summer in a Day" by Ray Bradbury. We will also use the story to practice/reinforce reasoning skills.

3MA- We are continuing to study finding area of a rectangular figure. Skills learned in the previous unit are being reinforced, such as breaking apart a larger number to find area. Remember to study those basic multiplication facts at home!

Week of October 16

3PA- We began our Creativity Blitz this week by working with classmates as we learned about the 4 areas of Creativity: Fluency (many ideas), Flexibility (different ways of looking at an idea), Originality, and Elaboration. Students will use what they learned about the four aspects of creativity to invent a creature that could survive inside an active volcano.

4PA- Students worked on designing and answering interpretive questions surrounding the events from our focus story, The Old Man and His Affectionate Son, a Japanese Folktale. We also were introduced to our novel study, The Secret Garden by Frances Hodgson Burnett.

5PA- Students brainstormed a list of interests/passions they hold. The idea is to find something they feel strongly about or love. We will use these ideas as they begin to research topics for their Capstone projects. Remember, quarter 1 is just the idea finding stage. We begin research in quarter 2. Sample ideas of related projects were viewed and read about to get the kids thinking about their idea.

3MA- Students did well on our first unit assessment on basic multiplication and division strategies and problem solving. This week we are learning about area. It's so cool to see the students relating what they learned in the last unit to understanding area. Amazing!

Week of October 9

3PA- Our focus this week centers around answering interpretive questions about what we read in literature. We talked about how interpretive answers explain ideas, like an interpreter might translate or explain ideas in different languages.

4PA- This week our focus was on understanding point of view, or perspective, and how that influences characters in a story. We related the idea of perspective to understanding an issue, and using reasoning skills in figuring out the purpose of telling the story, "The Old Man and His Affectionate Son" , a Japanese Folktale.

5PA- Systems thinking was introduced this week. Students recalled different systems in their world (think solar system, or respiratory system), identified the elements and how they interact, to create an output. We related this to our main character in last week's story. Students identified the Hemulen's place in his system, how he interacted with other elements, and outputs that occurred as a result of his interactions. The big idea here is determining what the Hemulen's place was within his system and how he impacted it (change). We then read about the destruction that occurred as a result of Hurricane Sandy, and how a town had a positive impact helping others. This all will be useful information for the students to draw on when they begin researching for their Capstone projects in a couple of weeks.

Week of October 2

3PA- Students read the short story, "Shells" by Cynthia Rylant. We applied what we learned about change in our analysis of the story. Other ideas such a use of metaphor in stories were also explored to gain deeper meaning. We also reviewed "reasoning" rules when constructing a written response.

4PA- Understanding theme (or THEMEssage) was a focus this week. To do this, we used what we knew about the use figurative language as well as ideas of change to aid us in uncovering the theme, or message, in the poem, "Birdfoot's Grampa" by Joseph Bruchac. We also read a story called, "Lenny's Red Letter Day" by Bernard Ashley. Students were asked to mark places where the main character showed concern for others, and concern for himself. We are going to use these notes to guide students in responding to interpretive questions.

5PA- Students participated in CogAT testing this week. We met Friday to discuss ideas from the story, "The Hemulen Who Loved Silence" using Socratic Seminar.

3MA- We continued to learn strategies in multiplying and dividing basic facts. Our unit test will be Wednesday, October 11.

Week of September 25

All PA students are demonstrating their knowledge of the first two levels of grammar that include parts of speech and parts of a sentence. Later in the year we will review and revisit these, as well as introduce and learn about the third level of thinking about grammar, phrases.

3PA- We will pretest our literature study this week and brainstorm things that "Change". The big idea of Change will be looked at as we analyze literature this year in PA. Point of View was also a focus this week. We analyzed different versions of the fable, "The Lion and the Mouse" to highlight this concept.

4PA- We will pretest our literature study this week and review the concept of Change, use of figurative language, and introduce theme as we read the poem, "Birdfoot's Grampa" by Joseph Bruchac.

5PA- Students will pretest our literature study. The concept of Change will be a focal point as we read and discuss the story, The Hemulen Who Loved Silence by Tove Jansen. We will look at the Hemulen's place in his world and relate that to systems thinking.

3MA- Students are continuing to demonstrate understanding of basic multiplication and division through using multiple strategies, including drawing a tape diagram. As of now, I am planning on giving them their unit test on Tuesday, October 10. I will update this date if it changes.

Week of September 18

In PA, we reinforced the characteristics of the 8 parts of speech and related them to figuring out the parts of a sentence. Parts of a sentence include subject, linking verb or action verb predicate, and either a subject complement or direct or indirect object. Ask your thinker what type of verb needs a subject complement. As Avery H. put it this week, "getting these mixed up is a bunch of NOUN-sense!"

Next week we jump into literature!

In 3MA, we continued to explore understanding of basic multiplication and division through the use of arrays, and decomposing (breaking down) a number to simpler parts. We also have our Mid Module Assessment Wednesday. Kids did a great job during our review in class of the concepts to be assessed.

Week of September 11

In PA all grade levels studied and reviewed creative ways to learn the 8 parts of speech. Such ideas included watching music videos highlighting the different parts of speech, creating pictures/diagrams/notes to remember each part of speech, and labeling parts of speech in a given sentence.

In 3MA we continued our exploration of how multiplication and division are related through drawings, called arrays, using what we know about basic facts, and learned fancy words like, factor, quotient, and commutativity.

Week of September 5

In PA all grade levels continued on the development of their "App" that fills a need in their lives. We viewed descriptions of apps in the App Store and applied this format to explain what our idea for our app does. Students also created appropriate use of symbols or pictures that define their invented app.

3MA- We reviewed basic multiplication/division facts with building and drawing number models to show understanding of how multiplication and division works.

Week of August 28

Welcome back, Mustangs Thinkers! I am excited to begin another year of learning fun both in PA and 3rd grade Accelerated Math! This week we reviewed routines, schedules, and Mustang Pride.

3MA- We explored our critical thinking as well as creative thinking abilities as they relate to Mathematics. Such activities included finding different ways to use Four 4's when solving for a problem, looking at number visuals and noting how they are arranged for deeper understanding, utilizing a number chart to see number patterns, and finding consecutive numbers that equal a given sum. It is these "thinking routines" that I believe will benefit our math thinkers as we learn new concepts in Math.

PA- This week challenged our creativity and inventive thinking skills. Students were asked to brainstorm a list of likes and dislikes (basically general stuff about them as a person). Next week they will be challenged to come up with an idea for an "APP" that represents them. We are also going to think about what it can do, an appropriate symbol/use of color that goes with our app, cost, and category. I can't wait to see our innovators at work!