Sunday, January 31, 2010

Come Ye to Ye Olde Timey Dayes (Nowe With Extra E's)

Colonial Days is next Friday. The kids should wear colonial-style clothing (do your best--we talked about it in school on Friday? Thursday?) and bring a colonial lunch. By this, all we mean is no ziplock bags or juice boxes or anything prefab. I told them fried chicken and apples are perfect, but use your imagination. Boys? Suspenders, coonskin caps...anything colonial. We're going to have a day full of butter-shaking, marble-playing, candle-dipping, and square dancing. I look forward to seeing everyone there.

Friday, January 29, 2010


At the end of a week like this, I just want to let you all know that I'm happy to have the class that I have, and I'm impressed by the work that they do for me.

Have a great weekend, everyone!

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Trip Wires and Other Fantastic Contraptions

Wow wow wow am I ever seeing some innovation for the Rube Goldberg project! This is by far the group with the best ideas and implementation of those ideas that I've ever had--and that includes when I taught Challenge. (Sorry, former students! It's true. You should see these!)

The kids are also doing pretty well taking information down on notecards for the research project. We're already a couple days behind, but it's okay. I left enough cushion and room for finagling that we won't be in too much trouble.

We had the Caesar's English quiz today, and the Spelling test is on Friday. Other than that, we're pretty much in perpetual motion between the two big time-sucker projects and the rest of the daily routines.

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

On Crime Considered as One of the Fine Arts

The highlights of today:
  • We took the Geography quiz, and from the looks of what I saw being turned in, they looked pretty good. I think next we're going to be moving on to Asia, but that won't be until next week sometime.
  • Blue, the giant horse and Colts mascot, came to the school today. Mercifully, he came at the end of the day, and not toward the beginning. I got to wear a laundry basket on my head while Hunter tossed plastic vegetables into it. At least I got a size medium T-shirt out of the deal. I was unable to convince my students that Blue is an actual, well-trained horse.
  • The kids did seem to have some good ideas for the Rube Goldberg project today as they had their first earnest work time on it.
  • Tomorrow we'll be doing some notecard time for the research project. This has been put off for two days now, so they'll have ample time tomorrow. The calendar is already pretty far off course.
  • I told the kids today that the Spelling assignment was changed from 3x each ABC order to merely 3x each. ABC order does nothing to teach the kids the meanings of the words. It only took me nine and a half years to realize this.
  • We finished the second book of the Two-Minute Mysteries today. We all love the stories of mastermind world-traveling sleuth Dr. Haldejian and his cast of crime fighters, scumbags, dignitaries, heirs, and poor Lady Octavia, his girlfriend who only wants to order her dinner, but can't because of his tales of his detective prowess. The kids have a theory that he's the killer since he always seems to be around whenever there's a murder. Personally, I think he's a lot like the Most Interesting Man in the World from those commercials, you know?

Monday, January 25, 2010

The Road Ahead Was Blue

Wow, what a day.

We managed to cram more into today than is probably healthy. The good thing is that the kids finally know their groups for the Rube Goldberg project, and have been given the go-ahead to bring their materials in starting tomorrow. I told them that they were to bring old toys and other items from around their house that are not currently being used.

Due tomorrow: Spelling definitions (no dictionary necessary--they know what these mean, just two or three word definitions), the spelling packet from last week (most of them have almost all of this or all of it done already if they used their time in class wisely), DOL (they had very little time to work on this in class today--it should have come home with everyone), the geography quiz is tomorrow, and my Math class has Math Boxes 6.5 due tomorrow and CML due Friday.

Tomorrow is also Colts Day because we're getting a visit from Blue! What a perfect time to see him, huh? (Incidentally, I've always thought it must be fun to be a guy who goes into a school, gets the kids all hyped up, and then take off!)

Thursday, January 21, 2010

Turn and Face the Change

A few changes in scheduling:
  • The Caesar's English test is now on Wednesday instead of Tuesday.
  • The spelling packet is not due tomorrow--just thought I'd throw that out there in case anyone thought it was.
  • The Social Studies test IS TOMORROW still.
  • The Geography quiz is now next Tuesday.
As I said yesterday, sometimes we deal with the consequences of biting off more than we can realistically chew, but usually for the better as far as the workload goes. We are going to be working on notecards and all that stuff tomorrow, and probably grading DOLs on Monday.

I wasn't planning on having Math today (confusion with the late day schedule), but we did, and I was able to map out the next several days worth of work. It's good to feel slightly ahead of the game--gives us a little leeway when we need it, and we undoubtedly will.

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Biting Off More Than We Can Chew

Not much news to report. We did work on the notecards in class today for the first time, played with some racetrack and cars in the name of science, and the kids patiently watched me pace around the room looking for papers that I had copied and lost.

The Social Studies test is on Friday, and I have approved everyone's study guides and/or told them what they needed to add.

I'm ready to move on in Reading, Social Studies, and Science--that's my goal for next week! I have truly bitten off more than either I or my class can chew right now, so I guess the good thing is that I'm never left with nothing for us to do...on the contrary.

More to come.

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Brighter Day, Even If It's Cloudy

Aahhhh, now that's more like it! Either everyone was nicer to each other today, or everyone was mean to each very secretly. I don't think it's the last one, either.

Tomorrow I will go over how to do the notecards with the kids to keep track of their information. They are to bring all of their information (which I looked at today) back with them tomorrow to use during class.

I also took a look at their Social Studies study guides for Friday. Most of them look pretty good, but a couple of them need to do some work yet.

Friday, January 15, 2010

The View from Total Drama Island

A couple of bits of business from 5-1:

Jump Rope for Heart is on February 23rd. It will take place during the kids' specials classes, so there's no prep to be done, other than wearing appropriate clothes for jumping rope. Mr. Z will be dealing with the fundraising stuff with the kids.

MATH BOWL is on March 11th. If your child is in my Math class, I ask you to please consider allowing them to do Math Bowl. The only thing that will take place outside of school hours (except for a few of the practices which won't go any later than 3:45) is the competition itself, which is that day. It starts at 5:00, and is always over by 7:00.

We talked today about being nicer to one another. Some of the kids are beginning to pick on each other in bigger ways than just picking. I'm working on putting an end to the snipping and the talking in code and the other little things that are creating some minor civil unrest for the time being.

Hopefully a nice three-day weekend will cure all those winter blues!

Thursday, January 14, 2010


Hey, guys.

I hope everyone had a nice night at Clay.

I gave everyone the lowdown over next week. I keep forgetting that it's going to be a four-day week. As much as I could use a three day weekend (yeah, already), it keeps slipping my mind that it's happening. Anyway, I pretty much gave the kids the information they will need to make their OWN study guide for the Social Studies test next week. Also, we've been doing some more Science stuff this week--we did an experiment yesterday and I did NOT get around to having the kids share their findings today. Hopefully tomorrow isn't going to be too late to do that!

Anyway, we've been working like crazy lately. I told the kids today that I warned them that it was going to be a homework heavy time between winter break and spring break. I promise this is the worst of it, and I also promise that this big project will be as painless as possible. I realize that projects aren't parents' favorite things, and I do keep that in mind when I put these things together.

That having been said, I want this to be the kids' work, and I want it to be something that they're really proud of, and I want them to be responsible for the grand GRAND majority of the work. That's why we're going to be working on it mostly in class.

More later.

Mr. C

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Amber Is the Color of Your Energy (the 311th post)

I really need to learn that we're going to need a little bit of down time in the midst of all this stuff I'm trying to get crammed in before Spring Break. I think when they're working their brains that hard nonstop, it doesn't all quite sink in.

Anyway, we did some Science today, did some brainstorming for a persuasive essay, and actually got a couple reading groups worked in as well. We did more than that, but those were the highlights.

I hope the kids are all gathering materials for their research project and reading each night as well.

Tuesday, January 12, 2010


What's due tomorrow?
  1. 3x each ABC order for spelling.
  2. I also told them that they need to be working on research, doing at least 20 minutes of reading each night, and fixing anything that needs to be fixed.
  3. Star maps are due by the end of the week.
  4. Page 50 in their Social Studies book.
For Friday:
  1. Geography quiz.
  2. Spelling test.

Monday, January 11, 2010

All Mapped Out

You may have seen a map of Europe come home today. They have ten countries that they will need to know for Friday. Not the capitals, just where they are on the map. I told them the parameters for these weekly quizzes, so they're familiar with how they're going to work.

This is just my way of making sure that no student of mine is ever one of the statistics that doesn't know where Australia is on the map.

I received some decent ideas today for the research project. Looking forward to this!

Friday, January 8, 2010

History Shmistory

Off the top of my head, here are some more topics that I didn't give today that I thought about in the car later:

Emperor Norton, the Mad Monarch of America
John Muir and Yosemite
Mark Twain (so many sublevels you could do with this one)
History of Comics (actually quite interesting)
Sam Houston
The OK Corral
Zebulon Pike
Kit Carson
Serial movies
Ellis Island
Angel Island
The Statue of Liberty
The history of surfing
The history of skateboarding (which ties into the surfing)
Jackie Robinson
The Negro Leagues
Tokyo Rose
The Johnstown Flood
Martin Luther King, Jr.
The British Invasion
The Munich Olympics 1972
The Freemasons
The Fall of Saigon
Jim Jones and Jonestown*
Tianamen Square*
The Challenger Disaster
Jesse James
Area 51

Okay, so the * ones may need some guidance from parents and me to make sure we're dealing with only appropriate information. I gave them a whole slew of topics (covered both boards) today, but as I knew would happen, there are so many (SO many) possibilities with this project that there's no reason for anyone in the fifth grade to not have a fascinating topic to study.

Getting the Wheels Turning

I've loaded the kids up with ideas and paved the path for them to come up with ideas of their own for the research projects. Between that, the Spelling Test, and the Caesar's English test, that was just about all we got done today! I'm sure the lack of two hours this morning had something to do with that also. I'm a failure this week because we only ended up having one day of reading groups, but we did get a lot more done than we would have before. I have grandiose expectations for next week. We didn't even get our DOLs graded today!

Something That Changed the World is the idea behind their research project. They're going to be reading and writing about this subject for more than two months, which means we're going to want some guidance from home as well as my own input into whatever choice they make. I told them it's way too easy to make it too broad (World War II) , too narrow (what Barack Obama ate for breakfast last Tuesday), too recent (anything after 9-11), or so old we know nothing about it (invention of the wheel).

They also received their report cards today and so they should be ready to tackle this next six weeks head-on. It's going to be fairly different from the previous semester--reading groups, the gigantic project, and this week we also started some work in levers, pulleys, and other simple machines. We'll continue that next week (according to plan, at least) along with learning about loads, energy, and effort. We've got some exciting writing exercises coming up (although the kids might call that an oxymoron, it's exciting for me) to help with the research project and our Social Studies gets more and more interesting as we go.

Before long, we'll be getting into the Rube Goldberg projects--maybe by the end of next week, at least. Here is a great example of what I'm going to be looking for out of these groups.I will be putting the kids into groups, they'll have to bring in toys and other useful tools from home to make their project as cool and unique as possible. I'm looking greatly forward to it! I do this every year, and it's one of the highlights for me and the class. I have high school students telling me that what they remember from my class to this day is the Rube Goldberg machine, so you can bet this will be a good thing.

Have a great weekend, and I'll see you on Monday.

Thursday, January 7, 2010


Four days in and we're still tightly focused in on our goals for this semester. We're going to have to be if we're going to get it all done in time. We've been accomplishing a lot during each day. I'm having fun teaching more science now (it's been too long!), and we've had some good discussion with the slavery issue.

Remember tomorrow is the Spelling test and the Caesar's English quiz.

I told the kids today that they need to be running some ideas through their heads for Monday. On Monday they need to have ten to fifteen ideas written down for the big research project. I told them today that this is due in mid to late March, and that we would be doing it one step at a time, one lesson at a time. By the end of this project, I want the kids to be proud of the work that they've accomplished, and feel like they were pushed.

Gotta run now. More later! Enjoy the snow! You know, a snow shovel is a lever, so it can tie into a science lesson for the kiddos.

Wednesday, January 6, 2010

A Wish Come True

Thank heavens for Mr. Ohnemus! Today he came in to help me out by teaching the class while I conferenced with each of the kids. We had a talk about what's coming up, about what they've done so far, and where they need help. I've got a good grasp on what we're going to need to work on, and I have a solid plan in place for the rest of the school year...and I'm SURE it will all go just according to plan without any hitches.

Tomorrow a DOL and the Meaning Exercise are due, and I don't think they finished the Social Studies lesson today (about slavery--not a fun subject, but a very real one), so there's no homework there. My math class has to finish page 203 and do page 204 for homework.

Monday, January 4, 2010

Land of Giants

Your kids all got taller over break. Honestly, I looked back in the hallway today, and all of your children looked roughly seven feet tall.

More info to come, but for now, please just know that I am now teaching in a land of giants. Thoughts and prayers are appreciated.