Sunday, November 28, 2010

Hope You Had a Good Break, Now Get Back to Work!

Before we move on, let me extend a huge thank you to Mrs. Gonzalez, Mrs. Spencer, Mrs. Spangler, and Mrs. Block for all their help last Wednesday and for putting on our fifth grade fall party. What a nice time it was, and I didn't even have to lift a finger. That's a great supportive group of parents--thank you so much!

I hope everyone had a great Thanksgiving with your families, whoever you were with. I know I got a whole lot done this weekend, including getting my tree put up, my outside decorated (just call me Clark Griswold!), and getting some serious lesson plans created. We have no choice but to go full-blown no-holds-barred non-stop until December 16th, so please PLEASE know that I have no choice--if your child is going to miss even one minute between now and then, they will be missing out on some serious learning time. It's not like the old days of, oh say about three years ago; this is 100% ISTEP-plus-driven Carmel Clay curriculum : "we're-a-little-behind-and-we-can't-afford-to-be" time here. Avoid it at all costs, but if your child has to miss anything, understand that they might have a bit of work to make up.

That having been said, though, if your child is sick, please keep him or her at home! Trust me, the last thing we need is for everyone to be out! How's that for a conflicting report?

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

More Notes From Nick

Today we took an extra credit quiz after our Caesars English quiz. The extra credit was about some of the Word of the Day words. Then later we had our fall parties! At fall parties we made squirrels, made awesome cookies that we could decorate, and after that we played charades. I will give it to Mr.Chartter I mean Mr.Carter now to finish this blog.

Thanks, Nick! Hope everyone has an awesome Thanksgiving.

Here's a quick note from Mrs. Ratner:

Dear Parents,

We are looking for 6-7 volunteers to help with the stage backdrop and prop making for the 5th grade musical. We will start working on it next week. Please e-mail me as soon as possible if you are able to help.

Thank you,

Mrs. Ratner

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Notes from Nick

Today was a great day we talked more about semi colons. I sent home a work sheet about them. We have are book report due tomorrow and we have a caesars english quiz tomorrow. Tomorrow we will not have math because of fall parties. I can't wait till fall parties. We got a letter from Ryne and Mongoose today and it said that we were a good school and we followed derections well. Those that don't now who Ryne and Mongoose they are a counselors from camp. I will hand it over to Mr.Carter know because my shift is over. Wait Mr.Carter I think I spelled some words wrong.

Monday, November 22, 2010

Math, Now Simplified

Okay, slight change of plans with Math: We have some students that just aren't getting the whole "reducing fractions" thing. We watched a couple of videos to try to make it easier when we were working on this and they still weren't getting it. I also found this video online after school which breaks it down once again for those who still don't get it.

My plan is to give the kids a quiz over this tomorrow because we've been over it so many times and we just can't wait around any longer, so if you want to try to go over this homework with your children tonight, that would be great. The quiz will be only over simplifying fractions. I told the kids that when they get back from Thanksgiving break, there will be no monkeying around at all because we really need to get that test in before winter break.

If you could please go over the homework with them and make sure they understand it, that would be a huge help from my end.

I told them, like my Sensei in karate says, "It's not that you're bad people. It's not that you're not smart. It just means you're like a pot of soup and you need a little longer to cook."

ALSO: I forgot to give the kids their comma worksheets before they went home. My bad! It's in their assignment notebooks, but they don't have it.

ALSO: They should have their essays with them tomorrow. In fact, they never should have taken them home, but just in case they are at home, they really need to have them with them tomorrow. We will do type them up in the computer lab tomorrow, and there will not be any time for them to call home and for you to drive them to Woodbrook in time. Computer lab is first thing in the morning, so I told them that if their essay isn't here first thing, they are going to have to figure out what to do on their own! Yikes!

ALSO: Remember the cartoon biography book reports are due on Wednesday!


I think I've decided that tomorrow's math test is actually going to be a quiz. Converting mixed fractions to improper fractions and vice versa, and reducing fractions to their simplest forms will be all that we will be dealing with on this quiz-test (or "quest") tomorrow.

Yeah. That way I won't feel nervous about the adding and subtracting, and then we can just go over that some more after break and hopefully get in the second half of the quest by next Friday, or maybe a full-blown test on that day. Just depends. That's the new plan.

They should have a big study guide with them tonight, and I'm going to tell them to take it home so that you all can practice tonight.

ALSO we will have a Caesar's English test on Wednesday. Five stems. They can do it.

Colonial Days Just Around the Corner

Hey, just a note to everyone to let you know to be saving the metal lids to your juice cans as well as cereal boxes. It's been awhile since I've posted anything about this, but Colonial Days will be here before you know it (first Friday in February), and we will need as many as possible.

Hope everyone has a happy week.

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Little Pouches Are a Thing of the Past

I took on the role of the KGB today with the tops of the kids' desks. Some of them have been slowly starting to look like miniature playgrounds, and so I've told them that everything needs to come off of them other than their name tags. We have more than enough distractions without the kids trying to make baskets into miniature hoops on top of their desks, and the sides of their desks need to be cleared off of "cute little pouches" to hold their dollars and little paper clips too. I told them today, "This is not your bedroom."

Also, we're going to have a math test next Tuesday. I'll give the kids a rough outline of what's going to be on it, but more specific information will be given in class, so they will have to take notes to get the full idea of what to expect on it.

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

The Human Factor

A huge thank you to Mrs. Wallack today! She came in today and taught the kids how to start off their persuasive essays as well as how to conclude them. She even stuck around to answer the kids' questions as they worked on them.

In my Hatchet group today, we took a page from The Dangerous Book for Boys and learned to make some sweet bombers. Don't worry, next time it's back to business for these readers. I did assign them to read chapter 13 as well for next time, and to hold on to the passage that they thought was most descriptive from before.

In Math, we graded the homework from last night and then I had them do an unusual journal assignment in which they wrote out a simple problem they've had recently, as well as the answer to how they solved it. I talked to them about how we solve problems in Math and outside of Math. I showed them a very interesting video I posted here last summer (July 4th, to be exact--go look at it now!) about how students can easily become crippled by having too much information just handed to them in the world of Math. It's incredibly interesting, and it actually led to some decent discussion. They have shown a pretty strong sense of fractions and decimals recently, so that gives me a lot of hope.

Hope all is well. We've had a lot of injuries and illness lately, so everybody try to stay healthy!

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Hatchet Job

The boys are supposed to have 11 and 12 read for tomorrow in Hatchet complete with their most descriptive passage marked.

The Woodbrook book fair is in full swing right now, and while many of the kids went today, there are still three days left for them to go down and browse.

Sorry for the quick post again, but the kids did really well with the Math again today! I'm liking this unit...

Monday, November 15, 2010


I told the kids today that they don't have to do their Spelling definitions for tomorrow, and that we would be doing them in a special way during class tomorrow. I gave them the list already just in case they wanted to get a head start on their 3x each tonight. They don't have all that much homework tonight.

More to come.

Cheers from Camp T

Here's an e-mail I received last week from Mr. Tom Elliott, who works up at Camp Tecumseh. I worked with Tom during my last few years there, and we were even cabin partners during his first summer. (And he's one of several British co-counselors I had over the years, interestingly enough. Maybe I come off as an Anglophile or something.)

Hi Jeff,
Thanks for the link, I checked it out over the weekend and there are some great comments on there. Feedback like this is always encouraging for us to hear and know that it's having the effect we are striving for. I actually shared it with everyone at camp this morning at the meeting. Sometimes we get caught in the routine of doing things and forget that our goal is to change lives on a daily basis. Things like this help keep us focused on that goal. I think Mongoose and Rayn are going to get on there this afternoon to post a comment.

Thanks again for sending the link, it's great to see how much the students got from it. Thanks as always for bringing everyone out, it's always great to see you back.
Take care.

Hey, Thomas, get Rayn and Mongoose to leave us comments like you said! Maybe it's too hard or something. And you didn't even sign off with "Cheers" like you used to...have we Americanized you that much in eleven years?

Anyway, I do remember one of my favorite things working at camp is when you'd receive letters from students after they've returned. We might have to do that soon. I think it would be neat to see what the kids have taken away from it a month later or something like that.


Sunday, November 14, 2010

Missing Video Found

Watch it here. Nice job, guys! Hoping this works. Thanks for sending it in, Mrs. Spangler! This came out during the week of camp, and we were unable to watch it over our school's sometimes-reliable distribution system. What would we do without YouTube?

Friday, November 12, 2010

Veterans Day

All day yesterday, I received the best feedback on the Veteran's Day program. Here's an e-mail we got from Mrs. Davis:
I can’t let this day go by without expressing my gratitude for all staff and students involved in putting together today’s Veteran’s Day program. It was touching and moving and a great life learning opportunity for our boys and girls.

How fortunate we were to have so many of your relatives and friends in attendance who are veterans and to have our honored guest Col. Lt. Spencer.

How fortunate we are for the talent of our fellow staff-Jeff, Lindsey, Jay and Dave.

The fifth grade students and choir were so well prepared and respectful of their particular roles.

What a wonderful tribute.

I personally want to thank Colonel Lieutenant Spencer for his wonderful presentation to the entirety of our school and all of our guests. It was an honor to not only have him there, but to have so many veterans present. We had guests from Vietnam, the Gulf War, Afghanistan, World War II, Iraq, the Korean War, and I'm sure more. Those were just the guys I had the honor with which to shake hands.

Also, I want to thank Mr. Jay Vahle, Mr. Dave Slipher, Mrs. Rose Khalili, Mr. Brian Davis, Mrs. Davis, and Mrs. Lindsey Ratner for all they did to make the program happen. Jay and Dave for singing in prelude and postlude to the show. Mrs. Davis, Mr. Davis (no relation!), and Rose for setting the whole gym up before I even got in yesterday morning. Rose had sent me an e-mail Wednesday that I didn't get until late that night, asking me how I wanted it set up. As I ran in to apologize the next morning, I found the gym all set up already--much more nicely that I could have imagined.

The Woodbrook Choir did such a fantastic job of singing (under the direction of Mrs. Ratner, along with Kate Adaniya and Ian and Lily Wallack). Those with speaking parts: C.J. Patterson, Griffin Gonzalez, Rachel Block, Ethan Schipp, Josh Wilson, Blake Smith, Mona Goggins, Jacob Jackson, Sophia Gripp, Jacob Holt, Jacob Conn, Annie Spangler, Andrew Chen, Gary Spencer, Tess Nihill, Ally Langston, and Stefan Buba. All of the people who held flags in front of the school the whole time and the student council for being ushers: Bethanie Ackerman, Brooke Ackerman, Drew Klotz, Nick Schipp, Jacob Alford, Julia Armbruster, Ellie Burdick, Natalie Gutierrez, Emerson Halbleib, Natalie Jackson, Jason Jaffe, Brynn Kellermeyer, Emily Klotz, Kylie Kuchik, Bailey Painter, Tyler Poulson, Courtney Swingewood, Samantha Swingewood, Madison Van Horn, Nicole Wimer, and Elise Winn. Brock Moore, who was originally slated to have a line, but didn't get it in time before he broke his arm and was out all week until yesterday...who ended up acting as an usher. It was pretty handy that his arm is stuck in an "up" position that he could be an usher!

I hope everyone fulfilled Colonel Lieutenant Spencer's assignment, to find a veteran and thank him or her for their service to our country.

As Mrs. Apolzon e-mailed me yesterday, "Best program ever!" I'm being sincere when I tell you that my contribution to this program was pretty minimal. Thanks again to everyone involved!

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Times Like These

Griffin and Brooke: Sorry your entry got cut short. I promise that as soon as we have a day that is not packed to the gills, you can do an entry. Of course, that also means everyone will have to be good...

I told the kids about their book report biography project today. I told them to TAKE NOTES because this was an assignment I wanted them to do on their own. Ask them about it, and if they don't have all the details, have them come and ask me for clarification tomorrow. Their explanation to you should include the words "poster board", "panels", "drawing", and "title panel".

The kids are to wear RED, WHITE, and BLUE tomorrow! It's the Veteran's Day program tomorrow and my class, along with Mrs. Shearman's class and with a little help from the Woodbrook Student Council, is putting it on for the class. We are really looking forward to hearing Mr. Spencer give his talk and hear the kids give their WELL-PRACTICED (hint-hint) lines tomorrow.

I taught the kids to add fractions today. First of all, I taught them how to do it the old-fashioned way, which is how I learned. (Have them demonstrate--we did this again and again and again in class today.) After that, I showed them a new and modern way of doing it. Reaction to both was positive, and I am encouraging the kids to do it whichever way they want. I showed them that we get the same answer through both methods. We did both of them many times in class, so hopefully they will be able to demonstrate both ways.

One more FYI: I will not be here on Friday. I have two doctor's appointments, so I will be off that day. I will be giving the kids strict instructions on their behavior before the end of the day tomorrow.

On the Horizon

Parents of 5th grade Students:

In the near future, you and your child will make several important decisions as you plan his/her middle school experience. Current Carmel Clay fifth graders who wish to be considered for the middle school honors program for the 2011-2012 school year must register and then attend the Honors Testing session that will take place Saturday, January 22, 2011 from 7:45 a.m. to noon at Creekside Middle School. All students who wish to be considered for honors English or honors math must attend this session - no exceptions will be made. You must be registered to attend.

Information on the Honors program and registration process should have come home with your student on November 5.

November 17th is online registration deadline.

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Manly Survival

One thing I came to realize from working with my 100% male group of Hatchet readers today? They don't all realize exactly what a "hatchet" is. Well, now they do, but they didn't all before.

Here's a webpage that might be of interest to your strappin' lads. There's a list of the 100 most-manly books or something like that on there, and Hatchet is right there on the list. Even though everyone would agree that Brian is in a very bad place right now, I think all of the guys would also agree that it would be pretty fun to some extent to be dropped in the middle of the woods for a couple months (or at least three or four days...). We are tying this in directly with our experience at Camp Tecumseh with the Survival Simulation.

Mrs. Shearman and I are having so much fun with this, it's amazing we've never tried this before.

Postcards from Camp

Thanks for sending these pictures (and more) in to us, Mrs. Block!

Monday, November 8, 2010

Bullet Point Monday

  • We started a new unit on fractions today in Math. Despite the fact that fractions are not everyone's favorite things to deal with, the kids really did pretty well today and seem to have (or to have developed) a pretty strong conceptual grasp.
  • Scripts went home today for the Veteran's Day program on Thursday. Not much time to prepare, I know. Sorry! Everyone just has one thing to memorize for today.
  • We also have reading (Hatchet people, finish 4 and read 5).
  • Spelling homework is as usual, and the DOL has approximately 22 mistakes, probably more.
  • Sorry for the fast posting...gotta run!

While Out Exploring

Alert student Gary Spencer spotted this sign while vacationing in Florida over fall break.

If Gary stumbled upon the Fountain of Youth while he was there, he didn't share it with us, but it should become apparent in a couple years if he did. I guess that would be one way to avoid your awkward teenage years, huh?

Seriously, thanks for sending this in! Anyone else who spots something educational or class-related (those are USUALLY the same thing, but not always...) while out and about, please send it my way and I will post it here on The Dojo!

Yet More Snapshots from Our Time Up North

These pictures came today (amongst others) from Mr. Todd Spencer. Thanks, Todd! Great pictures.

Todd was a great teacher for us while we were at camp. The kids got a lot out of his sessions, and learned a thing or two about Army life while staying in his cabin. Thanks for sharing this wealth of knowledge and experience, Mr. Spencer.

Remember, if you have any pictures, please send them to me and/or Mrs. Schmelz.

Friday, November 5, 2010

Good Times, Good Pictures

Okay, this is my last Camp Tecumseh post.

Oh, okay, that's a total lie.

But please enjoy these pictures sent to me by Mrs. Schipp. Thank you! Love the one of Nick hanging on the rope.

WHAT A WEEK !!!!!!

Believe it or not this has been a good week. We got everything we needed to get done, done. We got pur biographies today from the library the report is a comic strip I will send home the information Monday, project due day before turkey day. We had our spelling test and our MATH test today, and we did AWESOME. We had a great week and cant wait till next week.

Thanks, Griffin! I'll take it from here...

I'm going to edit the three body paragraphs over the weekend and give them back to the kids probably on Monday. That's the goal. We will be working on these in class and in the computer lab, so you should have seen the last of them until the final product comes home--don't worry!

While Mrs. Haberfield's first grade class was visiting today, she mentioned to me that we are now one third of the way through the school year. Seriously, we just had our 61st day, out of 180. Seems completely unreal. I've loved it so far, and I really hope your kids have too.

Have a great weekend!

The Letter "I" Has Never Looked So Sad

Just wait until basketball season. Hummel or no Hummel, these boys are going to be wearing Purdue shirts. I have plenty.

Seriously, these are great guys who somehow know about my tradition involving Purdue games. At first I didn't think it would happen this year, because no one in my home room brought it up, but sure enough, there was Jake placing the bet.

Tradition is good--even when you can feel it burning your skin.

Thursday, November 4, 2010

Let's Try That Again...

Picture re-take day is on November 15! That's a Monday! Yeah!

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Why We Journal, Even at Camp

I read through the kids' camp journals this evening. To be honest, this is the first time in all our years of going that I'd given them anything but a quick once-over. I loved the responses, and they only enforced what I already knew about this trip. Here are some of the responses to the questions...

"We need to be more open-minded and not judge people."

"People I didn't even know before would catch me and not let me fall...We became friends."

"We could be nice to everyone and treat them properly."

"I felt a little bit scared that we weren't going to be able to complete the task. We as a group worked together."

"The whole group cheered the climbers on..."

"The difference came when people really listened to each other instead of just hearing the voices..."

"You really should get to know the person and be nice to them, because when you're trying to communicate, the labels get in the way."

"Thinking very hard, teamwork, a good leader, and confidence. It really is all you need."

"The most challenging part really was watching the people climbing struggle. I could help them achieve their goal."

"When we actually thought about it and figure it out and communicate; not just blabber and shout."

"We had success! It was building a fire! I felt great!"

"People need encouragement."

"All the parts of the foundations for success. Communication was used between the spotter and the climber told where to put the hand or foot. Trust was used in the same way. The climber had to have self-confidence to succeed. The spotter needs leadership to tell the climber where to put their hand or foot. You need problem solving to do this."

"I need encouragement for football and homework."

"You could not judge people. You could get to know them."

"Teams live longer."

"I felt like I was invincible."

"We need to treat each other more nicely."

"I learned how to trust others."

"We really couldn't survive without each other. Everyone needs each other, and we shouldn't argue."*

*This last one literally brought tears to my eyes. But not really, because as was said in class today, a sensei doesn't cry.

These are all actual quotes from their camp journals. Okay, I cleaned up a few grammatical things and capitalization and spelling errors, but I'm willing to forgive that. It was really cold out and they were writing with numb hands. I thought they were pretty profound!

They will be bringing their journals home today. Look through them. I think you'll be impressed.

Making Your Argument

The example I gave to the kids yesterday for their persuasive speech is to take a counter-argument to their point of view ("School uniforms will be good because they take the focus off of the clothes and then they can focus on the school work...") and counter that with their point of view ("However, one thing that these people don't take into consideration is that the discomfort of wearing a uniform can be more distracting to the learner than their regular clothes..."). These are both just for-instances. But they've written three arguments for their argument and three against it. They should pair these up as best they can to form three paragraphs.

These three paragraphs will create the body of the work, and then when this is done, we will focus on the introduction and the conclusion.

These are due on Friday, and I will do my best, as I said, to get them edited and back to the students by Monday morning.

More Memories

This is a smattering of the excellent pictures Mrs. Spangler sent in today. If you have any that you took, please either e-mail them to me or send them in on a CD. Thanks!


What a crazy day yesterday was--but we at least got almost everything in that I wanted to get in.

We're going to try mixing it up a little bit with Mrs. Shearman's class for this next reading project--she's going to take all of the girls and I'm going to take all of the boys and we're going to do our reading groups that way. Mrs. Shearman is something of an expert on "books for girls" and the way they read them, and I wrote an extensively-researched paper on books for boys when I was in grad school. This won't be a f0r-the-rest-of-the-year thing, but we're going to try it for one book. I'm pretty excited about it.

The kids sloppy copy for the three main body portions of their persuasive essays will be due on Friday. It is my hope to get them completely edited over the weekend and back in their hands by Monday for the final drafts. The final drafts will be due sometime before Thanksgiving.

Tomorrow we go to the symphony at the high school--this is the Carmel Symphony Orchestra, so it is always a great performance.

Monday, November 1, 2010

Aftermath and Just Plain Math

I asked the kids today to play "devil's advocate" for their persuasive essays. This will help them develop arguments for the other side.

I put a list of things we must do tomorrow on the board. This list doesn't even include continuing the things we started on today. Busy times!

We will also be mixing it up with Mrs. Shearman's class a little bit over the next few weeks to get some nice reading groups going. These will be novels--stay tuned!

There will be a MATH TEST on division (including interpreting the remainders in story problems) on Friday.

Of course the kids were all a-flutter today about camp, and of course I did indulge them a little bit. I was really impressed with what they wrote in their journals, by the way. Remember that if you have pictures from the trip, send a CD or e-mail them to Mrs. Schmeltz. If you go the CD route, you can send it in with your child and I'll get sent home to her. The hope is to compile all the pictures into one massive CD or something like that--sounds pretty keen!