Wednesday, December 21, 2011

You Must Remember This

The daily e-mail from yesterday had a pretty good quote that I wanted to pass on to everyone. Hope you are all enjoying your break.

“As we struggle with shopping lists and invitations, compounded by December's bad weather, it is good to be reminded that there are people in our lives who are worth this aggravation, and people to whom we are worth the same.”

Donald Westlake (1933-2008);

American writer

Friday, December 16, 2011

Recursive Sequencing

After a dizzying week full of testing, creating gifts for the parents (thank you, Mrs. Johnson, for all your help!...honestly, I have no idea what I'd do without my classroom aids: Mrs. Johnson, Mrs. Appelsies, and Mrs. Somers), and on the personal side, grading, entering the scores for all of the data that is required, finishing all of the pictures for the kids, and getting the required papers to all of the required people, I'm one tired guy. And I'm sure your children are ready for the break as well.

I want to thank everyone for showering me with awesome gifts over the past week. Thank you cards are coming to you all, but I wanted to make sure you all know you are thanked. You are wonderful people to teach for, and there is no way I can thank you enough.

Right now, I have to take the opportunity to let my Math class (and their parents) know that I cannot believe how smart this class is. After teaching fifth grade math last year for the first time in a decade, I was honestly reluctant to turn back to Sixth Grade Math. No offense is meant toward any former sixth grade math class I've taught, but these kids are by far the smartest math class I have ever taught. Including when I taught Challenge. You read that right. And this class is made up of people without a single Challenge kid in it. I have told them this time and again, which is met with complacency. I teach them something one time; they get it. When I start to review something with them, I'm met with, "Haven't we already done this?" I'll say, "Well, yeah, but we're just reviewing." That normally receives an easy-going shrug as they await moving onto the next thing. They actually enjoy things like logic puzzles, like converting repeating decimals into fractions, like tackling multiplying mixed numbers, and like my bad drawings of multiplication signs with faces. I have bored the other teachers with talking about this Math class. I have bored the Math class itself telling them how great they are. But it's true. It's a very gratifying class to teach. Your kids make me not mind not having only my homeroom every day.

More later. Have a great break!

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

There Is Always Hope

Wow, are the kids ever getting fidgety. I'm sure you're seeing it at home too! I told them I almost don't feel bad about all of the testing we have to do here at the end. (In all honesty, I do find it a bit ridiculous.) I told the kids that I was at least going to spare them the mid-year Rigby test. No one has told us (yet...I'm sure it's coming) that we have to give it.

There is a quiz tomorrow in Caesar's English. This afternoon, tomorrow, and Thursday, I will be giving the mid-year Math test to my sixth grade math class. Theme Test 7 is on Thursday as well as their open-note Science test.

When I was in college, we had what they called "Dead Week", the week before finals in which there were no tests of any kind, nor any big projects due, etc. At the end of the school year, I really hope to be able to hold a Dead Week around here, and get all that testing done before that last week before what are essentially "finals" arrives here in the Woodbrook fifth grade.

I told the kids today that at least we're almost there! I'm not sure whether or not they believe me when I tell them that I'm ready also.

Monday, December 12, 2011

The Storm Before the Calm

Well, here's the lowdown on this week, guys:
  1. Over the course of tomorrow and Wednesday during the day, I will be giving the mid-year Math test. This is only if you're in my Math class, but other classes are probably either doing this already or very soon.
  2. The Caesar's English quiz is on Wednesday. They all have been given lists! (And they don't have to know an example for "sangui-").
  3. The theme test for chapter 7 in Rigby will be on Thursday, as well as their open-note astronomy quiz.
  4. I'm trying to finish up reading Qwerty Stevens before break! Not an easy task.

Busy busy times, guys. Hope all is well at home. I realize I am normally more verbose, but for now you will have to make due with the bare bones. Sorry!

Thursday, December 8, 2011

They're So Cute When They're Asleep

Say hello to Brady Judson Wampler! Mrs. Emily Wampler, the upper grades resource teacher--many of you know her as well as I do--gave birth to Brady earlier today at 11:17 am. 7 pounds, 10 ounces. 21 inches long. Everyone is healthy and doing well.

Great news for a great day!

Credit Where It's Overdue

A really big thank you goes out to Mrs. Hurdle and Mrs. Alexander for volunteering to come into my classroom until I could arrive tonight. Luckily I was able to get there earlier than I thought. My buddy was able to come in early and take over my final karate class for me earlier than expected. These ladies didn't know that when they volunteered, though! You guys are great.

The kids did a really nice job tonight. I apologize if I missed any of you--I left pretty hastily after it was over. Long day!

Catching the Cold

Hope to see everyone at the show tonight! It looked great today. We have some real talent in the fifth grade for sure.

Just a reminder that there is a spelling test tomorrow! The rest of 2011 will be laid out in front of the kids before they go home tomorrow, I hope. The schedule is going to get pretty wonky for a few days.

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Six Hundred Light Years Away

Wow, did your kids ever have a lot of questions about outer space after we finished watching that show today! We finished it up in about twenty minutes, and then that led to discussing the new planet that was just found within that last couple of days. That brought out many good (and some humorous) ideas for living in outer space. I also told them all about the Space Shuttle Challenger, which went down over twenty-five (!) years ago. Here's the video we watched about the new planet. The sound wasn't very good when we watched it in class, so just in case anyone wants to hear it again:

We also read a tale of undersea horror in the reading books, and after that, the students each wrote either a prequel or a sequel to it. Can't wait to read those in the kids' journals as they hand them in over the next week.

Tonight, the kids will bring home their green reading books again for a writing assignment of a different kind based on that story. They also have a helping verb sheet for homework tonight, as well as their meaning exercise for spelling.

See you all tomorrow night for the fifth grade musical!

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Stranger Than Fiction

Apologies for the late update tonight. The last couple weeks of a given semester are really busy for a teacher who tutors, has papers to grade, and also tries to keep up on his karate. And it is at this time that I need karate! But I digress...

Today we did our DAZE (I have no idea what DAZE stands for, but it's a horrible acronym for a test which focuses on fluency in reading, no?) testing for reading, which is the second part of our winter benchmark testing. It only lasted three minutes, and I haven't graded them yet, but at least that part is done.

We've been doing our best to get caught up on Reading so that we can get this last test in before next week is over. Right now the plan is to have the theme test for chapter 7 next Thursday. Tomorrow we will be talking about helping verbs and reading a story about a squid attack. Today was quite an odd little story in the reading book about a girl who dreamed of swimming with a blue whale.

And speaking of reading reading reading, I've been reading to the kids a book cumbersomely titled Qwerty Stevens Back in Time with Benjamin Franklin. It's by Dan Gutman, whose work I love because it's so easy to read out loud. Not sure why some authors' work flows more fluently out of the mouth than others, but I've tried to read the work of two of my favorite authors (Gary Paulsen and C.S. Lewis), but it's horribly difficult to read out loud. Gutman, works for me. And I really like this book. It's really funny, and it very accurately represents Benjamin Franklin, despite being a work of science fiction. You'll have to ask your child about Ben Franklin's "air baths", which is actually a fact about him.

Look out for a take-home writing assignment going home tomorrow night (Wednesday). They will also have their green reading books with them, so that they can do these up the right way.

Okay, I'm fading fast. Let me know if you have any questions or concerns. We're zeroing in on the end of this semester! Hard to believe we're almost halfway done...

Monday, December 5, 2011

Like Something That Seeks Its Level

Okay, everybody, here is the round-up for the vital-est of vital information you will need to know for this week:
  1. Thursday night is the fifth grade musical! The kids have been working hard on it for a long time now. The bits and pieces that I've seen have been pretty great, so I'm looking forward to seeing the whole thing myself. It begins at 7:00, but please don't come much before that, because they won't open the doors to the fifth grade area until 6:45ish!
  2. Speaking of which, I am looking for some brave and bold fifth grade parents to help out that night before the show. Thursday is the night on which I teach karate. I will get someone to teach my last class so that I can get to the school by 6:45 if I really hustle to get my clothes changed (lest everyone think the school is being attacked by a 210 pound ninja). What I need is a parent or two (or eight) who can come be in my room while the kids are in there in case I'm a little bit late. Don't worry; I won't leave you hanging, but I will likely need some eyes to keep the kids calm. Every year, the kids get really excited to be in the school at night (the thrill!), and tend to be running around unless there is an adult standing there. If ANY of you can help out, please do! E-mail me!
  3. See the post below! They should have that done tomorrow!
  4. And piggy-backing on item #2 on the list, I will be happily taking parent volunteers again starting in January! This is not a one-man show. I do have the support of the Woodbrook teachers' aids for a portion of the day, but there is much to be done. If you want to come at some point, please do. We can use you! Just a little advance notice will be greatly appreciated. Thanks!
  5. At some point this week, students will be given another one-question writing assignment from the Reading book. The kids normally do a really great job on these, so I can't wait to see the results.
  6. There will be another Math quiz on Friday. I told the kids that this chapter is kind of a hodgepodge of ideas for Math (and then we talked about what hodgepodge means), so I wanted to give them quizzes on the like ideas before a chapter test, which will be next week in some form. Right now we've been working on positive and negative numbers. This didn't go as smoothly as I had assumed it would. I told the Math class that I finally found their Achilles Heel! (Actually, I must not have used that exact term, because I don't recall explaining the story of Achilles being dipped in the River Styx by his heel.) We will revisit the positives and negatives tomorrow some more, but I hope that they can work their best through that page I gave them for homework.

Today we also got the kids' winter benchmark reading test (I was so excited that so many went way up!) and, among other things, we watched the second part of one of my favorite outer space documentaries, To the Moon. This is a two-hour Nova episode, and it's really really good. Today we saw the sad part detailing what happened to Gus Grissom and the other astronauts on the launchpad in 1967.

Here's this week's Spelling list:

  1. appear
  2. become
  3. continue
  4. convey
  5. dungeon
  6. encyclopedia (this one's a doozy!)
  7. flicker
  8. plantation
  9. pressure
  10. remain
  11. describe
  12. process

Hope you all have a fantastic week. See you Thursday!


I'm sending home the kids' theme tests from chapter 6 in the reading book. I am also sending home a second, blank copy for them to do at home with their book. They didn't do well on that test as a whole. I'm going to give them another chance to do this one at home, open book. I will then average out the two grades.

Because of this, I did give them a chance to get their definitions done for their spelling list this week, but if they didn't get that finished in class, then that is also due tomorrow.

Thank you so much for your cooperation with the new initializing of the weekly bookmarks. It is important for your child to read at home--make sure you set some time aside for the kids to be reading in a room without a TV or computer games going on. Twenty minutes is all I ask!

Sunday, December 4, 2011

Been There; Done That; Doing It Tomorrow

Wow, folks, I'm not going to lie. We're going to have a busy busy busy time before break. It's not too much to handle, but it may be pretty close. Just going by my lesson plans right now, we have the following: one spelling test, one Caesar's English quiz, one math quiz (my math class only), one math test (again, only my math class), one Theme Test (7--and the kids didn't fare well on this last one...), a book report, an Astronomy quiz, commas to learn, Rigby Reads to learn, and a 5th grade musical to perfect and perform.

Now, relax. I will spend a lot of time in class working with the kids, talking them through these things, and at least the Astronomy will be open-note. I also plan for one or two of those tests to be take-home in variety, so be on the look-out for those over the next couple weeks.

Don't worry--I am going to be sensible when it comes to these things; I will be making sure not to give stuff like this on the night of the musical, for example. And I won't bog the kids down too much. However, the amount of homework they have over the next two weeks may start to get closer to what they will have next year.

Just telling you to brace yourselves for a crazy, maddening couple of weeks around 5-1. Don't worry; you won't feel most of it on your end, but you will feel something. I told the kids that we were in for some big changes last Monday, but the truth is that this craziness is the way we would be with or without our reboot a week ago. This is fifth grade as normal.

To quote Shakespeare, "What's past is prologue." Here's the rest. Hang on for the ride!

Outside Time Without Extension

You should have seen some fliers come home on Friday regarding the Woodbrook Elementary-to-Clay Middle School transitional information for the 2012-2013 school year. Wow, that sounds crazy when I type it up. In case you didn't get it, here are the main points. You can also request another one if your child didn't bring it home (they were put in each kid's mailbox, and yes, your child did indeed receive one as well).

First off, on January 18, 2012, from 4:00-5:30pm, is the Student Activity Night. This is at Clay, and is for students only (they can be dropped off and picked up at the front entrance). They will take a tour of the school, have pizza, get a Clay t-shirt, meet with current Clay students, and get to watch a Clay basketball game. That night's game is of the Clay girls' basketball team. The kids can watch former 5-1 student of mine, Olivia "Viva" Christy, who just made Clay's team, play that night.

Next, there is a parent informational meeting on January 24, 2012, at 7pm at Clay Middle in the auditorium. At the same time, the students will have a meeting in the gymnasium. The performing arts department will also be giving a presentation for the students in the gym for an overview of the band, orchestra, and choir.

Parents and students can go to CMS at 9am on February 9, 2012 for coffee and to have any other questions answered and so that you can meet the counselors and the administration at Clay.

The week of February 13-17 (exact date will be given later), Clay counselors will be coming to Woodbrook to speak with the kids about scheduling their classes for 6th grade. Some of your children will have already done this by that time. There should be no reason to re-do this for them, but they will still be a part of this presentation. Either way, they should be bringing home information regarding course offering that week. All course selections must be made by February 24.

April 25 from 6:30-8:30pm: An informal open house at Clay will offer guided tours, learn about school clubs, and have the opportunity to ask questions about life at Clay.

You can't say they don't go out of their way at Clay to bring you in for an easy landing so that you can hit the ground running, mixaphorically speaking. They are true pros over there, which makes me very comfortable in sending my students there at the end of the year.

If you do have questions about this process, you can call Clay Middle School at 317.844.7251.

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Back to My Sweathogs

We reviewed for the kids' Theme Test Six tomorrow. It should be okay, I think we're going to be in good shape. A couple of other teachers who have already given this test said that their students really struggled with this one, so we have taken some extra time to study on this one. Then we will try to get in another theme before break.

I'm having fun getting these kids back! We've had a great week so far. I hate that I'm not going to be in there tomorrow, because it would have been nice to get a solid footing before having to take off, but this is when the science training was set up.

And speaking of Science, the kids seem to be enjoying it! I think they were starting to wear a little thin on the Social Studies (how that breaks me heart...but I do love Science too!), so it's good to have a little bit of a break for awhile.

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

To Infinity and Beyond

We went to the planetarium this morning to learn about the path of the sun during the different seasons. Mr. Keith Turner did a great job of explaining in ways that the kids could understand about the revolving of the earth and its revolutions around the sun and how we perceive all of it here on Earth.

After we got back, I explained to the kids that we get all of our heat from the sun's light hitting the Earth, and not necessarily Earth's proximity to the sun. I explained it as though the sun is a can of spray paint, lighting the middle more directly than the top or bottom, hence the reason it's so cold on the north and south poles, but so warm at the equator.

The kids did get their spelling lists today. The assignment for tomorrow is both their definitions (many of them got that done already) as well as the 3x each.

We started on chapter 6 today in Math with a new Math Journal. The talk today was over reciprocals and multiplying fractions. They had two worksheets from the lesson for homework.

Tabula Rasa

The kids are out of my classroom right now for indoor recess. It is mercifully my day not to have duty. We just got their desks cleaned out, undoubtedly inspired by my recent massive purge in the classroom. Honestly, if you were here on the day before Thanksgiving for that party, you won't recognize the classroom now.

Anyway, I told the kids that as a part of the new status quo, I will be inspecting their desks after school every Tuesday afternoon, and it will be reflected as a part of their work habits grade. Some of the more Type A students did not, surprisingly, have the cleanest desks! But they do now, and hopefully this fresh start will help keep things in place--along with the weekly check-up policy.

Monday, November 28, 2011

You Could Look It Up

It is extremely important that your child brings his or her permission slip tomorrow for the CHS Planetarium! The kids were all abuzz today because we started in with Science. We discussed astronomy, gravity, inertia, and why Pluto never really was a planet.

The kids do have a book report which is due on Friday, December 9. It is a pretty simple book report, but I wanted to give them time to finish whichever book they are currently reading. I told them that if the book is indeed too long to finish before that time (this is while reading in class as well as 20 minutes each night, at least), that they could do a book that they have just read. By the way, I did remind them that it would be a very bad idea to wait until December 8th--the day of the fifth grade musical program--before starting their book reports!

Look for bookmarks to come home tonight, and then again once a week. These are to be signed by the parent or guardian nightly. I told them that they were not allowed to go home and read for 100 minutes and then call it a week. If they read 100 minutes tonight, then that's great. They still have to read at home tomorrow too. And the next day. And the next. They are due every Monday, and at that time they will be given a new one for the next week.

By the way, here's a Ma and Pa Kettle piece from the 1950's that ties in with what my Math class learned today. It's meant in good humor, so take it for what it's worth. And it's worth a laugh!

Sunday, November 27, 2011

High Five

Five things you need to know for this week:
  1. We have a short field trip to the high school on Tuesday for the planetarium. This ties in with the science unit on astronomy that we're beginning tomorrow. Yes, you read that right: We are starting science tomorrow! Speaking of which...
  2. I have a science training at Carmel Clay HQ on Thursday. It is an all-day training, and I will not be in school that day. Mrs. Weghorst, former Woodbrook teacher and now retiree, will be taking the helm that day. The fact that she has my class that day makes me very happy and very relaxed.
  3. After lunch on Friday, I have a conference at Clay Middle School, so my Math class will have someone filling in that day until I get back. That day I am planning on giving a quiz in Math on percentages, the topic for this week.
  4. We will be having reading theme test 6 on Thursday. On Friday, we will be having the spelling test.
  5. Look back at #1. Yeah, you haven't seen a permission slip come home on that yet. I think we forgot about it because of the short week last week. It will be coming home on Monday, but remember that the trip is on Tuesday. If your child does not bring it back signed on Tuesday, he or she will not be going on that trip. We have no choice. Make sure you get it and sign it on Monday night, or no trip to the high school!

Three Two One Go

I've spent quite a bit of time in the school over the past few days getting things ready for the rest of the school year. I have cleaned out, simplified, and made some serious alterations to the everyday workings of the classroom. I'm going to expect quite a bit out of your children, bottom line. I had a similar epiphany about five years ago, when I made this entry regarding my class at the time. Read that and you'll get the gist. I decided that I was going to wait until Miss Mellinger left so that I wasn't putting a bunch of changes on her. She did a good job of getting the kids started, and now I'm going to take what she did and run with it.

We're still going to be doing all of the literacy in the ways we're supposed to be doing it. We will still be following the Common Core Standards. It's just that we have precious little time left when you get down to it. That's one of the things I'm going to be sharing with the students tomorrow. I'm planning to lay out the amount of time remaining as well as all of the things we need to get crammed into that time. It's going to feel good to get back in the saddle, I have to admit.

I'm going to start some new daily rituals tomorrow, I'm going to start reading them a new book, and show them the way things are going to be for the rest of their fifth grade year. It's going to be a great ride!

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Plymouth Rock

Wow, what a day. Miss Mellinger's last day brought with it one party preceded by some sneaky work on the part of the kids in signing the chair from the class as a gift to her. Then, after lunch, we had another great party thanks to Mrs. Hurdle, Mrs. Zimmer, Mr. and Mrs. Pitz, and Mrs. Owens. They kept the kids busy for the last hour of the day--no easy feat on the day before the Thanksgiving break. They made Oreo turkeys, played games, and brought with them awesome pictures from Camp Tecumseh. I am so thankful for our room parents!

The excitement didn't end there! After school, at about 4:30, a burnt bag of popcorn sent the fire alarms into a tizzy and we found out that there were about three teachers left at the school--along with the after school program who were all lined up outside and taking attendance. The fire department made an appearance and everything. It was a pretty crazy pre-turkey day.

I told Miss Mellinger that I would post the letter she wrote to the kids here on the blog, but of course that was left at school. I will do so next week.

For now, just know that I am thankful for the opportunity I have to teach your kids as well as all your support as I do so. Enjoy your days with your families tomorrow, and rest up--we've got a lot of learning to do and no time to slow down when the kids get back on Monday.

Happy Thanksgiving!

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

The Vanishing and the Strife

Today we read through the rest of the book The Lost Colony by Lee Miller. It's the book about the island of Roanoke and John White's startling discovery that they had all vanished by the time he got back--three years later--without the supplies he had promised them. I love reading them stuff like this, because it shows that what is just a snippet of information in their Social Studies book has an elaborate back story to it. In this case, the mystery of why the people left remains unsolved, but we did have in interesting time with conjecture after I finished reading it today. Ask your child this evening what they thought about it; I loved reading it to them.

Town on Parade

Sorry for the rushed post yesterday, but it did give you the bare-bones information for the week, at least! We had a staff meeting after school but I wanted to get something posted before heading out the door.

I did receive a forwarded e-mail from Mr. Greg Pergal (Cole's father) regarding the Macy's parade this Thursday. Turns out they're not only doing the parade, but also playing the national anthem on Fox News. I'm not sure whether this is an actual press release or not, but it did come from Dr. Charles Sinclair, who teaches at CHS:

While the CHS Marching Band is in New York for the Macy’s parade they will be seen Wednesday morning, sometime between 8 a.m. and 9 a.m. [EST] on the nationally broadcast Fox and Friends.

Fox and Friends is a morning television show on the Fox News Channel. The show runs 6 a.m. to 9 a.m. [EST] with the latest Fox News Live headlines and analyzes the news of the morning. It continues with many different segments including interviews, updates of news stories with correspondents at any number of bureaus, analysis from the hosts, and many different regular morning show segments.

The Fox News Channel appears on our inhouse school video line-up at channel 59. This should not be confused with the local Fox affiliate station, WXIN, which although it coincidentally broadcasts on channel 59 appears on our school video line-up at channel 11.

Monday, November 21, 2011

Four for Three

The big things you need to know for this week are:
  1. There is a Caesar's English quiz on Wednesday.
  2. The fall parties are on Wednesday also; this will take place in the afternoon.
  3. Miss Mellinger's last day is on Wednesday. We will miss her!
  4. Friday is Turkey Day! Remember to wish our Carmel Marching band well as they perform in the Macy's parade, and on Saturday wish the football team well as they compete at state!

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Last Friday in America

Thanks to Mrs. Helgeland, who took these great pictures from the Veterans' Day program last Friday. Thank you so much, Mrs. H! You're always helpful above and beyond what your job description dictates. Great pictures!

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Near Future; Recent Past

I apologize for not posting last night. The same thing still stands, though. Math test on Friday, and I'm giving out a study guide at the end of tonight, so the kids will have tonight to get it finished and brought back tomorrow with any questions. We will go over it with a fine-tooth tomorrow and then Friday will be the big test day. That actually puts us at the end of this math journal! I think we will be doing review for an end-of-semester test. It won't be a final, exactly, but more of a review so that we can go over what we've done throughout the school year thus far. I haven't been the teacher for the good chunk of the semester, so I want to get a more first-hand account of how the individual kids are doing on what we've been learning.

More later about the rest of the school day and what we're doing there.

Monday, November 14, 2011

Mystery Island

There is a math test on Friday! I told the kids last Friday that I would hand out a study guide on Wednesday, we would go over it together in class on Thursday, and then Friday would be the test. Tomorrow I'll be going over quadrilaterals with the class, so hopefully they will all be ready by Friday with no big questions left lingering.

In Social Studies today, we started reading a book called Roanoke: The Mystery of the Lost Colony. This is one of my favorite subjects of history to teach on because it is a very interesting story filled with greed and people doing very bad things. The book is by Lee Miller, who also has a grown-up book about the same subject. I recommend both.

I received this from Mrs. Davis yesterday:

Mr. Carter,

I would like to thank you and your students for a touching and well done tribute to Veteran’s Day on Friday. Veteran’s Day is such an important day in our country and by making sure that we have a program every year, our Woodbrook Lions learn so much.

I was very proud of all of you!

Mrs. Davis

Friday, November 11, 2011

Soldiers' Hearts

Wow, I was so happy with everyone who was a part of the Veterans' Day program. It was a very special program that brought honor to all veterans, especially those who were at Woodbrook today. A huge thank you to Lieutenant Colonel Todd Spencer, who spoke to the whole school about why it is imperative that we, as Americans, honor and respect those who have fought for our freedoms. Thank you to all the veterans who came in, including 5-1 parents and grandparents.

Thank you to the members of my class who took part today: Jacob Pitz, Winter Owens, Reese Hicks, Elizabeth Hargis, Kyle Porter, Maria Saam, Caleb Vahle, Trevor Berridge, Will Hurdle, David Sampson, Alyssa Pisano-Martin, Matthew Harcourt, Anna Gans, Charles Hargis, Christian Chacko, John Keen, Cole Pergal, Emma Cunningham, Trey Brown, Jake Zimmer, Austin Vertesch, and Tera Botta. Flag holders from my class included Frisco Gonzalez, Vaughn Niemiec, and Reece Tofaute who sang in the choir. I also had choir members and flag holders from my math class, which included Derek Fronek, Ashley Witucki, Jackson Adams, Nick Atkins, Yosuke Yanagida, Tyler Trent, Divy Sunderraj, Xavier Cocca, Corey Birch, Alex Baldwin, and choir members Ally Eaton and Quin Dreyer.

Thank you also to Mrs. Kleinschmidt (who talked me down from panic mode at one point this morning) and Mrs. Melchi for helping me get everything situated on the technology side, Mrs. Davis and Mr. Hunter for their work in getting the presentation started and keeping the crowd controlled. Mrs. Ratner and the Woodbrook Choir for the songs they provided. Mr. Zangrilli was manning the sound system the whole time. It was just a great presentation. Mrs. Hegeland took some awesome pictures. She said she would burn them to a CD and get them to me by next week. Look for them here on the Dojo when I get them. Thank you to Mrs. Elder and Mrs. Bowman for working with some of my students to help them prepare the delivery of their lines. As I told the kids when it was all over today, I was just the guy who pulled down the screen.

As the show closed out while Mr. Vahle sang America, Lt. Col. Spencer had all of the veterans in attendance line up at the doors where the exiting students shook their hands and thanked them for their service. It was very moving.

Miss Mellinger's own father, a veteran of the United States Coast Guard, came in after the presentation and told the kids about what the coast guard was and what they did. The kids had so many great questions. I loved watching the kids as they held his special agent badge in his hands and looked at the pictures of boats with names like "Midget" and "Ice Breaker". As he was leaving, I thanked him and, smiling, he said, "Thank you, that really made my day."

The rest of the day was a blur to me. We had a math quiz for about five minutes in there somewhere, and I seem to remember throwing together a spelling test, but I apologize if the daily grind was pushed to the back of my mind to make room for the overwhelming pride I felt for what your kids did today.

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Wise Up

There is a quiz tomorrow over the coordinate plane, which quadrant is which, and plotting coordinate points. The y and x axes must also be known tomorrow (I told them that an "x" is a cross, so it goes across... and y's up, because "Wise up!").

Kids should wear RED, WHITE, and BLUE tomorrow! I want to see a bunch of star-spangled students coming in tomorrow!

The book fair is next week! Information was put in my mailbox today, which has been in turn put into the kids' mailboxes. Haven't checked it out myself yet, but I guarantee I will be doing a little shopping myself.

Young Patriots; Kimono Dragons

This morning we were treated to a pretty fascinating display of sound by a one-man show called "Marimba Mania". He was a very colorful guy who made frequent costume changes. I looked up one time and he was wearing color-splattered pants, the next time I looked up he was wearing a kimono with a head-wrap. He was very talented. I can't say I've ever heard a marimba solo in my life, but this was pretty cool.

The kids seem to all be ready for the Veterans' Day program tomorrow. We still have the matter of getting the flags ready (as well as the flag-holders), but that's all good. We still have about 21 hours to finish preparing this thing! I told the kids this morning why this was such an important thing. I told them that these men have gone to war in our place, and that they have seen things that no one would ever want to see--as well as things that I hope they will never see. They took this to heart, and I truly believe that they are going to give their best tomorrow. I hope everyone can come and see this presentation.

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

A Brave Heart and a Courteous Tongue

We just got back from the gym where we practiced the program. I'm very happy to see that so many people already have their lines memorized. We got the music hammered out with Mrs. Ratner, we have an introduction being done by Colonel Spencer's son, Calvin. We seem to be in good shape.

Keep in mind that for Math class, we do have a quiz now on Friday over the coordinate plane. I also am providing the kids with another copy of the spelling list today, just in case they need it.

Here's an e-mail forwarded to me yesterday from my mom. I love it:

A lesson that should be taught in all schools ... and colleges.

Back in September of 2005, on the first day of school, Martha Cothren, a social studies school teacher at Joe T. Robinson High School in Little Rock , did something not to be forgotten. On the first day of school, with the permission of the school superintendent, the principal and the building supervisor, she removed all of the desks out of her classroom.

When the first period kids entered the room they discovered that there were no desks.

'Ms. Cothren, where are our desks?'

She replied, 'You can't have a desk until you tell me how you earn the right to sit at a desk.'

They thought, 'Well, maybe it's our grades.'

'No,' she said.

'Maybe it's our behavior.'

She told them, 'No, it's not even your behavior.'

And so, they came and went, the first period, second period, third period. Still no desks in the classroom.

By early afternoon television news crews had started gathering in Ms.Cothren's classroom to report about this crazy teacher who had taken all the desks out of her room.

The final period of the day came and as the puzzled students found seats on the floor of the deskless classroom, Martha Cothren said, 'Throughout the day no one has been able to tell me just what he/she has done to earn the right to sit at the desks that are ordinarily found in this classroom. Now I am going to tell you.'

At this point, Martha Cothren went over to the door of her classroom and opened it.

Twenty-seven (27) U.S. Veterans, all in uniforms, walked into that classroom, each one carrying a school desk. The Vets began placing the school desks in rows, and then they would walk over and stand alongside the wall. By the time the last soldier had set the final desk in place those kids started to understand, perhaps for the first time in their lives, just how the right to sit at those desks had been earned.

Martha said, 'You didn't earn the right to sit at these desks. These heroes did it for you. They placed the desks here for you. Now, it's up to you to sit in them. It is your responsibility to learn, to be good students, to be good citizens. They paid the price so that you could have the freedom to get an education. Don't ever forget it.'

This teacher was awarded Teacher of the Year for the state of Arkansas in 2006.

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

The Chosen Ones

The kids should have brought home their invitations to the Veterans' Day program. If you can help them contact these people, that would be great. I was really happy to see so many veterans known to the people in my class. I told them, even if they didn't know a veteran, to invite you guys to come in.

Turning Pages

FYI, the Scholastic Book Fair is next week. I have zero information on this, and neither did Mrs. K in the library. She said it's on its way, so be on the lookout for some information soon. Hopefully we will have a book list, and normally on Tuesday night there is a family night where you can come in and look and buy as a family.

More information to come--just wanted you to know ASAP that it is next week.

Monday, November 7, 2011

Five Things You Need to Know for Nov. 7-11

Reading theme test tomorrow: The kids studied for this today with Mrs. Somers and Mrs. Appelsies while I was in a conference. I'm very grateful to both of them!

Math quiz Thursday: My sixth grade math class has a quiz over the coordinate plane on Thursday. They will be asked to label the four quadrants, label the y and x axes, and know which quadrants hold the positive and negative coordinates.

Veterans' Day program: This is Friday! 9:00am! We really need to make invitations tomorrow!

Pizza Night Wednesday: At Cool River, go get some pizza, tell them you're from Woodbrook, and a portion goes to our awesome PTO!

Spelling test Friday: As normal. List went home today!

Sunday, November 6, 2011


Here is a smattering of the incredible shots from Camp Tecumseh sent to me by Mr. John Harcourt last week. He's quite a photographer. I will share more of these throughout the week and maybe into next week while I'm at it. There are a lot of great photos on this CD.

If you went to Camp T with us, and you would be willing, please send me your shots and I will share them here.

I truly appreciate you all going with us. I think everyone who went had a great time, and as always, I'm extremely grateful to you all.

Friday, November 4, 2011

Lines of Endeavor

Today I divvied up the parts for the Veterans' Day program next Friday. I told the kids to write in their assignment notebooks that they were to try to think of veterans they know who could be invited to the program. It begins at 9am on Friday, November 11th.

The other homework assignment they have is to memorize their part! Some of the kids have longer lines than others, but that was their choice, for the record!

I'm looking forward to this program. I told the kids that this is my very first class where I've had enough volunteers that I didn't have to pull kids in from another class to fill all the parts. In fact, we had to add parts this year so that everyone could have a line who wanted one. Hope to see you all there next Friday.

Thursday, November 3, 2011

Rocket's Red Glare

Quickie today:
  • We went to the Carmel Symphony Orchestra at the high school this morning. The conductor and the orchestra did a fantastic job of keeping it entertaining to the kids while informing them about the different families of instruments. Before long, it will be time for the middle school orchestra and band leaders to come to Woodbrook for the kids to "try on" their instruments for next year.
  • Tomorrow we begin working on the Veteran's Day program. Looking forward to that one. It's a perk of being in Mr. Carter's class. When I first started at Woodbrook eleven years ago, Mr. Akin told me that it was always the duty of the newest teacher at WB to do the Veteran's Day program. Despite many hirings since then, it has remained in my lap. I don't mind, though, to be honest. It's a good learning experience for the kids.

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Sounds Good to Me

Sorry for the last-minute delivery on the permission slips today for our brief excursion to Carmel High School tomorrow to hear the Carmel Symphony Orchestra. Make sure they are in tomorrow morning, otherwise your child will have to stay at school. It's only from 8:30 to 10:15am, so it won't interfere with the rest of our day.

Tomorrow is a test for Social Studies, so hopefully everyone has studied up! Friday, I take over Social Studies again.

About Science: Yes, I realize we have not had Science yet. We are not supposed to teach it until we've been trained on it. I received an e-mail the other day that said they are closer to knowing when that day will be. Until that time ("soon" is what I've been told...), we will continue to do Social Studies. To start off, though, we are going to be working on the Veterans Day program for Social Studies. My class is always in charge of the Veterans Day program, and that program begins at 9am next Friday, November 11th. We will be making invitations to hand out to friends and relatives who have served our country or are currently in the service. I'm hoping we will have a lot of speakers from 5-1 for the program. We will also be hosting Colonel Todd Spencer from the United States Army, who gave the talk last year. Col. Spencer is the father of former 5-1 student Gary Spencer, and we look forward to working with him again.