Friday, April 29, 2011

Don't Make Me Cry

Oh, one more thing!

Last year I was caught off guard by the whole "Teacher Appreciation" thing, and I got a lot of letters from the kids that mean a lot to me to this day. But the one thing that I regretted was not knowing anything about the "bring your teachers a flower" day. I've always been allergic to flower pollen, and in recent years, it's become much worse. I get a splitting headache, my eyes water like crazy, and my head immediately fills up with goo.

So please: Do not send or bring me flowers on Tuesday! I will understand your appreciation if you do not participate in Teacher Appreciation Week that day!

Thank you!

Rock Paper Scissors

In Math today, we did something pretty interesting. One of our activities was to see if we could pass our bodies through an index card. By making a series of cuts in the card, you can actually unfold it enough to get your whole body through it. It even worked for me, because I made quite a few cuts in it. I took some pictures, so I should be able to get those posted sometime soon.

Barton's tank looked pretty good when we got in today (this is after yesterday's stink-out) because Nick and I cleaned it out as well as we could yesterday during lunch. Now it's pretty gucky again, but that's alright. Can't be any worse than a pond. (Nick was jealous that his brother was mentioned in yesterday's blog post, so there's your mention, good sir.)

I told the kids today that next week we're back to normal, and there's really no wiggle room left for us as far as this whole school year goes. We still have much learning to do!

When I can upload those pictures, I will. Have a great weekend.

Thursday, April 28, 2011

Wisdom in Silence There Is

Our schedule this week has been a little out of place. Because Mr. Vahle's class has testing during our normal Math period, our math frequency has been down. We actually did some Math this morning, and then this afternoon we've had journal/silent reading/and I'm about to read to them out loud.

We're reading The Strange Case of the Origami Yoda, which is as much fun as it sounds. What's interesting to me is that most of the kids' familiarity with Yoda comes from the poster on my door featuring the diminutive sage with his outstretched hand, which reads, "This Room Protected by the Force*", then down below, it reads, "*but sadly, not cleaned up by it." It's funny because when I was a kid, of course everyone knew about Yoda. Then, about ten years ago, the next slew of movies came out, and everyone knew who he was again. Now we're back to a generation who doesn't know him nor his wisdom.

We're 4/6 of the way done with testing, or, more simply, 2/3 done. It's not so bad. Heck, it might even be kind of a bummer going back to our normal daily regimen when this is all over. But in that there is the comfort of familiarity, and this will be our final stretch for the school year.

Time for me to go. An anxious Ethan just brought me The Strange Case of Origami Yoda and asked me if I could read it to the class.

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

We Can See the Light, Just Not the Sun

We're halfway done with the ISTEP testing on the computers now. Whew.

Here's a little something from the office of Literacy at Woodbrook:

Save the Date!

Please join us for the first annual Woodbrook Literacy Night! Bring your family and come and join Woodbrook staff as we celebrate the joy of reading with a camping theme! We would like to encourage our boys and girls to continue reading this summer and hope that your family is able to join us for this fun evening! Save the date: Tuesday, May 10 from 6:00-7:00 PM!

I will actually be there for this night, and it should be a lot of fun. Hope to see you all there.

You'd Think By Now

Many apologies for my slowness, but the last five of you who still didn't have their research papers back (although if I'm talking to parents, I guess it's only four of you, considering there's a pair of twins thrown into this particular mix) will rest assured that last night, I finally got the last five papers graded. In case you're breathless with anticipation, all five of these papers were really well done and earned awesome grades. Everything I talked to them about during class, everything we did and studies over those two/two-and-a-half months really paid off, and they turned out pretty much just the way I assigned them to do them.

Back to testing today! So far it's gone smoothly, so let's keep those fingers crossed.

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Tying On Their Aprons

This word went out the the WB fifth grade teachers today from PTO fund-raising maestro Sara Cox. I'll announce it in class tomorrow for any slackers (kiddingkiddingkidding) who don't read this blog:

As a new tradition, we are looking for graduating 5th graders to help clear tables at our last Pizza Night fundraiser for the year. Our last pizza night of the year will benefit Mr. Akin’s Memorial Scholarship Fund.

Once kids have signed up, I’ll randomly choose one 5th grader per class, in order to have 5 helpers that night (1-hour shifts). Once I notify them, if they have conflicts or can’t make it, I can draw another name.

I’ll stop by the office this Friday afternoon to pick up the sign-up sheets. Please send them to the office by then.

Thank you,

Sara Cox

Woodbrook PTO

Ways & Means Director

Wheels Intersecting Wheels

I really don't know what this says about my management skills, but we've managed to pack a lot into the last two days. Almost a week's worth of lessons in some subjects. We haven't really had Math as a class, because Mr. Vahle's class does their testing at the end of the day, so that's been a tad bit lacking, but that's about the only thing that is.

We've done a lot in Health, Social Studies, and Reading. We're in the thick of the American Revolution at this point, and we'll probably have a test of some kind at the end of next week, but I'm undecided as to the format; length, open note/open book/traditional test is still up in the air.

We're taking a break from a spelling list this week, and there is no Caesar's English this week, either. But one fun thing we're doing this week is that I'm going over some Latin phrases with them each day that are commonly (well, kind of) used in modern-day English. So far, we've had ante meridian (AM), post meridian (PM), anno domini (AD), etc., pro bono, quid pro quo, ad hoc, and ad infinitum. Our Word of the Day today was gung ho.

We also read (okay, I read it and the kids just had to listen along...) the story of how Isaac Singer started his sewing machine business way back in ye olden days. I think it's kind of interesting in a Fast Company kind of way, but the kids didn't seem to agree. Ah, well; win some, lose some.

Monday, April 25, 2011

Testing Ex Machina

Well, as the first round guinea pigs of the school, we had no glitches this morning for the computerized ISTEP. It's almost comical the degree to which we're going to not see any other students during the school day, but so far, we've managed to evade everyone else until the day is over.

We're keeping busy during the non-testing time, and tomorrow we will keep even busier. I learned the hard way today that we are at the point where I'm going to need to keep the kids really really engaged at all times.

As for announcements, I think we're pretty clear right now. We have testing the rest of this week, but I think that's about it.

Sunday, April 24, 2011

I Can't See This Going Wrong In Any Way, No I Can't

Many apologies, by the way, that I neglected to hand out the research papers that I got graded last week. On Friday, I had a batch ready to send home, all graded up, and never handed them out. It's not an easy thing when you've done all that hard work and forget to hand it back!

Anyway, this week is ISTEP. I don't expect this to be a pleasant time for the kids, and I'm expecting an even less-pleasant time for us grown-ups who will be monitoring their work on the computerized testing, but whatever. As you know from the last several years, have your child get plenty of sleep and eat breakfast. Our testing is pretty much first thing in the morning, which means they won't have snack time before.

We'll be doing all kinds of Social Studies, Science, and a lot of Reading and Math lessons in the meantime, but no homework.

Thursday, April 21, 2011

Dog Days of Spring

It seems there are no normal days left anymore. Today the only real thing that put a kink in our system was that there was the third grade program during Math at the end of the day, but that's no problem.

They do have a few things for homework tonight: two pages for Math, which I've shown them. These shouldn't be as difficult as some of the other recent ones have been (I apologize for that one on Tuesday night...ugh), a double-sided worksheet for reading, a Spelling test, and a Caesar's English quiz. We reviewed both of those today, but you will want to quiz your kiddos on those tonight.

I did go over the rather stringent rules for ISTEP with the kids today. It will be very interesting to see how next week works.

Hope everyone is doing well and feeling well. My allergies haven't gotten to me too badly yet, but it's getting to be the ugly time now.

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Feel the Earth Move Under My Feet

I found out today that there is a "get to know you" meeting at Clay tonight or something to that effect. On the surface, it probably looks like the kids have a lot of homework, but it's pretty easy stuff. They have two worksheets to do for Reading, one for Math (unless they were messing around during Math and didn't get the other one finished yet--possibly two in that case), their meaning exercise for spelling, and a paragraph to write for Caesar's English. They were given time to do the last one in class as well, so be aware of that, please!

Today we had the statewide earthquake drill. The weather was mercifully tempestuous, so we were spared the fire drill. But please know that your kids know what to do in case of a Richter Scale 5.

In Math today, we learned about writing algebraic expressions. I was really happy to hear them say, "This is kind of fun," during the lesson. Hey, if they want to say writing algebraic expressions is fun, then I'm not going to complain.

Have a good day!

Monday, April 18, 2011

Scoring Some for the Recruitment Effort

Math was kind of hard today, but between them, they seemed to work it out pretty well. Algebra isn't exactly an easy thing to understand, but they did it.

They also got several papers back today. Look for them! We also received an award of coupons from Orange Leaf and Carmel Cyclery for our work for Relay for Life! Thank you, Mrs. Krueger.

Speaking of Relay, it was fun to see so many kids out and about yesterday, and I want to thank especially Griffin, Nick, Ethan, Izak, Michael, Jacob, and Lauren for their efforts to boost our numbers and get some more walkers. Wonderful work, everybody!

We also studied Thomas Jefferson in Social Studies, tried to watch the start of John Adams, and prepared ourselves for dissecting owl pellets tomorrow.

Thursday, April 14, 2011

Bean Counters Anonymous

I had sent the pictures from my camera to my e-mail, and I got them some time this evening. Here they are:

It's really pretty neat, the sense of unity brought to the kids by this project of collecting all the change. At the last count, we had about $850 worth of pocket change. That's not bad! It's just fun watching the kids interact, working as a team, and getting some great experience with something bigger than themselves.

Today we also learned about the animal adaptation of camouflage. The students seemed to enjoy creating little "camo-cats" to blend in with the classroom. It worked so well that tomorrow we just might make more camouflage animals. Just wait until next week, when it's time to dissect owl pellets!

Drive-By Blogging

I'm hoping to get some pictures up on the blog later today. I sent them from my phone, but still haven't received them to post yet. I got some good shots of the kids today.
  1. Spelling test tomorrow!
  2. Their passage of time Math is due tomorrow also.
Sorry that's all for now!

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

A $139 Worth of Thoughts

Whew! I just hauled $139 worth of pennies (plus some quarters, dimes, nickels, Canadian change, euros, dollar bills, and a teeny penny-looking coin from some German-speaking country) down to the office for safe-keeping. Two people--or maybe just one--even gave plastic pennies. Your kids learned the fine art of rolling coins today. It was actually kind of fun after awhile. The kids really seem to feel a sense of unity in the fight against cancer. It's one of those things that everyone can get behind.

Also, we discussed animal adaptations--the kids put together some very interesting animals that were designed to adapt to any environment. They're going to share these creations with the class tomorrow.

REMEMBER: Tomorrow, come dressed as a character from a movie, TV, or your favorite book. And tomorrow is nickel day! Bring your nickels!

Monday, April 11, 2011

Let Us Be About Setting High Standards for Living

Hello, true believers! We are hitting the ground running! Hopefully everyone got rested up during spring break (I know I did), because you're going to need your energy keeping up with us for the next six weeks (sniffle). Let's see what we have in store for the upcoming days...

TUESDAY! Tuesday is "Physical Activity Day" as a part of WELLNESS WEEK! For this, I want all of the kids to dress they way they do for their favorite physical activity. Whether it's baseball, basketball, cycling, swimming (appropriate, please...Gary...), Hawaiian dancing, kung fu, or whatever you do to get exercise, wear those clothes! To raise money for the American Cancer Society, we're asking for everyone to bring in their PENNIES. Certain 5-1 kids have been assigned grade levels to collect, and then we will be counting change during Math class later in the day. (Okay, so it's pretty simple counting, but it's Math more than it is English, at least...)

ALSO on Tuesday, make sure to bring in your permission slip for our field trip on Wednesday just down the neighborhood to Forest Dale.

WEDNESDAY! Wednesday we are going to Forest Dale for the field trip to hear speaker Vicki Cobb speak to the kids. She is a nonfiction writer of Science programming. Should be pretty interesting.

That night is Woodbrook Pizza Night at Cool River once again. I'm not serving this time, but it's still a pretty cool thing. If you're hungry and don't feel like cooking, head on over there for some darn good pizza from 5:30-7:30! It helps the WB PTO.

Also that day, we will be having DRESS AS YOUR FAVORITE CHARACTER from TV, movies, or books. This is to show that we are all "playing a part in the fight against cancer"! On this day, bring in your NICKELS! We'll have the fifth graders once again go around and collect change from the classes, and the money will go to the American Cancer Society.

THURSDAY! Be a hero! It's super-hero day! Come dressed the part, and clear out your couch cushions of all loose change and bring it all in. We'll be counting it up in a very heroic way and once again, giving it over to the American Cancer Society!

FRIDAY! Friday is Hike Bike to School Day! Ride your bike or walk to school that day. There will be a crossing guard from 7:45-8:10 that morning, as well as from 2:40-3:00 that afternoon. This is to help promote a healthy lifestyle. So stop clogging up the Woodbrook parking lot in the afternoons, let your kid walk for once!

Movie Night is's Tangled, which is a movie about a woman with really long hair (is this supposed to be Rapunzel?), a horse with a sword-looking thing, and a man with a frying pan, and they have to save the kingdom or something. Okay, I'm just going by what I notice from looking on the picture right now on the yellow sheet of paper. But I'm sure it's a good movie.

SUNDAY! SUNDAY! SUNDAY!!! From 1pm to 4pm is the Woodbrook Wellness Fair. Come on out for the health screening! The Heart Obstacle Course and climbing wall! The Carmel FD Safety House! Get your car seats checked! (I think that's probably for your babies...not your normal car seats...) Vision Screening! Blood drive! There's also an Adventure Race! Break boards with Adamson's Karate! This has to have the most exclamation marks of any post I've ever done! Here's more!!!

And now for something really exciting, we started algebra today. The kids actually didn't do too badly on it. I was scared, but it went pretty well.

Speaking of wellness, I want to re-post something here that I posted last year. A college professor from Wabash College had e-mailed Mr. Garrison Keillor (Lake Wobegon man, for those who don't know who I'm talking about) and asked him for his definition for "wellness":

Dear Mr. Keillor,
As longtime fan of A Prairie Home Companion and a daily listener to The Writer's Almanac, I find both comfort and encouragement in your fatherly sign-off for the latter program: Be well, do good work, and keep in touch.

But I've often wondered what you mean when you say, "Be well." How do you define well-being? What do you do to achieve it?

Steve C.
Wabash College

I love Mr. Keillor's response here:

You're a college guy and I'm an old writer, Steve, so we're looking at this from different angles. I'm more aware of decline and decrepitude than you possibly could be. I'm at the age when people tell me, "You're looking good" in that tone of voice that says "for a guy your age." For me, well-being has a lot to do with forward motion. I need to have deadlines, a list of projects, people who rely on me, some ambition on my back like an outboard motor. Good health is good, of course, and you don't want big black splotches showing up on the CAT scan, but my sense of well-being comes from waking up each day with work to do. It was different when I was in college: the work was imposed by teachers and so much of it seemed irrelevant, make-work, a lot of pointless exercises. What you hope for in life is a sense of a calling, a vocation, which simply means that one goes to one's work gratefully, not out of fear or habit but with a whole heart. It's the whole-heartedness that makes for well-being. Everyone has to live with a degree of doubt and restlessness, but there's nothing like enthusiasm, especially when you're 67. I have a plumber in my house right now, working to repair a pipe that broke when it froze and rebuild part of a jerry-rigged heating system, and it is so clear to me that this man loves his work. So does my internist. So do the women who care for my ancient mother. So do the musicians on the radio show and the writers of the Almanac. Thanks for your note.

Hopefully you are all finding that kind of wellness (as well as the physical kind) these days. Enjoy your week!