Wednesday, August 31, 2011

August Last

We had a great day today! Tomorrow the kids will be coming in to a new seating chart, set up by Ms. Mellinger, Christian, and Kyle after school while Mr. Carter's foot recuperates.

Tomorrow is the Social Studies chapter 1 test, and Friday is the Social Studies presentation--hope your kids have their big spiel ready!

Sorry for the quick post today. I'll try to be more chatty later. In a rush right now.

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

The Long Hard Fall Only Hurts When It's Over

Sorry for the late post tonight. As you may have heard, I left before the end of the day today to get some x-rays on that ankle. Turns out it's not broken, but the tendons were hyper-extended and thus pulled and strained, so I'm supposed keep it elevated and stay off of it for a week. The kids this morning talked about how odd it was that I was sitting at their level while teaching, and that for once, Ms. Mellinger is the "tall teacher".

I was lucky enough today to have Mrs. Raasch come in and help out with our writing once again--she had the kids decorate their writing notebooks. I even had fun cutting out pictures for my own writer's notebook.

Ms. Mellinger went over the study guide for the chapter 1 test in Social Studies today. That test will be on Thursday. Remember that it will be open book, but that we will not be helping them, and they will not be allowed to use their study guide, only their book.

Math Class, you have a test tomorrow. I think you're ready for it. Make sure you have a book to read when you finish, because as you know, not everybody finishes at the same time.

Let me add that your children were extremely helpful to me today. There's nothing like suddenly finding yourself in a "helpless" position (like being in a wheelchair or on crutches) and suddenly having to rely on people to make you realize that you're surrounded by some pretty special people. Thanks for raising those kinds of kids.

Monday, August 29, 2011

Sprained or Strained, Both Contain a Long A

I seriously messed up my ankle during karate tonight. I will be hobbling tomorrow!

Here's the spelling list for this week unless you have Mrs. Wampler's list:


Right now, I'm almost done reading I Was a Rat. This is always the book I start off reading to the class, and I have a full line-up of books to read out loud to the kids this year. Ms. Mellinger is actually going to take on the next one and has her book all picked out.

Ms. Mellinger will be phasing into her full teaching over the next few weeks, but I will still be in and out of the classroom and taking groups of students or individuals to work with them.

Bulletin Board

Hey, guys. I wanted to do a quickie here and then maybe later tonight I can do a more detailed version of a blog post. We had a staff meeting right after school and now I have to run out of here.

A few bullet points:
  • Mrs. Davis came in and read a book about bullying to the children this morning. This is a really great book called Grandma Rose's Free Fish. I may have to check it out and read it to the kids a few more times throughout the year.
  • Mrs. Raasch, literacy specialist, came in to talk with my class about Writer's Workshop today. She will be in all week, and I am extremely grateful to her for giving us this time.
  • My Math class will have a test on WEDNESDAY.
  • Also, my homeroom is having an OPEN BOOK test in Social Studies on Thursday. This is over chapter one, which covers the hemispheres, globes, etc. We will be talking about and reviewing it tomorrow in class. But it's open book, so relax. More later.

Saturday, August 27, 2011

I've Been Everywhere, Man, I've Been Everywhere

I messed up on Thursday. I had the rubrics for the state project in my hands, I showed them to the kids under the overhead projector, and I talked them through each one. The one thing I didn't do was hand them out. Now they have been handed out, but I'm going to toss them up on here now as well, just in case they didn't make it home.

On the actual physical state (done entirely in class):

State name: 5 points
State nickname: 5 points
Postal abbreviation: 5 points
Statehood number: 5 points
Capital: 5 points
Major cities: 5 points
Major rivers: 5 points
Two main products: 10 points
One physical feature: 5 points
Famous person: 5 points

Creativity: 15 points
Neatness: 15 points
Accuracy: 15 points

Total: 100 points


Appropriate voice level that is easily understood without being obnoxious: 20 points
Content: 40 points
Eye contact: 20 points
Appearance: 20 points

Total: 100 points

I will also give a full 100 point grade based on how they act as a respectful audience member. This goes into their Social Studies grade because they are teaching each other through this project.

Thursday, August 25, 2011

Statistics and Lies

We have a couple of quizzes tomorrow: First off, we will have the spelling test. Extra copies of the list were available today, so hopefully your child grabbed one if it you didn't have one at home. Secondly, we have the continents and oceans quiz tomorrow. The four major oceans and the seven continents will all be expected of them.

Our next region of the country for states and capitals, the Southwest, is going to be our next quiz. There are only four states: Texas, Arizona, New Mexico, and Oklahoma. The quiz is officially Monday, but a few brave souls are going to take it tomorrow, saying that it's too easy to wait that long. I told them I would make it available to take either tomorrow or Monday.

Ms. Mellinger read a story with the kids today called Gram's Declaration, where a girl finds an old old copy of the Declaration of Independence. Ms. Mellinger also did an inferring exercise with the kids by showing them a wordless picture book. I enjoyed sitting back and listening as they did that one. They really had some great ideas and pointed out nice details.

The students are hard at work on their state project. I gave them their rubrics today for their oral reports, which will be given next Friday. I told them that if one person wants to talk a lot more than the other person, I'm fine with that for this first one, but that everyone needs to have contributed to it.

Lastly, MY Math class (the sixth grade level) has a quiz tomorrow on means, medians, modes, minimums, maximums, and range. Today was kind of fun because I showed them how to recognize and make misleading graphs. Statistics and lies, you know!

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Letters From Readers

Today I talked with the kids about writing a letter back to me about the book they're reading right now. They will do this every Wednesday. I was pretty impressed with what I've seen so far. They wrote a lot more than I thought they would! I had put an example letter on the overhead both yesterday and today, and they wrote very much in that vein. You'd think that I would have learned to model the work that I want from them long ago, having taught for ten years previous to this one, but hey, better late than never!

Tomorrow the kids have their meaning exercise due as well as reading for 20 minutes. Expect some social studies homework tomorrow as well as studying for the spelling test and the quiz over the continents and oceans.

Hope everyone has made it over the hump nicely this week.

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Poached Eggs and Pre-Season Football

Yesterday in a meeting, Mr. Hunter, the vice principal, made a good analogy. He was talking about pre-season football, and how the rookies take that time to get the feel of the length of the game. In the early part of the school year, it's always interesting to watch the students get the feel for the length of the school year. We have long long mornings in the fifth grade, and very short afternoons. If you can make it lunch, then you're in the home stretch. (This goes for students and teachers...)

Today we talked about inferring in reading, we talked about the Declaration of Independence and the way Thomas Jefferson, after being begged to write it almost against his will, sat there angrily (in my opinion, understandably) while John Adams and Ben Franklin dissected it and changed whole paragraphs.

The kids have been learning about the Inuit natives from the cold regions of the world. The most disturbing thing about today's lesson is how they used to inflate seal skins to use as floaties for fishing.

In Math, we learned about pie charts and percent circles today, so look for Study Link 1-9 this evening. I asked them not to cut out the percent circle on the one side of the page, and sent home the plastic ones instead. We even learned how to poach an egg. It's a long story.

The kids also have their spelling 3x each due tomorrow and I want them to read for at least twenty minutes. Also, don't forget the states and capitals quiz!

Monday, August 22, 2011

Expanding Minds; Stretching Expectations

It is my hope that your children are coming home more eager to read than maybe they've been in the past. We had a talk today about choosing proper books for their reading level. This can sometimes be daunting, because so many kids want to pick up books that look cool on the outside, but are just too difficult on the inside. Sometimes the problem is vice versa.

This took me back to the fact that when I started karate, I was a gold belt. Some of the same kids that I taught in school at the time were already black belts. I have to admit that at the time, I felt a little awkward with that, despite my outward bravado. The point is that I just wasn't ready to be a black belt. I hadn't learned everything yet.

In the same manner, some of the kids are simply more experienced readers than others. I told the kids that there is nothing wrong with reading an "easier" book than a big thick slab of a novel if they're not ready to be reading the novel yet. They have to read the lower-level books before they can be ready for anything harder. And if they can read enough of those books to the point where they start to get too easy and predictable, then they will be ready for the next step or two up. Kind of like moving on to my orange belt, my green belt, and so on and so forth.

I told the students that now I am a second degree black belt, working toward my third degree black belt. But it wasn't always that way. I read books now that are far harder than anything I would have even wanted to read in seventh or eighth grade. But I love reading now, and I even love reading books about subjects about which I know absolutely nothing.

And still, I find that when I go back and read I Was a Rat or The Giving Tree or Encyclopedia Brown at this age for school, I still discover new things I never noticed at that time.

Relating back to karate, I went back and reviewed the five rules of stealth for my sparring (how I wish it had a cool name like the five hands of the tiger) and found that I was able to get a lot more out of it than I did when I was an orange belt. It was a necessary building block to get me to where I am now, and how much more I'm able to get out of it than I was at the time.

Ask your child to connect what they have read to the world around them and to their past experiences. Ask them about what they're reading. When they're done with their 20 minutes of reading each night, ask them to summarize what they have read to you. They should be eager to share what they've read. If they're not, it may be time to move onto another book, or even up or down a level.

Remember what it was like the first time you read something that made your brain feel expanded from where it was before. This is what I want your children to go through, not only this year, but together we can set a starting point for the rest of their lives.

Happy Monday!

Sunday, August 21, 2011

Ten Thousand Thoughts Per Second

We have a busy week planned in 5-1 this week. One thing to look out for tomorrow is not only the spelling list, but also the rubric for the States project. I expect that the oral reports (relax, these will be very short and they will be with their partner/s) will be next week scattered throughout the week, or maybe just toward the end. We will also need to construct the states to form the big puzzle which will go out in the hallway. Should be pretty darn sweet when it's all said and done.

My Math students will be finishing up the first chapter this week, to be followed by a study guide and test to be given out next week.

Well, I hope you are all had a great weekend and are ready for a full steam ahead week of learning, writing, reading, and arimeticking. Let's throw some Social Studies in there while we're at it, and we'll be having a great time ahead.

Bits of Business:
  • Wednesday will be the first region's worth of States and Capitals quizzing.
  • Friday will be the map test on the continents and oceans (just like second grade, I'm told!).
  • Friday will be the spelling test.
More excitement to come!

Friday, August 19, 2011

Who Could Hang a Name On You?

Well, it was a good day today. We had a couple of tests, we finished up our maps for the continents and the landforms, and we had a nice afternoon in Math.

Two things to remember are the states and capitals quiz on the Western region for next Wednesday, and then we will have our continents and oceans test next Friday.

We continued my class tradition from my last couple years and sang a song together to close out the last day of the week. This year, we're covering Good-Bye, Ruby Tuesday by the Rolling Stones. Let it be known that in addition to covering all the standards in my class, my students are also exposed to some culture!

Thursday, August 18, 2011

Recess Funk

Hey, just a quick post here to let everyone know that tomorrow we will have our spelling test, there is a Reading test (which the kids can't really study for), and I have asked the kids to just do a little online research to find some famous people from their assigned state. I told them that if they already have their famous people, just to find out an interesting fact about something that happened in their state's history.

Hope you're all having a great week, and that your kids are coming home with an interest in learning more and more.

ONE MORE thing, now that I think of it: It's been hot the last couple days, and if you haven't yet introduced your children to deodorant, it might be time. The kids came in from recess about twenty minutes ago (they're at lunch now) and my classroom smells like my karate dojo. Waiting for cooler weather...

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Pattern Recognition

I apologize for the late post tonight. Normally I will do this right after school is over, but sometimes I am forced to go later because of after school circumstances.

Anyway, I wanted to let you all know that the States and Capitals test for the Western region (maps went home yesterday) is next Wednesday, August 24th. We've been doing quite a bit of map work over the last few days.

Also, we've been doing our share of writing as well. Tomorrow we are going to be doing some work as writers and readers at the same time. You know, it's kind of funny that the stuff about the Revolutionary War comes at the start of the year in the reading text, but it does at least afford us the ability to go do some interesting writing early on in the school year. Hopefully by the time we get to the American Revolution about mid-year in Social Studies, it will be more of a revisit to some now familiar territory.

Tomorrow the kids have their sentences and/or illustrations due for their spelling words. We will also be reviewing before our first reading assessment on Friday. Friday is also the kids' first spelling test.

Have a great Thursday!

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Scratch That

It was good to see so many of you tonight at Meet the Teacher. Thanks so much for coming and being a part of the evening and getting to know more about what is going to happen during this school year.

I just received word that the camp meeting will be on SEPTEMBER 14th at 7pm! I told you this evening that I thought it was September 7th, but it's now a week later. Hope that works for all of you!

Thanks again for coming tonight, everyone. Looking forward to a great year.

Triple Good News

Bits of business:
  • Tonight is Meet the Teacher Night! 7:30 right here in 5-1. Be there and be square!
  • Camp Tecumseh is October 26-28 this year! I'm so excited that we are still able to go.
    Information will be available hopefully by tonight as to when we will have the parent meeting.
  • The kids received an award for their behavior in Music class today. Woohoooo! I was so proud of them.
Sorry for the short entry. Busy night!

When the School Day Ends

I just received this word from Mrs. Davis. Evidently, this will be the new way to let the school know that your child will be going home in a different manner than the traditional way. I'll talk about this tonight, but I wanted to throw it on here as well.
Instead of sending in a note through your child’s backpack and instead of phoning school, Woodbrook parents will now submit all daily transportation changes via MyCCS. The widget is called “WBE Transportation Changes”. This widget will be turned on this Thursday, August 18th.
All changes to transportation must be made through MyCCS by 1:30 daily. This is critical as that is the time of day we will print out a report of changes and deliver to classrooms.
Parents phoning in transportation changes to the office will be directed to MyCCS.

Monday, August 15, 2011

Escape Artists

We started our spelling today. I handed out my first list and modeled for the students how write definitions for each one. I notice, though, that there are a few spelling lists that were put into their mailboxes that they didn't take with them. For those students' sake, I will put those lists here, so that they can write them down on a sheet of paper along with the definitions so that they will have their work finished tomorrow when they walk in the door.

Mr. Carter's Spelling List:
  1. adopt
  2. bandage
  3. budget
  4. closet
  5. hollow
  6. rapid
  7. rustic
  8. special
  9. weapon
  10. whimper
  11. cylinder
  12. success
Mrs. Wampler's Spelling List:
  1. adopt
  2. bandage
  3. budget
  4. closet
  5. hollow
  6. rapid
  7. special
  8. weapon
  9. men
  10. say
  11. small
  12. tall
Hope to see everyone at Meet the Teacher Night tomorrow night at 7:30 right here in this classroom!

We also discussed geography, the Revolutionary War (in reading class), and my Math class discussed things means, medians, and modes as well as stem and leaf plots. Oh, and let's not forget fire drills, tornado drills, earthquake drills, and lock-down drills. (I used my other expertise to teach my students how to escape from a person trying to take them by the arm today. Have them show you!)

Sunday, August 14, 2011

The Dog Days Are Over

The kids are going to be working hard this week! I made my lesson plans today for the immediate future (the next couple weeks or so), and as always, in order to get everything in, we're going to be working hard from the get-go for this school year.

Last year, I was really proud that I outlined a plan with the kids early in the fall to get through grammar and punctuation before winter break. This is at the behest of the middle school teachers with whom I am in contact. They have told me that the one thing kids have come unprepared for is things like parts of speech, types of sentences, and basic grammar (commas, capitalization, etc.).

I hope everyone had a great weekend and is geared up for a sweet week ahead. Remember: Tuesday night at 7:30 is Meet the Teacher Night. There I'll be going over my basic policies, my outline for the school year, and talking about things like Camp Tecumseh and little stuff like introducing myself and my student teacher, not necessarily in that order. Can't wait to meet you guys I haven't met yet, and giving the familiar handshake to those I have met. It always seems like that is when the school year has officially begun.

Friday, August 12, 2011

From Never to Always

We wrapped up this first week today. Kids are now in their math classes, and all teachers had good reports to give me. It came as a surprise to me yesterday when I found out I would be teaching sixth grade math this year to an almost entirely different class, so it's new to everybody. Between starting up the Math classes, finishing up our state research, doing a reading test in the cafeteria, and the kids learning about my class's Friday tradition, it was a busy day.

One thing to remember is that next Tuesday night is Meet the Teacher Night at 7:30 in my classroom. Hope to see everyone there!

Thursday, August 11, 2011

The Current State

With day three, the kids received their states for the state project. This project is done entirely in school, but they may be asked to bring in some items representing their state, and if they're really creative, even costumes. The small groups of two or three are being asked to do research to help them learn more about their state.

We had a sign-up for recycling club and slips went home for Fall Pups Running.

Sorry about the quick shot posting. I have to teach karate tonight! By the way, today was the best day yet. These are some great kids.

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

No Sloppy Seconds

It's a good day! We had a wonderful second day of school today. First off, we learned about proper expected behavior on the playground, bus, and in the cafeteria. The kids rotated from place to place until we hammered all of it home.

In Reading, we learned about John Adams and John Quincy Adams and their dangerous journey across the Atlantic on their way to Europe. Being bombarded by cannonballs will certainly make your trip more interesting. Then we went into an overview of Science and Social Studies this year. I told them I want to transform them into fans of history, the way I was transformed by my college history professor. We also did our first sustained silent reading and our second journal entry today--the kids even earned rewards points because they were so good when they were doing both.

In Math, we did a mini-lesson on prime numbers and prime factorization. Ask your child to show you the prime factorization for 24 and see if they can do it.

Meet the Teacher Night is next Tuesday at 7:30 in my classroom. Hope you can all be there!

Last thing, everyone needs to have an assignment notebook. If you didn't buy the kit from the school, you can still buy one from the office for $5. These are geared directly to Woodbrook, so it's important that each child has one.

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Yeah It's Time to Rock This Show

What a great first day! Hopefully everyone got their note that has the blog address on it. If not, I'll make sure it's up on the board at Meet the Teacher Night next Tuesday.

We're going to have a fantastic and rewarding year. When I think about the adventures and learning and activities we have yet to go through, it's pretty exciting. I hope your kids came home today with smiles on their faces and tons of stories.

The one bit of homework the kids do have is to bring in a book for tomorrow that they can read silently. We will start off slowly with the reading silently, and gradually build up to greater spans of time as the school year goes on.

Today, I told the kids that it is urgent that they become better readers and writers--no matter how good they are already, there is always room for improvement. I showed them the books I read this summer, and showed them one I couldn't finish because it didn't interest me, so I just found a cut-off place and decided not to finish it. But for that one I didn't finish, I have about seven or eight that I did.

Tomorrow we will get into our Math and Social Studies as well as our Reading. Spelling won't begin until next week. I can't wait to get them excited for Social Studies. American history is of high interest to me.

Miss Mellinger--our student teacher--and I really had a good time with the kids today. I was relieved to find out that she has such a great rapport with them. She was able to connect with them on a different level than I do, and I think it's going to round things out nicely. Luckily she's here until the end of November!

It's funny how every single class has a different personality. I look forward to getting to know this one better and better as the year goes on.

Let's roll with what is going to be another good year at Woodbrook.

Monday, August 8, 2011

The Day Before Tomorrow

I hope everyone is as excited about the upcoming school year as I am. In our class this year, we will have 25 students, one lizard, one student teacher, and one great big teacher. The kids will work hard this year and have a lot of fun along the way.

To my students from last year and years past, make this the best year of your life. Be well, do good work, and keep in touch.

Sunday, August 7, 2011

The Sudden Return of the Unreliable Narrator

Summer winds down very very soon. I really dragged my feet on getting my classroom put together, but I have to admit that I feel much better with it all finished. My reading corner is all finished, and I also received a nice donation of a rolling bookshelf from Mrs. Stephenson. Even though I haven't met most of my new students, I have written their names all down about a dozen times already for various things--cubbies, bulletin board, mailboxes, desk name tags, sticks of destiny, attendance sticks, etc.

To my new students: Welcome to my class! It is my intention to make sure that this will be one of the best years you will ever spend in school.

To my old students: Enjoy middle school, old friends! Come back and visit and keep on doing good work over at Clay.