Thursday, September 29, 2011

The Great, Green Initiative

Congratulations to Vaughn Niemiec, who is being honored tonight at the library for a video he made, which has helped to form the Carmel Green Initiative. The video is linked here. I got a kick out of seeing a toothless Vaughn narrating!

Spelling test tomorrow, and also a Social Studies test. I will be here tomorrow after all instead of the Science training because of a lack of substitute teachers.

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

It's the Mathematics of Games

Consider this. I'm not posting this from any kind of "position" in the world of education; I just found it vastly and incredibly interesting...

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Light In the Dark

Thank you very much to Mrs. Hurdle, who came in today and not only helped some of the students with their assignment from last week in reading, but she also helped organize the camp forms. These include the medical forms and permission slips. If you haven't turned yours in yet, make sure you have all the proper forms and get them turned in ASAP. This will help us get all the proper paperwork in order before we go to camp. I realize this is a month from now, but it will be here before you know it, and it will be one less thing hanging over you.

Here's a note from Mrs. Davis, which I believe was e-mailed to you earlier today:

Woodbrook Parents,

We had a great day at Woodbrook today however we started out in the dark! When our Head Custodian arrived at 6:00 AM this morning she found that only 50% of the building had power. District Maintenance and Duke Energy were called. When Duke arrived they quickly found the faulty fuse and we were back up and running with full power by 7:55.

Most of our students were unaware that there was even an issue but I wanted you to have this information in case it came up in conversation tonight.

Thank you and have a good evening,

Kelly Davis

Thank goodness that Woodbrook has such great custodians who were on the job as we all knocked around in the dark this morning!

Monday, September 26, 2011

Mistaken for Strangers

Bullet Point Monday:
  • A huge thanks goes out to Mrs. Gans, Anna's mom, who came in today to help out in Language Arts. Parent volunteers are always welcome in 5-1, and there is always something to be done. As a teacher, you find that you don't always have enough arms to take care of every little detail, so extra sets are more than welcome.
  • I notice a couple of full mailboxes here at the back of the classroom. For their sake, I will take pity on them and write the spelling words here so that they can complete their assignment for tomorrow: Chicago, Connecticut, December, Japanese, Latin, Thanksgiving, Titanic, Wednesday, Australia, Caesar, Europe, and Fahrenheit. Yes, these are all proper nouns! I told my students this morning that I don't really care for spelling lists like this, much like one in the spring which is all abbreviations, but hey, that's life. (Those with a modified list received theirs last Friday.)
  • Another thank you goes out to Mrs. Alexander, Christian's mom, who visited last Friday to volunteer. She was the one who made all the extra copies of the camp forms for those students who had misplaced theirs, so they (and we) all have her to thank for that one. Thank you so much, Mrs. A!

Sunday, September 25, 2011

Reality Storm

Hey, everybody! Hope everyone had a great weekend. It went awfully quickly.

Well, the first news this week is that I graded all of the Reading/Writing assessments that I posted about on Thursday. I was mostly very happy with the results. There are some that could be improved on, and luckily I have some parent volunteers coming in early this week who will be able to help out, as well as Mrs. Appelsies and Mrs. Johnson. But I have to say that overall, I was very pleased and even surprised by the quality of many of the responses.

I also will be handing back the summative tests from the previous theme chapter in Rigby Reads. It's been a long time since the kids took these, but I've been trying to work out just how much this should count for in the gradebook, and I didn't want to overdo it or under-do it either. I will put the final grade on them and hand them back tomorrow. I also want you to know that the next test is this Wednesday, but this isn't the kind of test you can really study for. We will be prepping them in class over the next couple days for this one as we wrap up Theme 3. If you do want to help them out at home a little bit, you can review things like interrogative, imperative, declarative, and exclamatory sentences, as well as asking them to explain, once again, what they've read after their daily reading time.

During this week, Miss Mellinger will be taking over the class fully as she enters the main phase of her student teaching. I will be on hand to help her out, but mostly trying to stay out of her way. I am going to be taking some small groups out as she takes reign over the classroom, and acting more like an aid than anything for the next six weeks or so. Please feel free to continue to contact me with any questions about anything, and I will be more than happy to get back with you regarding anything.

I will also be able now to pull out some small groups who are struggling in Math, and I've also talked with Mrs. Stemnock about team-teaching with her on a couple of lessons in her class.

It turns out I was wrong about one more thing: The Camp Tecumseh money is due tomorrow; it was not due on Friday, as I previously mentioned. I did tell a child last week who was worried that we are not going to keep anyone from going simply because their money and permission slip were late. We are just trying to be pro-active in getting everything taken care of as early on as possible.

Speaking of Camp T, is anyone going to the training this weekend? I was considering it if I have any other parents going up there. Make sure you contact me if you're planning to go this Saturday. For those of you on the fence, the training starts at 9:30am on Saturday morning at Camp Tecumseh. This will be your last chance for any training if you think you'd be willing to help out as an instructor.

One final FYI tonight: I will not be at school on Friday, because I am going to a science training workshop for the whole day. My aforementioned student teacher will be here, which makes my sub plans really easy! There will also be a substitute teacher on hand, as well as the more-than-capable hands of Mrs. Appelsies, Mrs. Summers, and Mrs. Johnson in and out of my classroom for the better chunk of the day. It feels great to leave the classroom to a bunch of experts.

As always, let me know if you have any questions or concerns. Have a great week!

Mr. Carter
Starting to think the Colts might pull this one off...

Thursday, September 22, 2011

I'm Getting a Reading

I'm not going to lie: In this reading program, we learn about some odd things mixed in with science and history. Today, as you won't be surprised to hear, we read about different kinds of ovens and how they cook food. We learned about solar ovens, mud ovens, and--once again--microwave ovens.

Part of tonight's homework is to write a short (three to four sentence) response to an interview written in their Reading Sourcebook. This is an assessment, and thus a grade will be taken on it. Make sure your child reads the story carefully before answering. This is the kind of assessment which, in the future, will be done at school. For this first one, however, I wanted to send it home to be done, so that you can see what is expected. When we do these at school, I will read the story out loud with them before they answer the question, and then eventually, in the spring, I plan to ween them off of that as well.

Speaking of reading, I also want to remind you that students should be reading for at least twenty minutes. And after reading, every once in awhile, ask your child to point out at least one word that has a long vowel sound, or one sentence that is compound, or one interrogative sentence. They should be able to do all of those things--I could give you a whole long list!

Hope everyone has a great Thursday evening!

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Always We Begin Again

This week we've been doing everything from writing procedurals to learning about Ancient America to reading about convection ovens, convection ovens, and microwave ovens. Any microwave specialists out there? I found out today that I couldn't really explain just how one works, to be honest.

I've been working on my classroom website, amongst other things, while Miss Mellinger has been teaching the class. I think the reason I've been able to get away without having it done is because I have this blog. Nonetheless, it feels good to be getting it done. I went in to edit it and it looks like the last time I touched it, it was about two or three years ago.

Another thing I've been afforded the chance to do is to visit other classrooms and see how they're run. Each time I do that, I come back with new ideas and "Oh, duh!" moments, wondering why I never thought of that before. I've enjoyed visiting Mrs. Stemnock in Math class and fourth grade teachers Mrs. Fadel and Mrs. Graham in Literacy. All of these classes are as different from one another as night and day, but all of them have some great things about them that I can't wait to put into motion in my own classroom.

And lastly tonight, look to the left sidebar to find a new link I put up under "Good Links"--one for a sweet website for practicing your states and capitals, complete with robotic woman voice.

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Missing Paperwork and Empty Mailboxes

Important note: Many of your children came in today and said they never received their camp forms. I put them into their mailboxes myself, so please check your child's backpack, your counter tops, the stack in your kitchen where junk mail piles up, etc. (I told the class that I have three such piles, so please don't get me wrong!) If you legitimately need another set of papers, I can get them for you. Please just send me an e-mail!

Thanks. More to come.

Monday, September 19, 2011

Whiteboard Jungle

The kids have been working harder and harder during their Daily 5 for the most part. Daily 5 is an educational program that dictates that each child will each day: 1. Read to him/herself 2. Read to someone else 3. Write 4. Do word work, and 5. Listen to reading. This has sometimes been called "Stations" or "Centers" in the past.

I will give a mini-lesson at the start, turn everyone loose, and then call everyone back for another mini-lesson, then turn everyone loose again. It's amazing how well it really does work, especially with helpers like Mrs. Appelsies, Mrs. Sommers, and Mrs. Johnson in the room.

The students have also been making strides in their behavior during their specials classes, especially. I've been really happy that the class has lately received Paws or even more than one instance of Double Paws. Paws are the Woodbrook Lions' incentive program. And today, I started my own incentive program. I'll talk more about that tomorrow. But for now, let's just be happy with the fact that your kids are helping me prove to the other teachers what I've known about this class since I got them--they're really good kids.

Sunday, September 18, 2011

Opportunity, Opportunity Is Knocking At Your Door

Hopefully everyone had a good weekend and is primed for a big week. Finally the weather feels like fall, and it really feels like fall.

I am looking for some parent volunteers for early next week, either Monday or Tuesday, whichever one most of you can do. After the previous reading test, I have some things that I would like for people to target with some groups of kids. Things like word families, reading comprehension, etc. I will give you all instructions, but it would be great to have some "divide and conquer" power on one of those days before the next test. We would be looking at about 9:30-11:00am.

Remember: Money and permission slips for Camp Tecumseh are due this Friday.

Thursday, September 15, 2011

Looking Back and Then Across

I had a chance today to look at what the kids have been doing in Social Studies. As Miss Mellinger has been teaching this subject for the past few weeks, it's been kind of interesting to look at my own class from a little bit of an outside perspective. But I like what I saw going on. The lesson took them to the past to look at the different Native American tribes that lived in different parts of North America. I like that the assignment asks them to take what they've learned in the text and has them put this information in both word and picture form in their white pages (the name I have given their workbooks). It's more than rote memorization and copying, it's really asking them to understand what they've read, by having them write down and draw a product and then tell what materials were used to make it.

I've given this same lesson twice before, but it's interesting to be looking at it from a different angle. It's like I'm watching anxiously to see how this other teacher is teaching "my kids". I'm relieved to let you know that I like what I see.

Tomorrow is the Spelling test, but that is just about all as far as tests go, unless your child happens to have a Math test. Hope everyone has a great weekend.

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Concentric Circles

Hey there, everybody. Thanks to those of you who came out to the camp meeting tonight. For everyone else, I completely understand that your busy schedules, and your camp forms will be heading home with your child tomorrow. I hope everyone is planning on coming to camp with us if it's at all possible. It would be great to have you all with us.

Okay, just so you know, I have some of the grades up online now. Check them out, but know that some of them are missing. Also, remember that unlike previous years, not everything that the kids do will go into the grade book. We have been told to only enter in the assessments that demonstrate what the kids have learned. This does include some things that haven't been entered yet, such as the state project in Social Studies. Also, I do have some things that I have yet to grade, so there are still some things yet to put in at this point. Projects, assessments, and tests and quizzes. Plus there are some writing grades to put in as well. Hopefully in the next few days, I will be completely caught up.

Please let me know if you have any questions.

Greetings from Camp Tecumseh

Biggest announcement right now: TONIGHT IS THE CAMP TECUMSEH MEETING! At 7:00 PM! Come one, come all to find out more information about this awesome trip.

See you soon!

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Tail Between My Legs

I want to apologize for the fact that no grades are entered into the computer yet. I have tried and tried to find the spot where they are entered, and could rattle off all the excuses in the world as to why they haven't been put in, but as soon as the first ones have been entered and I've got it figured out, it is my plan to be much more prompt about keeping up with them. There is nothing going into the grade books that hasn't been sent home for you to see, but still, apologies.

Now for some bullet-point better news:
  • Everybody did really well on their Social Studies test! We had no grades that were lower than B's.
  • The ONLY remaining quiz/test this week is the Spelling Test on Friday.
  • Hopefully everyone has been reading reading reading at home. It's in the assignment notebook every night to read 20 minutes, and 30 minutes on the weekend.
Happy Tuesday!

Monday, September 12, 2011

Warp Speed Ahead

This week we're beginning our guided reading groups. In these groups, we will be reading about everything between volcanoes to movie special effects to a short saga on an alien planet. I talked to the kids today about what they're to be doing during those times--the partner reading, the word work, etc., and they seem to get it. Let's just say that I'm thankful we have several hands on deck during those times mostly.

Here are my spelling words for this week:


There is a Social Studies test tomorrow. Make sure your kids go over their study guide tonight--quiz them on it.

As Ms. Mellinger starts to take over more and more of the school day, expect for a lot of the online stuff to start getting done as I go through the online Everyday Math, the TCI (Social Studies), etc.

I hope everyone has a great week. Hard to believe this is our sixth week of school! Today as I was setting up the Math stuff online, I realized as I put in the days that we had breaks and field trips, just how chopped up the fifth grade still is. It's not as bad as it used to be, but it's still not unlike Swiss cheese. I told the kids today that we really need to squeeze every last drop of learning out of this school year that we can, while we can.

Oh, yeah! The camp meeting is WEDNESDAY NIGHT at 7:00, normally in the cafeteria.

Don't forget to ask if you have any questions. Later!

Sunday, September 11, 2011

The Sky Was So Blue That Day

Ten years ago right now, I was in my first year as a full-time teacher at Woodbrook. On my way in to work that day, I heard on the radio the early reports of a plane hitting the World Trade Center. At this time, like most other people, thought this was an accident. I dismissed early speculations of terrorism as being from those who love to stir up drama in the everyday.

The kids came in having heard about the tragedy, taking the few facts they knew and making up the rest, the way all fifth graders and, sadly, some adults do. I quickly told them to sit down, and told them not to listen to what other people were saying because no one had it right.

At 8:20, the kids went to specials. I went to the library, where Mrs. Scott and Mrs. Melchi had the TV on in the back room. As we stood there watching, the second plane hit. That was the moment we all realized that this was no accident, and our world changed forever. A chill went up my spine.

We were supposed to not tell the kids a thing. Teaching the kids about landforms and fractions seemed almost silly at that point, but it gave me something else to focus on. At the end of the day, Mr. Akin came on over the wall-mounted televisions to tell the whole school about what had happened, and that they would find out more about it when they got home.

That night, I just remember going for a drive through the country, and looking up at the sky and feeling that bizarre, eerie unity that everyone in the United States was on the ground. There were no airplanes in the sky at all. Everyone in the country had the same uncertainty on their minds as we sat there on the ground that night.

The next day, I had my students just sit and write responses to what had happened the day before. I collected them, and without meaning to, held onto them for several years. When I found them later on, I realized that those raw, fearful words were primary historical documents. What I found upon rereading them, though, was just how young fifth graders really are. I ended up mailing them to those students the year they graduated high school.

No one really knew what to do with themselves for several days after. Those of you who were in Carmel at the time, I’m sure you remember the next Friday night, when everyone went to the high school football stadium for the candlelight vigil. Everyone looked like they had been punched in the stomach that night.

That’s where I was. I’m sure everyone has their own stories of where they were and when they found out. How could you not?

On Friday, I overheard a few kids talking about how we’re all going to die over the weekend because “They” are going to get back at us on the anniversary. I told them that we’re going to be fine, that there are people whose job it is to make sure that doesn’t happen, that we are well protected, but I wanted you guys all to know that some of your kids are worried.

This is from the book The World According to Mister Rogers, originally from a PSA by Mr. Fred Rogers following the events in September of 2001:

If you grew up with our Neighborhood, you may remember how we sometimes talked about difficult things. There were days…even beautiful days…that weren’t happy. In fact, there were some that were really sad.

Well, we’ve had a lot of days like that in our whole world. We’ve seen what some people do when they don’t know anything else to do with their anger.

I’m convinced that when we help our children find healthy ways of dealing with their feelings--ways that don’t hurt them or anyone else--we’re helping to make our world a safer, better place.

I would like to tell you what I often told you when you were much younger: I like you just the way you are.

And what’s more, I’m so grateful to you for helping the children in your life to know that you’ll do everything you can to keep them safe and help them express their feelings in ways that will bring healing in many different neighborhoods.

Let’s all be good to each other this week. As the great Red Green is known to say, “We’re all in this together.”

Friday, September 9, 2011

Homecoming Week

Next week is a Spirit Week on account of the big Homecoming Game at Carmel High School next Friday night. The celebration trickles all the way down to the elementary schools, or at least Woodbrook, where we love to dress up. Here are the themes:

Monday: Proud to be an American Day (No sparklers, please.)

Tuesday: Decades Day (80’s, 90’s, etc.) (I'm thinking the 1770's, personally.)

Wednesday: Pirate or Ninja Day (Again, no pirate swords, and no throwing stars, bo staffs, nunchaku, sai, kama, or shuriken, please. Nor those awesome gloves that have the blades on the back of the hand.)

Thursday: Movie Day (Such as Where the Wild Things Are or Transformers...shouldn't be hard to come up with costumes for those...)

Friday: Blue & Gold Day (I'm so happy that CHS and WB have the same colors...)

Onto other classroom news...

The kids took a Caesar's English quiz and a theme test for Reading today. The Caesar's English went a bit better than the Reading. The good news about the theme test is that they did improve over the previous one, but they still have some room for growth.

Today in Social Studies, Miss Mellinger went over the study guide for next Tuesday's test on chapter 2. Everything they need to know should be in that study guide.

Everyone have a great weekend! See you on Monday for another week chock full of learning!

Thursday, September 8, 2011

Keep Moving Forward

Thanks to the sender who wants to remain anonymous. They asked me if I was quoting Rocky when I say almost every day, "You're better than that." No, I have actually never seen Rocky Balboa, but I will now, because I really do love this speech.

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Give Them a Job in Sales

The kids have been working on some very creative persuasive essays today. They're writing you letters for something that they want to happen or receive, and hoping that you comply. I told them that they need to make it sound like a great idea for you. It's pretty fun reading them so far. We will type them up during computer time on Monday, so hopefully you will receive them that day in properly-written form.

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Variables Left Dangling

Whoops! I discovered the Math quizzes from mid-chapter 1 in my bag this evening. I will return them tomorrow to my Math class. Luckily they all did pretty darn well on them, so there won't be any upsetting surprises coming home any time soon.

Sorry about that, Math folks!

Ipsa Scientia Potestas Est

Today we continued work on our persuasive essays. The kids have now chosen what they're going to try and persuade you, their parents, to do. They have carefully picked out the reasons to sell you on what they've decided. By next Monday, they should be typed up and ready to be presented. This brings us closer to the end of chapter 2 in our Rigby Reading.

The states and capitals quiz tomorrow will cover the following states, just in case your map has come up missing: North Dakota, South Dakota, Minnesota, Wisconsin, Michigan, Iowa, Nebraska, Kansas, Missouri, Illinois, Indiana, and Ohio. This is the biggest one we have, other than the final big test at the end of the whole states and capitals shebang.

In other Social Studies news, Ms. Mellinger began a lesson today on Sioux Winter Counts. Ask your child what they learned today about the symbols used in writing back in the olden days and often to this day in some tribes. Soon, the students will be creating their own autobiographies using pictographs.

We also began our Caesar's English today in lieu of spelling, since we don't have a spelling list or test this week. We will be studying these heavily in class, and I will be assessing how well they know their Latin roots (a.k.a.: quiz) on Friday. Don't worry, though. We will do most of our studying in class, but it wouldn't hurt to review them.
  • bi: meaning: two, modern examples include bicycle, biped, and bilateral
  • sub: meaning: under, modern examples include submarine, submerge, and subtract
  • de: meaning: down, modern examples include descend, defeat, depressed
  • pre: meaning: before, modern examples include predict, prepare, preschool
  • super: meaning: over, modern examples include supervise, Superman, and superb
For the quiz, all they will need to know is the meaning of each root, and one modern example. I don't care if their modern example is from the list above or not, but the one thing that I do want is for the root or stem to appear properly in the word. (For example, deer is not an example of a word where "de" means "down".)

This is a light version of what they will be doing in middle school.

I hope everyone has a great rest of the week.

Monday, September 5, 2011

Out of the Demo, Into the Fully Functional

Hello there! I hope everyone had an awesome weekend of good times and great friends and family. I'm still in shock over the difference between Saturday and today. We got the full treatment between sweltering and breezy cool, didn't we?

Well, the kids are in for some good, educational times this week. Over the next few days, we're going to be working on persuasive writings, reading yet another take on the Cinderella story, tell our own stories in a rather unconventional form in Social Studies, and learn a little something about Latin stems in lieu of a typical Spelling list this week.

As for my Math class, we will be continuing our look at enormous and miniscule numbers this week. Ms. Mellinger has officially taken over my Math class for the foreseeable, but I am going to be working with a small group from that already smallish class, at least for this week.

Hope everyone has a terrific week. I'm proud to say that I am now able to walk around without crutches. My air cast is still on, and my foot still needs to be wrapped, but hopefully both of those requirements will be dissipated by the end of the next couple weeks.

Thursday, September 1, 2011

But It's Not Going to Stop

First off: My math class did an EXCELLENT job on their test for chapter 1! Wow, was I ever amazed as I sat and graded those babies. Wow, I couldn't be much happier. Mrs. Mellinger took over Math starting today. It's going to be great having another pair of hands around for awhile.

Tomorrow is the big day for the state presentations! This is always one of my favorite projects. It's a great way to start off the year.

Another great thing about this last week: Mrs. Raasch coming in and helping us get our Writer's Workshop started. This is just the kind of kick-start I needed to become a better teacher of writing. This should be a very well-read and well-written class by May of 2012.

A great big shout-out goes to Mrs. Thompson, grandmother of 5-1 student Reese H., who came in today to start volunteering with us once a week for the morning. Mrs. Thompson is a former teacher who taught in Hammond, Indiana. Her help will be most welcome in the 5-1 world!

Not only am I thankful to all these helpers, but also to our aids and resource teachers and Instructional Assistants: Mrs. Wampler, Mrs. Cullen, Mrs. Appelsies, and Mrs. Johnson. The teaching in 5-1 this year is truly a group effort, and I could not be more appreciative.

And while I'm at it, can I just give some big-time raise-the-roofing to our very own Nurse Barb? She has been so good to me this week as I've been trying to mend my foot/ankle. She is just one of those rare people on this planet who is in a great mood even when she has every right to be in a bad mood. If it wasn't for her, I could have had a really bad week this week. Instead, I've had the best week yet this school year--despite having a busted ankle. I have a new appreciation for what she does every day after being down there a bit more than usual this week. We are darn lucky to have her as a part of the Woodbrook Family.

I hope everyone has some R&R planned for the long weekend. Add value to your families this weekend, guys! Always add value.