Monday, October 31, 2011

But Tough People Do

First off, I have some sad news for those former members of my class who have ever experienced Colonial Days at Woodbrook. George Wiseman, the "square dance caller", passed away on Friday. He was a good man who was always a lot of fun and somehow got a room full of about a hundred-plus kids and adults to do things like "rip and snort", "Sidney balance", and "alamand left". Most of all, he showed all of us, bogged down by our technology and life heaped on top of us, what it mean to have a great time and bust a gut laughing all the while. He will be truly missed.

Now for some happier news: Mrs. Davis sent me an e-mail to let me know how proud she was of my class as she walked through the gym this morning. That's the kind of news I wanted to hear when Mrs. Davis told me she needed to talk to me.

Lastly, I want to apologize that I felt like I had to send home the note and post here that if your kids needed to be sent home from camp, I wouldn't hesitate to do so. As I should have known, the kids were no problem, and it was gratifying to see. Thank you for all that you do on your end that we never see.

I hope everyone has a happy and very safe Halloween! And let's hope they all have a crash from the sugar buzz by the time they come in tomorrow.

Sunday, October 30, 2011

Extreme Gratitude

Thank you so much to all of the parents who made our trip to Camp Tecumseh possible: Mrs. Alexander, Mr. Cunningham, Mrs. Gans, Mr. Harcourt, Mr. Hurdle, Mr. Keen, Mr. Pergal, Mr. and Mrs. Pitz, Mr. Rodgers, Mrs. Saam, Mr. Tofaute, Mr. Vahle, and Mrs. Vertesch. You guys all deserve far more thanks than I can give you. Your kids truly appreciate it, and I do too. We had a great time, the weather wasn't nearly bad as it was supposed to have been, and it turned out to be a very successful trip. Thank you so much.

Mr. Harcourt took some great pictures that I'm going to post here later this week. Anyone else who took some pictures, feel free to send some of them along if you don't mind having them reposted here on the Dojo.

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Knocking on Mount Wood

First off, I want to tell everyone that I typed up that sheet of paper very quickly and sent it home today. On it, I wrote "If there is a paper stapled to the back of this one, we need it to be filled out." But I led off with "We need your child's medical form by tomorrow, or they cannot go to Camp Tecumseh!" I should have done that the other way around. I went ahead and sent it off to everyone just so you would have the rest of the note. It is rife with typos, and for that, I apologize.

Please be reminded, though, that we do mean it when we say that if your child is being rude or disrespectful to any of the parents or teachers or other adults there, we will not hesitate to call you and have them picked up.
If you cannot pick them up, we will have them separated from everyone else until someone arrives to pick them up. We do not want to put the good time of anyone else at risk because of any individual child.

Please also remember to come in with your child and their luggage at check in! Don't just do a drive-by drop-off. (Actually, I've never had to say this one before. I think I'm just paranoid about having all my t's crossed and all my i's dotted.)

Let's all get geared up for a great time at camp. Hope to see you all there, and if not, then we'll see you when we get back and you arrive in time to pick up your kids at 2:00pm on Friday!

The Forecast Is Predicting Fun

Hope everyone likes rain! Seriously, please keep this in mind when you're packing things for your children. I've heard about parents who have sent their kids to camp with no rain gear and even no extra clothes. I know that none of you would ever be so neglectful, but really, guys, let's think ahead and consider the needs of your kids while packing this evening.

It does look like the weather will taunt us on Friday with sunniness, but for the most part, it's rain city. Luckily, camp goes on anyway. There are activities to do inside, but for all in all, we're going to keep on trudging right through it. Have ponchos, trash bags, whatever you think you might need for three days outside in wet weather. Send plenty of clothes, shoes, and we will take care of the rest.

I've told the kids to be careful; people get excited and we almost always have injuries of some kind. It's just a fact of life. But if we have our heads on, things will go much more smoothly.

Most of all, be prepared to have fun. If you are one of the ones who is coming with us, we TRULY APPRECIATE YOU! You have a special place in our hearts, not to mention some of that good Carter Karma. (Heh.) It will be worth your while.

As long-time Friend of 5-1 Jill Pitz put it last night, the rain will "just add to the stories." And who knows what the weather will actually be like. But as we know from the Scouts, it's always best to be prepared.

Monday, October 24, 2011

Pack List

Here's your pack list for Wednesday through Friday this week for the big trip north to Camp Tecumseh. I sent home a hard copy today, but I wanted to make sure it was here just in case. It looks like it could be a little on the chilly side with a slight chance of rain, haha, so remember to keep that in mind when packing:
  • sack lunch for Wednesday (should be entirely disposable)
  • sleeping bag or sheets and blankets
  • pillow
  • toiletries, towel
  • 3 pairs of old jeans or jean-type pants
  • 3 pairs of underwear and socks
  • pajamas
  • 3 short sleeved t-shirts
  • 3 warm long sleeved shirts or sweatshirts
  • raingear (I told the kids today that if you don't have a poncho, just cut a hold in a trash bag)
  • 1 extra pair of old shoes or boots
  • 1 coat
  • gloves and a hat
  • a flashlight
  • a drinking cup if you think you'll need one in the cabin for brushing teeth
  • disposable camera
I'm all pumped and ready to go. Thank you all who are going with us! E-mail me if you have questions!

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

The Clarity Manifesto of Honors Testing

You should have seen a paper go home in recent days about honors testing for the middle school. I'm going to do my best to break this down for you. Not trying to insult your intelligence, but just trying to clarify a few things based on my experience over the past several years with sending kids on to middle school after the fifth grade and hearing back from parents and students in the following years.

So here is a little piece I'm going to call: Mr. Carter's Middle School Honors Testing Manifesto. I'm just trying to explain things as I know them.

Honors Testing
The thing about honors is that it is a great challenge for those kids who need more than what they're getting in the mainline classroom. Some of your children are fantastic writers and readers who read well above their grade level. Some of them are bored to tears by their Math class right now, and in fact, some of them are even bored by Math and they're in Challenge Math. For these kids, I would recommend the honors testing. This does not mean they will get into honors, and it does not mean that they should be in honors, but if your child blasts the test out of the water, then it is something to consider. It may help them to excel to their potential.

I'm going to take just a minute to dispel a common myth about reading levels. When you look at a child's reading level and it says, for instance, "7.4", that does not mean your child reads at a seventh grade level. It means that your child earned the same score on a grade-level text that a seventh grader would have received on that same test, which is meant for a fifth grader. Your child does really well for a fifth grader, but it doesn't necessarily mean they're reading at a seventh grade level. This is a common misconception. Good for bragging rights; bad for deciding whether or not your child is ready for honors classes.

As for Honors Math, this would mean that your child would be missing yet another year's worth of Math classes. There are some kids who just naturally understand a lot about how Math works; they can probably do difficult problems without really being able to explain why they know how they can do them. These are the people for whom I would recommend the testing for Honors Math. These are usually kids who have already been identified in Challenge Math in grade school. These kids have already skipped one grade level. Honors class would mean they would miss another. I normally say that Honors Math is for kids who crave math.

As for the Humanities portion (language arts and social studies), this would mean quite a bit more independent work, and a heck of a lot more school work. Kids who are in Honors for Humanities have more to do, but they are the types of kids who excel at that kind of work. They need to be very well-founded in their writing ability, and they need to be accomplished readers.

With Honors Math, there will be quite a bit that the teacher will expect the kids to already know. If they go into that class as a sixth grader, they are expected to know all of the sixth and seventh grade material already.

Advanced Math
Many kids will be recommended or even assigned for seventh grade math next year based on this year's grades. I implore you to talk to me before going ahead with this. I've had students in my mainline math class from last year who were placed in advanced math for this year, and when their parents called me, I sometimes felt that they may be ready for it, but often I thought that they needed to have been in the mainline math class.

If you decide against putting Little Johnny in advanced math, and he gets to the middle school and the teacher calls you up and says that they believe Little Johnny would benefit from moving on to the advanced math class, then by all means, if you think they're ready, go for it.

Not testing for Honors does not mean they will be out of the running for Advanced Math. But doing well in Honors testing can indicate that your child would at least be ready for Advanced Math. I hope that makes sense. I've rewritten it a few times already trying to clarify, but to no avail.

Not putting your child into Advanced Math or Honors English or Math does not keep them from getting into any classes in high school. This is another common myth amongst parents of fifth graders.

We need to know by Friday, November 18, 2011, whether your child is going to be doing the testing. You can register through the school system's website at The testing itself will take place on Saturday, January 21, 2012. They start at 7:45am and will go until 12pm at Creekside Middle School. The school system is adamant that if you wish to be considered for the honors program, you must attend this testing, and no exceptions will be made. Results will be returned in mid to late February.

I realize that this is a difficult decision to make, so please let me know if you want to sit down and talk about it with me, we can e-mail back and forth, or even just a phone call. But please let me know if you have any questions or concerns about your child and Honors or Advanced classes.

If any past parents have anything else to add to this, please let me know! And if anything I've said is found to be incorrect, please, someone, let me know so I can fix it.

Monday, October 17, 2011

Turn and Face the Change

This evening I graded the chapter 4 theme tests from our reading program. I am really happy to report that the average grades went way up over all. I apologize that I still have yet to grade the writing assessment from last week as well as the Spelling test, but please understand that grading those theme tests can be quite a pain because I have to record the findings on the different kinds of problems all separately, and there is no pain-free way to do so. But I do have to tell you that it's a lot easier when there aren't as many wrong answers. Your kids are coming right along!

Folks, there are some big changes that are about to take place in just a few weeks. Amongst the eventual changes is going to be the fact that I want all of the kids to have a three inch binder with an accordion folder in it by the beginning of the next semester. I realize this isn't until January, but I thought I'd give you the heads-up right now just so that you have time to get it. My goal (and I talked with Mr. Hunter about this) is to get the kids more used to the way things will work in the middle school before they go over there. I want to get the kids accustomed to the organization that will be required of them from the beginning of the school year, and I'm going to try my hardest to make that one of my second-semester goals. I realize this is still pretty far away, but I want to go on record as having told you now--still two and a half months away.

Have a great week!

Sunday, October 16, 2011

Watching Over Us

It was good to see so many familiar faces out at Woodbrook on Friday night. It was a really nice ceremony, it was a nice chilly sweater-wearing evening where everyone bundled together to pay tribute to Mr. Akin and Mrs. Apolzon. Personally, I want to thank our own Patti Hurdle who read the poem at the end of this post to honor Mrs. Apolzon. I can't think of anything more fitting for her caring spirit. I don't have a copy of the poem that Lee Ann Wischmeyer read for Mr. A, but when I do, I will make sure to post it here. It was quite fitting for the paternal way he acted as principal of Woodbrook.

It was great to come back from having a sub on Friday afternoon to find a positive note! Wow, that tells me a few things. I understand that it all went very well, though, so that is just awesome.

I hope everyone has a great shortened week in 5-1, and has an awesome fall break, and comes back ready to go to camp! Here's that poem:

You Never Know

You never know when someone
May catch a dream from you.
You never know when a little word
Or something you may do
May open up the windows
Of a mind that seeks the light ---
The way you teach may not matter at all,
But you never know - it might.

And just in case it could be
That another's life, through you
Might possibly change for the better
With a broader and brighter view,
It seems it might be worth a try
At pointing the way to the right -
Of course, it may not matter at all,
But then again - it might.

Helen L. Marshall

Thursday, October 13, 2011


One quick announcement before I fall asleep right here in my chair:

Tomorrow (Friday) night, there is going to be a dedication for trees planted at Woodbrook in tribute to Mr. Akin and Mrs. Apolzon. It starts at 6:30 at Woodbrook. It's guaranteed to be a memorable time to anyone who knew either of these two Woodbrook legends.

Oh, and the fourth grade musical was pretty fun today. And I was really really pleasantly surprised by how quiet my class during the performance. I was proud and happy, and embarrassed for the teachers of classes who didn't behave the way mine did.

Okay...fading out now.

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Cordial Invitation

The kids have known this for awhile now, but I just found out today that there is a Social Studies test tomorrow. Miss Mellinger went over the study guide very thoroughly today with the kids, so they should all have it filled out tonight. I told them also to have their Social Studies book with them to study tonight.

You may think it seems a little silly to have report cards coming home on Friday when you already know the kids' grades. One thing that I like about having the report cards go home, however, is the comments. I am very careful to write out comments for each child specific to their performance in class, their work habits, and their conduct. The conduct and work habits grades are either "satisfactory" or "non-satisfactory". This is not enough information, so I'm looking to supply you with more information than that.

Finally, I'm sure you've seen the banner out front and received the flyer that went home, but just in case you've missed both of them (and let's face it, if that's true, you probably aren't a regular reader of this blog either...), the 4th Annual PTO Night Out is on Saturday, November 5, at Moon Dog Tavern at 96th and Gray Road. It starts at 6:30. If you're lacking information, please let me know and I'll send another paper home with your child.

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

The Path of Most Resistance

Here's another FYI, just in case you're one of those crazy people who runs for recreational purposes. Personally, I'm more of a "running towards something" guy. I think you'd need to just drive me five miles away from my house and make me run home. But hey, I'm not everybody, which is why we have the Ghosts & Goblins Run. Note that it's the day after we get back from Camp Tecumseh, but if you're a runner, you're not likely to be exhausted by a few days in the woods anyway. Here's the official memo:

On October 29th—that’s a Saturday—at 9am in the morning, there’s a great
activity happening at the high school for all of you who like to run, walk, dress
up in Halloween costumes, and make money for your school. It’s the 3rd Annual
GHOSTS & GOBLINS 5K/2K held by the Carmel Clay Education Foundation
(the people that raise money so our teachers can do neat projects with us)
This event is for all of you serious runners out there as well as you folks
who just like to take it easy and walk. You can go 5K or 2K, and your whole
family can join in the fun. You don’t have to dress up, but safe costumes are
welcome to add to the festivities. It’s a scenic course through the Arts and
Design District, there are prizes for the fastest runners, and you get “treated”
at a Wellness Fair with snacks at the end.

But wait--maybe the best thing about this event is that, just by participating,
you will earn dollars for Woodbrook! That’s right! --for each student
that signs up, the organizers will give $2 right back to the school for teacher
grants—so 50 students who register means $100 for our school and so on.
But that’s not all--the school in Carmel that gets the most students to sign up
will win the Top Participating School Award that will be coming to our school
for you to check out in October. Last year, West Clay Elementary won this contest,
with Prairie Trace in 2nd. Also, each registered student from the winning
school will also receive a free cup of frozen yogurt from ORANGE
LEAF! Not a bad deal!

So, we will announce when the traveling trophy gets
here for us to display in the cafeteria for a couple of
days. Check it out then and check out the posters in the
cafeteria and in PE class and register online at for the Ghosts & Goblins
5K/2K on Saturday, October 29th.

True story, by the way: I teach karate to the hot dog and the mustard. (Note to last year's class, isn't that a classic example for the "I'll bet that's the first time that sentence has ever been said in the history of mankind" game?)

There's a theme test on Friday for Reading Theme 4, by the way. There is also a Spelling Test, of course, on that day.

Monday, October 10, 2011


One thing that snuck up on me over the weekend: Camp Tecumseh is two weeks away! If you haven't sent in your forms yet, the time is long since past. But please do so anyway!

Sunday, October 9, 2011

Like Something That Seeks Its Level

I was remiss on Wednesday for omitting the names of two of our volunteers from that day. Mrs. Niemiec (who actually helped in Mrs. Stemnock's math class) and Mrs. Saam, who worked with a group of students during Literacy. Thank you for all your help, ladies! Your assistance is greatly appreciated. I can't be everywhere at once, and you really save the day. Thanks also to Mrs. Thompson, who once again came in to help on Thursday.

Most of the grades are in the gradebook at this time. The only ones not in there yet (as of this writing) are the students' grades in conduct and work habits. You may notice that last Friday's Spelling test is not in the gradebook as being a part of this quarter. I ended the quarter two days early, and those grades will simply go on the next quarter. They're still being graded on them, but we just got started on the second quarter a couple days early.

One thing I'm going to stress to the kids tomorrow is that tomorrow is a new beginning. No matter how they did during the last quarter (the fact that the grades are so sparse and are all online kind of takes all of the mystery out of Friday afternoon), right now is a new beginning.

I expect a lot out of them, and I don't expect to be disappointed.

Oh, and good news! This week, the spelling list is actually not too bad. It's neither proper nouns nor words referencing...well, reference materials and jargon.

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Planets and Dudes

Not a whole lot of substance today, but I wanted to post some useful links for everyone.

Guys Read is a good site that has a lot of links to books for boys. If you've ever read any of the Guys Read books, you know they know what they're talking about. Good stuff in those books, and I've read a number of the books listed there. Excellent recommendations!

Here is an awesome site for the Solar System from NASA. We will be learning about Astronomy in Science as this year progresses, and this is a very cool place to find lots of information about the planets and features of the Solar System.

And I'm out! Have a great Thursday!

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Quarter After

This weekend marks the end of our grading period. Hard to believe we're one quarter of the way through the school year. We have a lot of big, fun things still in store for this school year. The biggest chunk still remains, and I'm looking forward to what's to come!

FYI: I will not be here on Friday. Ms. Mellinger will be in class teaching, and there will also be a substitute teacher as well as the usual gang of assistants and resource teachers in and out throughout the day. I'm afraid it's going to run so smoothly that no one will want me back!

Monday, October 3, 2011

A Long Day Ends

Very sorry that it took me so long to get the latest grades in for the Rigby Reads test. There is one more "interview test" that I plan to do between now and Thursday that will also go into that grade. They are finally in, which took most of the grades up a little bit.

Thanks for your patience! I will get the hang of this one of these days.

The Engines Can't Take the Strain

Well, already this morning we've had a snafu in the computer lab, but all is well at this time. It wouldn't be a normal day if everything went perfectly.

The students' spelling list this week is a little bit more normal than it was last week, but only a little bit. The words' definitions are challenging, because they all have to do with reference materials, so they will be a little unfamiliar with some of them. Make sure you look over their definitions tonight after they're done with them, just to make sure they have the right idea.

One thing to keep in mind if you're in my Math class is that Miss Mellinger is giving a test tomorrow over chapter 3. They should have a study guide with them tonight, which will be very similar to the test.

A final note for now, the Woodbrook PTO is sponsoring a coat drive for the upcoming cold months of the year. They will be collecting coats, mittens, gloves, hats, and boots. Gently used and clean is what they're looking for, so look through your closets for those outgrown articles and send them in between now and October 7th. They will be distributed at Carmel United Methodist on November 5th.

Sunday, October 2, 2011

Connect the Dots

First off, I want to thank Mrs. Jane Thompson for once again coming in to help us out on Friday. I will have plenty more opportunities for parents to come in and help--especially in the morning. That's when we have our Literacy block, and where we can use more one-on-one help with the kids, so if you're wanting to come in and help out, that would be perfect. Just shoot me an e-mail at and let me know what day would work for you.

Over the past couple of months, I've had a few kids outside of the classroom--while teaching karate class or tutoring--who have said the words, "I just made a connection." This is definitely a byproduct of our current reading program, and I have to admit that it's kind of cool to hear. This is one of the good things about this reading program; it gives students a richer vocabulary of understanding, and a deeper thought process than what you and I grew up with when it comes to the ideas behind reading comprehension. It's a good thing to see.

If you still haven't received your Woodbrook Wear, please let me know and I'll look into it.

Hope everyone has a great week!