Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Back to My Sweathogs

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

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

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

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

To Infinity and Beyond

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

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

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

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

Tabula Rasa

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

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

Monday, November 28, 2011

You Could Look It Up

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

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

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

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

Sunday, November 27, 2011

High Five

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

Three Two One Go

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

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

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

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Plymouth Rock

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

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

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

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

Happy Thanksgiving!

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

The Vanishing and the Strife

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

Town on Parade

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

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

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

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

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

Monday, November 21, 2011

Four for Three

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

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Last Friday in America

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

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Near Future; Recent Past

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

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

Monday, November 14, 2011

Mystery Island

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

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

I received this from Mrs. Davis yesterday:

Mr. Carter,

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

I was very proud of all of you!

Mrs. Davis

Friday, November 11, 2011

Soldiers' Hearts

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

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

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

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

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

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

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Wise Up

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

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

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

Young Patriots; Kimono Dragons

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

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

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

A Brave Heart and a Courteous Tongue

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

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

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

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

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

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

'Ms. Cothren, where are our desks?'

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

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

'No,' she said.

'Maybe it's our behavior.'

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

The Chosen Ones

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

Turning Pages

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

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

Monday, November 7, 2011

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

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

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

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

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

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

Sunday, November 6, 2011


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

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

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

Friday, November 4, 2011

Lines of Endeavor

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

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

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

Thursday, November 3, 2011

Rocket's Red Glare

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

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Sounds Good to Me

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

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

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

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Five Things You Should Know for This Week

1. We are going to Carmel High School on Thursday morning to hear the Carmel Symphony Orchestra. I will see about permission slips by the end of the day today.

2. There is a Social Studies test on Thursday. Miss Mellinger went over the study guide with them very thoroughly today, and they are in the kids' mailboxes to go home. Make sure and study with your child this evening and tomorrow evening. It's a fairly simple study guide, so it shouldn't take all that much time to go over.

3. Your children are reading biographies that they got from the library today. These will be formed into a report that the kids will be working on in class and eventually at home. Have them tell you about who they chose for their subject. We had fun in the library this morning trying to get people matched up for the more indecisive students.

4. Please do not send Halloween candy in for your child's snack! Please. For my sanity.

5. I will be away from school on Friday morning for a meeting at Clay Middle School. I should be back by 10:30, though, so just relax! It's all good.