Wednesday, February 29, 2012

You've Got the Cutest Little Baby Face

PICTURES OF YOUR CHILD NEEDED FOR THE 5TH GRADE VIDEO! This is a reminder to send up to 4 pictures of your child to be included in the 5th grade end of the year video to be shown at the big send off party in May! It is nice to include 1 baby picture, 1 recent picture, and a couple of group photos of your child with other 5th graders. We want to make sure each child is represented in the video, so please email your photos to Sharon Deam .

Leap Day

I'm in a little bit of a hurry today, but I wanted to let everyone know that I spoke with the kids this morning about their "research papers" which have kind of morphed into "focus essays". They will still be using all of the research they did on their note cards; the only difference is that instead of a 5-t0-7 page paper, it is going to be a 5-to-7 (minimum) paragraph essay. Some kids asked if they could go ahead and write a full 5-to7 pages, and I said sure. They asked if they would get extra credit, and I told them that at least I knew it would improve their grade. This will be done entirely in class! No worries for home.

Math class: Test tomorrow! We have taken copious amounts of notes in class, they will be able to use all of them (including the copies I ran off for them, plus the addendum received today) on the test. I think they will be in good shape.

Everyone: Tomorrow is pajama day! Wear your jammie-jams. And also: Do something nice for someone new in Woodbrook!

Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Outswimming the Undertow

One thing I keep on forgetting to tell the kids is that this Thursday, March 1st, has been designated Pajama Day by the Woodbrook Spirit Committee. To help break up the monotony of the last five weeks before spring break, the committee has decided to spot those weeks with various spirit days just for fun. I'm happy about this!

We have had a great week in 5-1. We've had good classroom conversations, everyone has been on-task when they've been asked to be, and I have been very impressed.

There will be a theme test on Friday as well as a spelling test. My Math class will also be having the big Chapter 8 test on Thursday!

Monday, February 27, 2012

Quick Lists

Spelling List real quick:


no one



Sunday, February 26, 2012

Twelve Minutes Left in the Second Half

First off, let me say that I have been advised by colleagues and mentors that I need to learn to draw the line to answering e-mails and phone calls after school hours that pertain to school. I have to admit that this is good advice, and it's teaching me to be a little bit more balanced in my life. This is making me much more effective as a teacher, I do believe. It's only taken me eleven years to learn this lesson, by the way, so it hasn't been easy coming.

That having been said, it may explain why many of you may be wondering where your response is to an e-mail that you may have sent me any time after 9:30am on Friday. I will get back with you sometime tomorrow! You see, I was sent home by the good Nurse Barb on Friday because of flu symptoms. I came home and went to sleep and woke up only to take Nyquil. I was able to get to sleep pretty easily because I knew when I left that my class was in the hands of Mrs. Weghorst, former Woodbrook teacher and current substitute teacher that I'd been waiting to guest teach in my classroom. The kids were in good hands, and I doubt they will want me back tomorrow now that they've had her.

One thing that I forgot to mention last week is that the father of Mrs. Barb Cullen sadly passed away. Mrs. Cullen has been an Instructional Assistant at Woodbrook for many years now--longer than I've been around, and she has one of the gentlest souls you will ever meet. There is no kid at WB who doesn't have a soft spot for her, and they were understandably upset when they found out this news. The kids made her cards, and I have to say that some of them were really quite touching. Our prayers have been with her ever since.

Now onto some other, less important stuff:
  • Tomorrow you will see two theme tests coming back. This is an illusion, though, because you're really only seeing one of them for the first time. The previous one is one that I sent back with the kids to make corrections on. The corrections had already been made by the grader, though, so I had the kids just take them home, make sure they knew what they had done wrong, and if they turned them back in, they got half credit back on them. I had some kids not turn them back in, though, so those kids didn't get the half credit back, unfortunately. They were told, though! In fact, it should have been in their assignment notebooks a couple weeks back. Anyway, the second one is from a week ago. I was happy with how they went. There will be another one this Friday! Look for the practice test to go home on Thursday night.
  • We will also be having a Spelling Test on Friday (in addition to the aforementioned Theme Test 11).
  • On Thursday, my Math class will have a test. I have given and will give the kids copious amounts of notes about rates, ratios, and percentages. They will be supplied with sample problems for all of those things, and yes, they will be allowed to use their notes on the test.

Hope everyone will join me in making this a great week!

Hear Them Roar

I wanted to put up a post here to say something I never would have thought I would have to say. And I realize that I'm not making any kind of bold or daring statement here, but I have to let you know that I am really proud of all of the Girl Scouts in my class, past and present. The Girl Scouts are an organization which I have always been more than happy to support. Anyone who has ever asked me to buy any Girl Scout cookies knows that I am a sucker, and can never say no. The amount of Girl Scout cookies I have in any year is limited only by the number of girls who have asked--times three.

With all due respect to any non-Girl Scouts, I always look at my list of girls who are to stay after school for scouts and think, "Yeah, that doesn't surprise me." Amongst the girls on that list are always girls who are undoubtedly going to be the future leaders of America. They go on camping trips and learn to be strong women.

One example of a former 5-1 student who was a Girl Scout is someone of whom I am extremely proud. Catherine "Cat" Krege earned her Gold Award a couple years back. A Gold Award is something that I'm ashamed to say I didn't know about until Catherine earned hers. It is the equivalent of an Eagle Scout for Boy Scouts. They have to do many hours of leadership development, career exploration, and do quite a bit of focus work in addition of years in the Scouts in order to attain a Gold Award. She has competed for many years on the Adamson's Karate competition team, and overseas on the AAU National Karate Team. Catherine is now attending Indiana University in Pre-Law. Needless to say, there are much worse things you could do than be amongst her ranks.

Since I, for one, can't be amongst those numbers, I will at least do my part by indulging, along with Indiana State House Speaker Brian Bosma last week, in some Savannahs and Do-Si-Dos. Let me say that I am very proud of all of Woodbrook's Girl Scouts, past and present.

Thursday, February 23, 2012

Golden Ratios and Silver Linings

I've been really happy with how the kids have treated our reminder lessons on Daily 5 this week. Daily 5 is a program which utilizes five essential reading and writing habits independently. By the time the students reach fifth grade, though, it pretty much boils down to "Daily 3". These three are reading to yourself, reading to someone, and writing. The other two would be word work and listen to reading. Some of the kids will be doing the latter, and I think we will all be doing at least a smattering of the former in class. But this week we have practiced the other three, we will review them tomorrow, and then next week we will re-launch into guided reading. I've really enjoyed my opportunities to meet with the kids one-on-one to conference with them on their reading. Thank you to Mrs. Raasch, who took the broken pieces of my attempts to do this and cleaned it up, gave me a better format for generating these meetings, and made all "right". I'm pretty darn grateful that we live in a community where we have those kinds of resources on our staff.

I shared with the kids today my appreciation for graphic novels, comic books, or other books where strong visuals are very much a part of the storytelling. I told them that when you have words with pictures--as long as the pictures are a strong part of the story--it forces the right and left sides of your brain to work together. It doesn't necessarily make you smarter, but it definitely makes your brain stronger. I shared with them everything from an X-Men comic to more heady material, namely 21: The Story of Roberto Clemente by Wilfred Santiago. This having been said, though, I told them that when it's time for silent reading, I want them to read actual chapter books that are made up of words and sentences. There is a time and place for all kinds of storytelling, but most of the time for Daily 5, I want them to be reading novel-novels.

I told them about the happenstance connection I have with Roberto Clemente, the work I would like to continue one day for a museum dedicated to Clemente in Pittsburgh, and I now realize that I totally forgot to tell them about the fact that I first read about him in second grade in my reading book.

Math folks: During Math today, we learned about a couple of things: The Golden Ratio and n-to-1 ratios. I had them take notes in their Mathcabulary Notebooks today. I told them that on next week's test, they will be allowed to use their Mathcabulary Notebooks. I will help them load some example problems like will be on the test into those notebooks, so that they will be ready for the test. During the test, they won't be allowed to ask questions, but they will be allowed to have those notebooks out, just to help them through it. There are a lot of confusing differences between things like rates and ratios, percentages and parts of wholes, etc. I want them to be as primed as possible before next Thursday.

Great week so far. Hope the same goes for all of you.

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

I Don't Know Whether I Was the Boxer or the Bag

At the Wellness Committee meeting yesterday, it was brought up that we need more parent volunteers for Sunday afternoon, April 29th, for the Wellness Fair. One of the jobs they were looking to fill was working the registration/check-in table. I think they also wanted someone to work the Amazing Race.

Speaking of wellness, thank you to everyone who came out and/or volunteered for Family Fitness Night on Friday night. That was so much fun. I know I got quite a workout leading everyone in the karate for an hour and forty-five minutes. Man, was my voice gone on Saturday. The 5-1 affiliated people I saw were the Hurdles, the Keens, the Pergals, and the Saams, plus the Baldwins if you count the Math class (and who doesn't?). I saw one picture taken of us doing our karate, and what I notice is that I was leaning too far forward during my front-kick, but I'm probably a little self-critical. Everyone else seemed to notice how much fun everyone was having. I have to say, though, that I'm honestly not sure what wore me out more, the straight 1:45 of punching and kicking, or the fifteen minutes of yoga that I did during that last session.

Anyway, if you are interested in helping out with the Wellness Fair on April 29, please contact the front office here at Woodbrook. Sounds like we're going to have a lot of booths this year, and it should be pretty neat.

(And if you know where the title of this post came from, by the way, Mr. Carter is seriously proud of your knowledge of 90's grunge rock.)

Movie Night Information

This is a reminder that Movie Night is this Friday, February 24th. Due to the cancellation of movie night in January, we are showing the same movie we would have seen in January...Mr. Poppers Penguins.

You do not need to send in a form if you are an annual pass holder or if you turned in a form for January. If you would like to attend this month and aren't signed up for last month, you need to pick up a form in the office and turn it in as soon as possible.

Also, we will be using a new check in/check out procedure. Parents will be given bracelets to match the children that they drop off and must have the bracelet for pick up. If you have a different parent picking up than is dropping off, you must arrange to get the proper bracelet to them.

Thanks for your patience in understanding that this procedure is for the safety of the children.

Mrs. Davis and our Movie Night Volunteers

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

You Don't Tug on Superman's Cape

I have a meeting right after school, so I'm trying to sneak in a post here during lunch. This week, we're going to be looking back at our Daily 5 program, and practicing some of those ideas in class. Today's was "read to self". They got their time in today, and they showed me that they are able to read for twenty minutes without having to get up to go to the bathroom every five minutes.

For Math, I am planning on having a test next Tuesday. That gives us the rest of this week to finish up the lesson and review heavily.

We will also be having a Caesar's English test this Friday over these stems:
  1. grat, which means pleasing. zB: gratification, gracious, gratify
  2. curr, which means run. zB: current, recur, reoccur
  3. trans, which means across. zB: transfer, transfusion, translate, transform (many more!)
  4. migr, which means wander. zB: migrate, migratory, immigrant
  5. rupt, which means break. zB: abrupt, corrupt, disrupt, rupture, interrupt

Tonight your child brought home a Social Studies take-home test. It is due back tomorrow!

In Science today, we read about atmospheric pressure and gravity. The science book is sadistic toward teachers in the way it talks about gas, by the way. I could barely read those sentences out loud without laughing; I don't know how they expect the kids to. But we did get a possible explanation for Superman's powers with the pressure and gravity, so it can't all be bad.

Good day today! (So far, at least.)

Monday, February 20, 2012

Help Wanted

Are you looking for part-time employment?

Would you like a job that follows the school calendar?

Do you have a heart for working with children?

The Carmel Clay Schools Transportation Department is currently seeking Bus Drivers and Aides.

Please contact the Transportation Department at 844-8207 for more information.

Thursday, February 16, 2012

The Failure of Formulas

NOOOO!!! I just put up a whole blog that didn't publish and I lost it!

Quick highlights: No Math quiz tomorrow, and the whole homework thing will make sense--eventually.
  • Theme Test tomorrow! Should be an easy one if my calculations are correct!
  • Spelling test tomorrow too!
  • We learned about King George. Ask your kids what "power corrupts" means!

Sorry you had to miss out on my usual delightfully composed wordage and you have to settle for this quickie.

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Message from Mrs. Pergal

Calling All Artists . . .

Get those crayons sharpened and paint brushes ready it’s time for the 2012 Poster Contest

Woodbrook needs you to help advertise our upcoming Carnival. Information will be sent home the week of February 20th. All entries will receive a 5 ticket game card to the Carnival.

Monday, February 13, 2012

Chrysalis and Counting

Today, after one minor snafu with the internet connection, we were able to meet with the guidance counselors from the middle school to set the schedules for next year. One thing that I did notice today was that I had a number of students tell me, "Mr. Carter, I'm signing up for German!"

I told the kids that, while yes, it's fun that I will say things to them in German simply because I speak (loosely) the language, they may want to take Spanish into consideration. English is a Germanic language, but I told them that Spanish is by far the most versatile second language to know in the United States right now.

After talking with the counselors, the kids asked me all kinds of questions about what happened in middle school when I was a kid. I told them about how I didn't really like very many of my teachers up until high school. It may be that I probably wasn't the easiest kid to like at times.

But I told the kids that they will like some of their teachers, and they won't like others. It's okay. One good thing is that they will only have each one for a short period next year. I told them that I think they will be in good hands next year. I know many of the teachers at Clay personally, and I like them.

It will be hard for some of them, and they will have to make some adjustments. Who doesn't in middle school? But I do know that they will come out of it better than they were going in. I hope the same can be said for being in my classroom.

Sunday, February 12, 2012

Hello, Tomorrow

Tomorrow we will be meeting with the guidance counselors from Clay Middle School to talk about making the students' schedules for next year. Of course, they will need to bring these home to you first, but they will be talking about things like study halls, language classes, and things like band, orchestra, and choir. This time will be right after specials, and so you can expect to see the kids bringing home materials tomorrow about this.

Of course, there are some of you who have already been to the middle school with your child and have already done this, so of course your child's classes have already been set. But some of us are just catching up here, so bear with us.

Also, tomorrow we will be making our Valentine's bags, in addition to moving on in Social Studies and Reading. It will be kind of a funky day tomorrow, as well as Tuesday on account of Valentine's Day. This is the part of the school year in which we strive to attain normalcy, for better or for worse.


I'm so sorry to admit that I completely forgot to tell you about the fact that yes, we will be opening Valentines for a short time on Tuesday. If your child wishes to participate, you can send in some Valentines with them and they can distribute them to the white bags on Tuesday. We haven't even made our Valentines bags yet, so guess what's on the priority list for tomorrow?

Sorry! Hope this message isn't getting out there too late.

Thursday, February 9, 2012

We See the Bigger Picture

Parents of my Math class: The kids seem to have a much greater understanding of the material now than they had before. Rates and ratios are tough for kids to learn. We were going to do an exercise for our homework pertaining to burning calories. They were pretty confused with that, so we scrapped it and then I just assigned them the Math Boxes.

We finally did finish the story of the wagons west, and in Science today, the kids wrote down their observations of a lava lamp, which was far more interesting than it sounds. Tomorrow we have a spelling test, and I'm hoping that all book reports are finished and ready to be turned in!

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

Per Aspera Ad Astra

“So with imagination, ingenuity and audacity, explore, discover, change the world. And have fun while you're at it. Always take time out to love and to live. You're going to be busy, but never forget family and friends. ”

Daniel S. Goldin (born 1940);

Administrator of NASA

These are the words of Daniel Goldin, the man who was interviewed in my classroom via Skype about a week and a half ago in my classroom. I was really happy when I received this quote today from, at first because of the message, but secondly because of who sent it.

Blue Origin

We've been talking Revolutionary War in Social Studies the last few days. I've given them the Mr. Carter's Wheelhouse version, the oral history of the Revolutionary War distilled into two days. Tomorrow we will start in on the book to see the slightly more technical version of what happened. I went into King George's explosive reaction to the Olive Branch Petition today, and was told that I needed to take a deep breath by the kids. I always get into that part after watching my history professor do the same thing in college.

In my mind, we were going to do an observation exercise on a lava lamp, but too little too late as it didn't fully "melt" in time. Tomorrow we will get that sucker plugged in way ahead of time. The fact that it was in my car in the cold parking lot until about 10am probably didn't help make the melting process any quicker.

Reading class has taken us on a tedious trip west in a covered wagon over the last couple days. Tomorrow we will, at last, read the last page of that story! I was discussing this evening with someone, why aren't there any cheerful stories about wagon trails west? This is not what we were promised in our many games of Oregon Trail as kids.

And last but not least, Woodbrook raised over $6,000 in Jump Rope for Heart this morning! Awesome work, everyone, whether you raised funds, donated, or jumped rope for a solid hour! We heart patients are very grateful.

And with that, it's just about my bedtime. Have a great Thursday!

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

The Long Now

Hey, there, everyone! Hopefully everyone is hard at work on their book report projects. We've even had a few trickling in already, so that is really good to see. Remember the due date is this Friday, February 10th. These were handed out on January 10th, so I will have a hard time accepting anything later than that.

One thing I would like to profoundly apologize for is the spelling list this week. I honestly don't know what they were thinking putting predominate on there instead of predominant, which is not only much more commonly used, but also has a much easier definition. I told the kids yesterday that I do not expect them to know that definition nor be able to use that one in a sentence. And I have a hard time thinking of when I've heard the word premeditate used in anything other than a murder trial on television, but so be it. At least you can premeditate a birthday party...I suppose!

Here's Miss Priser's list for this week:


Here's my list for this week:


There are a lot of words on this list that are pretty difficult. I told the kids to focus on being able to spell the root word, and then to just know that you need to add either re- or pre- to the beginning of it.

Also, when I sent home those Theme Tests yesterday and told the kids to make corrections and bring them back, I noticed that the correct answers had already been circled on them (sorry, I had an aid do that for me on Thursday). I told them to just make sure they understood what they got wrong and to discuss with me if they didn't get it. I am going to give everybody a half point back for each one they got wrong--I haven't entered them in the grade book anyway. In the future, I plan to do this for all tests. I will give them the test back, have them make corrections, and turn it back in for half credit if they choose to do so.

Members of my Math class should have noticed a "Whoops Sheet" come home yesterday for much the same reason. They did pretty darn well for the most part, but I wanted them to have the opportunity to learn from what went wrong on the test. Now we've moved into rates and ratios, and they were struggling somewhat yesterday. Luckily we have time to slow down a bit and take as much time as we need to for a little while.