Thursday, January 31, 2013

Tomorrow Will Be Yesterday

The only homework tonight is that kids need to have their bookmarks and their Study Links 7.9 if they're in my Math class.

Tomorrow is Colonial Days! I told them to come in tomorrow all dressed up for the big day. We talked food and costume ideas. IN CASE OF DELAY TOMORROW, WE WILL STILL HAVE COLONIAL DAYS. It will be a little bit abbreviated; we may not be able to get to all of the activities, but we will do what we can. I also talked to them today about being polite when they get their square dancing partners and not making a rude face, and about being courteous and polite to the parent volunteers.

Looking forward to it! See everybody tomorrow.

Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Building Up Words

FYI: We will have a Caesar's English quiz on Thursday (kids got their lists yesterday) as well as a Science Vocabulary quiz. We entered these science words into their Science journals last week. It will be matching. They should have brought both home this evening to study--otherwise tomorrow night will be a cram session!

Hope everyone has a terrific Tuesday--remember Colonial Days on Friday!

Monday, January 28, 2013

Six Grasshoppers

I meant to put this up on here a long time ago, but wanted to post this to thank the Wisdorfs for buying my donation to the PTO auction back in November. Earlier this month, we got around to a special karate class for their son and five of his buddies at my (okay, not my--I don't own it...) karate dojo. We had a lot of fun that afternoon. I tried to teach them a lot of things in there, and gave them all the warning not to try any karate at school or at home. Anyway, thank you to (left to right) Logan, Caden, Griffin, Jake, Peyton, and Casey for coming out to Mr. Carter's other dojo, where I am Sensei Carter. It was fun getting to show you another part of my world--you guys all played right along. When my sensei walked in, he commented to me that "those are some happy boys." You're awesome, guys.

Our States and Our Country

The theme for tonight's homework is Social Studies! This is starting with the kids' state projects. I did not give them any time to work on these in class, so they have a little research to do when they get home. They are to fill out part of the front page to find information regarding their state. They split these duties up between their partners, so it will be different for everyone.

The second thing they have tonight is going to be reading three pages in their Social Studies book. I will be giving them a very easy quiz tomorrow to see whether they did it or not. Also, many of them will have some corrections (although not nearly as many as I'd feared!) on their tests from last Friday.

Math class will also be getting their quizzes back from last week, and instead of my normal Whoops Sheet method of giving back half points for everything they'd corrected, I will be giving full credit back, as this is a formative assessment. Today we're going to be getting into graphs and beginning to get our feet wet with negative numbers. You know negative numbers--those things we first experienced when we were in middle school or high school.

The big news of the day is that the Great Candy Ban of 2013 has been lifted, so once more candy can be exchanged on Valentine's Day. I hadn't even had the chance to tell the kids about the new rule before it was repealed. But they all heard about it through their underground grapevines already, so imagine their joy to know that once more, they can rot out their teeth come Valentine's Day this year.

Friday, January 25, 2013

High Resolution

We're still early enough in 2013 to post this bad boy. Found this linked to something my sister sent me earlier today. I like this one even more. Let's all make this year awesome for someone else!

Don't You Know That You Are a Shooting Star?

Huge thanks goes out today to Mrs. Katsis, Mrs. Wright, and Mrs. Masuoka. They came in and delivered messages today for the Everybody Counts program. Everybody Counts is a program focused on teaching students about learning disabilities and how people handle them. Also presenting this morning was Mrs. Stephenson, the teacher for one of the special education classes here at Woodbrook. She did a great job at explaining things from the point of view of a student with a learning disability, and went another step further and had her 18-year-old nephew, Justice, who has autism, speak and answer questions. I always enjoy overhearing the students during Everybody Counts, and how they interact with different adults. They had more questions than I had time to answer regarding dyslexia this morning, but it's always good to see the kids come to an understanding with some of these issues.

I taught the kids this week about "Please Excuse My Dear Aunt Sally". Today we had a quiz in Math over exponents, scientific notation, and order of operations. I think I gave them too much too soon on the order of operations. I made this quiz at the start of the week, so if they got any wrong, I'm going to give it back to them to make corrections on Monday. I told them that I was going to consider this a formative assessment, so corrections would be made.

Another presenter we had today was Mr. Matthew Pletcher, who showed the class how to do multiplication the way they learn it in Japan:

He had given us one lesson last week, and then was asked if he could to a three-digit number times a three-digit number. He went home, did some research, and came back today and taught everyone how to do it. He was nervous as he punched the numbers into his calculator, but sure enough, he had done it all correctly. There was a lot of carrying involved, so it was fun to see it all work out just the right way.

I told the kids that next we will have a completely loaded schedule! We have to get five days' worth of work done in four days before Colonial Days on Friday. Noses will be pressed against grindstones, but we will all have some pretty strong noses as a result. 

Okay, one last thing before I go. I just received a phone call from Mrs. Kleinschmidt, the school librarian. She was laughing hysterically. It seems that the Young Hoosier Book Award team from my class--consisting of Bobby, Mark, Harry, and Luke--decided on the team name "The Donner Party." Love it. She asked, "What are you teaching your children?" I told them that it had come up in a book we read as a class. She said, "I have to go out on that one."

And so will I.

Have a great weekend, everyone!

Thursday, January 24, 2013

It Will Have to Take Some Work on Your Part Too

Nine Promises That Can Bring Happiness by John Wooden
  1. Promise yourself that you will talk health, happiness, and prosperity as often as possible.
  2. Promise yourself to make all your friends know there is something in them that is special and that you value.
  3. Promise to think only of the best, to work only for the best, and to expect only the best in yourself and others.
  4. Promise to be just as enthusiastic about the success of others as you are about your own.
  5. Promise yourself to be so strong that nothing can disturb your peace of mind.
  6. Promise to forget the mistakes of the past and press on to greater achievements in the future.
  7. Promise to wear a cheerful appearance at all times and give every person you meet a smile.
  8. Promise to give so much time to improving yourself that you have no time to criticize others.
  9. Promise to be too large for worry, too noble for anger, too strong for fear, and too happy to permit trouble to press on you. 
Late night thoughts. I finished up a great book tonight, then picked up one of my favorite John Wooden books and just started flipping through it. Found this. I know I've posted this before, but I love it every time I read it. 


Sorry for no post yesterday. I had a meeting right after school and then had to go teach karate last night--not my normal Wednesday. And truly, we are getting to the point in the school year where everything will be like that. Right now, for instance, the kids are in the library taking part in the "computer stress test" so that any bugs in the system can be worked out. The feeling of tension in the hallway right now tells me that there may be a kink or two in the network, which is why I'm staying in here.

Another aberration yesterday was that I was out of the classroom for an hour to observe in other classrooms. We've been doing this for awhile, so I didn't really come away with anything new, but it was nonetheless interesting. What I liked about it, though, was that it afforded me the opportunity to have Mrs. Carol Weghorst in my classroom while I was out. Mrs. Weghorst is a retired Woodbrook teacher. She told me what I already know, that I have a wonderful class. I will keep her in mind just in case I ever do need to take a whole day off of school this year.

Remember that there is a Social Studies test tomorrow, as well as a Caesar's English test. One "new" thing about this Social Studies test is that some of the answers will not be multiple choice. I put the quotes on there because I used to never give any multiple choice questions on my tests because I didn't believe in them, so this is me going about half way back down that road.

In Math today, we will be learning about "Aunt Sally", as in "Please Excuse My Dear Aunt Sally", so be on the lookout for a related piece of homework in Math tonight.

Hope everyone has a glitch-free Thursday.

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Lightning That Can't Strike

Here's the run-down for tonight. Our snow delay this morning only put us in more of a crunch, but at least we didn't have frost-bitten students this morning.

Because of the Clay Night last Thursday, the kids asked that I not give them the writing assignment for the Reading chapter that evening. Normally I would disregard such requests, but I took pity on them and was talked into giving it later. Well, it's time to pay the piper, so they do have that assignment tonight.

In addition to that, they also have an adverbs sheet and a Study Link (7.3) tonight. There is a Study Guide for Social Studies, but it isn't due until Thursday. I advised them to just take it home and if they are bored tonight, to answer what they know for sure, and then tomorrow night they can bring home their red Social Studies books.

So much to get done! Hope everyone has a good week.

Friday, January 18, 2013

The Boring Stuff Is the Stuff I Remember the Most

Well, we finally got to watch Up today, which made for a fun morning. I gave the kids the complete lowdown this afternoon on what we would have to accomplish next week, so not only will it be a short one, but it will also be jam-packed.

Everyone have a fantastic three day weekend.

Night at the Museum

Attention Woodbrook parents:

Museum Night is next Wednesday, January 23rd from 6-8pm. Bring the family to enjoy the Children's Museum of Indianapolis program about flight. Don't miss this fun and educational night! Any questions, please contact Family Night directors Kristin Kepler (569-7355 or or Shelley Roettger (569-8357 or

We look forward to seeing you there!

Thursday, January 17, 2013

Stretching Reality to Yield a Parabola

We got to watch the last of the Social Studies skits, the kids got to learn who their partners are for the big state projects, and we read the tale of Jedediah Smith. We also learned about possessive nouns.

In Math, we talked started our new chapter and our new Math Journal. The theme of this chapter is exponents. I taught them about cell mitosis and the six degrees of separation.

They do have reading for 20 minutes, the spelling test tomorrow, and a study link for Math tonight. I told them that I know they have the Clay Night tonight from 4-6, but that this is no different from having a practice for a sport or dance or whatever the kids do after school, and it's not much to do.

By the way, I received a notification regarding Carmel Clay Schools Safety Night. For our district, this will take place at Clay Middle School from 7-9pm on February 19. You are invited to attend to hear an overview of the CCS safety programs that keep our students and staff safe. They will talk about partnerships with the Carmel Fire Department and Police Department; our drills for severe weather, fire, earthquake, K-9, and lockdown; Carmel Clay counseling services; the School Gate Guardian system; anonymous alert, background checks, and emergency communication.

Please know that they ask that you do not bring your child with you to this meeting. Send any questions to Student Services Department at 317 844 9961.

Wednesday, January 16, 2013

Nothing's Shocking

Today in Social Studies we learned about King Philip's War. It's not as well known as many other wars in U.S. History, but there's plenty to learn from it, and it is part of what will eventually lead up to the American Revolution.

We had our big Chapter 6 test in math today--finally tomorrow we will be getting our second Math Journals for the year (only a week and a half late). I, for one, am happy to be done with fractions!

Note from Mrs. Ratner: TOMORROW is the last day to sign up for Orff Ensemble. 

Have an awesome Wednesday.

Tuesday, January 15, 2013

All Are Parts of a Whole

Tonight there are two main things to know as far as homework goes: three times each is due tomorrow and the kids in my Math class will have a test tomorrow.

Here is a helpful video when it comes to adding and subtracting fractions, just in case it comes in handy. I think I may show it today in class (and talk them through it--no, I won't be checking my email and just playing a video...).

We watched two of the skits today during Social Studies. They weren't too bad!

Monday, January 14, 2013

Pizza and Hoops

I put some fliers into the kids' mailboxes today about the program at Clay Middle on Thursday, January 17th. It is from 4-6. The kids will watch a basketball game and eat pizza. This is about all I really know about it, but it's a get-to-know-Clay type of night. Should be fun!

Prime Numbers and Such

Well, last Friday, as I'm sure you heard, we were unable to watch the movie because of a technology malfunction. We're going to shoot for this Friday. Sorry about that.

Here's this week's spelling list. It's a hard one.
  • discolor
  • discover
  • dishonest
  • disorder
  • inexpensive
  • inflate
  • nonprofit
  • nonflammable
  • disregard
  • inaccurate
  • incredible
  • nonsense
The kids should have brought home a study guide for Math (as long as they're in fifth grade Math right now). They moaned that it had too many problems on it, but I told them that 23 things to answer isn't too much. Also, they have a couple other sheets of problems to use as practice for the test.

Definitions are due tomorrow as well. I told them today that it's important to be reading and getting their bookmarks signed nightly.

Hope everyone has a great Monday evening.

Thursday, January 10, 2013

Upward Bound

Tomorrow we are going to be watching the Pixar movie Up. This is a reward for their behavior during the second quarter of last semester. Bookmarks are due tomorrow morning for Reading, but they only have to have read three days' worth.

That's about all I know today. We're sticking with this Math lesson until the kids get it down, by the way. Still not making the connection betweek fractions and division.

Wednesday, January 9, 2013

New Habits

Thus far, we've been easing into the new year, but now we're back into it in full. Tomorrow here's what's due: They wrote a paper yesterday in class where they listed three things they wanted to start doing in the new year (I gave them a personal example), and two things that they want to stop doing. If they didn't get these finished in class yesterday, they're due tomorrow. They're going to type them up in the computer lab tomorrow morning, so they need to be done, and they need to be at least two paragraphs long total.

No spelling this week, so that takes a little bit of the hassle out of things until next week.

Last thing is there is a study link due tomorrow (6.8). I hate that we had to cut the last chapter in half, but I'm going to give them a quiz over this stuff early next week and then we'll move on to the new Math Journal and the next chapter.

Hope everyone has a great evening. 

Tuesday, January 8, 2013

Definitions Not Found in the Dictionary

The following post is a re-post, which I've been thinking about since yesterday. For some reason, it has crept back into my consciousness as one of my all-time favorites to write. I think it is perfect for the beginning of the new year.

On my sister's blog, she was talking about her work at Wabash College and how she's co-editing the monthly magazine this month and the theme is "Wellness". I imagine it's about exercise and eating right and all that, but I have no idea. It hasn't been published yet. But the guy my sister is working with on this magazine wrote in to Garrison Keillor, who always ends his Writer's Almanac segments with "Be well, do good work, and keep in touch," and asked him this:

Dear Mr. Keillor,
As longtime fan of A Prairie Home Companion and a daily listener to The Writer's Almanac, I find both comfort and encouragement in your fatherly sign-off for the latter program: Be well, do good work, and keep in touch.
But I've often wondered what you mean when you say, "Be well." How do you define well-being? What do you do to achieve it?
Steve C.
Wabash College
I love Mr. Keillor's response here:
You're a college guy and I'm an old writer, Steve, so we're looking at this from different angles. I'm more aware of decline and decrepitude than you possibly could be. I'm at the age when people tell me, "You're looking good" in that tone of voice that says "for a guy your age." For me, well-being has a lot to do with forward motion. I need to have deadlines, a list of projects, people who rely on me, some ambition on my back like an outboard motor. Good health is good, of course, and you don't want big black splotches showing up on the CAT scan, but my sense of well-being comes from waking up each day with work to do. It was different when I was in college: the work was imposed by teachers and so much of it seemed irrelevant, make-work, a lot of pointless exercises. What you hope for in life is a sense of a calling, a vocation, which simply means that one goes to one's work gratefully, not out of fear or habit but with a whole heart. It's the whole-heartedness that makes for well-being. Everyone has to live with a degree of doubt and restlessness, but there's nothing like enthusiasm, especially when you're 67. I have a plumber in my house right now, working to repair a pipe that broke when it froze and rebuild part of a jerry-rigged heating system, and it is so clear to me that this man loves his work. So does my internist. So do the women who care for my ancient mother. So do the musicians on the radio show and the writers of the Almanac. Thanks for your note. 

One of the comments left by a reader was particularly moving:
Thanks for defining something that was nudging the edges of my consciousness but had previously refused to enter. My own 67-year-old being is grateful to look forward to activities that need doing, and I have timidly crept into public writing as part of that expanding being. I take my lead from my 94-year-old dad who is still alive, alert and curious about the world. He embodies your definition of well-being.
I try my hardest to be that plumber. And I really do get up out of bed each day with a sense of duty, and for that I am eternally grateful. I've told the kids that I never have a day where I don't want to come in to work, and this isn't because I'm afraid of what would happen if I didn't. It's because of the things the kids say that make me bite my lip to keep from laughing. The look in their eyes when they finally understand something, and the amount of growth I see in each of them throughout the ten months we spent together.

I still remember my high school Health teacher, Mrs. Craft, making the first question on every test, what was the true definition of health? Of course, we all knew the correct answer: "The state of complete physical, emotional, and social well-being, and not merely the absence of disease or infirmity." By that definition, Mrs. Craft was one of the healthiest people I knew. She was an Army nurse during the Korean War, and often told us stories from her time in service, of getting in trouble for laughing while at attention on Coco Beach and of some of the unfortunate things she saw in life during wartime. She was about five feet two inches, had a smoke-addled voice that she used at full capacity, and she had the respect of everyone. She had lived a full life--and seemed to have loved and embraced every minute of it.

The other night after karate competition practice, which was here at Woodbrook, I was walking back to my classroom with a few of my former students and one of the other Senseis. We ran into Mr. Vahle, a fellow teacher who was and is my mentor, who was there with his family. He had a huge smile on his face to see the boys (all of whom are in high school right now and were his students as well) and gave them big hugs and looking them in the eye and asking them how they're doing. The youngest of the boys, Matt, a freshman who has been a "little old man" since he was in the second grade [present-day edit: he's now a senior at Carmel], came into my classroom, smiled, and said about Mr. Vahle, "That's the ultimate success--to be happy with your lot in life."

I hope each of my students grows up to be happy with his or her lot in life--that's the kind of success I want for each of them.

A Message from Mr. Frizzi

Opportunities Are Just Around the Corner with Clay Performing Arts!

                      January and February will be your 5th grader’s opportunity to explore and join 

Band, Choir or Orchestra at Clay Middle School.



Please mark your calendars for the following events

Demonstration Concert

Wednesday 16, 7:00pm

(To take place in conjunction with 5th grade parent night)



This fun concert will feature important information about our performing groups.

Students will have an opportunity to see all the instruments in action. 

Parents are strongly encouraged to bring their student to this event. 

Each student in attendance will take home a special gift!



Performing Arts Try-On Sessions

Tuesday, January 29

Thursday, January 31

Tuesday, February5


Visit to register and learn more about our programs!


Sessions will be available for students to try up to three different instruments they are interested in,

as well as sing for our choir director. 

Your student will choose the instrument they are best suited for on these evenings.


We look forward to meeting your student!



Please contact Jeff Frizzi, Performing Arts Department Chair, if you have any questions

Monday, January 7, 2013

Always We Begin Again

Well, here we are seven days into this trip around the sun, and the second semester of school is about to begin. I was at school all day prepping things for the next couple weeks, and I think I'm mostly ready. Some of the grades STILL aren't in because the server has been down all day, but my apologies, and assuming the server is up tomorrow, they will be put in by noon, otherwise I will be in some hot water.

Look for some announcements of upcoming events such as our trip to the high school planetarium and Colonial Days in the coming days.

Hope everyone is ready for a big fantastic second semester.