Tuesday, April 30, 2013

Solutions to Problems That Don't Yet Exist

First off, here's the good news: We were able to complete test 1 for ISTEP today. Woohoo! We were caught up for five minutes.

You've guessed the bad news by now, I'm sure. We didn't get to take part 2 of ISTEP yet. Mrs. Wischmeyer just brought me a new schedule for tomorrow, and it's all different for tomorrow. We will be taking part 2 at 9:10am, but to keep everyone else on track, we will not be taking part 3 tomorrow. Part 3 will be Thursday, and then maybe part 4 that same day if we can get it squeezed in because of computer work station usage for the whole building.

Okay, I just got back from running through that obstacle course. I feel like I'm about to die. It did not look that hard. Not sure how Ruby and Grant were able to make it look so easy. I think that counts as my cardio for the day.

By the way, other things we did today: pick at our owl pellets, went over a couple more Amendments in the Bill of Rights, read the further adventures of Coke and Pep, and talked about circles and converting units of measurement.

And with that, I draw this school day to a close. Still coughing up a lung from that devil's cardio-course.

Monday, April 29, 2013


This is my class, outside at recess today. I have to admit it was kind of fun being out there on our own. I love this class. Seriously.

I asked them the other day why everyone stops and looks in the window of my classroom. Why we have so many "stalkers" and "peeping toms". They said, "Because our class is awesome, Mr. Carter."

I had to agree. Every time anyone updates me with how many days we have left, I have the urge to put my hands over my ears and start singing "LA LA LA!"

Today I realized that I'm actually going to relish these days when I have them all to myself under quarantine. And who knows, with the current ISTEP situation, we might just get another one tacked on. I know I've said it before, but this year I hit the jackpot.

Reasons To Be Amish

Well, today didn't quite go as planned with our ISTEP testing. A technological glitch of some kind occurred, throwing everything out of whack. As a result, my class didn't have the chance to take part one of the ISTEP test yet, unlike the remainder of the fifth grade.

You should be receiving a message from Carmel Clay Schools. I'm sure that the decision-makers over there will come up with the perfect plan to get everyone right back on track. 

Luckily, I've taught my class to say two things in times like these: "Whatever," and "It's all good!"

In the meantime, 5-1 was afforded the opportunity to have a bit more Science time, wherein we began dissecting owl pellets. It's some tricky business, the excavation of bones. You have to be very careful to pull them out such that they don't break.

We also read about shrinking down in a submarine to alter some DNA in an orange, and returned to out old friends, Coke and Pep. Lastly, we began talking about the Bill of Rights. This chapter is going to lead to some good discussions, I hope.

Anyway, hope everyone has a great day, even if it doesn't quite go as planned.

Friday, April 26, 2013

Good Sports

Great to see so many great sports out here today! Nick bought the chance to give us all a lesson on rock n' roll music, we had a Spelling test, and we also talked about linear equations in Math. Yes, it's true!

Thursday, April 25, 2013

Legion of Super-Heroes

It was great to see the Justice League show up today, along with a few fists full of quarters. I challenged the class to come in for tomorrow's final wellness week theme day. It's anything athletic, pretty much. Jerseys, t-shirts with their favorite times, their team shirts, whatever it is they do or admire. Hockey, tennis, soccer, basketball, baseball, football, rugby, shuffleboard. Whatever. Bowling shirts. 

Tomorrow is the last normal day (and pretty much the only one from this week) before 5-1 descends into the madness that is our ISTEP schedule next week. I think we will have fun, though, eating on the stage and having our own recess. It will be some good bonding time for us.

The Voices and the Drums

Awesome choir show today! We had performances by Isabella, Luke, Ainsley, Kavya, Ruby, Paige, Marta, Colin, and Kate, with Hannah and Zach on back-up in the stage crew. They did a fantastic job--hope everyone is excited to see it all go down tonight. It was also really cool to see Miss Anna Brookie, former (and always) 5-1 student. She came down to my classroom after her performance to talk to my class. I felt so proud.

More later. Crazy week. Hope it's been a good one around your parts.

Wednesday, April 24, 2013

Rojo Dojo

Woohooo! It was great to see so much red today. For once, seeing red was a good thing. Sadly, I didn't get a picture of it, but we will try harder tomorrow. I hope to see a whole Justice League in here for tomorrow's super-hero day, along with a fistful of quarters.

We've been working quite a bit on writing, and a huge thank you goes out to my Math class for being so patient while many students re-took that last test.

More to come!

Tuesday, April 23, 2013

Blake Shelton Tips His Hat

Okay, here are my four people who dressed up today for the American Cancer Society's Relay for Life. Four. And the young man on the right? He's not even in my homeroom, just my math class. Come on, people.

Tomorrow. Wear red or pink and/or wear something with hearts on it. Don't disappoint this guy again. And thank you to Paige, Marta, Ruby, and Blake--way to show your support to cancer victims, guys. Thank you so much. I have had family members and friends who have had cancer and defeated it and have been defeated by it as well. I know how important it is that we kick this disease where it hurts.

Bring in your dimes!

Opportunity Rises

For a day where we had a Blue and Gold performance in the morning (a group from Carmel High School where they came, they sang, they danced) and had a fire drill at lunch, all was fairly normal.

There were quite a few students who did not do their reading assignment in Social Studies last night. I had them write a brief summary of what happened for their entry slip today, and we had a few zeroes. I told those who received a zero that I would give them another opportunity tonight to write a 2-3 sentence summary of 14.1-14.4 (2 to 3 sentences for each one) on pages 187-190 in their red books. These grades are in the grade book right now, so I would check in and see if they need to do this tonight.

The make-up math test is tomorrow. Sorry for any confusion!

Monday, April 22, 2013

What I've Learned From Karate Day 1: Minimal Effort

One of the easiest things to learn in karate, and yet one of the hardest to master, is to use minimal effort.

As an instructor of karate, it hurts when I see a person (normally this is a problem with grown men in particular) trying to muscle through every move. They burn up energy and the punch or kick is far less powerful as a result.

When I was going through this, one of my senseis told me what, in retrospect, was a very Karate Kid bit of advice. He told me to, instead of muscling through my punches, to just "reach for the salt." He told me to snatch the salt shaker away from the middle of the table. As a result, my punches became so much quicker, and so much more powerful.

What did this teach me about teaching? I don't know how many times over the years that I've had a student whom I have had trouble with. I've tried to "muscle through" to them, and it never ever works. But when I've tried to find out what I like about the kid, the middle ground we have in common, and just forget about trying to win them over or getting them to work, I've found it to be incredibly valuable. I find that I like them as a person. And then I normally find that I've got some common ground and then we go from there.

But when I try to force it, it doesn't work at all.

You'd think after twelve years, I would know it by heart. Nonetheless, it's a lesson I learn anew each and every year. But thank goodness I do.

Perfect Fifth

By the way, please scroll down about five or six posts to see all of the messages from today. There is a lot going on right now and the announcements are plentiful.

If you're looking for the spelling list, it's down there. I actually posted it last night.

Stay tuned, because we're being hit hard and heavy.

And it was fun to see so many people out there running today at recess. Not all, but we had quite a few from 5-1 out there pounding the pavement.

Garden Variety

The following is a message from Mrs. Jackson of 5-3:

It's time for Garden club to start up again.  It has been so cold I haven't wanted to go outside.  I think we could plant some cold weather plants and be safe for a while.  My husband has helped up prepare the soil by adding coffee grounds from Starbucks and some manure.  We will need to smooth it out before we start planting anything.  We can check on Tyler's garden and see how our bulbs that we planted last fall have survived. :)  We could also start some thing on pots inside and eventually transfer them outside.  

Let's meet Thursday after school from 2:45-3:45.  If your parents can drop off any garden tools, that would be appreciated.  I will bring pretzels and lemonade.  If you want to bring an additional snack, feel free.  

We will still meet inside even if it rains.  We can do some planning and planting starter plants. 

Don't forget to do the transportation change for Thurs.  

I will be looking forward to seeing you!


Well, we were able to accomplish about a third of what I had planned for this morning. We touched on personal narratives (we'll do this more heavily tomorrow--it will be the main focus). We read a book called June 29, 1999 as a part of our reading. The story was in our reading book, but I had the book-book, so I read that to the class instead. I think it's a fun book, personally.

While I was a little disappointed not to see more (okay, any) ninjas in my class today*, I'm hoping to see some cowboys and cowgirls tomorrow**. Clean out your change holder at home and bring in your nickels. The money will go to the American Cancer Society's Relay for Life. While I'm on the subject, Relay for Life goes from 9am on Saturday, June 7, to 9am on Sunday, June 8. Get signed up today by clicking here. It looks like Colin has already signed up, so he's ahead of me already! Feel free to pull an all-nighter, or just show up for an hour or two. It's always a great time, and I'm being serious when I say that.

The kids will have a reading assignment to do for Social Studies tonight. This is a pre-reading assignment, so this will be over material they haven't read yet. But I will give the kids a short quiz over the reading tomorrow (very easy--just to see whether they read it or not).

Finally, they will have Spelling definitions to do. I decided to pull the Science assignment at the last minute. 

*Yes, I do realize that it was spring picture day, so that was a factor. Still, bring change for the American Cancer Society!

**And yes, I also realize that tomorrow is Hike/Bike to School Day, and depending on your chosen mode of transportation and the make-up of your costume, riding a bike in cowboy boots may prove prohibitive. Maybe we could throw "Ride Your Horse to School Day" in there as well?

Hike, Bike, and Run

Hike/Bike to School

Tuesday, April 23 (Rain Date April 24)

Children should be accompanied by an adult on Hike/Bike to School Day.  There will be a crossing guard on 116th at Haverstick, Gray and Hazel Dell.  Please submit a change in transportation via the CCS widget should your child choose to ride their bike home.  Please make appropriate arrangements for your student’s bike if he/she is riding the bus home.


“Marathon at Recess Program”

Beginning on Monday, April 22nd, students in grades 1st – 5th will have the opportunity to RUN/WALK on the outside track during their scheduled recess.  The goal is for students to complete a MARATHON (26 miles) by the end of the school year.  Each student will have a paper in their classroom to log what they run/walk on a daily basis.  Once a student completes a half marathon (13 miles), the student will get their name on the “running wall of fame”.  Once a full marathon (26 miles) is complete, the student will get their name on the morning announcements and will earn an “extra recess” the last week of school.  We encourage ALL students to give this a try!!!

Sunday, April 21, 2013

What I Learned About Teaching From Karate #0

Last spring, this exact same week (seriously, go ahead and check), I did a short series of posts called "What I've Learned About Teaching From Doing Karate". This proved pretty popular amongst parents as well as the people I do karate with (and teach karate to). Couldn't believe the response I received, so I decided long ago to do such a series this year as well.

To give a short background on why I started doing karate in the first place, let me explain a couple things. I began taking karate one summer after being told by the then-administration that I needed to start doing a few things for myself, in order to better myself. Since moving to Carmel, I really hadn't done anything by means of physical activity on a regular basis. And on the rare occasions that I did something like that, I found myself short of breath and worn out. I had dabbled in biking, but to no real avail, as I had no one to work with and nothing to strive for. I wasn't about to join a "biking team", and I was barely motivated to buy a helmet (although thankfully I did...that's a whole story in itself).

The short of it is that I was urged by several students of mine as well as their parents to start taking karate. I did it for the summer. I was in pain, I was tight, and I felt exhilarated after each class. I was soaking everything in, but worn out and clumsy.

But for some reason, I stuck around into the school year. For the next year or two, I was Mr. Carter, the teacher who was trying to do karate. About a year and a half later, I started teaching for the dojo as a purple belt. First the beginners, then the rest of everyone else.

But then, a few years later, I was Mr. Carter, the teacher who was a black belt. Sensei Carter.

And while I'm still the clumsy guy in the second-degree black belt class, I'm at least the big giant juggernaut. And here, ten years later, I know an awful lot more than I used to. I'm learning to use my size and the inherent power that comes with it instead of trying to hamper it.

I've learned a lot about teaching kids and school in the process. Because this is a week where we're having a black belt test over the weekend, I'll be sharing this experience amongst other things.

How appropriate that tomorrow is Ninja Day. Remember to send in your pennies.

But In the End It's Right

We sure do have a full week ahead for 5-1.  By full, I mean full. I'm going to try my hardest not to assign an exorbitant amount of homework, but in order to get everything done this week, you can expect some each night.

This week will bring the culmination of several things we've discussed or dabbled in over the past couple weeks since Spring Break. We will be exploring and writing personal narratives as well as personal letters. We will be talking about the use of images and illustrations to tell a story. We will also be doing a lot of proofreading, appreciative listening, and building stronger vocabularies.

In Social Studies we will be looking at our Bill of Rights, and in Science we will be learning further about our earthworms, our crickets, and our chameleons (or our anoles...whatever. I have a squiggly red line show up when I type anole, but when I type chameleon, I get no such red squiggly. I think that speaks for itself...). We will also be dissecting owl pellets. This is one of my favorite things to do in Science (well, ever since they took away our Rube Goldberg projects, that is...).

Before I forget it, here is this week's spelling list. You may find that this is somewhat easier than the ones from the past couple of weeks. At least I hope so.
  1. bravo
  2. however
  3. meanwhile
  4. neither
  5. otherwise
  6. nevertheless
  7. encore
  8. arrange
  9. detail
  10. division
  11. masterpiece
  12. organize
In Math, we'll be solving all kinds of problems involving rates and, by the end of the week, the circumference and area of circles. So buckle in, it should be a pretty funky ride.
Hope you all have a fantastic week and are enjoying the sunny (even if it's pretty cool, temperature-wise) weather.

Don't forget tomorrow is Ninja Day! Bring in your pennies!

Friday, April 19, 2013

A Set of Ragged Claws

Man, there is a heck of a lot going on right now. Wellness Week, choir practices and performances, canceled soccer and lacrosse games, family dances, classroom tests, ISTEP tests, and there has to be more that I'm forgetting.

Oh, and we have living creatures in our classroom right now. Earthworms, crickets, and chameleons living (and dying) in harmony.

Oddly enough, today's Math lesson (preempted by our pep rally, so we'll continue this on Monday) was about crickets chirping and being able to tell the temperature outside.

Lastly, I gave the kids another chance to do their reading assignment from the other day. I told them, though, that they would have to do this over the weekend. I know, first time with that all year, at least I think so.

Remember: Monday is Ninja Day, and bring in your pennies for Relay for Life.

Thursday, April 18, 2013

The Worms Crawl In

Well, we've had a day full of excitement here today. We received our animals for our Science Food Chains and Webs unit. So we made a 90-degree turn in the middle of our Matter unit to make way for terrariums full of earthworms, crickets, and chameleons. The students even got to do the experiments themselves instead of having to watch me do them, thankfully.

I emailed myself the pictures I took of the whole unfolding of the events, but they haven't come through yet. Must be the school's notoriously bad reception when it comes to cell phones!

Ninja, Cowgirl, Heart, Hero, Sport

Next week is Wellness Week at Woodbrook, and to celebrate wellness in all its forms, we will be having spirit days each day next week. I love these weeks. Monday through Friday, the funds collected will go to Team Woodbrook at Relay for Life in June. Everything collected on Friday will go to a local food pantry.

Spirit Days for Wellness Week. Find your loose change!

Monday (4/22): Bring your Pennies to Kick out Cancer for Ninja/Martial Arts Day (Dress like a
Ninja or Martial Artist or wear Black/White)

Tuesday (4/23): Bring your Nickels to Lasso Out Cancer for Cowboy/Cowgirl Day (Dress like a

Wednesday (4/24): Bring your Dimes to Give Blood and Beat Cancer for Hearts Day (Dress in
clothes with hearts or wear Red/Pink)

Thursday (4/25): Bring your Quarters to be a Super Hero Cancer Fighter for Super Hero Day
(Dress like a super hero)

Friday (4/26): Bring your Dollars to Build Strong Bodies for Athlete Day (Dress in your own
Sports Uniform or dress like your favorite athlete)