Wednesday, November 27, 2013

These Are a Few of My Favorite Things

Writing prompts, reading groups, pumpkin pie, passing my third degree black belt test, an impromptu round of Maryland My Maryland, supportive families where I teach, lunch ladies, having doctors who know what they're doing, watching students grow up all the sudden, not being able to hold a straight face while I'm teaching at times, travel teams, Grammar City Limits, baseball games of all levels, football games of all levels, college basketball games, the Cincinnati Reds, kids who do their best to antagonize me by wearing their IU, Cubs, or Cardinals gear; Mark Twain, To Kill a Mockingbird, receiving good news about the kids that I tutor, helping people, C.S. Lewis, Harry Potter, Benjamin Franklin, Qdoba, hoodies, baseball cards, Sparky Anderson, Roberto Clemente, artwork, fellow Boilermakers, helpful neighbors, overpacked schedules that beat the alternative, a grateful class, sparring, watching karate students promote and getting to tie their new belts on them, kids who blow stories out of proportion, hot showers, welcome e-mails that somehow show up just in time, Abraham Lincoln, holidays, days off, days on, watching a kid finally "get it", new beginnings, good endings, tough but needed endings, my job, my house, first downs, hipsters, air soft wars, the military, people who teach or coach anything for the greater good, feeling like I've earned my night's sleep every night, crime novels, Dan Gutman, notebooks, tennis shoes and basketball shorts, stormy nights made for reading, time on the beach made for reading, airports, Peyton Manning, the Colts, safe travels, friendly custodians, flexible schedules, the pure joy that comes from my vocation, well-meaning bumblers, people who can smile at mean people and disarm them, librarians, karate tournaments, Mister Rogers, when the kids say, "Don't stop reading! One more chapter!", veterans, visits from old students and families, Mrs. Stemnock, Mr. Vahle, and Mrs. Jackson; Dr. Haledjian, Pearl Jam, hearing my class sing Here I Go Again On My Own every Friday, clean-up days, hand sanitizer, scratchy voices, documentaries, day planners, Latin and Greek roots, kids who fidget...the fact that I could go on for about an hour and not run out of things to type. 

Hope every one of you has  as many reasons to be thankful as I do. 

Have a great Thanksgiving!

Four Reasons to Be Thankful

I will post some pictures of the Fall Parties from home (school tends to wreak havoc with my phone's ability to send them), but for now I wanted to give a huge thank you to Mrs. Baier, Mrs. King, Mrs. Hurdle, and Mrs. Elshire for coming in and giving my class a fantastic party.

And extra big thank you to Mrs. Hurdle who also came in today to put up my new bulletin board outside my classroom. It was way past time to take down my "first day of school" bulletin board.

Thanks as always, ladies!

There Shall Be a Great Feast

Mark your calendars for the Holiday Lunch. We will be having our holiday meal December 11th  so there will be no Nachos that day.

Here is what we will be serving.

Turkey & Noodles

Mashed Potatoes

Green beans


Cranberry sauce

Pumpkin pie with whip cream

Parent Information Regarding Middle School

Upcoming Events for 5th graders going to Clay M.S.

Parent Information/Student Performing Arts – Wednesday, January 15 – 7:00 p.m. – 8:00 p.m.

Activity Nights 4:00 p.m.  – 5:30 p.m.

·        Woodbrook – January 22 – Girls Basketball

Performing Arts Try On Dates 4:00 – 5:30

·        Tuesday, January 28

·        Thursday, January 30

·        Tuesday, February 4

Counselor Visits

·        February 11 – Woodbrook

Course Request Deadline – Friday, February 21

5th Grade Parent Coffee – Tuesday, February 18 – 9:00 a.m.

Open House – April 23 – 6:30 p.m. – 8:00 p.m.

Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Like Patchwork

For tomorrow:
  • Most of the kids still have to do their state reports. These were done mostly in class, but I told some kids they may need to hook up over the phone or something to get plans finalized this afternoon/evening. 
  • Study Link 6.3.
  • Read for 20 minutes, as always.
  • We will have a short Caesar's English quiz tomorrow over our roots (de-, com-, and -ist). 
  • The final draft of their Secret Origins are due tomorrow. 
  • Tomorrow are our Fall Parties. This is something we will do after lunch, and ours is being put on by Mrs. Hurdle, Mrs. Elshire, Mrs. Baier, and Mrs. King. Thanks, ladies! I will make most certain that the kids are behaved for you.

Monday, November 25, 2013

Homework Hotline

For tonight, the kids have:
  1. Math Boxes 6.2 (my Math class only).
  2. A page called What Is Economics?
  3. Study their three Latin roots (com-, de-, and -ist) for a quick quiz on Wednesday.
  4. A rough draft (three paragraphs) for their "secret origins" (they will know what this is). 
  5. I told them that if they want to read their biography for their twenty minutes of reading tonight, that is totally fine.

Sunday, November 24, 2013

Alpha Male Fairy Tale

Firstly, I apologize for wasting time and space with an entirely personal post. Go ahead and skip down if you don't want to read this one. Below is one that will actually impact your child's week at school.

Last night, after a nearly-four-hour test, I managed to earn my third degree black belt. I never meant to be a student of karate more than one summer ten years ago. And yet there I was last night, telling the board about how I am a fifth grade teacher and trying to show them everything I've learned over the past four or five years. One of my former students--Colin Kane--was in attendance on that board (it could be said that he was the one who connected me to karate in the first place) as well as my teachers and my good friend and mentor Dr. John Krege, who made a comeback appearance last night, saying, "I wouldn't miss this."

By the way, Sensei Alison Adamson and Sensei Marc Fickle are the two in the photo with me. We all earned our third degree black belts last night, and we've all known each other for about ten years now. And of course they're the two without the light shining off of their heads.

About a year and a half ago, I posted a week's worth of entries regarding the Black Belt test entitled "What I Learned About Teaching From Karate". Here is that re-post from April 2012:

The founder of my karate dojo, Shihan Doug Adamson, once asked our class as we were preparing for the black belt test and working on self-defense, "Have you ever tried to throw a feather?" As you know, when you throw a feather, no matter how hard you throw it, it doesn't cooperate. It just goes with the flow, and bends with the wind, just kind of drifting to the ground, no more shaken than when it first drifted down when it was shed. He said, "Be a feather."

What he was saying on the literal level was that when someone throws a punch or comes in to attack, you should let your body be light and flexible, bending around their punch and maneuvering yourself into a favorable position to do some damage to your attacker. To apply this to everyday life, and furthermore to teaching, I've learned to be flexible. We don't go through a day where everything goes exactly according to plan. One thing I've taught the students in my class is that everything will go so much better for them if they can learn these words: "It's all good" and "Whatever".

Of course, this is much easier said than done. We can all work on applying this to our daily lives. But I can tell you that it makes me smile any time I tell the kids apologetically that plans have been altered due to circumstances beyond our control, and I hear, "It's all good, Mr. C."

I am still trying to learn how to be a feather, but thankfully, because I've passed Shihan Adamson's words down to my students, the kids are helping me out in the process.

All the Roads That Lead Us There Are Winding

I've decided that instead of doing my normal boring bullet points, I'm going to deliver this one in the form of 1980's Stan Lee's Bullpen Bulletins. I apologize to everyone except for the one or two of you who will understand that reference. 

ITEM! The big biography cartoon project is due on Wednesday, December 4, 2013. I sent home the papers the other day. My apologies, it was in my substitute's plans to send those home on Wednesday, but evidently that didn't happen. The best laid plans and all...

ITEM! The kids' state projects will be delivered on either Tuesday or Wednesday this week. This is an entirely in-school project, so this isn't your worry. I'm just keeping you informed.

ITEM! Wednesday afternoon will be our Fall Parties. Thanks in advance to the parents helping out.

ITEM! We have been studying check-writing and economics in preparation for BizTown. The big trips is December 6th! Can't wait.

ITEM! We will be doing some book clubs between Thanksgiving Break and Winter Break. I will assign the groups on the Monday following Thanksgiving. The kids will have to dole out their own schedule to get the books read by Winter Break. This will be three weeks. Assignments will be given to the kids throughout that time.

ITEM! We want to welcome Colton Brown, Ty Harrington, Berk Huckins, Meg Shaffer, Will Woodhouse, Izzy Herider, Erik Sveen, and James Sproull to our Math class. We are taking some of the brunt off of Mrs. Callahan's Math class and seeing as how we only had thirteen kids in our class before, we welcome them.

That's all for now, True Believers. More to come as always. Excelsior!

Thursday, November 21, 2013

The Big Five

Tonight the kids have:

  • Check writing on pages 23-24 in their JA BizTown journal.
  • Study link 6.1.
  • Grammar City Limits: Have them try to find all the mistakes.
  • Find the times of the sunrise/sunset using their resources ( is perfect). 
  • And study for the spelling test tomorrow.
That's all for now!

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

What With Today's Job Market and All

Today we filled in the BizTown jobs as teachers with input from the parents who interviewed your kids last Friday. This was no easy task. All of the kids wanted about half a dozen jobs, and we have roughly 90 fifth graders. Therefor, very very few people got their first pick, or really even any of their top three picks. We had very few people go for the CFO positions, for instance, and there were many of those spots to fill.

That's the bad news.

The good news, however, is that all of the positions give the kids a fun time and everyone gets to have a great learning experience.

Assuming everyone can come in very quietly tomorrow, take out their Word of the Day, and do their attendance, I will reveal the positions before we go to Art class. (Or, if we run out of time, right when they get back.)

We also got to hear the speeches given by our Student Council candidates. It was a lot of fun hearing them all and having each child vote. I have tabulated the votes, but I still need to run them by Mrs. Shearman for approval. I should be able to get that information to the kids tomorrow as well, barring any unforeseen circumstances. 

In Math today, we graded our study guide for tomorrow's big test. Everyone should be ready to go on this one. Tomorrow will be our last day with only thirteen students in Math, as we are gaining eight new students on Thursday--fourth graders who are in Advanced Math.

I hope everyone is having a great week.

Weekly List

By the way, here is our spelling list for this week:
  1. balance
  2. conclude
  3. express
  4. generate
  5. inquire
  6. obtain
  7. pursue
  8. sponsor
  9. upgrade
  10. urge

Monday, November 18, 2013

A Hand to Take Hold of the Scene

I want to thank Mrs. Linda Hynes for serving as guest teacher for me this morning while I was at the doctor. This was another appointment for the tendonitis in my arm, so once again, no worries. She did a great job with the kids and I was really happy that she picked up my job this morning. I know the kids like her a lot and she's always a fantastic guest teacher.

The kids got their definitions done in class today (or at least they were given plenty of time!), so they shouldn't have had that as homework tonight.

I will give the kids their rubrics tomorrow for the biography project. This should be a fun project for the kids. I look forward to seeing their posters in a couple weeks.

More on the state projects tomorrow.

Friday, November 15, 2013

Wide Awake and Dreaming

Today was a pretty great day.

We got our spelling test in, the kids looked fantastic going in for their interviews, and everything just kind of fell in to place today. The kids were very good to me seeing as how I was extremely stuffed up all day today and in the fog of cold medicine.

Thanks, guys. You have some fantastic kids, and I love teaching them every day.

Thursday, November 14, 2013

Normal Being Relative

"Well, at least tomorrow will be a normal day."

That's what I said as the kids were leaving yesterday after a week including the Veterans' Day program, the Carmel Symphony, the Book Fair, and the BizTown interviews. I kind of forgot about the possible ramifications the Book Fair as well as a visit today from Mrs. Shearman would have. But both the Book Fair and Mrs. Shearman's visit were extremely positive things, so I'm not going to complain about that one bit.

And miracle of miracles, we did get quite a bit of it finished.

Forget my overly-ambitious post at the start of the week with the information about the Theme Test tomorrow and the Math test today. We will get those things finished in due time.

Two things tomorrow:

1. Spelling Test over the BizTown words. Here are those words since they wouldn't post on Monday:


Please make sure to review the meanings of these words while you're studying for the test. We will go over them in class again before, but it will certainly help to talk about them in review.

2. Tomorrow the kids should look nice and snazzy (second time in a week...) for their BizTown interviews. We have talked about the importance of them smiling, having a good handshake, and an audible voice. They've filled out their final drafts for their job applications. Everyone should be good to go. 

Monday Morning in America

This is very late coming, but I now that I actually have a chance to catch my breath, I want to give a huge thank you to my class for how well they honored the veterans of the United States on Monday morning. It could not have been easy coming in on a Monday morning, having your lines memorized, and delivering them in front of the entire school, families, and so many veterans of war.

The kids deserve to feel proud of the job they did, and so do you. I know I do.

When we got back to the classroom that day, we had the honor of meeting Nick C.'s great-grandfather, Mr. Cye Zwirn, who flew in World War II. At the age of 90, he can still captivate a classroom with old war stories like no one else. It was great for the kids to hear first hand about life in those days and his adventures in securing our freedom.

After that, Katelyn C. brought in memorabilia from her grandfather's time in World War II as well. We had a great time looking through those artifacts as well as hearing her share what she had learned while going through his collection of things from WWII.

It was a good day to be in 5-1.

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

Hey, It's For a Good Cause

This Friday, November 15, Woodbrook Elementary will host our very first McTeacher Night, sponsored by the newly rebuilt McDonalds restaurant on Carmel Drive.  This will go from 6:30-8:30.

This looks to be a fantastic new addition to our Family Dinner Nights, and will hopefully earn us funds while we are having fun!