Tuesday, December 30, 2014

Bringing Us Up To Speed

During my absence on-blog the last few days, one thing I knew I would miss is Miss Maddi's birthday. Her birthday is the day right after Christmas--December 26. I can only imagine that with a birthday like that, it's the kind that merges with Christmas to a kind of annoying rate. I'm lucky enough to have a July birthday, which is kind of at the opposite end of holiday madness.

Anyway, I hope your birthday was a good one, Maddi! At least you were lucky enough to not have to go to school on your birthday.

Thursday, December 25, 2014

Peace On Earth

One last Christmas video tonight. For the record, I was very young when this came out. I do have a vague recollection of it, though. Hippies everywhere should appreciate it.

I hope everyone had a fantastic Christmas spent, like mine, with an awesome family and loved ones. I'm not sure any of us can ever truly be grateful enough for our families.

The other night, when I got home from school on that last day, I put all my new ornaments on my tree. It gets a little fuller every year.

Thank you, Casey, Regan, Mrs. Loeffler, and Colton (no, not that Colton, it's a kid I tutor).

I'm over and out for a few days now. Hope everyone's break is relaxing and awesome.

Wednesday, December 24, 2014

Being Generally Positive As a Balance To Everything Else

Here's a mini-marathon of leftover holiday videos. You can watch them tonight (or tomorrow) during the commercials of 24 hours of A Christmas Story.

Merry Christmas, everybody! 

Tuesday, December 23, 2014

Friction Reduction

Hope everyone had a very Merry Tuesday!

Monday, December 22, 2014

Longest Night Ever

I hope everyone is having a great break so far. If your break is anything like mine, it's pretty darn busy.

Evidently, last night was the longest Winter Solstice ever. I thought this was pretty interesting, as a teacher who has to teach things like that, and it was definitely a long night. As my mom always likes to remind me at this time each year, at least now it's going to be lighter a little longer each day for the foreseeable future.

Sunday, December 21, 2014

Joyful and Triumphant

Hello, folks!

Hope the beginning of break has treated everybody well so far. Here's a quick update on all things 5-1:
  • I have made a list of all of the thank-you cards I need to get finished before long. I am very grateful to say that I have many to write. I don't send them home with them by the time they go home at the end of the day on Friday; I like to mail them, so please don't feel slighted!
  • Also, I am hard at work getting the kids' pictures finished up. I try to do that before the break for a Christmas present for the kids, but it didn't get done this year for many reasons. However, now I can take my time instead of working on them at 1:30 in the morning during the week before break. 
Try to take half an hour to watch this some time before Christmas. It's so worth it.


Friday, December 19, 2014

Everything Is Cool When You're Part of a Team

Today took a spelling test, a quiz on the states and capitals, drew some pictures and watched a Halloween video in Math, played some games with our fifth grade buddies, and watched the Lego Movie.

It was a great day in 5-1, but I think I speak for everyone when I say we all need a break right about now. I expect everybody to come back in 2015, ready for the second half. If it's anywhere near as good as the first half, then we are all in luck.

Thursday, December 18, 2014

Everyday Vigilante

Another great day today. Yes, it was full of recess football drama (which I've put to an end; even if it's only temporary) and dealing with details of tomorrow, but in the end, I love this class so much that I don't even care. I just hope we get a chance to get everything in tomorrow that I want to get in. Also, I hope the tech guy comes in early enough that we get to watch our movie tomorrow.


We're all going to be great this time tomorrow. Keep that in mind. I know I will.

Wednesday, December 17, 2014

Epic Christmas Split

Okay, this is a bonus video that I just saw and loved. This goes out to all karate folks out there (including one of my newest karate people--Madi from last year, who is a huge Chuck Norris fan!). Epic Christmas splits to you all.

Calm Like a Bomb

This was a good day. Yes, it's just now coming to a close for me, but that's the life of a tutor during finals week. No real news today to speak of, but we are still go for the spelling test and the states and capitals quiz on Friday.

I'll try to snap some pics tomorrow of the kids working on their very cool science projects.

Hope everybody had an awesome Humpday.

Tuesday, December 16, 2014

Learning Targets

Well, today was a better day than yesterday. Not that yesterday was awful, but I could feel the tension rising in the kids yesterday a little bit more than today. I think we can all agree on one thing, though: We are ready for a break!

Math tests went home today, and a few of them have already finished their Whoops Sheets.

We worked on our latest Science project today--a little project called "On Target". Ask your child about it and how they were able to start getting them to work.

We had lessons today on the proper use of quotation marks, we made flashcards for Spelling, we read an article on the Orion rocket, and we are currently being paid a visit from our Scientific friend, Skeleton Steve. In my Math class, we had a lesson on the simplification of algebraic equations, and it went startlingly well.

At least we're not in high school where they are having finals (heck, middle school for that matter...).

Don't forget the six-state states and capitals quiz on Friday!

Hope you are all having a terrific Tuesday.

Monday, December 15, 2014

Heart Grew Three Sizes

Okay, guys, I just finished grading the Math tests from last Friday after a long night of tutoring and karate and catching up with an old friend. Much later than I anticipated, but before I turn in, I want to keep up a tradition I started last year--a week full of classic holiday videos.

Here's Monday's: a bit of holiday cheer from the a classic episode of Family Ties. Bless you, Alex P. Keaton!

We Can Do This; We've Got This

Homework tonight includes:
  • 20 minutes of reading
  • my Math class has problems 1, 3, 4, 6, 9, 11, 13, 14, 16, 17, 19, 22, 24, and 28 on the page I gave them about adding and subtracting decimals
  • spelling definitions are due tomorrow
  • and last but not least, there is a six-state states and capitals quiz on Friday.
 Let's all have a great final week before the big break. We're almost there--we can make it!

Sunday, December 14, 2014

Swiss Time Running Out

I tried my best not to breathe directly on any of your children on Friday before I left school, sick as a dog. At least I wasn't throw-up sick, because then I would have had to leave before the sub came for the second half of the day. Truth be told, I came home at 11:30, went to bed, and pretty much woke up this morning (with the occasional getting up yesterday, but never for long...).

Because of this, I do not have the Math tests graded, as I haven not been in the building since Friday morning. I do have the Spelling tests graded, however. I will do my best to have the Math tests graded by the time Math rolls around tomorrow, but if not, I will have them graded by Tuesday.

Speaking of Math, we finished up our first half of the school year (almost perfectly!) on Friday, so this next week we will spend doing some middle school math! I gave the kiddos the choice a few weeks back between starting the next chapter and waiting until January to start (with the promise of doing middle school math this week), and I shouldn't have been surprised when they wanted to go for the harder material. Don't worry, though. I will balance the new material with some old review stuff, including adding and subtracting decimals, multiplying decimals, adding and subtracting fractions, and dividing decimals.

This week we will have a Spelling list. See the sidebar for this week's list, or, like in ye olden days, just look for the hard copy (olden days translation: the only copy) to come home tomorrow evening.

We will also have a rather short States and Capitals quiz on Friday over the six remaining states: Arkansas (Little Rock), Tennessee (Nashville), Kentucky (Frankfort), Mississippi (Jackson), Alabama (Montgomery), and Louisiana (Baton Rouge).

Lastly, we will have a quiz on Thursday in Science, which will be all about the different kinds of joints we are exploring in our robotics in space unit. But here's the best part: They will be allowed to use their Science journals. We have already copied all of these down in their Science journals, so assuming they have done their part, then they already have the information they will need.

Alright, it's 10:03pm right now, and this is literally the latest I've been up in three days. So I'm going to play it safe and hit the hay right now, so that I will be up and ready to go tomorrow.

We don't have time to slow down this week! By the time Friday hits, it will be like running right into a brick wall.

Thursday, December 11, 2014

A Monument to Our Own Hubris

Well, we hit a small snag today with the kids' Lunar Rovers. We are going to try for round two tomorrow. I had never done this one before, but I think the answer may be in some sturdier body frames. A good, light, but strong, chassis should do the trick. If anyone wants to send in some corrugated boxes tomorrow, that would be great. Otherwise, we will find some. (I have a little box from Amazon here right now, but that's it...)

There is a Spelling test tomorrow and a Math test.

Hope everyone is having a great week so far--it's almost the weekend!

Wednesday, December 10, 2014

Just a Little Brain Injury, That's All

We read an interesting article in class today. The video above is a promotional video, but I'm not necessarily trying to promote this product. The article was about new mouthguards for athletes that will help tell if a child has had a concussion even when they can't feel it.

I like going around and listening as the kids discuss these articles after our small class discussion. Reactions ranged from "these would be great" to "why don't we just wrap ourselves in protective bubbles".

While I'm at it, let me chime in that I absolutely love how well-read this class of kids is.

We have the materials ready for a good Science class tomorrow. Today we wrote down the materials that will be used (and they wrote them in their Science notebooks), and I gave them their objective: Create a lunar rover that can scramble across the classroom and over small objects, like a sweatshirt on the floor. This should serve as a simulation for the moon's crater-pocked surface. 

Tuesday, December 9, 2014


Today we did some work with a Design Squad challenge for Science. This was in particular dealt with a project for NASA. This, believe it or not, ties in directly with our study of the human skeletal system as it applies to robotics. I love watching these young scientific minds working with real working physics and engineering. Today's task: design a lunar lander that will land softly enough to protect the "human" (marshmallow) inhabitants within the container.

Tomorrow we will move on to Lunar Rovers, and I hope they go as well as today went. This was a lot of fun!

Monday, December 8, 2014

Still Life In the Fast Lane

First off in the news tonight, Mrs. Ohrvall has requested cereal boxes from everyone in the fifth grade--or at least as many as can send them in. These are for Colonial Days, which is on the first Friday of February. We can always use lots of volunteers for Colonial Days as well, so if you missed out on the trip to BizTown, here's your chance to show up for a great day of old-timey activities culminating in the big Square Dance.

We are going to be pretty busy in the coming two weeks. I'm trying to keep everything in balance, but for now, know that we will have a Spelling test on Friday, and my Math class will have a test on Friday as well. I understand that I missed a sliver of the United States for our States and Capitals, but we will have that quiz next week. Then we will finally be finished.

Direct Objects, poems about snow ("snowems"), and the human skeletal system highlighted today's learning topics. Likely all of them will return tomorrow, along with some new stuff thrown in. I hope by this time tomorrow, I will be able to tell you that the kids got to do a really sweet hands-on activity in Science.

Oh, and lastly, during our Daily 5 time today (which was technically Daily 2), we had a nice little tribute to John Lennon on the anniversary of the day he died 34 years ago. We listened to Hey, Jude; Let It Be, Instant Karma, and Happy X-Mas (War Is Over), which then just led into some Christmas music. I was very young when he died, so I don't remember, but his legacy in undeniable.

Have a happy Tuesday!

Sunday, December 7, 2014

Sweet and Lowdown

The members of 5-1 would like to thank the following parents for helping make BizTown a possibility on Friday: Mr. and Mrs. Bintrim, Mrs. Harrington, Mrs. Hovey, Mr. Ohrvall, Mrs. Pletcher, Mr. and Mrs. Smart, and Mrs. Sveen. This doesn't even mention the various parents from my Math class or the 5-1 folks who truly wanted to go but didn't make the cutoff. We are really lucky to have such dedicated parents!

Here's this week in bullet points:
  • We do have a spelling list this week. It's not an easy one, admittedly, but if the kids actually practice them with each exercise this week, it shouldn't be too hard. Make sure the kids know the meanings of the words; they're every bit as important as being able to spell them.
  • We will have a math test this Friday (sixth grade math). I will hand out the study guide tomorrow, and we will go over it on Wednesday and Thursday to see if anyone has any questions before the big test. 
  • On Wednesday, we will have a reading comprehension quiz, but that's not something for which you can really study, just letting you all know.


On this date in 1941, Pearl Harbor was attacked by Japanese forces during World War II. Located in Hawaii's capital city of Honolulu (see last week's quiz), this attack led to the United States into involvement in the war. 

Franklin D. Roosevelt famously called December 7, 1941, "...a date which will live in infamy". More than 2,000 people died that day, with over 1,000 more wounded.  

As the parents know, but I'm not sure about the students, there is a memorial at Pearl Harbor where the U.S.S. Arizona was sunk by Japanese planes. I found this article from last year's government shut-down. It's one of those stories that does your heart some good.

Saturday, December 6, 2014

Thursday, December 4, 2014

Que Sera Sera

Okay, I think our young executives and city hall managers are all ready for a big day tomorrow. They might need a little help from the parent helpers as they aren't as used to writing checks and deposit slips as we are, but I think most of them have a pretty good grasp on the concepts.

I'm sending home notes on appropriate dress and lunches for tomorrow. Remember: NO DRINKS are to be sent with the students, as that is a part of how Steak n' Shake makes its money.

UPDATE: There was a huge kerfuffle regarding the notes that were put in mailboxes. First there weren't enough, and now we have a surplus. There was much tooth-gnashing involved. Look nice, don't have a snack, bring a completely disposable sack lunch. Everybody take a deep breath and relax. This is a simulation. I repeat: SIMULATION. The real thing will come in about ten to fifteen years. We want to make this as close to a real situation as possible, but keep in mind that these are children, and this is a five hour experience at playing business, and 24 hours from now, it will all be over and time to move on to the next thing in life.

Deep breaths, people. Deep breaths.

Wednesday, December 3, 2014

Wolves of Wall Street

Sorry for the late post, but my class would be pretty happy to report that we didn't have very much homework today. We will have a states and capitals quiz tomorrow, but there was no Math, and the kids had to read for 20 minutes tonight.

We are getting ready for BizTown at a furious rate, which is good considering we're going in about 36 hours. We still have to do a couple of things with their checkbooks tomorrow, but then we will be all set.

If you haven't paid yet, nor turned in your permission slip, I'm going to need that TOMORROW.

Thank you. Hope you have a great Thursday.

Holiday Thursday

Our holiday meal will be served December 4th we will stay have Taco Salad, Garden Salad, PBJ, Hot Ham & Cheese and Yogurt as choices for lunch that day. The holiday meal will consist of the following.

Turkey & Noodles
Mashed Potatoes & gravy
Green beans
Cranberry sauce
Pumpkin pie

Have a nice day!

Tuesday, December 2, 2014

These Boots Were Made for Walking

We finished up our BizTown time shop prep today. We have written our ads for the kids' shops and businesses, and we should be good to go now. I know that I do have to have some of my students who are CEO's write their speeches to give to the citizens of BizTown.

The kids did an awesome job today with our lessons. A couple of them dealt with some pretty heady ideas. In our reading books (the Crab Books), we read about a documentarian from the Middle East who is shining a light on injustice, especially toward traditional women's roles in that area of the world. The class did really nicely at keeping up with the conversation and man, did they ever have some good insights into that whole area.

We then compared and contrasted this story with one from Scholastic News, which was all about the Women's Lib movement of the 60's and 70's in the United States. (This was a Scholastic News version, so no worries on the content...I read it first!) I was incredibly impressed with how well they responded.

In Math today, we dealt with transformations of shapes in Geometry. Interestingly, they put translations (slides), reflections (flips), and rotations (turns) all in the same lesson. They seemed to get the translations and reflections. The rotations caused some problems.

Here's a video that may help:

Hope everyone has a great evening!

Mind of a Scientist

Happy Birthday to Elijah!

Eli is perhaps the most scientific-minded student we have in class. What always impresses me, though, is his innate ability to speak about science so clearly and concisely. When you think of most "gearheads", you think of someone who is so smart that they have difficulty in actually communicating their ideas to other humans. Not so with Eli. His father is a teacher, and I get the feeling that some of those skills have been inherited. I think Eli will be one sought-after member of the class when it comes to the things we will be doing in science over the next couple of weeks when we are finished with BizTown.

Hope you have an awesome day, Eli! You deserve it.

Monday, December 1, 2014

Bright Lights Big City

Three things tonight:
  1. Make sure your kids study for their States and Capitals quiz for Thursday. Some kids already know all of them--I told them they may take it any day between now and then, but then they are stuck with the grade they get. 
  2. Read for 20 minutes (bare minimum!).
  3. Study Link 5.4 for my Math class. Your child's homework may vary. 
We're getting all excited for BizTown! We met with our shop groups today and got the first part finished. I'm thinking we may finish everything up tomorrow.