Wednesday, February 25, 2015

When Stories Overlap

Profoundest apologies for not posting sooner. I had somewhere to be right away after school, and despite my best efforts, I did not get around to posting during the day today.

The kids had Jump Rope for Heart today, and they came back suitably sweaty and foul-smelling. But when it comes down to it, Woodbrook raised more than $10,000 today, and as an ongoing heart patient who has benefited from the American Heart Association, I am grateful to all of their efforts as well as their sweat and odors, and more importantly, their efforts. Thanks to everyone who raised money for this very cool event.

We have started watching, bit by bit, a Ken Burns documentary about the voyage of Lewis and Clark. It's a PBS original, and it's an amazing film. It's also a long film, so we will take our time in watching it. It is kind of nice to have an automatic fill-in any time we have an extra ten or fifteen minutes. By the way, I am not one to just show a film to pass the time. I tend to talk out loud in the middle of it, pause it and give a talk, and you can be GUARANTEED the kids will be quizzed from time to time (unannounced, of course) on that day's content. I would hope they know me well enough to know I don't show videos to pass the time; I use them to intensify what we are learning in class already. This ties in directly to what we are learning in our current reading chapter.

We are also plodding our way through our current Social Studies chapter. I like to take my time when it comes to the American Revolution. I love this!

Tuesday, February 24, 2015


  • Jump Rope for Heart is now tomorrow! Come comfy!
  • For tomorrow, the kids have a story to read in their reading book as well as questions to answer. Math class has Study Link 8.2, and my homeroom also has 3x each due tomorrow. 
We are getting spoiled by these short days! I think we need a couple of full ones in there to wear them out a little bit.

Talk soon!

Monday, February 23, 2015

Cold Warnings


Alert reader Mrs. Stephenson just pointed out that my post from a couple days ago, in which I stated that there would be no choir tomorrow in case of delay (ANY minute now, Dr. Wahl! We're waiting...) was incorrect. Mrs. Ratner's note home stated not that there would be no choir in case of delay, but that the practice itself would merely be delayed by two hours to 9:15am instead of 7:15am.

That's what I get for posting from a note I glanced at from memory.

Sorry, Mrs. Ratner! I hope 5-1 has a decent showing despite my poor communication skills.

Revolutionary Fashion Sense

Hey, everybody. Sorry for the later post here, but after school is never quite as peaceful nor uneventful as I have in mind when I make my daily schedule.

Two quick things are all that are vital right now. First, if you checked earlier, I have now switched out the spelling words from last week's too this week's list.

Secondly, make sure and ask your child this evening if they can tell you how the fashion trend of wearing raccoon skin caps in France helped lead to what eventually became the United States becoming an independent nation. If they don't remember, we're only in about the middle of this story, but I find it pretty fascinating.

Sunday, February 22, 2015

Ready To Rumble

Next Friday, February 27, is Family Fitness Night at Woodbrook! This is a very cool night where everyone gets in on the action. No lazy lumps of goo allowed. You will get a workout at this event.

We will have new events this year. Personally, I will be manning (or helping to man, I really don't know quite yet) the "Everyday Fitness" part, but for every ten minutes, you will be rotated through a variety of awesome, athletic activities meant to get you up off your video-game-playing couch and into an actual healthy lifestyle.

This is one of my personal tent pole events of the Woodbrook year.

The check-in begins at 6:30. The warm-up begins at 6:40. The first event starts at 7pm. Be there and ready to sweat.

Saturday, February 21, 2015

Next Terrific Tuesday At Woodbrook

Hello there! I am taking advantage of this snowy winter morning to update everybody on some of the current bits of business coming up at Woodbrook in the near future.

Delay and Choir
First thing is that I noticed in my mailbox yesterday some fliers from Mrs. Ratner regarding choir practice next Tuesday morning. Just in case, I'm going to tell you right here and now that, if there is a delay on Tuesday, there will be no choir practice next Tuesday, February 24. If there is no delay, there will be business as usual.

Jump Rope for Heart
Also on Tuesday, we will have Jump Rope for Heart in gym all day. Of course, fifth grade will only be participating in it for an hour of it during our normal specials time. Everyone is supposed to wear red for this big event, and, of course, exercise clothes are best.

PLEASE: It takes more time than you would think for everyone to change clothes before or after an event like this. Let's face the fact that it is completely unnecessary for your child to change clothes before or after Jump Rope for Heart. Remember when we were in school and there was something special like this? We just wore whatever we wore for the entire day. Let's teach your kids about how we kicked it back in the '80's by having them not bring a change of clothes and just let them--God forbid--wear red for the entire day. That way we can just transition right into our class time right after it's over rather than have students carry grocery sacks with their other outfits into the bathroom and change clothes into something more fashionable for the rest of the day.

Thursday, February 19, 2015

Calculation, Which Is Miscalculation

Man, today we were just about tested out. Don't get me wrong, I was incredibly thankful for the 2-hour delay, but it did make for a tight schedule. And to think this is only the practice. At least today's story was pretty good.

I think everybody is just about ready for the big Math test tomorrow, and for the Spelling test, we did get to spend a little time reviewing with the flashcards today. They should at least have the meanings down at this point.

That's all for now. These are cold, busy times.

Wednesday, February 18, 2015

Station To Station

Well, we have been practicing our ISTEP testing over the last couple of days. It's a bit different this year, so we've been seeing how the new test works. It's actually been kind of nice actually being able to go over a practice test with the kids.

I've had kids who are a little extra hyped today (a lot of indoor recess at school and I'm sure indoor stuff at home) and some kids who are dead tired. I'm keeping my fingers crossed that tomorrow we will have a two hour delay and let everyone even out a little bit.

We did some stations for Math today, and I think the kids have a better hang on everything than they had last Friday. I found out that most of those tests (which were done in homerooms since we didn't have Math class on Friday) were done in a rush or under duress anyway, so I feel much better about giving them this test on Friday. I am pretty comfortable that everyone will do well.

There was a whole mess of papers next to the mailboxes at the end of the day today, which means the new postmaster didn't get around to her/his job today. I will make sure it gets done tomorrow, as there are a number of papers to go home.

Hope everyone is staying warm tonight!

Tuesday, February 17, 2015

You Are Now Entering a Flat Spin

Okay, folks, here it goes for this week. I'm going to use bullet points because right now that's just how it's going to have to be.
  • This week we will be doing our ISTEP practice testing. It's crazy, but this is going to take up quite a bit of our week. I am told that the test is way WAY different this year. We were even hoping to receive word from on high (way up high) that this point was moot, but it appears to be apt instead. We will go ahead through this process and do our best the whole way through. 
  • We WILL have Spelling this week. I know that, as a rule, I don't give a spelling list on shortened weeks, but this is getting a little too frequent to not do it, plus soon enough it will be a legitimate ISTEP week, and we won't be able to have Spelling then, and the sand is quickly running out on the fifth grade hourglass, so we need to get this in as much as is humanly possible while we still can. 
  • My Math class: The quizzes you took on Friday in your homerooms showed me that we really rushed chapter 7 a little too much. We will review this week and then have a big test on Friday. You will receive the study guide tomorrow. 
  • Thank you to all the parents who helped out on Friday for the big Valentine's party! I want to extend a huge thank you to Mrs. Hadley, Mrs. Pletcher (for being the PTO uber-mom), Mrs. Sveen, Mrs. Vossler, and Mrs. Williams for making the party a lot of fun for everyone. I will post pictures soon.

Thursday, February 12, 2015

Raccoon Tail

It's not too late! Today was Matthew's birthday, and I sure hope it was a good one.

Matthew is yet another guy who always seems to be in a good mood. Sometimes he is in such a good mood that he actually bobs up and down a little bit.

Matthew is a hard worker and everybody loves him. It's impossible not to, because he's such a cheerful little man.

Here we are at Colonial Days in our matching hats. Under that hat, Matthew has a sweet little mohawk. Under mine, well, you know.

Hope your birthday was an awesome one, Matthew. You deserve it!

A Pleasant Surprise

Right now, we are having a surprisingly nice indoor recess. There are no chases through the classroom, it's not overly loud, and everything seems to be okay. I am infamous for my negative feelings toward indoor recess, but I have to say that right now I don't mind it too much.

As you probably know, I was at a doctor's appointment yesterday afternoon, and that's why there was not update on the blog.

And's after school. The kids have a spelling test tomorrow as well as a math quest (I gave them all the information they will need to know today). Lastly, their bookmarks are due tomorrow for their at-home reading.

Tomorrow we still need to make the kids' Valentines Bags, and it will get done before the party!

Tuesday, February 10, 2015

Hearty Party

Hey, everybody! Quick post here for Mrs. Pletcher, 5-1 mom and PTO prez.

Evidently, 5-1 only has three parents for Friday's Valentines Party. They are asking for 5-6 for each classroom. I know everybody is (with much appreciation from me) fresh off of a "day with your fifth grader" from last week's Colonial Days. However, if it is at all possible, we need at least one more volunteer for that day.

Email me or Mrs. Pletcher if you would like to pitch in that afternoon. We would all appreciate it!

Some People Just Cannot Tell a Lie

Right now the kids are in the library taking the final part of the MAP testing. This has been kind of a slow process, but that's because we only have so many computers in the building and we have to cycle everyone through them. The reason we are taking it today instead of Friday (which was our normal day for Computer Lab) is in case any students don't finish it today and need to make it up before the end of the week. The testing window closes on Friday. The best thing about this test is that it is untimed, and kids can take as long as they need to take on it.

We did get a nice little tight hour or so in there, and in that time I read to the kids out loud and then did a quick Daily 5 time where they have been working on their flashcards for spelling, today's GCL, and wrapping up the story we have been reading in their crab books.

Homework tonight will be relatively simple:
  • 3x each for spelling
  • Study Link 7.7 for my Math class
  • read for 20 minutes

And this was my laugh out loud for today. I was walking around during silent reading and almost spit out my coffee. I had never thought about what George Washington, Abe Lincoln, and Sir Mix-A-Lot have in common--they cannot tell a lie. Thanks, Elijah!

Monday, February 9, 2015

Ignoring the Obvious

It's so quiet now. The kids are all out of the classroom now, yet my day is far from over.

Here's tomorrow's homework:
  • read pages 392-397 in the crab books, and then answer the questions at the bottom of pages 393, 395, and 397. (They had plenty of lead time on this, but those who were taking their time probably aren't finished with it yet.)
  • Spelling definitions due tomorrow. See the sidebar for the list in case your child left theirs at school.
  • Math study link 7.6 is due tomorrow.
I think that's all I know for now. 

Sunday, February 8, 2015

Use Your Illusion, Too

Well, this week we are back to a normal schedule, at least. There will be spelling this week, we will be taking an in-class but also take-home test for Social Studies, and our Reading programming should continue apace.

We will also be...
  • continuing our community research project on the Old West
  • learning about life back in the olden days of Colonial America--but living it for a day was some nice practice!
  • starting up our reading groups for this unit
I was in the school today to get a few things, and I also cleaned up a goodly amount of post-Colonial Days debris. Whew!

This week will be a very full one, assuming we get to everything. Even if we don't get to everything, we will be packed to the gills once again. You have to admit, though, last week was kind of a breather.

Oh! One more item: I forgot to hand out the kids' lists for Valentines last week. I advise them to not even put the name of who they are to, but to sign their name on all of them, actually. This will make it much easier to just drop one in each bag. But just in case, I will send one home tomorrow with each child. Of course, if some of the kids follow suit (from the looks of some loaded mailboxes today), you won't ever see them come home anyway!

Oh, one more item!  Please don't forget that tomorrow is PAJAMA DAY for some reason. I know I'm not going to forget. Come on, class. Get with the spirit!

The Big G

Happy Birthday to Grant! I hope your day is amazing. You sure got some great weather for it, so I hope you go outside and run around like a madman for awhile this afternoon.

See the look on his face in this picture? That's how he always looks. He is relentlessly happy. I love the way he thinks and uses his creativity in his assignments. We are lucky to have him as a part of our every day lives in 5-1, as he always makes things a little bit brighter.

Hope it's a great day, big guy.

I Need More Cowbell

I want to give a huge thank you to all of the parents who came out for Colonial Days on Friday. You all made this the best Colonial Days in years now. I know I told several of you that in the last couple of years, it had slowly descended into chaos, with kids running back and forth when they were supposed to be at their spot. This year, with Mrs. Brink and her cowbell keeping everyone where they needed to be until that bell sounded, we had a well-oiled machine on our hands. Thanks to all of your efforts, it felt like Colonial Days back in 2004! (That sentence doesn't make much sense, does it?) Mrs. Brink really went above and beyond this year.

Thank you shout outs to Mrs. Alderman, Mrs. Arbuckle, Mr. and Mrs. Bintrim, Mrs. Callahan, Mrs. Harrington, Mrs. Jones, Mrs. Ohrvall, Mrs. Pletcher, Mrs. Rodgers, Mrs. Smart, Mrs. Sveen, Mrs. Thompson, and Mrs. Williams for being there that day. Mrs. Bintrim and Mrs. Callahan actually took the day off of teaching to come back in to Woodbrook and teach for Colonial Days; how's that for dedication? I know they weren't they only ones who took off of work, either, so everyone please know that your efforts were greatly appreciated.

Saturday, February 7, 2015

Thursday, February 5, 2015

Off Balance

Don't forget: Tomorrow is Colonial Days! I hope everybody has their costumes all ready (I don't) and their lunches ready to go (I don't have that yet either).

We've been light on the homework this week, but next week we will be back at it. I gave them some time to work on a writing assignment for Social Studies yesterday, and if they aren't finished with that yet, then it's due tomorrow. It's actually an assessment, so it's an important assignment.

I hope everyone has been having a good week. I know my week has been a little bit wonky, and I know it hasn't been normal for all of you out there either for various reasons. Personally, I'm glad to have the classroom, where everything can be normal for the brunt of the day. It is my hope that my classroom can serve the same purpose to your kids in times that are south of normal.

I hope the remainder of your week is a good one.

Wednesday, February 4, 2015

When He's Right He's Right

Today we began some preliminary research for our "topics". I put that in quotes because, unlike traditional research projects where someone does a report on the black bear and another person does their project on the African elephant, this is going to be a much more collaborative process. These all have to do with the Westward Expansion.

It should be an educational experience to say the least. In the end, we will put it all into a big scrapbook, which will hopefully be organized nicely.

Ty was here!  Mr. C is the best teacher ever.  Every 4th grader should want him as their teacher right now. He is awesome!

Ty sneaked in and wrote that, but who am I to argue? I'm leaving it.

Tuesday, February 3, 2015


I forgot to mention earlier that the counselors came over today from Clay. I got to catch up with an associate from over there while the kids got to make their preliminary picks for classes next year. Of course, if they (or you) want to change their picks, they brought home the proper paperwork to do so.

We've been having some fun over the last few days--I'm not sure if the units we're in are just particularly fun topics or what. Between the Wild West in reading (I went to the library after school today to grab up all of the westward expansion books) and the probability in Math, we're just in the midst of some stuff that's not only fun to learn, but also fun to teach.

Plus, today we were treated to Michael dancing to David Bowie's "Starman" as a brain break during Math. You't get much better than that.

Blank Surfaces

  • Study Link 7.2 is due tomorrow
  • 20 minutes of reading
That's really all of the homework, so no big worries tonight. I just got back from the library where I've picked out a bunch of books for the Wild West research to begin. We got a big blank timeline hung today in the back of the room.

Hope you all have a great Tuesday! 

Monday, February 2, 2015

Monday Night Ajax

  • White Pages (Social Studies) page 45 for tomorrow.
  • Study Link 7.1 (my math class only)
  • 20 minutes of reading
That's all the homework there is tonight.

Today was a pretty good day. We had all kinds of new lessons and new kinds of things starting up today, as I said last night.

I think most of the kids are excited about our research project coming up. I told the kids I've never done one like this before, but I'm actually kind of excited about it. I'm trying to figure out where we can put a timeline up in the room. This could get pretty interesting tomorrow. Between our reading and our Social Studies, we are hopping all around through time more than Marty McFly.

Happy Groundhog's Day, everybody!

At Peace

On Friday afternoon, we here at Woodbrook found out about the death of Mrs. Fadel earlier that day. I wasn't sure how people would find out, but I didn't want everyone finding out by reading my blog.

Everyone knew she had been sick for a long time, and the last span of that time was in hospice, so to say she is more comfortable and happy than she was before would be a vast understatement.

What I will always remember most about Mrs. Fadel is the way she could bring your blood pressure down just being around her. She was always so calm and collected, many times in the face of bad circumstances. It seemed like most of my students would come from her class--we mysteriously tend to end up with much the same population. She would often give me advice on how to handle particular students (or, more often than not, particular parents).

While we are of course sad that we have lost her here on Earth, it's good to know that she is now reunited with Mr. Akin, Mrs. Apolzon, Mrs. Boros, and I'm sure she got a big welcoming hug from her former student Tyler, who was going through cancer the same time she was first diagnosed.

Here's to one of the best.

Sunday, February 1, 2015

The Agony of Defeat

Well, New England has won, for whatever that's worth. Sorry, Lucas Carter, just in case you happen to be reading this. Sorry, as well, to 98% of the United States, who are all mourning right now.

Now, onto the week after.

There will be no spelling list or spelling test this week. Because of this Friday's Colonial Days, we won't have time for a spelling test. In fact, I'm still trying to figure out how we will get our MAP testing done this week with Colonial Days on Friday, seeing as how our day for computer class is on Friday right now. I guess we will figure out the answer to that one pretty soon.

Tomorrow we will start new units for reading, social studies, and math. This is a clear new start for all those subjects, so it should be a nice day for new beginnings. This reading unit will bring with it the beginnings of the kids' proper research papers, which will be far different than anything I'm used to from the past. But the end result looks like it should be pretty cool, so we shall see.

All this, and tomorrow is Groundhog's Day. I think it's pretty much set in stone what's going to happen, just in case you buy into all that gobbledygook, but I hope you all have a good day of welcoming Punxtawny Phil as he comes out of his hole for one day a year.

Until then, I hope you all have a mighty Monday.