Tuesday, March 31, 2015

Intruder Alert

Day 2 of ISTEP practice (this is out of three practice days) was today. We had a lockdown drill this morning--and I was the one who had to put in the call! This was in the middle of yearbook photo shoots as well. It was a beautiful day outside, and there was no math homework tonight. In fact, the only homework we had tonight is to study for Caesar's English and read for 20 minutes.

Tomorrow we will have a mysterious guest for an hour in the morning, and we're going to write our own two minute mysteries tomorrow as well.

Talk soon; gotta run.

Monday, March 30, 2015

Good People; Good Conversation

Oh, boy. Math today was another one of the harder lessons we've done so far, but that's okay. Everyone did pretty well on their quizzes last Friday, so there is hope. If they don't totally understand tonight's homework, that's totally okay. Just have them do their best (and scrap the substitution part!).

We had a great conversation about the story "Ghost Cat" today. Seriously, I wish it was recorded so that you could hear the maturity in your children's voices as we talked this story through. They were able to pick out tiny details in the story to support their point of view. This went on really well for a long time. It eventually made the turn into kids talking about whether or not they believe in ghosts, so I cut it off at that point.

Reminder: Tomorrow is group picture day! Wear the right shirts. Kids will not be permitted to call home to retrieve their shirts.

Sunday, March 29, 2015


This week is going to be comprised of a patchwork of catch-up, rewards, and hopefully putting a nice wrap-up on a lot of things before Spring Break. It is hard, however, to put a wrap on things when we're kind of in the middle of several things--unit 7 in Reading, chapter 9 in Math, and our persuasive writing project for our Writing program. This will probably mean a fair amount of exit slips and quizzes sometime before Thursday.

One thing that will have a nice, neat bow on it this week will be our Caesar's English lesson this week. I haven't put it together yet (hey, I'm being honest), but know that tomorrow your kids will come home with a list to study for Thursday.

This week will have a surprise or two as well, so hopefully everybody will be here all week. I have been around too long to expect that to be true, but one can hope for the best.

Friday, March 27, 2015

Days of Future Past

Well, I guess the good news for me is that I don't have to make any lesson plans for next week, because this week ended up being so busy (in almost all good ways) that I am able to just move leftover lessons intended for this week into next week. And I suppose this isn't a bad thing at all, considering it's going to take us right into Spring Break.

As I wrote today's date on the board this morning, I honestly wondered where March had gone. March 27th? Seriously? How did that happen?

A related thing that I realized this week--and this is going to sound nuts to you, but you really have no idea--is that every year at this time, I realize that this is just about when I have my class just how I want them. They know my expectations, how not to cross that line, they know when it's time to be serious and they know when it's okay to joke around. And the before I know it, they're all out my door and on their way to Clay.

If I could only teach my kids, I would honestly follow them all the way through to high school graduation. But that wouldn't be fair to them. They need to have teachers who pull them in in a way I don't, and they need to have teachers who they don't get along with. We all went through it, and they need to go through it also.

I don't mean to get all sentimental while we still have however many weeks of school left, but just know that because of your kids, I love going in to work each day just to see what's going to happen next. These are good people.

Today, we did our practice ISTEP test, which took up the brunt of our morning. This was only part one of three, and part two will be next Tuesday. (Part three won't be until April 22, so we have a little breathing room in there...) We met up with our first grade buddies for just a few minutes, we took a spelling test, we had a math quiz and played a math game. I read another day's worth of The Mysterious Four, which I keep trying to pretend is a good book. We also ended our day with our first "lyric-less" installment of "Already Gone". (And by the way, I may have found my song for next year yesterday on my way home from teaching karate...)

Another good Friday. I hope everybody has a great weekend.

Thursday, March 26, 2015

You Say You Want a Revolution

We didn't stop learning just because 25% of our class was missing today. We did, however, shift gears a little bit into something a little more low key. We headed down to the fourth grade computer lab and I gave everybody just about twenty/twenty-five minutes to research an assigned character from the Revolutionary War. A quick session put together a nice little tapestry of some of the people of that war and their importance in history.

In Math, we did a review over adding and subtracting integers, and a quick mini-lesson on an algebra problem in the Math Boxes.

I hope all of my little sickies are feeling better and that we get at least a few of them back tomorrow.

Wednesday, March 25, 2015

Reconnective Tissue

To say I am amazed by the amount of work we accomplished today would be an understatement. It is so gratifying when that happens!

We did a DOGOnews, got a lot of catch-up work finished, graded two GCLs, did another GCL, we actually had a full thirty minutes of S.S.R. today, started in with a new book (The Mysterious Four), had a profoundly long (and well-received) lesson on adverbs, and even read up on our "trash talk/reading" for today.

This isn't even to mention our Math lesson for today, which really went well!

I am simply amazed by how great today was in terms of accomplishments. Man, I need to give out even more tickets tomorrow!

Tuesday, March 24, 2015

In Depth

Hey, everybody. Sorry for the delay in a post this evening.

I hope your kids were able to get through the entire reading assignment tonight. I told them that could count toward their reading time for the week. I look forward to the discussion we will have on this story tomorrow.

We did have a substitute teacher this afternoon while I was taking my car in and going to the doctor, but my hope is that the class was well-behaved.

Let's have a great Wednesday!

Monday, March 23, 2015

Loyalty As a Virtue and Vice

We continued with our "Ghost Cat" reading today. Tomorrow I am going to give the kids an assignment based on this reading, which will be due on Thursday.

We also started in with our persuasive writing project. To introduce this, we discussed ideas such as chocolate milk being served in schools and the whole half-days taken away by the government a few years back.

Lastly, for Social Studies, I put the kids into groups where they will have to have a Loyalist vs. Patriot debate. This didn't go over well for the "Loyalists" in the class, but it should help them solidify their own opinions if they try to play devil's advocate.

Here's today's homework:
  • Study Link 9.1
  • Definitions due for Spelling tomorrow
  • Read for 20 minutes 

Sunday, March 22, 2015

Successionary Modern

Okay, everybody. You may have noticed I didn't put any comments on the report cards on the third quarter. That's because I'm doing hand-written comments this round. I will normally do this for one or two of the quarters per year.

These comments will be trickling out throughout the week, so you should expect them at some point throughout this week. (This goes for my Math class as well.)

A lot of catch-up and getting ahead of this week and next are what you can expect for the upcoming week.

Friday, March 20, 2015

A Typical Atypical Friday

Well, we tried to do our Friday tradition today of singing "Already Gone" by the Eagles, but sadly, the YouTube video we use had been taken down. We tried singing to a live version of the song, but of course Glenn Frey is singing at a different tempo on that one. That was a weird way to sing the song for Jake's first time doing it with us.

Wow, what a crazy day this was. That's just the cherry on the sundae. At least it was almost all benevolent stuff.

More to come.

Thursday, March 19, 2015

Quick Shots

Here are the big bullet points for tomorrow:
  • Math Exam tomorrow! (Sixth grade math only...)
  • Spelling test tomorrow too...
  • Bookmarks are due tomorrow. 
Everybody have a great day! 

Wednesday, March 18, 2015

Blocked Shots

Hey, everybody--so sorry for the late post tonight, but better late than never.

Just an update on our week so far here. Today in Math, we not only began filling out our Math Boxes for the last half of chapter 8, but we also did a lesson on slope. You may remember learning "rise over run" when you were younger. The Everyday Math lesson for today had me introduce the concept. I went a step further and taught them the y=mx+b thing. They really seemed to understand it pretty well. Even the negative slopes were no match for this crew. I told them that I just wanted to introduce them to this very concept, and that in a year or two, this will be old hat to them.

We've also done work on adverbs this week. I had planned to give a quiz on this tomorrow, but we didn't get a chance to revisit the topic today, so I am going to put that one off until next week. But you might ask your child for an example of an adverb that describes a verb, an adjective, and trickiest yet, another adverb.

We have also been working at quotation marks and how to use them to wrap around only the speaker's words. This seems to be kind of a tricky concept for many students, but we will continue working on it into next week. I have kind of a cool activity that we will do to help learn this.

In Reading, we have been reading about trash, recycling, reusing, and reducing our consumption. Interesting stuff, and we are reading about lots of cool ideas. It's not a bad unit.

Lastly, in Social Studies, we have been talking about the Loyalists and the Patriots, and how it was not always as black and white of a thing as we think of it now. We are doing a fun project (in-class) coming up soon that should put a lighter spin on this topic.

Hope everyone has had a good week so far. Talk soon!

Monday, March 16, 2015

Just Another Manic Monday

It was a fully-loaded Monday today. We continued our work with adverbs today, we looked for the important underlying message behind a persuasive story, and we started two new things. We started work with quotation marks, and we read a story from the Junior Great Books series called "Ghost Cat". It will be interesting to see how the kids react in a couple days after another read-through or two of the same story. On Thursday we will hold a semi-Socratic discussion about the story. I always have quite a bit of luck with these stories, so I look forward to that one.

In Social Studies, we began to learn about the Loyalists and the Patriots. The kids pointed out that the Loyalists really wanted to preserve their way of life, and the Patriots wanted change. I had never had anyone notice that before, and to be honest, I hadn't really thought about it that way either. 

We officially welcomed Jake into our class today, and he got to see kind of a heavier day for 5-1. We did manage to get most of the definitions finished for our Spelling homework, though, but the kids still have to read for 20 minutes, and my Math class has a study link (8.10) due tomorrow and the study guide for Friday's exam is due on Thursday. We have not yet done all the lessons that are in that study guide, so if they have to wait until tomorrow or Wednesday to finish it, that should be expected!

Sunday, March 15, 2015

Death and Taxes

Beware the Ides of March! This was the Soothsayer's warning to Julius Caesar as famously told in Shakespeare's play, Julius Caesar. Of course, we all know this to be little more than superstitious poppycock, but it used to be thought of as a time of bad luck as a result of Caesar's assassination way back in 44 BC.

These days, March 15 is more likely a day when people do a palm slap to the forehead and realize, "Oh, shoot! Only one more month before tax day--I need to get on it!"

Of course, to many of us this year, it's Selection Sunday, where brackets will be filled out and the greatest time of the year begins. The combination of the sunny weather plus college hoops is an incredible sign of rebirth somehow.

This week we will have spelling as well as a Math test for my class on Friday. I will send the study guide home tomorrow, and it will be due on Thursday so that we can go over it before the test and answer any questions the kids might have.

I hope everyone out there has had a great weekend and that your Ides of March is, at the very least, better than Julius Caesar's.

Saturday, March 14, 2015

When the Moon Hits Your Eye

Yesterday I totally forgot to remind students about Pi Day, but I hope everyone does some Math today in celebration. (Unless, of course, you write your dates the European way, which actually makes more sense...)

Down Paradise Way

This is a video made by the good people of Woodbrook Elementary on Friday morning for a girl in the FIATS class by the name of Abby. Abby has been in the hospital with pneumonia, and today was her twelfth birthday. You can find 5-1 toward the end, but the whole thing is a lot of fun.

Woodbrook is a good community!

Friday, March 13, 2015

Barnyard Awesome

One of today's highlights was that we all got to meet Jake F., the newest member of the 5-1 family. We are all excited for his first day of school next Monday. He was all smiles and it was pretty clear that he will fit in really well with the rest of us. It will be great to have him with us for the remainder of the school year. He even got to play a game of Silent Bear with us.

We also had a spelling test and my math class had a quiz and worked on their Math Boxes. We also played a game of Silent Karate Kermit.

All that, plus our First Grade Buddies came at the end of the morning, all of whom we were able to watch earlier in their school program where everyone was a barnyard animal. Needless to say, my class was the perfect match for those little hogs, sheep, chickens, and cattle.

It was a good Friday. I hope you all have a terrific weekend.

Thursday, March 12, 2015

Cover Your Noggin

Arrrgh! I keep forgetting to tell the kids that I have checked out the fourth grade computer lab for next Tuesday, March 17 to hopefully finish up our research projects--at long last! This year's research project has been something of a learning curve for me, as it is totally different from past years' worth. I am interested to see what the kids come up with. What I have seen from them has been pretty substantial.

Also, if you're one of the people who reads this in the morning before coming in to school (I know you're our there!), don't forget that Friday is Hat Day! This is Mr. Z's special pick for Jump Rope for Heart, so show him your best.

Whatever You Do, Don't Blink

This message came today from the always-positive and energetic Mrs. Helgeland. 

Group picture day will be March 31st  first thing in the morning.  This is a Tuesday and it will be a “C” day.  The photographers will also be doing candids in the building and classrooms.  Please do not pose for the candid shots.  If you have any questions, please let me know.


Becky Helgeland

Exclamation Points!

  • Bookmarks are due tomorrow!
  • Social Studies take-home test is due tomorrow!
  • Third quarter ends tomorrow!
  • Spelling test is tomorrow!
  • We will have a Math quiz tomorrow, and last but not least, the students have a fraction/percentage page that is due tomorrow.
Whew! Plus, we should be getting a special surprise visitor tomorrow, so let's all be ready for a great Friday.

Wednesday, March 11, 2015

Please Don't Take My Sunshine Away

Another day down, and even though we didn't have recess today because of the fog delay, we did get to feel the sun's warmth during our afternoon fire drill. That was an awesome feeling!

In Math, we did some work with comparing percentages and fractions. I thought they had a pretty good grip on it. They seemed so confident and ready to go, and then I started going over a paper we had done together and my heart sank. I will send home an extra page for homework tomorrow regarding this for sure!

The students are wrapping up their in class research projects, and hopefully they will have them all typed up very soon. Computer lab time is at a premium right now, though!

Hope everyone had a great day. Go out and soak in some vitamin D!

Tuesday, March 10, 2015

A Tighter Grasp

First off, I want to send out a huge thank you to Mrs. Callahan for attaching Mr. Carter's Dojo to my classroom webpage. I barely even look at that webpage and I'm sure it's in disarray, so if you are coming here from there, I apologize for the junkyard of a site you had to tread through to get here.

Today I handed out the kids' take-home tests for Social Studies. These are due on Friday of this week.

In Math, I felt like the kids had a much better grasp on the material today than they did yesterday. I gave them each a six-problem page of homework for tonight.

Have a fantastic Tuesday evening and stay dry!

Monday, March 9, 2015

What With Their Fancy Shoes and All

There was some confusion in Math today on how to do these problems. I'm not going to lie, it's not going to be easy to get at first. We will get through them and no one will die, I promise. This stuff is tough!

Tomorrow I will be handing out a take-home test for Social Studies. This is due on Friday of this week. I also handed out the spelling list for this week--this is also one of the harder ones, only because the words are pretty long.

I have to say that it feels good to have sunshine and nicer weather. Unless it is pouring down rain, we will be taking the kids out for recess. Make sure they don't wear their nicest shoes (and I can't believe I'm saying that on behalf of the boys in the class with their fashion shoes).

Friday, March 6, 2015

The Brave and the Bold

Today the kids wrote copious amounts of material. 

First off, the kids who had been absent earlier in the week took the writing portion of the ISTEP test. Those who didn't do that stayed back in the classroom where we all wrote our individual entries in a "welcome book" for our new student we will be getting next Monday. You see, this kiddo is coming from sunny Florida, so we are tapping into the silver linings of life in Indiana, and the students are writing a playbook to get the most out of the greater Indy area and what's awesome about Indiana. Turns out, there are many more things that are super-sweet about living here than I have students. Everything from the Pacers to the 500 to Holiday World to Bubs Burgers highlighted this guidebook. I personally think 5-1 would make a great subcommittee for the Indiana Chamber of Commerce. 

Second, my research groups wrote ballads (a.k.a. narrative poems) about their topics. I did get some nice, haunting stanzas about things like the Pony Express and the Transcontinental Railroad. 

In Math class, my new students did get to feel the wrath of my Friday quizzes. The good thing, from the looks of them, is that they did pretty darn well on the first of my weekly quizzes. Unless, of course, they are amongst the kids who have been with me all year (or better yet, since early last year!), then they knew exactly what to expect and had no problem passing it with flying colors, or at least they knew what to expect. 

It was a pretty good Friday in 5-1. The kids were extra-chatty (full moon + ISTEP week, I'm not going to complain too much...), but as I told them, at least they weren't being mean to each other.

Thursday, March 5, 2015

Cowboy Poetry

Things are getting back to normal now.

In Reading, we read through a very haunting narrative poem about a ghost town in the Old West. Tomorrow we are going to write our own narrative poems as a part of our research project. I hope to hear some very cool ballads tomorrow.

In Math, we're still getting adjusted, but I think we're doing an okay job of it. More about ratios tomorrow!

Wednesday, March 4, 2015

Calculations and Scribblings

Well, ISTEP has now come and gone, and everyone is still alive. That took up the grand brunt of our morning.

For Math, we counted up the calories in our perfect breakfast and calculated the calories, and what percentages of those calories come from fat. How's that for life application? I'm not sure any dietary changes will take place, but hey, at least they have the information now.

That's all for now. Hope everyone is having a drama-free ISTEP week! It's all over for fifth grade, at least!

Tuesday, March 3, 2015

I'll Take It

Well, the second day of ISTEP went pretty well, and we actually got quite a bit finished today.

Just checking in right now. We did get together with what is left of our reading groups (long story, but we have some groups who are finished but others who are not). In the computer lab, everyone worked on their research this morning. In Math, we continued working with unit rates. I think everybody is getting the hang of it.

Hope you all have a good evening and plenty of sleep tonight--one more day for this round!

Monday, March 2, 2015

We All Step for ISTEP

My class did pretty darn well with the logistics of ISTEP today, all told. We didn't have any big problems coming through the pipeline, and absences were at a minimum. We spent some time on our research for the wild wild west today, we did a review day in Math, and we did a GCL. Not bad for a full day which included ISTEP.

Tomorrow I plan to have more of the same, except with some reading groups thrown in for balance. We are woefully behind on our guided reading groups, and we really need to play catch-up there. Let's keep our fingers crossed that the wacky weather predicted for the next few days doesn't come to full fruition.

Sunday, March 1, 2015

Sock It to Ya

Here is the class reading Friday afternoon during Woodbrook's participation in Read Across America in connection with Dr. Suess's birthday tomorrow. I always forget about panorama! I thought this one turned out pretty cool.

A big thank you goes out to Mrs. Bintrim for getting each of the kids a Dr. Suess eraser (the cool twisting kind) for Dr. Suess's birthday as well. That was awesome. 

Family Fitness Night was last Friday night as well. This was a lot of fun as always, and I had some fun leading the "Everyday Fitness" portion. I really wished Mr. Z had come to my station first instead of last, because he showed me and some kids how to do some awesome exercises with a soup can in each hand. We all had a great time working out, doing all kinds of physical activities and working up a sweat. It was good to see my old 5-1 friends Evan Nuekam and Billy Kepler, as well as some old old 5-1 friends like Alex Baldwin and John Keen.

We eeked out the last of our catch-ups for the ISTEP practices last week, and so we should be all ready to go during this coming week. While it is very important that everybody is at school as much as is humanly possible this week, I know we have a lot of illness going around. I personally have spent about the past day battling a 24-hour stomach bug, and I know very well that I would have been in no shape whatsoever to have been at school. There is a lot going around right now, and I hope everyone can steer clear of whatever is coming down the pike. Remember: push fluids and wash your hands!