Wednesday, April 29, 2015

The Blind Leading Those Who Can See

On today's run-down, we worked on cricket diagrams, earthworm diagrams, soft shell crab books, read about a girl who started a business writing Braille menus, and did some ISTEP.

Actually, that's not quite true. We did a lot of ISTEP. ISTEP is a pain. That's all there is to it.

It was a long day. But I was really happy with how well your kids pulled through it. I think I pulled through it about as well as could be expected also, so you'll have to pardon me if my wrist is a little sprained from patting myself (as well as my class) on the back.

Tuesday, April 28, 2015

Zen and the Art of Classroom Maintenance

Well, ISTEP took a little bit longer today than I thought it would. It was nothing like yesterday's four-minute and five-minute tests. These tests were longer (32 minutes and 33 minutes).

Tomorrow we won't have any specials time, because tomorrow is our computer day. Luckily, however, we have a lot to do, and there is some kind of fun stuff involved in it.

We've spent quite a bit of time in quiet during ISTEP, and I have to say your kids are doing a much better job than a group of adults would be doing. 

I hope everyone is out enjoying this beautiful weather! I'll see you all tomorrow.

Monday, April 27, 2015

Lady Killers

This is a picture of Catherine and Emma, two former students who are both kick-butt karate girls whom I've had the pleasure of teaching both in the classroom and coaching on the mat. They both had a really great weekend at the AAU Regionals in Chicago (or, to be specific, Grayslake, Illinois).

Both ladies made me an extra-proud sensei this year, and I have no doubt they will undoubtedly continue to do so as the years go on. As a coach, I regret only that I did not get the chance to sit in either girl's corners this year. I am happy to say, however, that Sensei Colin (another former 5-1 student!) was able to do so for at least a few of their fights. 

Let me say that both of these girls are small for their age, and neither is what I'd call "bulky" by any means. But I've watched both of them go through their black belt tests at this point, and I've also watched them compete at the state and regional levels. All I can say is that I can't wait for the time when some boy tells them that they can't do something because they're a girl. I really wish I could be a fly on the wall when that happens. And I'm really glad I'm not going to be the guy to say that!

The Legend of Bagger Fujita

Shoji Fujita, a student from 5-1 last year, sent me this picture of his golf team. They made it to the Nationals! According to Shoji, he is #5 in this lineup. I've seen Shoji play baseball and I've seen his attempt to use the plastic club given to him by Mr. Z at the last Track and Field Day, but to my shame, I have never seen this national contender play golf in person. I need to make that a priority this summer.

Woodbrook--and Carmel, for that matter--is such a hotbed for talent like this. It's hard to believe that my students are becoming the future big-shots of the world.

I hope you remember me when you are the next Tiger Woods, Shoji! Thanks for keeping in touch.

And the World Went White

On Friday, we all decided to wear white. No, we didn't go to the beach and have our pictures taken, this was for Earth Day. The white is supposed to represent clean air. We were two days late in doing so, but here we are in all our pure air glory.

Of course, Chase came in right after we took the picture. He had been out in the morning, but arrived just in time to miss the big group selfie. So we had to do our own selfie seen here. Hey, at least this one has my whole face in it.

It was a really good Friday, even though I had to leave early. I love days like this.

The Lizard Brain

Last Friday in 5-1, we did quite a bit of work with the lizards, the earthworms, and the crickets. You can see here our work with them, the fun the kids are having with them, and everything else that goes along with raising grass, earthworms, crickets, and lizards. The kids are getting a real feel for the life cycle. We've had our share of escapes, false alarms, and bizarre cage-hopping.

ISTEP, SchmISTEP. We're having fun with the anoles.

Thursday, April 23, 2015

Their Habitats

Somehow we found the time today to get about four science lessons all in one morning. This will be the perfect kind of activity to do during ISTEP testing next week.

Welcome to the Jungle

Wow, was today ever a classic patchwork of awesome. I thought it was a really good day, and I had several kids who agreed. I'll give you the rundown in bullet points.
  • We went down as a Math class to watch the third grade musical. It was the one where everyone is dressed up as flowers and bugs and stuff. It's another Woodbrook classic. This time, we got to sit in the chairs in the back of the gym. You'd think that would have been a good change, but actually, a lateral move at best.
  • After that, we came back and had a little bit of Math. Just enough time to answer last minute questions on the study guide. 
  • Talk about burying the lead, we got our earthworms, crickets, and chameleons today! I have pictures, but as always, I will have to post those later on. We did our terrariums and put some greens in there for them from Mrs. Jackson's Woodbrook victory garden. (Thanks to Big G for going out with me to grab some overgrown mint out there on this unusually frosty morning.)
  • ISTEP practice is all caught up! A huge thank you to my whole class who went en masse to the computer lab so that I could make it up with a couple of people, and to Mrs. Wischmeyer who got us out of a nearly impossible situation involving stage crew and ISTEP make-ups, which were already being made up because of stage crew practice in the first place. You're a miracle worker, Mrs. Wischmeyer! 
  • Do not forget to wear WHITE tomorrow! 5-1 is celebrating Earth Day two days late. It's all good!
  • And last but not least, the Color Run has been rescheduled to Saturday, May 2, at 11am, right here at Woodbrook.The good news is that now I can come!

It's All Starting to Blur Together

Let me start with yesterday.

Wednesday was a day full of make-up tests for ISTEP, a practice test for ISTEP, and so on and so forth. We read about starting your own business, and we did a demonstration for Science on setting up a terrarium to grow grass.

Then, while I was at lunch, we received word that our animal friends have arrived--earthworms, crickets, and American chameleons! We are going to need to do something about that pretty quickly--and there is very little time to grow grass.

For Math, we reviewed the study guide and did Math Boxes. The early review was because today we will not have Math. Today we will be watching the third grade play. UPDATE: After a quick check with my teammates, we are going to have a shortened Math class today. Hooboy.

I'm hoping tomorrow (Friday) to get my whole class to wear white. I got the message late yesterday that we were supposed to have worn white for Earth Day yesterday, but by that time, it was too late to even have me tell the students to wear white today, so I'm really hoping to have my class in white tomorrow. I can try, can't I?

Later on, I'll post about today. One day at a time!

Tuesday, April 21, 2015

Miss Jordyn

 Happy Birthday, Miss Jordyn!

I was lucky enough to hold Jordyn when she was first born. She is actually one of four of her classmates about whom I can say that, but I think I remember Jordyn having the biggest smile. I say that because I distinctly remember being afraid to hold her and refusing. I was so afraid I would drop her. Mrs. Callahan and the other fifth grade teachers wouldn't let me get away with that, so finally I relented and sat down and held out my arms. That's when I stopped being so afraid to hold babies.

Hard to believe that was eleven years ago. I'm not any older, so I'm not sure how she got to be eleven.

Hope your birthday was fantastic, Jordyn! You definitely deserve it.

The Opposite Shadow

First off, Jordyn, your birthday blog post will have to wait until I get home. Sadly, something about this computer doesn't do pictures from my phone the right way. Or I'm too Amish to work it or something. But I'll get you taken care of later tonight.

For homework, all the kids should have is their 20 minutes of reading, and then I have a Social Studies test which is due on Friday, and I have a MATH study guide which is due Thursday.  On the Math study guide, I have marked off a big chunk of one problem in particular.

You read that right: The kids had time to finish their 3x each for Spelling today! It should not be homework. 

It was a productive day today. The kids presented their preposition projects, the choir sang for the Woodbrook volunteers, and it was a beautiful day outside.

Everybody have a great Tuesday afternoon!

Monday, April 20, 2015

Remind Me One More Time

I want to apologize for the lack of post thus far in the evening. I sure do hope none of my students are still awake, and I hope all of the parents have more fun things to do than to look at Mr. Carter's Dojo at midnight, even though I've heard stories from parents who have done just that--normally with an email sent at midnight! I'm not complaining at all, though. After all, here I am posting at 10:30pm.

This week is going to be a little on the rougher side as far as testing goes. We can only take a grade on quizzes, tests, projects, etc., and we can't assign projects, give quizzes, or give tests during ISTEP. This means that anything we actually want to take a grade on (except for the occasional exit slip) has to be finished before Friday, otherwise it will have to wait until after May 6.


So this week I will have a "mega-test" in Math on Friday (study guide goes home tomorrow!), a take-home test for Social Studies, and a Spelling Test on Friday.

Oh, and I'm going to post this here so that I don't forget tomorrow:
  • Izzy, I found your group's Two Minute Mystery. I'll have you read it tomorrow if you remind me!
  • I cannot forget that I still have students who have not done either both or one of the first two practice tests for ISTEP! The third and final part is Wednesday, and we have to get finished as soon as possible!

Sunday, April 19, 2015

Fists of Fury

Well, the 5-1 family just got a little more awesome.

Miss Catherine Pham passed her blackbelt test with flying colors this evening. Sadly, I didn't have my phone with me, otherwise I would have gotten her picture. I had the honor of tying on her belt after a grueling test. She was attacked by single attackers, attackers with bats, and then four people all at once. She also knew all of her katas and performed them expertly. All of this after having to pass her physical fitness test. Way to go, Miss Catherine! I wouldn't mess with this one, people.

Friday, April 17, 2015

You Do the Walk of Life

This is my class doing the all-school walk this morning in the fog. It was a nice morning temperature-wise, at least. Turns out our Wellness Week raised nearly $1600 for Relay for Life. Thanks to everyone who sent in pennies, nickels, dimes, quarters, and dollars for our daily collections this week.

After taking two tests, we were at least able to watch the remainder of Wreck-It Ralph at long last. That took up the perfect amount of time before we had to go play some math games with our first grade buddies.

By the end of the day, after a beautiful recess, lunch time with my book club, and then a pretty decent Math class, we were able to sit down and sing our Eagles song before everybody got up and mugged for the camera one last time to show off their black...

...but alert-minded Casey reminded me that we didn't get one of our tie-dyed look from yesterday, and brought his shirt back in from yesterday so I could get at least one picture of one kid in tie-dye.

You're true blue, Casey!

That's another week over here, everybody. We still have quite a bit to do, but there are a lot of fun, cool projects in the wings still.

Speaking of projects, the kids' preposition projects are due on MONDAY. Don't forget!

Thursday, April 16, 2015

Solve Everything

Wow, those kids in the hallway right now are wound up. Thank heavens I don't have bus duty today.

As for my class, we had a really fantastic day today. We were able to accomplish so much in Social Studies and reading it was awesome. For Science, we watched a film about animals' hard shell adaptations. We were originally going to be outside doing a mini (and I do mean mini!) exploration, but the ground was too wet.

I forgot to snap a picture of everyone in their tie-dyed wear today! I'll have the kids remind me to get one of everyone tomorrow when they are back in black.

Wednesday, April 15, 2015


When I pulled Gans out to take his picture for his birthday post, his first question was, "Do I have to smile?" Hardly a surprise if you know Gans.

He's not a grump; he just likes to reserve his smile to things that actually deserve it.

Gans is another one of those kids whom I've known for many years now, but not nearly as well as I know him now. He's number three in a legacy, but like his older brother and sister both, he is his own person by a long shot.

Sorry for the late post on your birthday, Gans (whose first name is Charlie...Gans is his last name as we have two Charlies), but I know you will be good with it. I hope your birthday was awesome, because you deserve it.

Rojo Dojo

Today there was no problem with everyone seeing red as we all wore varying shades of crimson today to celebrate Wellness Week at Woodbrook. I'm really pleased with my class, because any time we were in the hallway, I had teachers compliment me, saying, "Wow, your class really did well with everyone wearing red today! I had about a third of that."

I know tie-dye is kind of a tall order in this day and age, but let's do our best on Thursday to wear as much as possible. I know I'm going to have to dig to find the one tie-dyed shirt I think I still have...

Bulking Up the Brain

Homework tonight is:
  • Meaning Exercise for Spelling.
  • Math homework (3 pages...don't worry; they're short).
  • Reading assignments for Friday depending on which book your child is reading. (Who Really Killed Cock Robin to page 85, Green Boy to page 42, Andrew Lost to page 41, The Seven Wonders of Sassafras Springs to page 105, and Rebels and Revolutions finish the book.)
That's all there is for right now. I have more to do, like post a picture of our "Sea of Red" day, a picture of the Birthday Boy, and...well, maybe that's it.

More later!

In the Billiard Room With the Candlestick

Draw an illustration for at least ten prepositional phrases. Choose from the list attached. Make sure to underline the preposition in the prepositional phrase. These are to be completed on the paper provided. Of course, you may draw them on other sheets of paper and glue them to this piece of paper, but I do want all of the posters to be the same size for this one.

See the illustration below for an example.

Students may also do one large illustration with the all of the prepositions they have chosen. (See the picture on Mr. Carter’s Dojo from Tuesday, April 14, if you want an idea.)

Pictures must be in color. This project is due on Monday, April 20. 

Tuesday, April 14, 2015


Homework today is to write a counter-argument to the paragraph that students wrote yesterday. We talked about possible opening sentences for the paragraph, and what kind of things they should write to back these statements up. We spent quite a bit of time in class talking about this, so everyone should be good to go tonight.

We also made a preposition tree today, with various creatures and objects "in relation" to the tree using prepositions. Each prepositional phrase had to be stated as "______________ the tree."

Here's a picture of everyone in their brightly colored clothing today.

The health spirit color days for the rest of the week are:
  • Wednesday: Red Day
  • Thursday: Tie Dye
  • Friday: Black Day

Monday, April 13, 2015

If Only Their Energy Was Renewable

Okay, folks, math is throwing everyone for a loop right now. The above video should help. I told everyone today that I just want them to do their best on the six problems of homework for tonight. We will go over them tomorrow to make sure everyone understands! I am going to throw out the questions that are this hard on the test and give them some easier ones.

Tonight for other homework, I told the students that they need to write one paragraph in their journals stating their side of the great controversy of chocolate milk being served in school. All I wanted them to do tonight is write down their side of controversy, and then tomorrow we will talk about writing the counter-argument.

See the spelling list to the left if your child forgot their list tonight, but they should have received one at the end of the school day.

We also talked prepositions and a little bit of poetry as well (with kind of a bizarre example).

Only one day back in and it feels like we're right back in the thick.

Rounding Third

A note from Kayley's very cool grandma:


We are having baseball day in the cafeteria tomorrow. Please tell your students that the menu is changing. We are having. Please talk to your students about these changings and have them order accordingly.

Hot dogs
French Fries
Pretzel Bites w/ Cheese
Taco Salad
Garden Salad
PBJ and Yogurt Lunch
Ice Cream Cup

Thank you,
Bev Allen
Cafeteria Manager

A Man Who Knows His Place

This is an article that was passed on to me. So proud of this former student (who still has an awesome tutor...)!

Nick Katsis is a pro under the pressure!  He has shown amazing geographical knowledge as he qualified to became the finalist of Clay Middle School’s Geography Bee on Tuesday, January 27th, 2015.  Nick then took another exam that was submitted to National Geographic and word reached Clay in February that Nick had qualified for the National Geographic Bee to be held on Friday, March 27th at IUPUI. 

Each year thousands of schools in the United States participate in the National Geographic Bee using materials prepared by the National Geographic Society. The contest is designed to encourage teachers to include geography in their classrooms, spark student interest in the subject, and increase public awareness about geography. Schools with students in grades four through eight are eligible for this entertaining and challenging test of geographic knowledge

Nick entered the preliminary round, at IUPUI, as one of over sixty students competing in the Geographic Bee.  He answered five of eight questions correctly.  Although Nick did not make it to the finalist round, he represents the top 1% in the country of all students in grades four through eight in terms of geographic literacy!  He did a great job and Clay Middle School is proud of his efforts!  Way to show your greatness, Nick!

Sunday, April 12, 2015

Summon the Horde; Wake the Beast

Hopefully everyone is returning to school tomorrow well-rested. I trust everyone had a great break.

We are going to have to plow full steam ahead through the rest of the school year. There isn't all that much left, but man, we have to squeeze everything we can out of what is left. We still have some serious ground to cover.

As for this week, we are covering everything from prepositions to poetry to writing persuasive arguments for Language Arts, the American Revolution in Social Studies, Animal Adaptations in Science, and for Math, we are going to keep on keeping on with chapter 9.

This week is Wellness Week for Woodbrook, which means another Spirit Week. All I know right now is that tomorrow is Blue and Gold Day, so any Woodbrook or Carmel spirit wear that you have will work out just great. Or just wear blue and gold.

Also, don't forget that next Saturday, April 25, is Woodbrook's annual color run. I went last year and it was really awesome. I hope to see everyone there.

Thursday, April 2, 2015

Life Happens Here

Excitement was the name of the game today on this last day before break. We had a fire alarm (not a fire drill!), we got to watch Wreck-It Ralph, a sub for two hours this morning, a split class during specials, and one very ripped Silent Bear.

First of all, the alarm turned out to be nothing, but there was a suspicious smell that permeated parts of the building, and they wanted the fire station to come and check it out. We got to stand outside (it kind of spit down rain at its worst, but for most of it, it was just cloudy). The kids will come home and tell you that we stood outside for an hour and a half, but the truth is that it was only half an hour.

My sub from this morning was very complimentary toward the class, and all assignments were finished this morning as planned. One of the things I said they could do as they finished up their work was a game of Silent Bear. It turns out that when Mr. Carter isn't present, Silent Bear becomes much more violent, and we have a little torn bear as a result. No one really fessed up, so I had to tell the kids that until I find out the truth, there will be no more games of Silent Bear.

Unfortunately, our little catastrophe mode preempted the movie, but at least we now have memories of everyone huddled around outside and waving at the firetrucks as they arrived at Woodbrook. The school didn't blow up (despite the kids' guesses that it might), and it didn't start pouring down rain (the kids' other guess).

Life happened today! Hope everyone has a fantastic break lined up ahead.

Wednesday, April 1, 2015

Super-Spiral Going Down

One thing we did today was receive some visitors from Marion University. Both were nursing students and they brought along pillowcases and supplies for disasters. The Red Cross created this program in reaction to Hurricane Katrina. These are go kits for any time, God forbid, you and your family should have to leave your house in a hurry.

Miss Sarah Calderon (who is also a black belt and works the front desk and teaches at Mr. Carter's other dojo--Adamson's Karate) and her friend Ms. Baker came in and gave a very nice presentation about staying safe and keeping calm in the face of a disaster.

In addition, recess today was gorgeous.

Lastly, I sat down (or stood, honestly can't remember) and made a list for the rest of the school year. This grim checklist is what we have to finish before the end of the school year. That leaves us...not enough weeks. We are going to do everything humanly possible to get everything checked off, though. While I know that this happens every year, and we don't get everything crammed in, it still seems really hard. The thing is, I can't remember anything we didn't do last year (or the year before or the year before...), but I can't let that stop me from trying.

I am excited about the things we have left, for the most part. I say "for the most part" because the list includes stuff like ISTEP, which can be tedious at best. But there are enough cool things that I think we're going to stick the landing pretty well.