Saturday, October 31, 2015

The Stuff of Nightmares

For the past couple weeks, my class has loved a particular brain break by the same people who put this terrifying song together (also known as the Michael Hawkins special). Hopefully they will love this one almost as much.

I hope everybody out there has a very safe Halloween.

My No-Good, Filthy Crew Of Awesome

I was so proud of these guys on Thursday night! They really did a great job at this musical performance. All of the kids did such a fantastic job. They were into it, they had fun, and

Mrs. Henney, who is a well-known face around 5-1, talked to me yesterday and told me how much she appreciates the way Woodbrook is allowed to just do a show like that just for the pure fun of it. I think this is something pretty special about not only Woodbrook, but Mrs. Ratner as well. She really does show the kids how to do fun things like this and so many other things throughout the school year. I remember last year, my students would always tell Mrs. Ratner that they would want to do a special performance for me when I came to pick them up. I would get there and be treated to whatever drum beat or dance they had learned or made up that day.

I would also like to say how proud I am that my class was the only one that had 100% of the students show up to perform last night. Admittedly, I humble-bragged this fact to the other teachers: "Oh, really? All of my students came. That's surprising. Huh." I also know that I had many parent volunteers in my classroom for this deal, some of you I saw, many of you I didn't. So thank you, guys. You all made it possible. Thank you!

It Takes a Village

Over the past week, we have had a lot of special guests come to talk to us, work with us, and introduce us to some pretty cool new things.

First off, Mrs. Calvert came to read to the whole fifth grade. She read a book in conjunction with Red Ribbon Week. This one was about bullying, in particular the emotional kind.

Then, on Wednesday, we had a visit from Officer Greg DeWald, who is our police officer. He is actually stationed out of Clay Middle School. He came in and spoke to my class about intruder drills, tornado drills, and earthquake drills. He also talked to them about Halloween safety.

Later that day, Mrs. Shearman came down to talk with the fifth grade about Student Council. She gave the requirements for running, told the kids how to run and give a speech if they are interested. Mrs. Shearman is now a kindergarten teacher who taught these kids when they were in first grade years ago. That was the year she left the fifth grade, where she had spent many years.

Last, but certainly not least, we had a really special visitor on Thursday. Mrs. McKneight came to work with my class. Mrs. McKneight is one of my best teacher colleagues. She started off as the mom of a student I taught the year I was a student teacher. She was a highly-requested sub in the building, and then when I taught her daughter again in the fifth grade, she was one of my favorite volunteers. She's the kind of person who would just walk in, see what needed to be done, and would do it. She went and got her teaching license at Ball State, and for years now has been one of the most popular teachers at Towne Meadow. So when she told me this summer that she was taking this year off, I knew she would need a kid fix (she's the type of person who would definitely need this), and I told her to come in any time to volunteer in my classroom. When she walked in on Thursday, I pretty much handed my reading lesson off to her, and she picked it up without skipping a beat.

Then, during our Daily 5 time, I knew I was good to send her off with a group of four boys to read an article, discuss it, and have them answer some questions. She's the type that will challenge students and won't let them get away with not participating. Plus, she brought me lunch!

So that was our week of special guest stars, and that's just a small part of what made this week so crazy and awesome.

Wednesday, October 28, 2015

Already Ready

I am so impressed with how many students have already finished their Social Studies tests! Awesome! I thought we only had one or two, but it turned out we have almost all of them turned in already. This makes me so happy and so proud.

Anyway, don't forget that tomorrow is Pajama Day and the musical. Talk about keeping a lid on the boiling pot.

Tuesday, October 27, 2015

Tropic of Woodbrook

Don't forget that tomorrow is Hawaiian Day! Grass skirts, Hawaiian shirts, leis, ukuleles... They will all make tomorrow seem like a tropical paradise instead of the cold, wet day that has been forecast.

Gravity, Space, and Time

Well, I realized when I had the kids filling out their assignment notebooks this afternoon that I have given them quite a chunk to do in the last couple days. First of all, the states and capitals quiz is tomorrow, and then the Social Studies test is due on Friday. In addition to that, they do have a spelling test on Friday and my Math class has a big study guide due on Thursday.

Because of this, I am hereby vowing not to give the kids any additional homework for tomorrow night; that way they can have tomorrow night to both work on their Social Studies test and study for spelling and stuff like that, because Thursday--as we all know--is the big musical performance.

They will have the meaning exercise due on Thursday, but I am going to make sure the kids have enough time to get that completed during class. (This means if they do bring their meaning exercise home tomorrow night, they did not make the best use of their time in class!)

Monday, October 26, 2015

The One True Culprit

Don't forget, tomorrow is mismatched socks and shoes day. So yeah, all you have to do is wear different socks and shoes. Sorry I didn't get a picture of the kids with all of their sweatpants on today, but really, it didn't look all that different than normal.

Oh, and I nearly forgot (although I'm sure the kids didn't!) that we missed the boat on the whole door decorating thing because I didn't think the doors had to be completed until the end of Monday, but it was the beginning of Monday. So it's all because of me that we didn't even stand a chance. I literally had two kids out in the hallway putting up the pictures when Mrs. Davis came over the announcements to announce the winners. That one is totally on me. 

Technology For the Technologically Impaired

I would like to start off by sending a very belated thanks to all members of the PTO. This year, they have provided all of the teachers with iPad Minis. For a few years now, I have had my own iPad, but it is always so loaded up with my personal apps that I wasn't able to really use it for school use. This one, however, is perfect, because it's just right for school use.

Today in our staff meeting, we all shared apps that we have discovered, and I got some really good ideas. There are so many amazing apps out there. I always thought they were just kind of dumb short cuts for your life, but some of them really do complement and supplement what we do in class, and others are going to really help out if I can figure out how to implement them all.

So anyway, I plan to send a written thank you to the PTO, but I just want to take this chance to let all of you from 5-1 how much I personally appreciate this, and I think your children are really going to benefit as a result.

The Definition Of Success

We just had a staff meeting and then I have to run and tutor here in a minute, but then I'm coming back to the school before karate, so I will have something more substantive to say. But in the meantime, I just wanted to let you all know what is on the kids' homework docket for tonight.
  • Spelling Definitions: Parents, if you get the chance please make sure you look at the definitions the kids write down. I am going to mark any that either don't give any meaning at all or seem really incomplete, and they will have to do them over. Unfortunately, I've had way too many kids come to me on Friday saying they still don't know what the words mean. Also, when you are quizzing your kids on the words' spellings, make sure you are checking whether they can tell you what they mean.The kids were complaining today about having to write the definitions. I told them that they only have ten spelling words, and that it was not too much to ask.
  • Read for 20 minutes
  • My Math class has a Study Link tonight.

Sunday, October 25, 2015

Beyond the Speed Of Life

Well, first off I would like to send a special shout-out to Mrs. Anderson and Mrs. Smiler for bringing us a special popcorn party on Friday! This was our class's reward for donating the most items to the bake sale for the Woodbrook Carnival a few weeks ago. So thank all of you too for all your donations! The kids had a great time and we were able to get our decorations made for our door for this week's Red Ribbon Week.

Speaking of, tomorrow is Sweatpants and Sweatshirts Day, but just look like you're ready for a workout tomorrow and you will be fine.

We have a very full week ahead in many different ways. Between all of the dress-up days, we also have the program on Thursday evening, a very packed academic week, and we need to really start prepping for the Veteran's Day program. Whew!

Here are my major academic events this week:
  • Wednesday is our States and Capitals quiz. I handed out another copy of the map on Friday.  
  • Friday we will have a spelling test for the first time in a few weeks.
  • Two days ago, I handed out the kids' take-home Social Studies test, which is due this Friday. I told them that it probably would not be a great idea to wait until after the musical program on Thursday night to get started on it. We'll see how that goes.
  • Friday we will also have a math test (my math class only). I will hand out the study guide on Tuesday.
Let's have a great week.

Thursday, October 22, 2015

Children and Monsters


These kiddos want to remind you one last time to sign up for the Ghosts and Goblins Run! Come on! It will be fun, plus it's for a great cause!

Wednesday, October 21, 2015

The Five Ghosts

Doggone it, I almost forgot an important message!

These little monsters want to remind you all about the Ghosts and Goblins Run on Saturday. We all hope to see you there. Proceeds go to the Carmel Clay Education Foundation, so be there!

This Is Heavy, Doc

Today was kind of a mixed-up day. We did get our Caesar's English quiz done, we spent some time in the Makerspace, I doled out the parts for the Veteran's Day program, and...well...let's just say that our October 21, 2015 was not nearly as exciting as the one depicted in Back to the Future 2.

I did get the "chance" to teach the karate class after school today, which threw off the rest of my afternoon, which is why you're just now seeing blog posts. Oh, let's be honest, this is my regular time for about half the days.

My wish for you all today is that it was one that you would not go back into the past and change if you were given the chance.

Macy Maize

Happy Birthday to Macy!

Macy is a newcomer this year to Woodbrook. She comes to us from a school in Lawrence where all of the teaching was done in Spanish, which comes in handy when we are reading a story where there is some Spanish. The best part of that is that we not only have the meaning, but also the correct pronunciation. The bad part is that every time we come to words like that, I realize that for the past fourteen years, I've been pronouncing all those words wrong. I tend to roll every single "r", because I think it sounds more authentic.

Macy is what I would call a quiet leader. Just today, for instance, while I was doling out the parts for the Veteran's Day program, Macy changed her answer from "flag holder" to "I'll take a small speaking part." This was met with a great, supportive reaction from the class. From then on, I had a few people tell me that they wanted either a bigger speaking part, or they joined Macy in the "I'll do a small speaking role" chorus.

That's Macy. She is the furthest thing from a blabbermouth, more content to sit back and listen and think and observe. But then when she does speak, everybody listens. I think we need a lot more people like Macy in the world. Thanks for being at least one of them, Macy! I hope you enjoyed your special day.

Tuesday, October 20, 2015

Run For Your Lives

The kids have two parts of their homework tonight. The first is that they need to study for their Caesar's English quiz tomorrow (see the sidebar for the roots and meanings--if you are on a device, make sure you scroll all the way to the bottom and hit "view web version".

Secondly, all students should have brought home a news article, at the top, it says "Newsela". They are to read through this article and then answer the questions at the end. We will discuss the article in class tomorrow, and I want them to have it read before we start the discussion. One helpful hint that I always give the kids is to read the questions first. That way, they will know what they are looking for in the reading. Of course, they may read it along with you. It's not very long, but I will allow them to count that reading as a part of their twenty minutes of nightly reading.

These members of Woodbrook's Pups Running team would like to urge you all to participate in the Ghosts and Goblins Run this Saturday morning. You can still sign up right here, so get to it!

Monday, October 19, 2015

Forget the Sun; Just Hold On

Well, I intended to spend only a couple of hours in the school building this morning, but I didn't leave until 7:30 this evening. At least I am ready for the next couple weeks now.

All students in the homeroom 5-1 should be bringing home an envelope tomorrow with my first quarter comments. The envelopes are addressed to the parents of said student, and therefore they should be unopened. I plan to tell the kids tomorrow the difference between "the parents of" and their own names. I will promise the kids that none of them have anything too incriminating in them.

Be on the lookout soon for bulletins regarding Gleaners Food Pantry, the all-too-soon Ghosts and Goblins 5K, the 5th grade school musical, the Veteran's Day Program, and then the trip to the Palladium coming right up--and before long, it will also be time to start up with the business of Biztown.

Holy cow! We really are getting to that time of the year when everything goes nuts. Stay tuned right here to stay on top of all things involving this awesome class of mine.

Hot Diggety

The pungent odor of ketchup and mustard filled the playground air on Thursday afternoon when Mrs. Davis and Mr. Hunter made themselves into human hot dogs. It was an interesting day at Woodbrook, and I think it's safe to say that this was an unprecedented day in school history.

This was the result of the entire school receiving enough golden tickets (no thanks to me, admittedly) to achieve this award. You have to give it up to our principal and assistant principal; they are a couple of really good sports. They are much better sports than I would be.

Sure, I will subject myself to the ice-cold temperatures of the dunk tank a couple weeks ago. That said, however, I would not put myself up to the likelihood that I would vomit at the behest of my ketchup-triggered gag-reflex. I thank my lucky stars that they didn't ask for staff members to be hot dogs.

Now you know why one of my students said--as I said a couple posts back--that, "This day makes no sense." No, it didn't. But no one will ever take last Thursday away from us.

Sunday, October 18, 2015

The Clockwork Minds


Last Wednesday, we did a couple of activities centered around both Science and Language Arts. Both of them required the kids to rely on their communication skills as well as their engineering skills. We tied both activities in with the Mars Rover project, and hopefully they learned from it. We talked about the need to say exactly what you mean, and not to cast blame on others when something didn't work out. It's funny how we are so eager to accept the glory, even as a group, when things go right; however when something goes wrong, we look to blame the other members in our group. 

It was a pretty fun "science day", the first of a few I have planned during this school year. 

Oh, wow. I just came up with a great idea. Seriously. I can't wait until the next trip to the Maker Space.

Big Heroes

Amid the rest of the nuttiness that was last Thursday (one student actually said, "This day makes no sense!"), we were able to watch the movie Big Hero 6. Even though the grand majority of the students have seen this before, they didn't seem to mind watching it again. There's something about watching a movie in school that makes it a little bit better.

I would like to apologize for not putting any comments on the kids' report cards. Each year, at least once, I like to send home hand-written comments. I had planned to finish up the comments during the showing of this movie on Thursday and have them ready to go home that day, but as I told the kids, I became a little bit too absorbed in this film to get the job done. I will have to give the kids their envelopes on Tuesday, so be on the lookout for them that day! Don't listen if your child tells you they did not receive one.

But I digress; the reason for this movie party was to reward the kids for their behavior during the first quarter. The quicker they can fill up the water bottle with shapes (have them explain it; it actually makes sense), the quicker they get a movie.

Well done, boys and girls!

Friday, October 16, 2015

It Wasn't Our Faultline

This is my class yesterday during the Great American Shake-Out. Yes, I did indeed take advantage of a disaster preparedness drill to take our first class selfie with my new Woodbrook PTO-issued iPad (more on that later) as we stood there in that line. It was a beautiful day for an earthquake.

That's not to say we didn't take it seriously. We all got into our positions under the desks and held on for the duration, and then we walked outside to the soccer field. This was all planned out ahead of time, so we knew when to pause our movie, which was the kids' hard-earned reward for a great first quarter of school.

Thursday, October 15, 2015


Happy Birthday, Miss Audrey!

Audrey is a very sweet girl. She is our definitely 5-1's expert on horses and horse-riding, but more than that, she is one of my most creative students in this whole class. In addition to that, she is one of the kindest friends to others that I've seen in all my years of teaching.

It's pretty rare that I have a student who I don't really need to worry about who I pair with. She gets along really well with everyone, and no one even thinks twice about it when I pair her up with them. This is a reflection of the kind of person she is--the best kind, who I know will treat everybody else as a human being.

Audrey, thank you so much for being a person who, however subtly, makes the world a better place every day you're around. I truly appreciate you.

I hope that even besides earthquake drill, the math switcheroo madness, and that whole ketchup thing; your birthday got even weirder and even better as it went on. You deserved a really special day, Audrey, and I'm happy to say that I think you got it!

We Won't Get Fooled Again

Dear Candidates,

We have kicked off our reading program with an excellent start. I just want to put out a
reminder on how to count up your minutes. I think there may be a bit of confusion on how to
count your total minutes per month. The minutes you are allowed to count are only for each
individual month. Example, in October you will count your minutes from October 1st to
October 31st. The prize distribution deadline date is just the final date to hand in your
previous month’s minutes, you do NOT count the days up to that date because then that
would be counting from October 1st to November 11th and that is NOT correct. You are ONLY
allowed to count the days in October! If you have any questions please feel free to contact me
at Thank you to everyone that has been voting (reading) and keep it up!

Nicole Brink
Reading Program Director

Wednesday, October 14, 2015

Pictures Of You

Once again, I apologize for not being a bit more on the ball, but last week, Dr. Fleming shared with me a Shutterfly account set up especially for 5-1 this school year. I think this is awesome. If you don't already have a Shutterfly account, it's easy to start one (I just did it a couple days ago, actually).

She started it off with some great pictures from our trip to Camp Jameson. Click right here to see it.

Thanks so much, Dr. Fleming! I will keep everyone posted when more pictures are added.

Tuesday, October 13, 2015

Everything Louder Than Everything Else

I have altered the timeline a little bit our upcoming Caesar's English quiz--it is now next Wednesday, October 21. As Mrs. Henney reminded the kids after that announcement, though, the idea is not to put off studying. The idea is that the kids will be able to study more. I told them ten minutes a day should do the trick.

Now for a little admin.

First item: The week of October 26-30 is Red Ribbon Week for Woodbrook (and the rest of the city, county, state?). This is a week where we will be discussing ways to avoid drug and substance abuse. To rally around this great cause, we will have a Spirit Week consisting of the following days:

  • Monday: “Living drug and bully free is no sweat for me.” Wear sweat pants and sweatshirts
  • Tuesday: “Stomp out drugs and bullying.” Wear mismatch shoes and socks
  • Wednesday: “Lei off drugs and bullying.” Wear Hawaiian shirts and tropical clothes
  • Thursday: “Follow your dreams, and be drug and bully free.” Wear pajamas
  • Friday: “Woodbrook Lions are “paws-itively” bully and drug free.” Wear Woodbrook spirit-wear
Second item: This is a cut-and-paste from an email Mr. Z sent out earlier today. I repeat it here in case you are interested:

John Adamson, of Adamson Karate, was our guest instructor in PE last week.  Please see the attached registration form for the opportunity for your child to participate in after school Karate classes to be held at Woodbrook beginning October 21st.   
100% of the fees collected go directly to our school! 
Registration forms are due back this Thursday, October 15.

John Zangrilli
Woodbrook PE Instructor

Full disclosure, as I'm sure you know, I do work one night a week for Adamson's Karate. I'm a little partial, but I like and trust the other instructors implicitly and count them among my closest friends. We're pretty great people! Plus, it's for a fine cause. 

Third and final item: We have a special message brought to you by the Dark Knight:

Batman says, "Say cheese, kids. Tomorrow is Picture Day!"