Wednesday, December 30, 2015


Happy Birthday to Gavin! Bringing 2015 home with his birthday, Gavin is a future engineer (or at least that's his current plan) and he is also a good Purdue boy. He is already a problem-solver. What I admire about Gavin is that he is very analytical and is always looking for new solutions and coming up with great ideas--and he has a way of sharing his ideas that is not obnoxious. This is a very important life skill that Gavin has mastered at a young age.

Hope your day is a good one, Gavin. You deserve it!

Wednesday, December 23, 2015

Lay Down His Sweet Head

This is the episode of Andy Griffith that I had planned on showing you guys on that last day before we ran out of time. But trust me, even though it's old and in black and white, if you liked those John Lewis Christmas ads I showed as a brain break, you're going to love this one. It's actually the only Christmas episode of The Andy Griffith Show that they ever made, and even stranger, it came during the first season. I guess they did so well the first time, they were afraid to try again.

Anyway, I hope everyone gets a chance to sit through this either on Christmas Eve or Christmas day. If not then, then soon.

Merry Christmas, everyone!

Monday, December 21, 2015

The Workshop

A great big thank you goes out to Mrs. Fuertges for coming in last Friday to help us make a piece of art for an upcoming PTO auction. I thought my class all working in their Santa hats that day looked a lot like Santa's workshop.

I hope everybody's having a great break.

Friday, December 18, 2015

Home For the Holidays

Thank you to Mrs. Abbott, who took this picture of my class. As she took it, she said words that I loved: "You guys make such a great family."

So from the 5-1 family to yours, I hope you have a fantastic holiday. Stay tuned, because I often get the chance to write things that I don't often have time to write during the hubbub of the academic time proper.

Thanks for a fantastic first semester!

Thursday, December 17, 2015

Santa's Little Troopers

Well, we are rounding third and heading for home.

We only have two more how-to projects left (they have still been really great overall!). We went to the MakerSpace today because it was empty and we could. We tried to get as far through The Genius Files: License To Thrill as we could, but we still have a good chunk left--possibly more than we can get finished tomorrow, but hopefully not.

Because of the level of Star Wars in math, I tried to make our math lesson today Star Wars-themed, but it only kind of worked.

Anyway, for all you out there going to see the big premier tonight, you'd better be here tomorrow morning! I'm going to be up later than you are, and I will be here! We'll be yawning together all day.

Don't forget to wear Santa hats tomorrow!

Wednesday, December 16, 2015

Play Through the Pain

No real "news" today, I suppose, but this is one of my favorite non-tear-jerking holiday clips. Keep holding strong, guys! Just a couple more days.

Tuesday, December 15, 2015

You Too Can Be a Craftsperson

The kids' speeches are going really well. Here's Antonio showing us how to make an awesome Christmas tree out of a magazine. I might have to try to make one of these and see how it turns out. All of the kids' projects are so good. I told them they could have their own TV show, like one of those on PBS. I'd say the students' projects are along the lines of Martha Stewart, but with Norm Abrams's delivery.

Today in Math, we discussed the multiplication properties. I thought this was going incredibly well and that all of the kids were getting it perfectly until I handed out the worksheet for it, at which point everyone started saying how confused they were. We will revisit tomorrow.

Hope you all have a terrific Tuesday!

Levels Rising

It's 9:07am as of this writing, and already it's been an exciting day. My computer wouldn't start earlier, we've had a lock down drill, and people are bringing things in for their big demonstration projects. I told the kids that we would indeed be doing our spelling definitions together this morning, and so we're all good.

The kids are down in the gym right now, so I'm hoping they're burning off some of their energy while the endorphin levels raise their mental acuity. Hey, I can hope.

Monday, December 14, 2015

Mea Culpa

Aaagh! What a ding-dong! I did not a.) put the spelling words on the blog until just now, nor b.) hand out the hard copies to the kids today.

Well, they're there now, but we will do the definitions tomorrow in class together, so your kids don't need to sweat this one.

My bad!

To the Point

The Social Studies test is due back on Friday!

The first four procedural speeches went really well today. I was truly impressed with each of them. I am looking forward to seeing more tomorrow.

A huge thank you goes out to all of the parents who helped out with the teacher holiday lunch today--greatly appreciated!

I think that's about it right now. More to come, I'm sure.

Sunday, December 13, 2015

Where Roaring Lions Come To Drink

Well, this week will be a little bit crazy and a little bit awesome. Here are the big notches:
  • Demonstration speeches (a.k.a. procedural speeches) are Monday through Thursday this week. Your child knows what day is theirs. Hopefully you do too by now! If not, I'd ask ASAP.
  • Tomorrow I will hand out a take-home test for Social Studies! It is due on Friday!
  • We are working on finishing up the kids' personal narratives. These are turning out pretty well, I have to say. 
  • We will have spelling as normal this week. 
Let me know if you have any questions! We are going to try doing some focus days and really hammer out some curriculum this week that needs to be wrapped up before the big half time break. 

Friday, December 11, 2015

The Monster State

Today we watched Monsters University. Actually, I can't be sure that the kids got to finish it, because I had to leave before it was over. Luckily I had Mr. Waybright to take over the teaching duties for the rest of the day. If they didn't, we will do so next week.

Next, I want to wish a happy birthday to the great state of Indiana! It is the 199th birthday of the birthplace of public education!

Thursday, December 10, 2015


Happy Birthday to one of the nicest guys I know. I wish I could tell you how many times I've seen this kid give his ball to someone else at recess, go out of his way to help people who are hurt or just need a hand with something, or just be upbeat in pretty much any situation. He both humbles me and makes me proud to be a human being.

Isaac, I hope your birthday was fantastic. Thank you for being you, because you make our world a better place every day.

Closing In On Father Time

FYI, tomorrow I will be gone in the afternoon.

Tomorrow we do have a spelling test and my math class has a test as well. The math test is very pared down from the study guide, and in fact is based entirely upon the front page. I told the kids today that next week we will try to clean up from chapter 4 and get at least a foot in the door on chapter 5.

We will watch a movie tomorrow for the kids' reward as well.

And Isaac, don't worry, I will do your birthday post tonight!

Wednesday, December 9, 2015


Homework tonight:
  • meaning exercise for spelling
  • read 20 minutes
And that's all! Woot!


Get In the Moment

Today we discussed some more ideas that kids could do for their demonstration speeches next week. I showed the kids some ideas on PBS kids (just YouTube "diy kids pbs" for a bunch of them), because not everyone was having such an easy time with the ideas. I told them that if they need help getting any of the materials, chances are I have them in this classroom somewhere. Don't be afraid to ask!

We also spent substantial time writing this morning, working on the kids' personal narratives. I'm trying to get them to make their stories "in the moment", present tense, as if it's happening to them as we read the story. We also talked about using sensory descriptions, telling how things felt, smelled, sounded. Ask your child tonight what they're writing about, and have them tell you what they are doing to put those ideas into their narratives.

That's all for now. Hope you all have a great rest of your day. Kids are coming in from recess--time to get them down to lunch.

Tuesday, December 8, 2015

Attack From the Past And Future

Wow, I am ashamed to say that I let December 8 come and go without mentioning Pearl Harbor to my class. This time of year always seems so busy that I think I make this same post every year, promising to make restorations the following day.

This is the day we pretty much became involved in World War II, which forever changed the course of history forever. We are taking a very much over-arcing, back-and-forth look at history this year, and this is something that I not only plan to cover, but re-cover throughout the year.

What an amazing thing history is, working from both present and past, and reaching out in both directions almost infinitely.

Kicking And Screaming

This was my focus group today during lunch. We tried out a new app I've discovered called Seesaw. I really love the way kids can share things like thoughts on a reading they have done, and I'm absolutely looking forward to trying it out to see what other ways we can use it.

The only drawback so far is that it only seems to work on Apple devices, at least as near ass we can tell. Luckily I am in email correspondence with a lady from Seesaw who is helping me along the way, so I'm hoping this will work itself out.

So yes, I am being dragged kicking and screaming into a more technological age, but I think it may actually pay off. Your kids have been there since they were born, and I'm just trying to catch up.

Familiar Territories

Homework for tonight:
  • pages 30-31 in their Social Studies white pages
  • 3x each for spelling
  • Study Link 4.9 in my math class
I handed out rubrics for the kids today for the kids' Procedural Speeches next week. Their ideas are due to me on Thursday.  They need to be simple and not food-related.

As for the Social Studies assignments, I had the kids "prove it to me" in their textbooks when I would ask them a question. "Where does it say he was a merchant?" "Where does it say he explored from 1492-1506?" If you're helping your child tonight with their homework, make sure you ask them to do that; it's familiar territory for them.

Thank you! Have a good evening!

Monday, December 7, 2015

More Than This

Today in our staff meeting, we watched this video. It's not often that I see something during a staff meeting that I feel is important to share with parents and families, but I really like what this guy is saying.

I hope you all get a chance to watch this. It's definitely worth the ten minutes.

Slap Dash

Okay, we have a staff meeting so I'm going to have to be brief today. The kids have spelling definitions due tomorrow (words to the left on the sidebar in case your child left his or hers at school) and 20 minutes for reading.

For my math class, students have page one of their study guide and Study Link 4.8.

Everyone have a great Monday!

Sunday, December 6, 2015

The Glowing Of a Candle

Happy Hanukkah! I hope your festival of lights burns bright!

Time Is On Some Other Side

The Woodbrook fifth grade teachers would like to thank you all of the students and parents who made last Friday possible. First off, a huge thanks goes to Michelle Carlton, who organized the whole thing for all of the fifth grade. She told me the job was easy, but I can't believe that's true, just because the work she put into it that I know about is much more than I would have wanted to take on by myself.

Thanks also to these parent volunteers who went along with us on Friday and made sure the shops were in running order: Mindy Fleming, Lori Thomas, Stacy Dashiell, Crystal Wood, Jennifer Croner, Tammy Egger, Meg Fuertges, Mia Cercone, Carrie Maniaci, and Tina Fleming. The kids had such an awesome learning experience, and it was all thanks to you. Thanks also to the many parents who came in to interview the kids--most of whom I never even realized were in the building that day.

The good news is that we are back into a normal week this week. In fact, this may just be a plain old regular week. The one thing that will be a little bit different is that the kids have earned another movie day for this Friday. After taking our Spelling test, we will watch a movie that I haven't decided on yet. The kids have their own ideas, but so do I.

Thanks again to you all. Let's go make this a great week.

Saturday, December 5, 2015