Sunday, January 31, 2016

Synchronicity Or Not

Okay, everybody--yet another Sunday update. I have just updated the grades, but please know that I still have yet to put in:
  • the reading comprehension quiz from Friday
  • a Social Studies assignment from last week
  • last Friday's spelling test
  • last Friday's Math test (my Math class only)
  • any of the reading bookmarks
I will remedy this soon--I just need to get them graded!

Hope you're having a good weekend. 

Time Warp Skating

It was a crowded house the other night at Rise Skateboard Shop. It was a fun one, too. And yes, I was hanging out on the weekend at a skateboard shop. Let me explain.

Last weekend, I received an invitation to attend a skate film premier by a former student of mine, Mike Kane. He said he would be featured in this film, and it would be cool if I could be there. I've known Mike a long time--he was in my class from 2002-2003, he's been around the dojo as I've done karate for twelve years, and his family and I have been involved in a lot of stuff on and off through the years. I knew him and his family before that through Camp Tecumseh and my year of student teaching way back in 2000.

Well, Mike was not only featured, he was the grand finale of an hour long film. I had gone to this event to support Mike, but I also had the unexpected pleasure of getting to see many old faces that I hardly recognized from those days--Petey Krivi and Zach Patterson were also featured in the movie (along with Griffin Pickard, who I didn't get to see personally), Sam Bumbalough, and Kyle Scott were also in attendance. And while I was one of probably a dozen elderly people at this event, Mike's brother Colin was kind enough to stand with me (that's his grey hat in the picture).

Other than seeing the incredible stunts these boys can do now, my favorite moment of the evening had to be when those boys told me that they still have the pictures I drew them back when I was student teaching. That's why I do them, and yes, I promise to get them done for your kiddos...eventually. There is still artwork posted in my classroom from Mike and Zach, actually.

Who knew that all those years ago--when I would be leaving here after working on Sunday afternoon and I'd roll down my window and yell out that they'd better get off the dock with those skateboards because Mr. Akin was on his way out--that they would still be thrashing (as you kids would say) all these years later.

So yes, I was at a skateboard shop over the weekend--and I wouldn't have wanted to be anywhere else.

The Short Game

Well, thanks to various parents who have emailed me regarding what happened on Friday. I think the mystery has been put to rest. It also seems the kids' secrecy made it seem like a bigger deal than it may have been, which is always a teachable moment.

Ah, the joys of fifth grade drama. I'm hoping for a good week this week!

Friday, January 29, 2016


Parents, I have to admit that we ended the day on a pretty low note for 5-1.

You may want to have a discussion this weekend with your child about what exactly happened today, because the truth is, I have received very little information about it. The only bit that I do know is that one kid from 5-1 shoved another kid down to the ground. At least a handful of my students (if not all; I have no idea) know who did it, but they are all refusing to tell me. Even when I told them that they could come and let me know secretly, I got nothing.

This may be a good ethics discussion you could have at home. I'm sure as parents, you would want to know if your child had been shoved to the ground while they were at school, what caused it, etc. I am sorry that I don't have more information than that, but I know your kids do.

We will be continuing this conversation on Monday morning.

Thursday, January 28, 2016

Luca di Beppo

Happy Birthday, Lucy! Yes, it's still your birthday, even though I hope you've been in bed for a little while now.

Lucy is one of the brightest, happiest students I've had in a long time. She is mature beyond her years, and she is loved by everyone. She is always the first to offer up an answer, and she likes it when she is corrected, because it means she is learning. She is one of the first to raise her hand when I need something handed out, during a Two-Minute Mystery, or if I need a person who was actually listening when I was asking a question.

I remember dropping in on Mrs. Callahan's class last year for some reason or another, and Mrs. Callahan told me that I wanted to have Lucy. I remember how happy I was when I realized that the "Lucille" in my class this year went by "Lucy", because I knew that meant I was one lucky teacher. That feeling has only grown since then.

I hope you had a great birthday, Lucy! And when you go to Buca di Beppo for your birthday, don't forget that you need to go to the bathroom at some point. You'll understand.

Big Bad Bash

I have been asked to email this to you all, but sadly I don't have one mailing list just for all my families.

Homework for tonight is to study for spelling and math (if you have a math test tomorrow...) and your bookmarks are due also.

Wednesday, January 27, 2016

Begin Where You Are

All the kids have for homework tonight is reading for 20 minutes and then their meaning exercise for spelling.

Here is a cool video on the Growth Mindset that I shared with the students yesterday in class. I can't seem to get it to display on the screen, but if you click on the link, it will take you right to it. This reminds me that I really need to show that to my math class.

I hope you all have a good evening.

Tuesday, January 26, 2016

Stay Ahead Of It

Real quick here: Homework tonight is 20 minutes of reading, 3x each for Spelling, and then my Math class has pages 194-195 in their Math Journals.

The Math test is not until FRIDAY now. A little more studying is needed before they are ready to move on.

The kids are dropping like flies, so make sure they are washing their hands and taking their Vitamin C!

Monday, January 25, 2016

The Daily Pursuit


I went over the spelling definitions with the kids already, but it wouldn't be a bad idea to go over them a couple times this week. A couple of them, like ensue and lawsuit, are kind of hard to use in a sentence correctly.

Secondly, I wanted to let you know that I have been much better about updating the grades so far this semester. That said, all of the grades are still not in the grade book, which means the grades are not necessarily accurate as of right now. For instance, I still need to grade and/or enter grades for a Caesar's English quiz (word study), a Social Studies test, a math quiz, Roanoke pop quiz (the first one), and something else too, probably. So before you ground your child for a month, just wait.

Lastly, with Colonial Days just around the corner, I hear that Mrs. Bailey still needs some juice can lids for the tin punch activity. So if you don't mind, hold off on making that upcycled wind chime you saw on Pinterest and send your next couple weeks' worth of juice can lids (you know, the kind you'd find on juice concentrate cans) in with your child to Woodbrook instead. I'll make sure they get to Jacob so he can take them home and help his mom prepare to have a whole morning of listening to the pounding of nails through aluminum and into blocks of wood with mallets. (Bless you, Mrs. Bailey.)

If You Think the Dance Is All In Our Hips

This video should come in handy for kids who are preparing for Wednesday's Math test. We are doing this today in class, so try it at home! I've learned that kids sometimes can tune me out, but put it into a video, and they're glued to it. Maybe I should become one of those YouTuber people.

We all agree that the music is most funky.

Bring In Da Funk

Well, right now your kids are finishing up their NWEA tests in the library. I was just in there, and the kids who are finished already are dutifully (and silently!) assisting Mrs. K with her library duties. I'm happy to have a class that works hard for her and alleviates some of her workload.

This week is actually pretty normal on my end. There are instrument try-outs at Clay this evening and Thursday evening, but other than that, totally routine.

As a part of that routine, we do have a spelling list (with all the trappings that come with it), my Math class will have a big test on Wednesday (study guide coming home today!), and we will be continuing on with our reading of the Roanoke book.

I'll add the spelling list to the sidebar as soon as I'm finished up with this post. It's kind of a funky list this week.

I hope you all have a funky week as well--in the cool kind of funky, that is; not the "stinky" kind of funky.

Thursday, January 21, 2016

Seems Like Only 100 Days Ago

I told the kids before they went home today about the speech I gave you parents on the first day of school: Let them fail. I told them that it's not your job to make sure they have their things or that they've studied for quizzes and tests. I told them that some of you would be more than pleased to study with them, especially if they've gone out of their way to make flashcards or have a filled-out study guide!

We got to enjoy the kindergarten parade this afternoon--all of them looked so good and elderly as they passed through the halls dressed up as 100-year-olds for the 100th day of school. (Can't believe it. Crazy.)

I hope everyone has a great night and I will look forward to seeing your little cherubs tomorrow.

Wednesday, January 20, 2016


Homework for today:

STUDY for Social Studies.
STUDY for Caesar's English.
MY MATH CLASS: Math Boxes 5.6 + Study Link 5.7.

Whew, what a chatty crew they were today! I honestly can't say I blame them too much--after they came to school, we immediately had to do our reading test for NWEA. We read from our Roanoke book, unlocking more and more clues about just what happened to the settlement on the island.

I think all of your kids should burn off some of their energy by shoveling your driveway this evening. You can just tell them Mr. Carter said that's more of their homework.

Tuesday, January 19, 2016

Songs We've Sung

We all know that last week we lost two people who, while very famous, affected the lives of the many in ways that were quite profound. First we lost David Bowie, who everyone this side of my parents' generation knows so well as the great absurdist singer and songwriter who apparently bound more of us than anyone realized. And then, just a couple days later, we lost Alan Rickman, who so drably brought to life J.K. Rowling's most famous anti-hero Severus Snape in the Harry Potter movies.

One of my thoughts as I was driving on the day or two (or three) after the death of David Bowie was that I couldn't believe I had yet to make a Bowie song my class song for a school year. I imagine that will happen next year now, to be honest. He has way too many classics to go too long without being honored secretly every Friday afternoon by 5-1.

But then yesterday happened. Glenn Frey died.

Last year, my class sang the Eagles' Already Gone every Friday afternoon. I'm not sure how many of my students from last year will be able to connect the name "Glenn Frey" with "The Eagles", but for anyone who has, please pour out some chocolate milk for one of the men who brought this song--and so many others--to life.

Heaven knows it was you who set us free every Friday afternoon, Mr. Frey! Your songs will be remembered for many, many years to come.

Fire and Sugar and Spice

This week we have two important tests:

We have a Caesar's English quiz on Friday. The kids received this list today, and we added tons of further examples for each root. I told them that I highly recommend making flashcards for these!

Probably the most different test will be the Social Studies test. I sent home the study guide today, which we all filled out as one big group. The kids had to find proof of each of the answers in their books, and I was really happy with how it went.

I told them that it would be a very wise idea to study for both of these tests each night this week. Little by little beats a cram session any day. We have to get both of these tests in before the end of the week to avoid having too many tests next week. I'm also avoiding any extra homework throughout the rest of the week as well, so that homework time can be devoted to studying.

Sunday, January 17, 2016

I Used To Write Them All By Hand

Hey, everyone. I hope everyone is having a great long weekend. I wanted you all to know that, while I know (or I think?) the report cards were made public on Friday, you probably noticed that they had no comments on them once again. I personally find the "180 characters" limit to be far too much an encumbrance, so I will hand out envelopes to the kids--including my math class--next week. In th meantime, please feel free to contact me if you have any questions.

Back at it on Tuesday! We will have a Caesar's English quiz on Friday and most likely a social studies test as well. If so in the latter, I will hand out a study guide on Tuesday.

Return to your weekend. 

Friday, January 15, 2016

But Where Did They All Go?

Wow, either the kids were really good about remembering to bring back the orange forms or I actually do have some regular readers of this blog! Either way, I'm happy.

The kids are playing silent ball right now for recess. I told them no more devices at recess because we had some students breaking the rules the other day, and while they don't like it, they seem to be enjoying themselves the way were were somehow able to back in the ancient days before ten-year-olds had their own phones that can search the internet.

We took a spelling test today, we had some time with our first grade buddies, we took a comprehension test, and I've been reading to the kids from a book called Roanoke: The Mystery of the Lost Colony. I gave them a short quiz at the end of it, and while it was incredibly easy, I think some of the kids wish they had paid attention just a little bit. Live and learn. It won't be the last time they have an opportunity like that.

Don't forget that February 5 is Colonial Days at Woodbrook for the fifth grade. I'm sure it's not too late to volunteer for that morning, in case you're interested! It really is a fun day.

Well, I'm sure there's more news where that came from, but this is all I can really think of right now.

Have a great weekend.

Thursday, January 14, 2016

Young Americans

Homework tonight is study for spelling, read 20 minutes, one page for my Math class, and remember that tomorrow the bookmarks are due.

Also, I realize the orange-ish colored forms just went home yesterday for the emergency closure procedures, but we need those back today. So if they didn't come back today, please get them back to us tomorrow.

I hope everyone has a good time tonight at Clay and getting to know their way around there, and that tomorrow all my fifth graders will still be acting like fifth graders. :( And it's over at six, so remember, there is no reason for anyone not to have their homework finished!

Wednesday, January 13, 2016

Station to Station

What a difference from yesterday! I'm happy to report that for today's indoor recess, everyone is more-or-less silently playing silent ball (or Silent Kermit in 5-1's case).

Two hours later...

Homework tonight for my math class: page 164 in the Math Journal and a page on the coordinate plane.

Homework for homeroom: 20 minutes of reading plus a meaning exercise for spelling.

I think that's all the news that is newsworthy right now. Have a fantastic evening. 

Tuesday, January 12, 2016

Message From Clay

Dear Parents,

This is just a reminder that the 5th grade Parent Meeting and Clay Middle School Performing Arts Demonstration Concert for all 5th grade students is tomorrow, Wednesday, January 13th from 7pm – 8pm.  This exciting event is a wonderful opportunity for both parents and their 5th grade child. 

When you arrive at Clay Middle School, please enter through the Main Entrance (Door #1).  As parents enter the auditorium through the cafeteria, please send your child down the main hallway to the Bob Weber Gym for the Demonstration Concert.  Your child will be released to meet you in the cafeteria immediately following the Parent Meeting and Demonstration Concert.

Also, below is the link to register your child for a Performing Arts Try-on Session.   Please make sure you register your child for one of these sessions so that they will have an opportunity to try many of the instruments they’ve seen at the Demonstration Concert.

A Reality Tour

Well, I'm sorry to report that right now we are having indoor recess, which is always less than ideal for so many reasons.

Anyway, homework tonight is 3x each for spelling, 20 minutes of reading, and then my math class will also have homework.

Wow, some of the things I'm hearing your kids say are really surprising. They're somewhat different when they're playing a game or they don't think I hear what they're saying. 

Indoor recess is awful, by the way. Outside is much less nerve-wracking.

Monday, January 11, 2016

Omission Statement

I decided against my better judgment to not assign the homework for social studies, so the kids don't have anything to do for that tonight.

What they do have is spelling (see the left for the list...), reading for 20 minutes (yes, it's back!), and my Math class has to complete page 172 for tomorrow.

Have a good night!

The Past Is Quickly Approaching

It's been an alright kind of day so far. They're pretty talkative, but other than that, I'd have to say it's been a pretty humdrum kind of day. We did have a talk today about Colonial Days (February 5!), and the appropriate clothing and food to bring in that day.

I think the only real news this week would be that we are back to our old habits with a spelling test on Friday, so we are back to our normal schedule as far as that goes. I may also send a page of Social Studies with the kids tonight, depending on how I'm feeling at the end of the day. I really should send it home so that we can get through this chapter.

Thursday, January 7, 2016

Azimuth And the Celestial Objects

The trip to the Planetarium was nice and successful, and I was happy to see that the kids really did retain most of what we had learned in Science way back in the year 2015. Mrs. Stemnock took a class photo of us in the darkened planetarium. She said it came in dark, and she sent it to me, but as of this writing I still haven't gotten it--sometimes it does take awhile when someone sends you something on an iPad.

When we got back, we did have an extra-long reading time for TGF5. The kids think--and I have to say I'm actually in agreement--that this story is starting to get a bit long in the tooth. Technically, we did start book one on the first day of school, and we are getting close to the end of the fifth and final book now. I have to admit that it does seem like the author (whose name I'm not even typing, nor the full book title, for fear that reading these words of derision would make him feel bad) kind of gave up during this last book, and isn't really giving a satisfying conclusion. Anyway, I didn't intend to write this long of a paragraph about how the book I'm reading out loud isn't actually all that good.

Alright, I thought I had posted this a long time ago, but I didn't. Have a good evening!

From the PTO

Invitations for the Mane Bash went home this week.  We hope you will attend for an evening of fun with parents and teachers, while helping the PTO raise money for Woodbrook.   Click on this link to check out the list of items we will be auctioning and to purchase your tickets.

Wednesday, January 6, 2016

Hotel Echo Yankee

Okay, here's the homework for tonight:

Math Class:
  • Study Link 5.1
  • Math Boxes 5.1
Everyone else:
  • Study for your Caesar's English quiz on Friday
Wow, that doesn't seem like much at all, but truth be told, we did accomplish a huge amount of work in class today. It has been a productive two days.

Remember that tomorrow we will be going to the Planetarium at 9:30. I have all of the permission slips except for one.

Talk soon! It feels like we've been back forever already. (Ask the kids if they can decode the title of this post, by the way...)

Tuesday, January 5, 2016

Supernova Express

Wow, we did accomplish quite a bit today. It did not take too long at all for people to slip right back into the routine.

Here's what we did today:
  • we reviewed the easy easy concept of demonstrative adjectives (there was a homework page on this tonight...easy)
  • discussed the reasons people came to the New World from Europe--everyone from the Puritans to the Catholics, the Quakers, and the people who just came over to make money
  • received a Caesar's English list (look to the left)--quiz Friday!
  • talked about the proper usage of there, their, and they're
One more thing: the kids did get their Social Studies tests back today--I told them they can make any corrections for tomorrow, but I need them first thing so that I can get them in the grade book.

At the end of the day, it was a pretty awesome day. Glad to have everyone back and glad to have such a great class. 

Monday, January 4, 2016


Happy Birthday, Scott! I hope you are having a great day. I guess you could look at it one of two ways: Either you have your birthday on the last day before having to go back to school, or you could say that you at least got the day off.

Scott came to us this year from Westfield schools, and he almost wasn't a part of 5-1! He was an eleventh-hour addition to our class because when he originally enrolled, he was somehow entered as a second grader. Luckily for me and the rest of 5-1, that situation was corrected, and he ended up as a part of our class. We like Scott around here--look at that smile. You can see why. He's a very laid-back and chill kind of kid, and everybody likes working with him for a partner.

Well, kiddo, while you enjoy your birthday, I have to head off to a staff meeting. So you go ahead and sleep in while I gulp down the rest of my coffee to keep me looking like I'm awake and paying attention. I'll see you tomorrow--all of you--so until then, have a great final day of freedom and a fantastic birthday.

Sunday, January 3, 2016

The American Resolution

Well, I'm in here at the school getting all kinds of things done. Yes, tomorrow is a work day for teachers also, but there are a few things I wanted to get finished before then, like some of the grades, the jobs, and the seating chart, which was long overdue for a change-up.

I hope your kids are rested up and just about ready to return to school. I'm sure many of you are ready for them to come back. Soon we will be back in the world of scheduled madness--but hey, at least we will have a schedule.