Tuesday, May 31, 2016

Another One of the Good Ones

I know I'm remiss in mentioning this here so late, but it's one of those things that everyone seems to already know about in a trickle-down from the high school all the way down to the elementary level. Well, at least all the way down to Woodbrook, because it's about one of our own.

Michael Pitz (or "Mike" as he's known to his most, but he will always be Michael to his teacher) was elected president of the ~5,000 member student body of Carmel High School. This is tantamount to being the student body president of a medium-sized college.

He is one of those people I have known well for a long time. Through the years, he started out a student of mine in karate, to a student in the classroom, to a black belt in karate during that year, and since then I have tutored him and stayed with him while his parents are out of town and just remained tight with him and his family ever since.

It is without hyperbole that I say that it doesn't surprise me that Michael won CHS student body president. Not at all. What does surprise me is that anyone bothered to run against him. Seriously. He's the type of guy who is a friend to everyone. He is genuinely concerned for everyone out there. He's probably the nicest person I've ever met. If anyone deserves to have been elected, and I do mean anyone, it's Michael.

In my classroom, a sign still hangs that Michael made. It's says "The Circle of Manhood: Be a Man." It was in response to all of the gossip that inevitably goes on in the fifth grade (let alone middle school), and to "Be a Man" according to this, you have to refuse to gossip about anyone. It really turned things around that school year (at least as far as the guys go--I'm sure the girls were affected too...).

In the selfish sense, I love that I have been a small slab of cement between the bricks that have made Michael into the young man that he already is. I really hope that he will be able to come to my class next year to address my class, not only as an alumni of Area 51, but also as an important part of the CCS community.

I'm so proud of who he has always been, who he has become, and that he is a Ripper (long story). He's another one of the good ones.

Sunday, May 29, 2016

Banner Still Waves

Normally, Memorial Day weekend is wrapped around the last days of school rather than coming after it. I would ordinarily have given a lesson based around this article from Mental Floss back in 2008. 

If you're a former (sniff) student of mine, give it a read. It's a good indicator that this weekend isn't about barbecues and the Indy 500 and--in my case--infinite graduation parties. It's about something really cool. 

I hope you're all having a good summer so far, and that you'll take some time to remember what it's all about tomorrow.

Thursday, May 26, 2016

Free Association

Here are a few random thoughts I'm having while cleaning out the classroom, wiping down the boards, and finding little corners with random pencils without erasers and even a used tissue:
  • I never told the kids that I keep the blog up throughout the summer as long as I have people reading it. Especially don't forget to tune in on your birthday if you have a summer birthday. 
  • I'm having a good time putting up some of this artwork and pictures on the walls that I received at the end of the school year. It's looking really good, and it's pretty refreshing to see a little bit of a change to the classroom. 
  • You know that "Shut Up and Dance With Me" song? For some reason, it's played on hard rock stations and independent stations alike (X103 and WTTS respectively). It has no business on either, and yet it keeps creeping into the classroom while I'm working today. It sounds like it should have come out in 1988. It's like Rick Astley and Richard Marx are back somehow. 
  • Next year, I will have the kids assist with packing everything up at the end of the school year. So much junk to box up. 
  • Karate Mickey Mouse is really thankful to Mrs. Egger for sewing him up after a violent game of Silent Ball weakened the integrity of one of his leg joints. Don't get me wrong, I'm thankful too, but Mickey himself is especially thankful. Jump-flying sidekicks are way easier for him now.
  • If anyone spots a "51" during your travels and activities and daily life this summer, I want you to send me the picture. I think Eli started something yesterday.

Forever 51

I received an email yesterday afternoon with this picture. It looks like Eli just can't get away from 5-1. Love it. It may just haunt you all forever!

Wednesday, May 25, 2016

I've Found I Have a Second Home

Thank you so much to the Anderson for doing this for the 5-1 family. The worst part of the last day of school isn't saying good-bye so much as it is coming back to an empty classroom after it's all over.

Tuesday, May 24, 2016

Last Day Lunch

Good Morning,

Please let your students know that on Wednesday this is what will be offered.

Hot Dogs
Grilled Cheese
Oven Potatoes

We will not be having salads or yogurt parfaits.

Thank you,
Bev Allen

To Last a Lifetime

I'm sure I speak for all of 5-1 when I say I would like to thank Mrs. Maniaci, Mrs. Whitaker, and all of the other parents who volunteered for and headed up the fifth grade party this evening at Life Time Fitness in Castleton this evening. I only stuck around until about 6:15, but they did a great job of keeping the kids busy and happy during the time I was there.

What a great time. Thanks, everybody, for helping take us into the end of the school year in a very positive way.

The Pomp And the Circumstance

For the first time in a long time, Woodbrook had a proper fifth grade graduation today. I even stayed in the gym during the slide show. After I told the kids that it was hard for me to get through one of those without tearing up a bit, they made sure I stayed for it. Because of this, I didn't shed a tear, but still, it was sad to see the kids grow up so fast.

It doesn't seem right. I can see this maybe being the mid-point in the school year, but definitely not the end. Definitely not the end.

At Least Some Things Are Still Old-School

Before the graduation and the pomp and the circumstance, we took some time today for the kids to practice unlocking padlocks. This is the type of thing that is like riding a bike to us (as Mrs. Dunlap put it), but to the kids, it's easy to forget that they haven't had our experience. The hope is that the kids will at least have some comfort level before heading over to Clay.

Enter the Ring

On Monday afternoon, we at the WB had a fun time watching two very good sports on the Woodbrook staff get into the sumo wrestling suits and enter the ring. I gave my students a few true facts about sumo wrestling before going down to the gym for the festivities, and I even learned a few things myself. This was just one of those really random things (earned by the students' citizenship over the past quarter) that has just gone into making these last few days really random and crazy and fun.

The Mayor

Congratulations to Gavin Fleming for being the "mayor" of 5-1 for this year's Read Between the Lions reading program. Gavin did us proud by logging all of his reading and plowing through books left and right. Way to go, Gavin! You've made Area 51 proud.

Sunday, May 22, 2016

For What It's Worth, It Was Worth All the While

Well, we have a pretty crazy next few days coming up with trying to get everything sorted out for the talent show, rehearsing for the fifth grade graduation, working in a movie day somewhere in there, and about a thousand little bits of minutiae that we need to get accomplished before we ram right into the wall that is this Wednesday afternoon.

Our tests are done, all assignments have been turned in, and we are otherwise golden. But the minutiae... cleaning out the junk-drawers of the school year. I would compare it to cleaning out your bedroom before going to college or sorting through a house to sell it after you've lived in it for 40 years. It's cleansing and brings back many memories and yet can be very emotional for some of them. Many of your kids have been at Woodbrook for most of their lives at this point, and 5-1 has been a family for the past ten months.

I'm not even really sure what our schedule is for the next few days, to be honest. I have a vague idea, but it's sure to be full of surprises.

Thursday, May 19, 2016

Battles Won

I have to admit that I took some pride in having beaten Mrs. Stemnock's class this year in the tug of war. I don't normally think of myself as a competitive person, but I guess I have at least a trace of it inside me, because yeah, it felt good to beat 5-2 in that today.

But above and beyond that, it felt great to have such a beautiful day to share with my class and their parents. I seriously need to email Mr. Z and tell him that today was the best Track and Field Day that I have experienced in my fifteen years. I've heard that sentiment echoed by several other teachers throughout the building. I have to say that mine was made even better by having such an incredible class of students. They didn't go overboard with the competitiveness, but it wasn't absent either. My favorite line from today was from when another class accused 5-1 of cheating for some reason or another. The response from a 5-1 student? "The important thing is that you guys did a great job."

I'm going to miss them like crazy.

Wednesday, May 18, 2016

Maladies and Mobius and Mayhem!

Today we explored madness and the powers of the human mind, but before that, we witnessed a Western tale from the turn of the century.

Listening to the kids recite the radio dramas has been so fun. We've also had murder mysteries, futuristic sci-fi, and the terrors of a man who just keeps shrinking away from the rest of the world. Hearing them read those old scripts from the 1940's has been a real classic trip down a memory lane in which I have never actually lived.

In Health, we also learned about infectious diseases and how our body expels them.

Then, during Math class, we created Mobius strips--a.k.a. the one-sided shape! Hopefully, if your child is in my math class, they dazzled you with their mathemagical skills.

Don't forget, tomorrow is BLUE day for 5-1 because tomorrow is Track and Field Day!

Tuesday, May 17, 2016

Birds, Bees, Etc.

Well, it's official. The kids survived the visit we got from Mrs. Ruth Lilly. Actually, the real Ruth Lilly has long since left this mortal plane, but you know what I mean.

Everyone did pretty well, I have to say. Only a very few kids refused to participate at all, with nearly everybody helping out in some way during her presentation.

I don't think it was as bad as everyone thought it would be. At least no one had to use the barf bucket.

From the Desk of Mr. Z

Woodbrook Track and Field Day 2016
To: Woodbrook Elementary Parents

From: John Zangrilli

RE: Track and Field Day

Woodbrook Parents,

All grade levels will have their Track and Field Day on Thursday, May 19th, with a rain date scheduled for Monday, May 23rd.   Track and Field Day will be held at Woodbrook starting at 9:30.  All parents are encouraged to come and watch their son/daughter participate in this fun-filled day. Please feel free to interact with your child, as this is what they would prefer.  We just ask that you do not take them away from the group, so they do not miss any activities.

Other Track and Field Day notes:

  • Wear your team color T-shirt (which is listed below) with a sweatshirt or jacket over it, if necessary.
  • Lunches will be eaten outside during normal lunch time.  If needed, sack lunches can be ordered via the cafeteria the morning of the event.      
  • Don’t forget other specific items your child may need for the day: sunscreen, inhaler, allergy medicine, etc. 
  • Please write your child’s name on his or her water bottle.

Mr. Carter                                                       BLUE   
Thank You,

John Zangrilli
AKA, Mr. Z

Monday, May 16, 2016


Today I handed out the spelling lists, the take-home test (due Friday!), and the optional essay for the end of the year fifth grade graduation. This essay is entirely optional.

Tomorrow is Ruth Lilly from 10:30-12:00 for 5-1. Enough said about that.

Don't forget Thursday is Track and Field Day! 5-1 wears BLUE.

Road Outside Indianapolis

Sunday, May 15, 2016

The Perfect Means To an End

Well, I'm having a heck of a time trying to get my pictures uploaded from Friday at the Kindy 500, but surely I will have a kid who knows how to work these new-fangled computers and can assist me in class tomorrow.

That said, amidst the high pressures of the end of the year, some mix-ups that the kids knew about and also didn't know about, we not only had a very successful Kindy 500, but we also found time in our day to hang out with our First Grade Buddies for a bit, take a spelling test, and witness the thrill-a-minute space opera of Buck Rogers in the 25th Century as performed by one of our radio drama groups.

Tomorrow we will have one final spelling list, and of course the kids need to be doing their nightly reading as well. They will also receive a take-home test for Social Studies tomorrow that is not due until Friday.

Talk more soon. We are winding down, but we still have some stuff to go, including Ruth Lilly (!) on Tuesday and Track and Field on Thursday. So much to get through!

Thursday, May 12, 2016

Hit Them With the Musical Chairs

This afternoon I was able to get a few shots of the choir show today, but sadly, while I did try to get a few of the proper choir, they all came out upside down. If only I knew how I got the one from our Gleaner's day to get rightside up, I would be able to show you a great choir picture.

But at least I got a nice one of the Orff Ensemble. I didn't get either of the conga lines, but I thought this was a pretty good one.

We also spread some love to Nurse Barb today--one day late. Sorry, Nurse Barb! We did our best to make your day one day late. Also, I apologize that the other sign didn't quite turn out the way it should have--some of 5-1 was a little too hyped up after the big show and decided it would be better just to run around instead of work on your posters. Don't worry, though, they didn't get to play Silent Ball as a result!

This was another crazy day in 5-1, and really, we did get to read the rest of the One Hen story in our Crab Books and the Reading Further in our red hardback books--and yes, that is the kind of sentence that really only makes sense if you speak Area 51, so you may need to ask for a translation.

All in all, not a bad day. I know it was kind of a long one for all the folks in choir and Orff, but hopefully everyone got their bookmarks done and managed to study for the spelling test tomorrow also.

It's the big Kindy 500 tomorrow! Once again, Area 51 has been asked to be the helpers...more to come!

Wednesday, May 11, 2016

The Rhythm Is Gonna Getcha

This morning I was called into the Music room so that the kids could show me their hottest dance moves. It was fun, and I took some pictures (you can see Eli catching some nice air), but I didn't realize that they actually wanted me to join them. Ah, well. Next time.

Meaning Exercise is due tomorrow, and we won't have Math tomorrow because we will be thrilled to the musical inclinations of our talented choir and Orff members.

Hope your Humpday was hoppin'!

Tuesday, May 10, 2016

Routines Within Routines

Well, today was pretty much the same as yesterday--we practiced out radio dramas, we went to the library, and we learned about a business that makes Braille menus for restaurants. It was another great day in 5-1.

I know the kids are excited to be out of school, but man, I start getting a bit sad during these times. I hope you are all keeping on top of your kids' activities and schedules. I know things are going crazy for pretty much everyone right now.

Homework for tonight is the 3x each, my Math class has a square roots page due tomorrow and they have a study guide due on Thursday.

Monday, May 9, 2016


This is the 2000th post on Mr. Carter's Dojo. I didn't even realize it would be number 2000 until I posted last night and the little ticker said 1999.

It also dawned on me that this blog is now ten years old. I started off by barely ever posting anything at all, and then it really took off within the last five years, so I would have to imagine that if I keep going at this rate, we will be at number 4000 in less than ten years. But still, ten years got me to thinking.

This morning I gave the kids a writing assignment:
In ten years, you will be about 20 or 21 years old. Many of you will be juniors in college. Maybe you are starting your own businesses or are already working at that point. In 50 words or less, where do you want to be ten years from now?

Sure, it's trite. But my hope is that when these kids are all grown up, that I will be able to send a reminder out to them to check this out.

In ten years I would like to be working on my medical degree and get done with Purdue. I would love to get a scholarship for both places so I don't have to pay my way in. If I do, then I would cry so hard.

In ten years from now, I want to be a lot of things. The one I want to be most is a baker. I want to be a baker because I have been baking since I was very young. I want to open my own bakery and it will be called Karli's Colorful Creations. That's what I want to be when I grow up.

Ten years from now I would like to be in a good college. When I get older I know I want to work with kids. Whether it would be as a teacher, a babysitter, or a pediatrician. Whatever happens in the end, though, I just want to be happy.

Ten years from now I want to be in a good college. And I want to have a good job that I enjoy. I would also like to travel and see new parts of the world.

I would like to be at college in 2026. I would want to have a small or medium sized job. I would want my job to be something I like. Maybe open a small business. I hope my first job is at an ice cream shop or something good. This would be my ideal life.

Audrey: I hope you're at Purdue becoming a vet right now. If not, be at Ball State or Notre Dame for architectures. Horses, are you still with them, because you better be! Pete and Nova who I lease right now; I hope you own a horse. Stay in school and eat food!

I want to be a gymnast at Florida State majoring in business. I want to be in a good financial position because I want to open up a gymnastics gym. When I graduate, I want to run a marathon. Also, I would like to go on a mission trip.

In ten years, I want to be a vet or a Youtuber (I am already a Youtuber). I would study and I would go to Purdue or IU. I would also like to be an artist.

Working at Actavision because they make a lot of games and get to test some new games, and be a Youtuber because you get to do a lot with your fans.

In ten years, I would still be in college working on my medical degree because I want to be a pediatric surgeon. That's a person who works with kids and does surgeries on kids. I'd love to get a scholarship to Harvard Medical School and graduate from there. If I do graduate from Harvard and become a successful surgeon, I'd like to make my own business for kids who cannot afford healthcare.

I want to go to Purdue and graduate and become a soccer player, engineer, or a sports announcer.

I would like to be at IU or Purdue studying or becoming an engineer or a vet. Also, maybe I could be a journalist or author/illustrator.

I would love to be an MLB player. I'm not really saying I have a chance, but I hope I can at least play in high school or college (Purdue). My role model is Anthony Rizzo. He's a nice and clean player and I want to be just like him. Go Cubs.

I would love to be a veterinarian because I have a dog that is my best friend and she gets sick a lot and I know how it feels when my dog gets sick and I want to make sure other people and their dogs are very healthy just like my dog.

I want to start on my first important chemistry experiment and I want to start making a blueprint of my new lab where I work.

In ten years I want to be in the robotic engineering business. I don't care if I'm living in an apartment at the start of my job. But I want to live in a house when I have the money. I want to have an inspired life. I want to have a good family. My life will be amazing.

I hope I will be at Taylor University and be working on my Masters degree in nursing. I hope I will have a cupcake shop and be a missionary for my church and I hope I get to visit Europe or the United Kingdom and I hope I'm still alive.

I will probably be in Purdue or being an engineer, life fixing cars or making cars. And hopefully I will graduate. Oh, and hi, Future Scott.

I would want to be at IU or Purdue trying to become a teacher and also playing the stand-up bass. (The instrument.) I would also like to have a nice roommate and would like to have good grades.

In ten years I will be 22 and I want to be a police officer because I am sick of all people breaking the law and I want to help keep my home safe and possibly stop incidents before they happen. If you're reading this, I want to help protect you.
I want to be in college studying to be a vet or a reporter of some kind. I will have a very nice teacher, I hope like Mr. Carter [Thanks, Mackey! --Mr. C]. Then after college I want to have my own business if I am a vet. If I am a reporter, I would want to be a sports reporter.

In ten years, I want to be the right fielder or catcher for the Cubs.
Well, there you have it. I hope all of your wishes are surpassed, guys. You all deserve awesomeness.

Here's to the next ten trips around the sun. 

Sunday, May 8, 2016

Revolution Means a Circle

Well, it's been a little while. I apologize. It's been a pretty crazy few days in school, but I would have to say that we've gotten quite a bit worked out as we go spiraling toward the end in just a couple weeks. Doesn't seem possible at all. 

On Friday, we made some Mother's Day gifts (check your child's backpack if they didn't give it to you) and took the big Science test. So Happy Mother's Day to all Area 51 moms out there!

We also said goodbye to our chameleons, and at the end of the day, they all went home to good homes. I hope they will live for a long time. Some of the terrariums that came in looked pretty fancy, so I'm sure they are going to love their new digs.

By the way, Track and Field Day is on May 19, which is a Thursday. I am looking for a parent or two to volunteer for that day. I know I won't have any trouble finding them, but at least last year I waited until the last minute and came close to not having one. Of course my butt was saved at the last minute, but I'm hoping to get it saved earlier this year. Let me know if you will be there that day and could head up a clipboard for the morning. More to come!

And while I will be sending home some individual thank yous this week, let me say how honored I felt all last week during Teacher Appreciation Week. From the gifts all week, the lunch on Wednesday, to the grill-out from the principals on Friday along with the cabana treatment while I ate it--it was truly the most pampered I've ever felt during this week. You all are the best!

FYI, we have a staff meeting tomorrow after school, so if I don't get a post up while the kids are practicing their radio dramas (which I just realized I forgot to mention), then I will post something by the end of the night tomorrow. Talk soon!

Wednesday, May 4, 2016

Do Or Do Not; There Is No Try

Although I did have a number of students today wearing Star Wars t-shirts, I never did get a picture of them. Luckily Mrs. McNerney, first grade teacher, posted this one of her students on Twitter. We have a few First Grade Buddies in there, so I think this is close enough to a May the Fourth picture from 5-1.

Today we also had a visit from the middle school (in case the students still had any "unasked questions" from their multiple visits to Clay...?), which turned out to actually be an okay thing, because I got to see two former students. Ty Harrington and Meg Shaffer both came back to talk to the students from the first-hand point of view from Clay. It was great to see them both. I got to teach them both in either math or homeroom for two years in a row.

Both of those kids came into Area 51 as legacies--I had Meg's older brothers and Ty's older sister, so I remember both of these kiddos since they were just kindergarteners. Still love them both.

I hope you all had a great May the Fourth. I will see you all tomorrow.

The News This Hour

  • The permission slips for the Adopt-a-Reptile campaign have been handed out. The kids bid farewell to their lizards today, and their tears watered the terrariums for the final watering.
  • Homework tonight includes a meaning exercise for spelling, 20 minutes of reading, a study link for math, and let's not forget to study for the big science test on Friday! 
  • The kids have a sign-up to be a host/hostess/server for the Woodbrook Pizza Night fundraiser on May 10 at Mellow Mushroom. If your child can "work" for a half hour shift sometime between 5-7 that evening, have them sign up on the whiteboard in class tomorrow. We need to know who all is available by tomorrow, so that Mrs. Fleming (Grace's mom) can choose a student at random from each homeroom. If your child is chosen, they can also bring one friend to work with them.

Tuesday, May 3, 2016

The Only Thing Needed To Get Through the Storm

First off, I loved the letters I received today. It's probably a good thing that the morning is such a rush that nothing can really sink in, because I may have honestly been in tears as I read them. I assure you all that I will go home tonight and read them. I have a binder at home where I put notes like that from students, and they still hit me right in the heart even years later. I appreciate all the gifts I receive from my students, but honestly, a heart-felt letter like those means a whole lot more.

Tomorrow, look for a permission slip to come home regarding the bringing home the anoles. I will only give them to kids who say they are allowed to bring one home, but it will outline the supplies you would need if you do want to welcome a new lizard friend into your home.
  • Spelling 3x each
  • Read for 20 minutes
  • My Math class has Study Link 9.9
Have a terrific Tuesday afternoon!

Not On My Watch

This is just a parent FYI:

The devices and phones and iPods, etc., are getting to be a real problem here at school. I'm reporting this just minutes after dismissing the kids and hearing Mrs. Jackson tell everyone to put them away. I asked her why and she said she didn't like what she heard kids talking about while they were looking at them. It was too late for me to say anything about it at that point, but we will have a discussion regarding this tomorrow.

Just earlier today, I dealt with some online drama that went on last night and today here at school. I know this is--sadly--a part of the world that these kids are growing up in, but I don't like it going on at school while I am responsible for them.

Next year, the kids (as far as I know) are allowed to carry their phones around with them all day, text in the halls, and the whole cyber-bully universe is opened up wide and clear for them. But for a few more weeks, they are fifth graders. I am going to have to insist that they remain that way.

Sorry, but that's my "get off my lawn" speech for the day.

Monday, May 2, 2016

They Think So

Sorry we didn't have a blog post today, but I was at a training this afternoon.

The kids had a pretty good start to our day--we filled out the Science study guide this morning, and anyone who doesn't have it filled out did not follow along with the class. I wrote it under the overhead, so they were to have copied down the exact answers. Some have asked me if they will be allowed to use this study guide on their test. The answer is no. Some of them are starting to act like they have been in middle school for a couple years already; it's time they start getting ready to actually be there, and I guarantee they won't be allowed to use their notes on most of their tests next year.

The test is on Friday, and we will also have the Spelling test that day. More to come!

Sunday, May 1, 2016

Mayday, Will Robinson!

Happy Mayday, everyone! We have a full week ahead with a ton to do, so everyone be on high alert throughout this week. Science test on Friday! Spelling test on Friday! My Math class will even have a Math test on Friday!

Also, be on the lookout for permission slips to come home tomorrow if any of you are interested in bringing home a lovable little lizard on Friday. Come on, you know you want one (or two, or four..?).