Thursday, June 30, 2016

Lucky Me

What a nice surprise it was this evening when this little lady came into the dojo while I was teaching. Lucy had just finished her last swim meet of the season, and was on her way to have pizza with her teammates and their families. Hard to believe that the neighborhood swim season is already over, but I guess it's about that time. Anyway, it was definitely great to see such a nice and friendly face tonight.

I hope everyone is having a great summer so far!

Wednesday, June 29, 2016

The Interface Experience of Tomorrow

I am at the central office right now setting up my Canvas page for next year. Don't worry, I'm just taking a break right now.

Canvas is a program (if that's what you'd call it) that will be used by teachers for assignments, links, and stuff like that. Every teacher in the school system is supposed to have one, so if you're reading this as a student from any time in the past, your teacher will have one of these next year. From what I understand, it's even a program that many college campuses use.

So far, I've been able to make cool icons for my homepage, and that's pretty much it. At least it's a start, right?

So yeah, look at that! 

I also learned how to post a YouTube video and get it to not suggest further watching, which will actually come in handy. 

Okay, time to get back to work. 

Mr. Anakin Guy

Right now, we are just about at the halfway point between the last Star Wars movie and the next one, even if it's not the direct sequel of the previous. I thought, in lieu of anything a bit better thought-out, I'd share a Weird Al song. I wouldn't be surprised if the next crop of Weird Al fans could be found in 5-1 from this past school year, actually.

Sunday, June 26, 2016

They Say It's Divine

Oh, Pete.

This weekend he was inducted into the Cincinnati Reds Hall of Fame. It's been called long overdue. While I think he's done his time for his crimes, I think the wait was probably just long enough.

I try to teach my students that they have to own the choices that they have made, including the bad ones. And when they have owned said choices, they need to face them and correct them. Just because you usually never really deserve to be forgiven, it's almost always best to forgive.

Friday evening, in the booth, Marty Brennaman told Rose, "This has been a long time coming."

Pete Rose said, "Yeah, I messed that up, didn't I?"

Earlier that night, Pete was welcomed back to the fold on the field by his 1976 Big Red Machine teammates, including Johnny Bench, Tony Perez, and Ken Griffey, Sr., among others. I think that was just about right.

Take your rightful spot, you big, glorious dummy. At least Cincinnati fans still love ya, and yes, forgive you.

Friday, June 24, 2016

Combine Them All and Call It YouTwitFace

Kids! Pay attention to this! I wish you could learn from the mistakes of the generation before you, but from a few experiences toward this end of this past school year dealing with and putting out your online fires, you're only making things worse through your Snapchat, Instagram, Musically (did I spell that right? I don't actually care...), or whatever else the heck you people use. Vines? John Cena? The "HottestTopix" app from the journalism class?

Enjoy each others' company face to face without feeling the need to put everything online. It's nobody else's business, and if you have to share it to make yourself feel better or feel more popular, you'd better make sure it's all appropriate and isn't going to backfire on you, make you look like an idiot, or worse, hurt someone else.

Sorry. I took this picture a long time ago, and I've waited until a lull in the blogging material before posting it. You are heading into the most turbulent parts of your adolescent life. Don't make it worse on purpose.

Wednesday, June 22, 2016

I Call Him Sparky

Happy Birthday, Josh!

Here he is kissing his championship ring from baseball. I should have gotten a close-up. It's the size of a Superbowl ring, and I'm not exaggerating. While I haven't actually seen him play yet, I think this shows that he is quite a performer on the field. I know he has a good arm because I still recall last fall when he knocked me into the dunking booth at the Main Event.

During the last month of school, I made Josh read up on certain baseball legends like Hank Aaron, Pete Rose, Shoeless Joe Jackson, Roberto Clemente, Johnny Bench, and Sparky Anderson. While he was reading aloud about Sparky Anderson, he read that he got his nickname because "he was full of positive energy that helped motivate the rest of the team."

He looked up after he read that part and said, "That sounds like me."

I couldn't agree more. I even tried to start calling him Sparky, but gave up when he resisted. It doesn't change anything in my mind, though. He is definitely Sparky, and not even he can deny that.

Thank you, Josh, for everything you brought to 5-1 during the 2015-2016 school year. As I always say, you're one of the good ones. Keep on swinging.

Monday, June 20, 2016


As far as we are concerned in the northern hemisphere, today is the farthest away the south pole will ever be titled away from the sun. Transversely, this is the closest the north pole will ever be to the the sun.

This is also one of those rare times when a solstice occurs on the same night as a full moon. Tonight is the Strawberry Moon, so I'm sure it's good luck to eat a strawberry while looking at it. Of course, this assumes that it won't be raining and thus cloudy while it's going on. Right now, it's raining.

Of course, the winter solstice happened during winter break, and now that it's the summer solstice, of course it's summer break. So we didn't really get to talk about any of this on the very day it happened, but this is the material we covered in class.

Yeah, this is the kind of thing that [good] teachers geek out over!

Trickery For Us Common People

Now that I'm no longer your teacher-proper, I don't mind sharing a video with you called "How To Embarrass Your Math Teacher." This is actually kind of fun.

Hope everybody is staying cool out there!

Saturday, June 18, 2016

Lines On Paper

Today I went to the last of my graduation open houses. I'm done for 2016! I still have gifts for some of them that I couldn't make, but I'm finished with open houses now officially.

I was so happy that so many of them not only still had the pictures I drew for them during the school year, but most of them even had the pictures posted as a part of their picture boards. Today another former student, a rising senior, told me that hers is still hanging on her wall at home as well.

Sometimes when I'm working to get those things cranked out, I remind myself that those things end up around for a long time. Thanks to everyone who hold on to those! It means a lot when I find out, years later, that they're still hanging around. That makes it well worth it.

It was fun seeing Becca, Izzy, Grant, Justin, Mitchell, Jacob, Corey, Abi, and anyone I missed earlier today.

Thursday, June 16, 2016

Spin Against the Axis

"The letters float off the page when you read, right? That's because your mind is hard-wired for the ancient Greek," explains a fellow camper, gray-eyed Annabeth. "And the ADHD--you're impulsive, can't sit still in the classroom. That's your battlefield reflexes. In a real fight, they'd keep you alive. As for the attention problems, that's because you see too much, Percy, not too little. Your senses are better than a regular mortal's...Face it. You're a half-blood."

--Rick Riordan, The Lightning Thief
I love this quote. It's so empowering to those who have been labeled. I loved it the first time I read it, and any time I go back and read it again, I love it even more. This is the quote I was telling you about in my post about Proust and the Squid a few weeks ago. It's a great book, and if you're having trouble getting your child to read over the summer, I would highly suggest you read it too. It's by Maryanne Wolf. Fascinating stuff.

It was four years ago that I posted this originally. The quote is still as strong to me as it was when I first read it. This goes out to anyone who has ever struggled with reading, who has ever gotten in trouble (possibly--okay, probably--from me, even) for not being able to control yourself in the classroom. 

The world needs both the calm and collected thinkers as well as the warriors. You are the warriors. 

Tuesday, June 14, 2016

So Gallantly Streaming

Flag Day is the anniversary of the adoption of the United States flag as the official flag of the United States of America. It was on June 14, 1777, that it was made official by the Second Continental Congress.

So if you still have time by the time you read this, then get out there and fly your flag proudly [despite our current political climate all around], and show that the US will be a great country in the end, no matter what happens in the meantime, in the in-between time.

From, here are eight things you didn't know about the American flag (unless you're a fifth grade teacher, in which case you did already know #1, 2, 3, and 6).

1. Francis Scott Key intended his verses to be song lyrics, not poetry.
“The Star Spangled-Banner” was not a poem set to a melody years later. Although Key was an amateur poet and not a songwriter, when he composed his verses, he intended them to accompany a popular song of the day. “We know he had the tune in mind because the rhyme and meter exactly fit it,” says Marc Leepson, author of the new Key biography “What So Proudly We Hailed.” The first broadside of the verses, printed just days after the battle, noted that the words should be sung to the melody of “To Anacreon in Heaven.” Key was quite familiar with the tune, having used it to accompany an 1805 poem, which included a reference to a “star-spangled flag,” he had written to honor Barbary War naval heroes Stephen Decatur and Charles Stewart.

Although Key composed the patriotic lyrics amid a burst of anti-British euphoria, “To Anacreon in Heaven” was ironically an English song composed in 1775 that served as the theme song of the upper-crust Anacreontic Society of London and a popular pub staple.

2. Key was not imprisoned on a British warship when he penned his verses.
In his capacity as a Washington, D.C., lawyer, Key had been dispatched by President James Madison on a mission to Baltimore to negotiate for the release of Dr. William Beanes, a prominent surgeon captured at the Battle of Bladensburg. Accompanied by John Stuart Skinner, a fellow lawyer working for the State Department, Key set sail on an American sloop in Baltimore Harbor, and on September 7 the pair boarded the British ship Tonnant, where they dined and secured the prisoner’s release under one condition—they could not go ashore until after the British attacked Baltimore. Accompanied by British guards on September 10, Key returned to the American sloop from which he witnessed the bombardment behind the 50-ship British fleet.

3. The flag Key “hailed at the twilight’s last gleaming” did not fly “through the perilous fight.”
In addition to a thunderstorm of bombs, a torrent of rain fell on Fort McHenry throughout the night of the Battle of Baltimore. The fort’s 30-by-42-foot garrison flag was so massive that it required 11 men to hoist when dry, and if waterlogged the woolen banner could have weighed upwards of 500 pounds and snapped the flagpole. So as the rain poured down, a smaller storm flag that measured 17-by-25 feet flew in its place. “In the morning they most likely took down the rain-soaked storm flag and hoisted the bigger one,” Leepson says, “and that’s the flag Key saw in the morning.”

4. The song was not originally entitled “The Star-Spangled Banner.”
When Key scrawled his lyrics on the back of a letter he pulled from his pocket on the morning of September 14, he did not give them any title. Within a week, Key’s verses were printed on broadsides and in Baltimore newspapers under the title “Defence of Fort M’Henry.” In November, a Baltimore music store printed the patriotic song with sheet music for the first time under the more lyrical title “The Star-Spangled Banner.”

5. It did not become the national anthem until more than a century after it was written.
Along with “Hail Columbia” and “Yankee Doodle,” “The Star-Spangled Banner” was among the prevalent patriotic airs in the aftermath of the War of 1812. During the Civil War, “The Star-Spangled Banner” was an anthem for Union troops, and the song increased in popularity in the ensuing decades, which led to President Woodrow Wilson signing an executive order in 1916 designating it as “the national anthem of the United States” for all military ceremonies. On March 3, 1931, after 40 previous attempts failed, a measure passed Congress and was signed into law that formally designated “The Star-Spangled Banner” as the national anthem of the United States.

6. The national anthem has four verses.
The version of “The Star-Spangled Banner” traditionally sung on patriotic occasions and at sporting events is only the song’s first verse. All four verses conclude with the same line: “O’er the land of the free and the home of the brave.” (In 1861, poet Oliver Wendell Holmes wrote a fifth verse to support the Union cause in the Civil War and denounce “the traitor that dares to defile the flag of her stars.”)

7. Key opposed American entry into the War of 1812.
Ironically, the man who created one of the lasting patriotic legacies of the War of 1812 adamantly opposed the conflict at its outset. Key referred to the war as “abominable” and “a lump of wickedness.” However, his opposition to the war softened after the British began to raid nearby Chesapeake Bay communities in 1813 and 1814, and he briefly served in a Georgetown wartime militia.

8. Key was a consummate Washington insider.
Although Key loathed politics, he was a prominent figure in Washington, D.C. “He was an important player in the early republic,” Leepson says. “He was a very successful and influential lawyer at the highest levels in Washington.” Key ran a thriving law practice, served as a trusted advisor in Andrew Jackson’s “Kitchen Cabinet” and was appointed a United States Attorney in 1833. He prosecuted hundreds of cases, including that of Richard Lawrence for the attempted assassination of Jackson, and argued over 100 cases before the United States Supreme Court.

9. Key was a one-hit wonder who might have been tone deaf.
Key was much more adept in his legal day job than he was as an amateur poet. Most of the odes he composed were never meant to be seen beyond family and friends, and none came remotely close to realizing the popular fame of “The Star-Spangled Banner.” In addition to being a middling poet, Key also had a hard time carrying a tune. “Key’s family said he was not musical,” Leepson says, “which means he likely was tone deaf.”

Sunday, June 12, 2016


About three weeks ago, on Track and Field Day, Ryan (from my Math class) asked if she could see my phone. I told her no. I didn't want her reading my texts or anything. She told me that she wouldn't even need to get past my pass code. I agreed, assuming she had no access to anything.

Imagine my surprise when I was looking through my T&F day pictures to put them on the blog and I found this series of photos of some of my favorite Challenge students from Math class: Ryan, Izzy, Darcy, and Tom Orange.

Sometimes I admittedly resent the kids for all they know about technology that I don't, but at times like this I'm happy that they do.

Friday, June 10, 2016

Mean It And Believe It

We chanced upon this song in class once this year while we were doing Science. While "Road Outside Columbus" was definitely our anthem this year by a long shot, everyone agreed that this is the song that you'd want to play when you're just having a horrible day and need something to listen to while you take out your frustrations on a punching bag. It's "River May Come" by the Wild Yaks, just in case you are looking to download it--like I did, and immediately copied it to a CD for the classroom.

The Water Boys

During these hot days, don't forget to stay hydrated! (This post was Eli's idea. Good call, man.)

Wednesday, June 8, 2016

Good Morning, Woodbrook Lions

At the end of the school year, Mrs. Davis decided to try using students to do the morning announcements. Luckily for 5-1, she decided to mainly use students from our class--and mainly Luke and Lucy. I have no doubt that, had we started this much earlier in the year, many more people from 5-1 would have done their time on the morning news. 

Monday, June 6, 2016

Float and Sting

I'm a couple days late in writing this, but the passing of Muhammad Ali came as kind of a shock on Saturday. It's not that it was a big surprise--he had been quite ill for decades as I'm sure you knew. But still, there is never a really good time to hear that someone has died.

For a few years, I had a poster like of the picture above hanging in my classroom. It was too large to laminate, so it decomposed after being taken down, moved, and put back up a few times. One of the kids brought it in to me shortly after I started doing karate.

Muhammad Ali is still known in karate circles for his footwork. If you go back and watch the film footage of his fights (as I have been subject to many times), he meant it when he said "float like a butterfly". He is known for what he was able to do with his fists, but I don't think everyone realizes that he was only able to do that because he was amazing with his feet.

Garrison Keillor once referred to basketball as "a beautiful sport, played with the legs and the tips of the fingers, asking you to be a horse and also a bird." Looking back on Muhammad Ali's skill set, he was the Greatest There Ever Was because he understood that boxing was the exact opposite of that, played with the tips of your feet and your arms, asking you to be a butterfly and also a bee.

I was at the Civil Rights Game down in Cincinnati back in the summer of 2009. Muhammad Ali was brought out to say a few words, and he had a really hard time speaking. I would even say that it was painfully difficult to watch. He had been in pain for a considerable amount of time. And while I don't agree with everything he did or said, his death is no less a loss for the cause of human rights.

Off the top of my head, this year we have had the deaths of David Bowie, Glen Frey, Prince, Garry Shandling, and I know more famous people have died this year alone. Google the name Darwyn Cooke and you will know why that "celebrity" death is especially potent to me. But Muhammad That one stings. 

For Those Who Like the Bonus Material

Here are some pictures I took toward the end of the school year that didn't make it onto the blog. It's kind of a "deleted scenes" edition of Mr. Carter's Dojo, just in case anyone is actually reading the blog still!

Saturday, June 4, 2016

Miss Karli

Happy Birthday to Miss Karli! Karli has the honor of being the first of the summer birthdays. As a guy who also has a summer birthday, I can tell you that it is a little bit of a mixed bag--you get to have a birthday where you don't get have to go to school ever, but you're not around all of your friends necessarily on your birthday, either. (And heck, they didn't even do the summer birthdays on the announcements this year! What's up with that?!)

I cannot imagine Karli complaining about this, though. She is the type who is pretty quiet, but always happy. She always did all of her work on time and was always on top of things. She has lots of friends who are much more talkative than she, and that is probably why she is such a nice complement to them. Plus she does have a feisty side that's pretty fun when you get to see it.

One thing I really like about Karli is that I never have had to worry* about who I was going to pair her with during group work or partner work. She can work with anyone, and anyone can work with her. I know she's not the first person I've said that about, but it's no less true.

Karli has a dream of one day owning her own bakery. I would certainly go there if she does. If her cakes and cookies are anywhere nearly as sweet as she is, it's sure to put those little cupcake stores in town right out of business.

I'm sorry your birthday is so rainy and cruddy, Karli, but I'm sure it's better where you are because of your very presence. Happy Birthday! Hope you're having a great summer.

*Sadly, I'm finding myself having a hard time talking about these kids in the past tense. Say it ain't so!

Thursday, June 2, 2016

Good Luck Out There

About a week ago, I showed a movie that I always show on the last day of school. The Fantastic Mr. Fox is a Wes Anderson movie (The Royal Tenenbaums, The Life Aquatic With Steve Zissou, The Grand Budapest Hotel to name a few of his other films) that was written and created for kids. He uses stop-motion animation, much like the old Rudolph Christmas specials, Gumby, and Davey and Goliath shows that used to show as reruns way back when we were kids.

This is a movie that not too many kids have seen, but almost all of them end up enjoying. I always have a couple of kids draw some pretty deep conclusions about it in the end, or at least notice the little hints and details Anderson adds in the film's conclusion.

Above is not the scene I had intended to show on the blog, but when I googled it, this showed up, and it's another great scene from the movie. I have a poster that shows the wolf with the words "Good Luck Out There" above it hanging in my classroom.