Saturday, July 30, 2016


Happy Birthday, Miles!

You know what? I can honestly remember Miles from way back when he was in first grade. He was in Mrs. Shearman's class, and I would go and visit her class while I had a student teacher and needed to be out of the room. I can't believe how much he has grown up since then. I can honestly say that for many people in this class, but it just seems like it was yesterday that I would visit that class.

Miles is such a great kid. He's one of those people with a very serious conscience. He came to me during teacher appreciation week and gave me the most sincere face-to-face thank you that had been well thought out and nearly brought a tear to my eye.

He was one of the kids that I could trust implicitly. Toward the end of the school year, I would send him and another student down to the fifth grade closet way down the hall to dig up some old microscope equipment that I knew was still down there, which I needed for this school year, which I wished I had used this past school year. But I knew I could send him down there and he wouldn't mess around and waste time.

He always gave me his best. Always. And when he didn't understand something, he made sure he learned how to do it. I remember this well in Math when he had questions about how to do certain problems, and especially when I watched it click in his brain why it's summer in Australia when it's winter in the U.S.

If you can judge a man by the company he keeps, then I think Miles is one of the greatest people around, because his friends are some of my favorite people from this past year. He's one of the future world-changers and problem solvers. He's one of the people who will mean the world to the few and quietly change the world in the process. He doesn't realize yet what I have realized about him since the beginning of the school year. That alone makes him awesome.

I really hope you have a fantastic birthday, buddy. You deserve it.

Thursday, July 28, 2016

It's a Sad Sad Sad Sad World

You probably have never heard of Jack Davis. He was one of the great commercial illustrators of this century (and last). He died earlier this week at the age of 91.

He was one of the artists whose work you have undoubtedly seen on classic movie posters, though. I first came to know him from his work on Mad Magazine. This is probably where many of you parents out there may recognize his work as well. I would read Mad when I was a friends' houses for sleepovers and stuff.

When I was in seventh grade, I had a neighbor move in across the street with his cousins while his dad fought with cancer. He was a big-time Mad reader and he got me into reading comic books, actually. All too soon, his father passed away and he moved back to Pennsylvania, but a part of him stuck with me.

I have been a big fan of Jack Davis for a long time. He's one of those artists whose work I knew by how it looked long before I knew what his name was. Just google him to see more. He is maybe best-known for his movie poster for It's a Mad Mad Mad Mad World.

It honestly wasn't until I became a comic book reader and started to recognize certain styles and match them with names (Norm Breyfogle, Mike Mignola, Walt Simonson, Bart Sears) that I went back and started to look back at the names of those Mad artists. It didn't take long before I started to learn names like Mort Drucker, Antonio Prohias, Sergio Aragones, and, yes, Jack Davis.

From movie posters to album covers to advertisements to everything...he was definitely one of the great illustrators whose name you normally don't hear along with Norman Rockwell...but in a just world, you would.

Get Off My Lawn

Does it make me a cranky old man if I agree with Crankshaft above? If so, then I'll gladly take it.

Wednesday, July 27, 2016


Happy Birthday to Nick!

As I said yesterday on the previous post, Nick is also one of the kindest people you will ever meet. The smile you see above is honestly the look that he always has on his face.

Nick is one of those kids who just doesn't have an enemy. Everyone likes him that I know of. In fact, if someone doesn't like him, that tells me far more about that individual than it does Nick. I am 99.9% sure that Nick never once had a late homework assignment (and on the off chance that he did, I'm sure he felt awful about it and made it up as soon as possible no matter the sacrifice). He was the social conscience of the group at all times, and in a group of kids as good as mine, that's really saying something.

I could see Nick going in any number of directions in his life. He drew me a few pictures that are still up on my bulletin board. He was such an incredible writer that I could see him doing something with that. Then again, he is so mathematically minded that I could see him being an architect or an engineer or a scientist or something like that. He is an excellent writer, mathematician, and a superior athlete. With all that, is there any doubt that he has a great future ahead of himself?

But all of this just sits beside him. The reason he's such a special person isn't that he's so talented. It's that he's just a great kid, and a wonderful person. That's what is going to carry him far in life. Everything else is just extra.

You're one of my favorite people, Nick, and you always will be. I hope you have a great birthday, kiddo. You more than deserve it.

Tuesday, July 26, 2016


Happy Birthday, Grace!

To say that Grace is always in a good mood would be an understatement. You see that look on her face right now? That's how she seriously always looks. 5-1 had its fair share of positive people in it this year, but I would be hard-pressed to think of anyone who out-did Grace this year on that front.*

Grace always spoke her mind, but was always more than polite in doing so. She was always one of the first to raise her hand when I would ask a question, read a Two-Minute Mystery, or asked why--for instance--the boys were so noisy coming down the hallway. Seriously. Even though no one else raised their hand and it obviously wasn't her, she would always be the first to raise her hand. She wasn't tattling, either. She was just trying to diffuse the situation. That's the kind of person she is.

She always gave her best effort for me, giving 125% effort, just to make up for a few other students in case they weren't quite at 100%. 

I have absolutely no doubt that Grace is going to thrive in about two weeks (ugh) when school starts. Her teachers are going to be lucky to have her. I'm actually jealous of them for what they have ahead of them. I'm glad to know that I was the last teacher who will ever get to have her all day.

Happy Birthday, Grace! You definitely deserve it.

*Okay, I'm just gonna say this now, but the person whose birthday is tomorrow? Probably the male version of Grace in terms of a positive outlook at all times. Just so you know I'm still being sincere when I say it about him too.

Monday, July 25, 2016


Happy Birthday, Chandler!

Chandler taught me more about professional wrestling this year than I have known since the late 80's. Sure, everyone knew about John Cena, but Chandler taught me about Bo Dallas, Seth Rollins, and Tyler Breeze. I loved the time I would get to spend talking with Chandler. He is a pretty quiet kid who absorbs more than he lets out, and that is a quality more kids should have. In fact, I often didn't realize just how much he took in until I was talking with him one on one. We talked about everything from my karate coaching to his dog to what would happen in his Math class.

The other kids in class were quick to rush to Chandler's side when it was called for. I think this is because he is such a loyal and steadfast friend to them. He's the type of person who did not ever need to have an advantage over anyone else nor felt competitive whatsoever toward them. He was just a polite young man who would be there for anyone. He didn't need to win against anyone else, nor did he always feel the need to be heard.

But when he did talk, people would listen. That's what happens when you think more than you speak. That's what happens when you're a person like Chandler.

Thanks for being one of the good guys, Chandler. Enjoy your day. You deserve a great one.

Saturday, July 23, 2016

My Week In the Woods

This past week, I was at karate camp. I’ve done this for one week every year for the past thirteen years. Most of you know I spent seven or eight years (I can’t really remember, honestly) before that spending the entire summer at Camp Tecumseh.

While camping isn’t quite as big a part of my life as it was before, it really is still important to me. In my younger years, I somehow was able to live in a cabin with two other college kids and ten 10/11 year olds for the entire summer. I remember walking into my cabin at night and feeling like I was walking into a sauna. I remember lining the boys’ wet shoes along the roof of the cabin to dry them out, to no avail (it was way too humid).

If it’s the least bit muggy outside, I instantly burst into sweat. This has been the case forever. Nothing smells worse at the end of a week at camp than my camp laundry. Believe me, I had to hold my nose while I piled my laundry into the washing machine when I got home.

Anyway, I had wanted to get a picture of all of the Woodbrook folks at karate camp so that I could post it on the Woodbrook Facebook page, but it just wouldn’t align. We had our fair share: Emma and Ally Mallon, Nathan and Catherine Pham, Colin Kane, Ben and Luke Gasta, and a few more that I’ve never had in class. At least I got that picture of me and Luke.

One thing that was good about this week is that I was able to take a few people out onto the lake to get some lake samples for studying the organisms. I have saved the samples and have already put them under the microscope, so hopefully the tech worked and I will be able to use the specimens for science this year during the predator-prey part of science this year.

I still don’t have my class list for this year, but I have heard from a few people who are ready for it to come out.

You and me both!

Thursday, July 21, 2016

Another Zone 51 Movement

Well, just when I thought that Eli had the monopoly on finding 51's, along came this message from Miles! He found this at the Field Museum. They really are all over the place if you look for them.

Oddly enough, I was at karate camp this week and found both a 50 as well as a 52, but no 51!.

It's a good thing we have alert blog readers like Miles out there keeping his eyes peeled. Thanks for sending this one in, Miles! And the alerts are still out for anyone and everyone to send in your 51s. As I think I posted earlier, I'm going to start a 51 wall in the classroom. Imagine the thrill when I post my 51st 51 picture one day!

Thanks again, Miles. Hope you have a great weekend!

Monday, July 18, 2016

Force Be With You

This is the latest footage from the San Diego Comicon of the new Star Wars movie coming out this Christmas. I posted stuff this same time last year regarding Episode VII.

I hope you all staydry and cool this week!

Saturday, July 16, 2016

Duty Calls

Last Wednesday I spent the day at Clay Middle for the C4 Conference. It was the first time I'd been to this conference, and I was pleasantly surprised. The four C's stand for Connect, Collect, Collaborate, and Create.

I knew it was going to be a tech conference (obviously education-based), and it was very worthwhile. Lots of great ideas were shared, I took copious amounts of good notes, downloaded some sweet apps, and met with some good people. I have already started filming some videos for science (thanks also to Nick S!) and I'm excited to continue on with this.

It almost made me want to go back to school. Almost. I guess that's why it's a good thing we still have three (gah!) weeks left.

Thursday, July 14, 2016

And I Awoke To People Bouncing 'Round the Room

Okay. I don't think there is anyone out there that can say that the world right now could not feel more upside down and inside out.

While this isn't an answer to anything whatsoever, why don't you watch this video? It's worth it. I've shared videos from OK Go a few times before in class.

While you're at it, watch this one too:

When they let all of the balls out in the airplane, it made me think of this ad.

That's about all I have for you today. Sorry it's not too deep, but at least it's pretty to look at.

Tuesday, July 12, 2016

The Talented

I wanted to share a video that I received from the parent of a former student, Trey Brown. Trey had the ability to lower my blood pressure by playing on the keyboard in the music room.

Here is a link to the video. It is him playing during the high school's talent show at the end of the year. The funny thing is, his face when he starts playing the piano looks the exact same way it did when he was a fifth grader in 5-1.

I asked his mom if I could share it here. I'm glad she said yes--as I'm sure you will be.

Monday, July 11, 2016

We All Needed a Little Break

While it's no secret that the past couple weeks have had more than their share of heartbreaking news, this video above of police officers who took on a game of basketball when challenged by some kids in Lafayette has a lot of people feeling like it's not quite the end of the world just yet. And that was a much-needed thing in the world right now.

Saturday, July 9, 2016

And It's a Beautiful Day

I normally wouldn't post anything about my own birthday, but I did let it be known yesterday when I posted for Terry. But just so it's not about me, let me instead tell you everyone else who has a birthday today:
  • My old grad school cohort and friend Amy Toscano Rittenhouse. 
  • Former 5-1 parent, Grant Moore's mom.
  • Tom Hanks--the most trusted man in America. Not too shabby!
  •  Fred Savage, the kid from The Wonder Years. Also, I don't watch very many TV shows at all, but one I did watch this year was his and Rob Lowe's The Grinder. Of course, it got canceled. 
  • Courtney Love, who is famous for being Kurt Cobain's wife. We're kind of sliding downhill pretty quickly now...
  • And then we also have O.J. Simpson. It looks like someone got some gloves for his birthday!
  • Last but not least, today is Jacob Bailey's little brother's birthday. Unfortunately, I can't remember his first name, but I did meet him earlier this summer, and he seems like a very cool kid with a very cool birthday. 
What's more? Today was Dr. Who day. Seriously. It's been advertised in the Fishers Public Library for months now, and there was much celebration planned. I didn't see that much revelry when I was there this morning, though. I have only watched that show once because of the insistence of my students and many friends, but I have to admit it just didn't stick to me the way you might think something that geeky would. But nevertheless, I do know that fans love it, and I am happy that they got an unofficial holiday on my birthday.

So happy birthday to us, Amy, Chrissy, Tom, Fred, Courtney, O.J., and Jacob's brother! Plus, happy Dr. Who Day to all those Dr. Who fans out there. Here's to another trip around the sun.

Friday, July 8, 2016

Wisdom From the Living

My grandma died last week. She was 87, and had dealt with dementia for the past two years. It was her time, and she was a happy woman when she passed away.

Every time anything like this happens, I remember an article that was passed around this newfound "internet" back when Erma Bombeck was alive and writing. I remember forwarding this to some of my friends and family (remember when we had to forward stuff like this through email instead of just sharing it on Facebook?).

I remember my other grandma responded to everyone instead of responding just to me, "How true this is."

I immediately sent everyone else I had forwarded this message to a response saying, "Sorry about that! Obviously my grandma doesn't understand the difference between 'Reply All' and 'Reply'."

While I still remember doing that, I now regret it. I'm sure my message was received the way it was admittely intended: "Please ignore my obviously ignorant grandma! Poor lady! She doesn't understand these newfangled computers!"

What I understood soon after is that maybe she did understand what she was doing. She probably didn't care what anyone thought. She probably wanted everyone to know just how true it really is from the perspective of someone who is older. Too old, in fact, to worry about what other people think.

I share it here now, hoping that everyone gets how true it is before it's too late.

(written after she found out she was dying from cancer).

I would have gone to bed when I was sick instead of pretending the earth would go into a holding pattern if I weren't there for the day.

I would have burned the pink candle sculpted like a rose before it melted in storage.

I would have talked less and listened more.

I would have invited friends over to dinner even if the carpet was stained, or the sofa faded.

I would have eaten the popcorn in the 'good' living room and worried much less about the dirt when someone wanted to light a fire in the fireplace.

I would have taken the time to listen to my grandfather ramble about his youth.

I would have shared more of the responsibility carried by my husband.

I would never have insisted the car windows be rolled up on a summer day because my hair had just been teased and sprayed.

I would have sat on the lawn with my grass stains.

I would have cried and laughed less while watching television and more while watching life.

I would never have bought anything just because it was practical, wouldn't show soil, or was guaranteed to last a lifetime.

Instead of wishing away nine months of pregnancy, I'd have cherished every moment and realized that the wonderment growing inside me was the only chance in life to assist God in a miracle.

When my kids kissed me impetuously, I would never have said, 'Later. Now go get washed up for dinner.' There would have been more 'I love you's'. More 'I'm sorry's.'

But mostly, given another shot at life, I would seize every minute, look at it and really see it .. live it and never give it back. STOP SWEATING THE SMALL STUFF!!!

Don't worry about who doesn't like you, who has more, or who's doing what Instead, let's cherish the relationships we have with those who do love us.

Artist In Residence

Happy Birthday to Terry! 
Terry was well-loved by everyone in 5-1 throughout the school year. His classmates were both appreciative of him as well as protective. He's a person who creates loyalty in the people around him.

Terry was the Artist in Residence of Area 51 this year. He would sit there and sketch and draw while I would teach. You may ask yourself why I would let a student do that. The answer is because I have sketchbooks full of drawings that I did 20+ years ago, and when I look at those sketchbooks, I still remember what I was listening to or watching while I drew the pictures. I understood where Terry's artistic mind was and how it worked, and believe me, it works. 

In fact, Terry was the first person since the year 2007 who has earned a place on my artists's gallery in the back of the room. I'm obviously pretty picky about whose work goes on that wall.

Terry also had the factor going for him that he was a 5-1 legacy. His sister, Maggie, was in my class several years ago (in fact, she will be a senior next year...). I have watched Terry grow up out of the corner of my eye over the past several years, hoping that I would get the chance to have one more Moriarity in my class before they left Woodbrook for good. Turns out I was lucky.

What's more, Terry's birthday is the day right before mine, so he's my birthday buddy. 

I hope you have a fantastic birthday, Terry! You deserve it!

Thursday, July 7, 2016

Sprechen Sie Englisch?

This is a pretty good article written by a CHS student in the HiLite toward the end of the school year. It's good food for thought regarding foreign languages in an increasingly global economy.

Assuming most of you readers who are actually still looking at this blog are the parents of middle school students, you need to understand that just because your child struggles with a foreign language right now, doesn't mean that they are going to face these challenges throughout their whole lives. If you're not going to start a student in a second language while they are still young (like most of the civilized world does), my professional opinion is that the second best time is during high school, when the student's mind is starting to expand a bit more.

It's a good thing to know a second language. Even if your child never needs to use it for any practical purpose, a mind with more knowledge in it is far better than one without.

Monday, July 4, 2016


I hope you all have a great Fourth of July! Sure, it's a little chilly and a lot cloudy and drizzly right now, but I hope everyone is able to get to some fireworks of some kind at some point in the next couple days or so.

Thanks to Social Studies (with a little help from Qwerty Stevens), we all know what was going on right now 240 years ago. Thank you, Founding Fathers, for the Independence!

Saturday, July 2, 2016

It Looks Prime, But It's Not

Well, guess who spotted another "51"? You have a keen eye, Eli! I wish more people would keep their eyes peeled to scope out 51s, but come to think of it, I haven't done such a good job either.

Eli found this one while camping last week. I'm starting to think I'm going to put up a wall of 51 photos. Oh, man, just imagine if I got 51 pictures of 51?

Thanks a ton, Eli. See you soon!