Sunday, June 25, 2017

You Can't Take the Sky From Me

Here is an article (as in, click here...) that I read this evening and loved.

It's about a group of librarians who rode around on horseback during the Great Depression delivering books to people seeking to educate themselves during a time when America truly needed hope.

There is something I share in common with librarians, and that is a true appreciation (I almost said passion, but that seems trite...) for education. In a world that seems to celebrate and honor ignorance (cough*Kardashian*cough), we in the education world often just want to put our faces in our hands and shake our heads.
If these librarians were able to hold their heads high and deliver lessons and stories to the struggling masses and give them hope, well, that helps me keep my own hope alive.

Wednesday, June 21, 2017

My Soft Spot

I wanted to share this picture with you here because I'm not sure if everyone got to see it or not. It was purchased at a PTO fundraiser by the Delabys, and it features the whole class. I love this picture. It already is posted up in the room. You guys are awesome.

Monday, June 19, 2017

The Fifth Quarter

Let me start by saying that I'm going to address the parents and adult readers of this blog here.

If you haven't watched the ESPN 30 for 30 documentary O.J. Made In America, do yourself a favor and watch it. In my opinion, it is one of the most important documentaries that has ever been made.

What was most eye-opening to me was not what I went into this documentary looking for. I was watching it partly as a nostalgia piece. 1994 is the year I was a sophomore in college. It was the year of Nancy Kerrigan and Tonya Harding, the year Kurt Cobain died, and--of course--the year of O.J. It was that prime age where the music I listened to, the messages from my professors, what I read, and the media input was at its most potent. It was a year of Pearl Jam, Nirvana, Soundgarden, Live, Weezer, and Oasis.

What I got out of it, though, was a wonderful, horrible, honest profile on race in America. Things I hadn't even thought about came to light through this film. Things that are hundreds of years old came to light. It made sense suddenly, and I realized exactly why we still have a whole lot of work to do.

Normally, I don't pay any attention to the Oscars. However, when I found out that ESPN had won the best documentary feature for this miniseries, I said they got something right. I knew without reservation. It is one of the most important things to come out in the past year.

Do yourself a favor and watch it when you get a chance.

Sunday, June 18, 2017


OK Go always gives an incredible presentation. No special effects are in this video, or any of theirs.

Friday, June 16, 2017

Do 5-1 Students Dream Of Organic Sheep?

I hope everyone is getting plenty of rest over this summer break. Lord knows you can all use it!

Wednesday, June 14, 2017

A Teenage Spider In Queens

How good does this movie look? I love that they actually have a teenage Spider-Man, like he was originally written back in the 60's.

Here's to the math and science nerds out there. Here's your guy!

Tuesday, June 13, 2017

Had To Be There

Naturally, I thought of Sammy when I was having dinner on my parent's back deck a couple weeks ago and saw this on my plastic cup. No one knew why I had to take a picture of it. I think you would have had to be there this year in order to get it.

Monday, June 12, 2017

Better Living Through Science

I am all for teaching kids to be prepared for yesterday, contrary to what this guy says at first. However, I would be lying if I didn't say I would love to have one of these for my classroom. I can definitely see the potential, and I also recognize the need to prepare them for tomorrow.

Saturday, June 10, 2017

A Life Lived Well

I met Adam West at a comicon about five (?) years ago in Fort Wayne. He was very humble, and not intentionally so. He asked me--a guy who had just walked up to his table--if the Batman TV show was something people still knew about. I told him of course it was.

His voice is unmistakable, and I have to say that he always seemed to be having a great time in anything I saw or heard him in.

Rest well, Mr. West. You have earned it.

The Summer Of Our Content

A little Steinbeck for you on this Saturday afternoon. I hope everyone is enjoying these beautiful days to the max.

Wednesday, June 7, 2017


And we round out the birthday trifecta with Grant today! Happy birthday, Grant!

I know that I often say this about students, but it is 100% true when I do: Grant is always unshakably in a good mood. What's unique about Grant is that he is also Mr. Mellow. In a class that had its share of big personalities (I loved you all), he held a special place to me because he always had a sense of chill about him. Because of this, he is able to get along with everyone. When I made seating arrangements, I never had to keep anyone away from him. You have no idea how valuable that is to a teacher.

He is a talented hockey player; he plays lacrosse, and he is a brilliant young man. He has a creative streak in him, and he has a smart sense of humor. He never turned in a paper that wasn't his full-blown best work. I am really happy to have had the chance to teach him this past year.

Grant, I hope you're having a great day today. It sure is a beautiful day--very bright and sunny and a little bit chill. In fact, if I had to describe you in terms of weather, I think today would be what I would describe.

Happy Birthday, Grant! You deserve it.

Tuesday, June 6, 2017

The Other Right Stuff

I had actually bought the movie Hidden Figures before the end of the school year, and I had planned to watch it to make sure it was safe to show to the class, thinking it might be good to watch on the last day. I didn't get it watched in time. I remember Charlie M. had recommended this movie earlier in the school year, and the subject matter alone does tie in with our space unit.

Last week, I watched it while on a flight, just as a way to pass the time. It turned out to be so much more than I expected. I loved this movie as a teacher, a math teacher, and as a teacher of girls. I love the civil rights message. It shows what one can do with math knowledge. It also shows that if anything is standing in your way, you have to find the way around it or through it. This was shown in three different ways--the pursuit of education being one of them.

I expected the civil rights issue when I watched this film, and it delivered. But what I didn't expect was how empowering it would be to mathematicians, females in particular. Without the women involved in this project, it would have taken much longer for NASA to successfully make it into outer space. Personally, I never knew this story. Also as a lover of history, I ate this up.

If you're looking for a good family-friendly movie to watch this summer (it's rated PG), this is highly recommended. It stars Taraji P. Henson, Octavia Spencer, Janelle Monae, Kevin Costner, Jim Parsons, and Kirsten Dunst.

I'm going to show this in class next year, done deal. 

Monday, June 5, 2017


Okay, Ruby, unfortunately I forgot to get everyone's picture for the summer birthday blogs, so if you want a different one on here, just come running over the next time I'm tutoring Eli. I should be there soon!

Now, on with the show.

Ruby is one of the smiliest, friendly girls in the whole fifth grade. She is gregarious (look it up, girl!) and outgoing, and she was such a special friend to many other girls in the classroom. She always did her best in class, and never hesitated to ask when she didn't understand something. You may not realize now what a valuable tool this is, but you would be surprised at how many students can be embarrassed to ask questions. This is going to really pay off for her throughout the rest of her school years. She is driven!

She is also musical. She comes from a musically talented family--her grandmother was a music teacher, in fact. At the talent show, the fifth grade musical, and the choir show, she really blew everyone away with her singing.

Ruby, I hope you're having a great summer so far. I'm sure you're keeping yourself busy with softball and stuff like that. (Yeah, I forgot to mention that she is also an athlete! Is there anything she can't do?)

Happy Birthday, Ruby! You deserve it!

Saturday, June 3, 2017

June 3, 1989

I remember so clearly listening to this on my radio when I was a kid. It was late at night, and I think I was either grounded, or it was too late for me to be up. I was still in school, but we were getting closer to the end.

Anyway, I remember hearing the image above being described over the radio. It was scary and shocking and yes, to a 14-year-old, a little exciting at the same time.

If you're a former student, ask your parents what they remember about Tiananmen Square. It's what happens when one person stands up to forces in power that are bullies.

I need to add June 3, 1989 to the timeline.

Thursday, June 1, 2017

Resolved Pretty Easily

This is one of my favorite pictures from the past school year. These two are best friends. They got in trouble all the time for talking during class, but their friendship is one of my favorites. I got these two confused all the time, not because they look anything alike (look at them!), but because I associated them with each other so much.

I think this is from when I told Abdul and Rohan that they had to put on the "friendship vest" because they were arguing, but as you can tell, there was really no need at this point in the argument.

I hope you are both having a great summer so far, and please know that I miss stuff like telling you both to get back in your seats.

Also, I miss talking in German, Rohan. If next year's class doesn't have someone who speaks German, I will be sorely disappointed.

Tuesday, May 30, 2017

Sweet Victory

I am loathe to take selfies, but I took this one on Track and Field Day anyway. I meant to tell the kids how proud I was of how they did that day. Don't get me wrong, I did tell them, but I wish I would have been more specific.

Really, I wish I would have told them how proud I was that they kicked the butts of that green team. I got mad and told them not to respond when they were being mean and calling us out and calling us cheaters. From that point on, I made my kids go back and redo anything they did that may lead to us being accused of cheating at all. Luckily, where it counted--and where they couldn't be accused of such things--the tug of rope contest, we beat them fair and square. The big races? Well, we came out tied with them. But the test of strength--we destroyed them in a feat of glory.

Way to go, Big Blue! You destroyed them. Remember when I told you not to predict that you would win because it would make their potential victory extra sweet? Well, you didn't do that, and it paid off. They did do that to us, and that also paid off in our favor. Just like I said it would!

Blue won. Again. I told you we were the best class.

Sunday, May 28, 2017

I Saw the News Today, Oh Boy

I am hoping that you are all having a great start to your summer. While it was just a few days ago that we parted ways, it does seem like it has been summer for a little while already. I have been to various graduation open houses, attended a couple of neighborhood block parties, and let's face it, life just feels different right now.

I've been cleaning out and making lists, and I hope you all are enjoying the start to your summer.

Here's a little tribute below to Gregg Allman, who left us just yesterday.

This song just screams summer to me, come to think of it!

Thursday, May 25, 2017

Keep You Informed

Just a quick grade update: The new grades have been posted, but they aren't up yet. I did not put any closing remarks in them, because I have talked to most of you in the past few days and have caught you up that way. That said, if you do have any questions after the grades are up, send me a quick email and I will answer as soon as I can. We've had a kink or two in the last couple report card uploads, so let me know if you need anything.

The Known Unknown

I told the kids yesterday that the saddest part of the for me is coming back to an empty classroom. As much as I tried to keep them quiet, the quiet now is almost deafening.

But there is no time to sulk. I love the purging and the cleaning at this time of year, and the sealing everything up until August comes again.

Keep your eyes on the blog if you're interested over the summer. I try to pop in every couple days with a picture or two, or a video, or something else that's interesting. Plus, I still do the kids' birthdays during the summer. I forgot to get their pictures yesterday, so I will have to scrounge for those over the summer too. 

Wednesday, May 24, 2017

And All the Ships At Sea

Well, today we tried to recreate the picture from the first day of school. We did...okay. It was much harder to get everyone arranged than I thought it would. This was the closest I was able to come to getting everyone to look at the camera. You could say that this is part of what I still love about this class.

We watched Home today, the kids helped me pack up boxes, and we had a bang-up talent show that showed we have a lot of talent in 5-1 alone. Then, for some reason, we had to sing an acapella version of the Friday song! It worked, though.

I will post more pictures and stuff in the days to come, but right now I'm spent. I hope everyone has had a great last day of school, and has a summer full of relaxation and good things.

Tuesday, May 23, 2017

Ridin' Around In the Breeze

Thank you so much to Craig Anderson for once again putting this video together for my class. He is now a 5-1 alumnus dad, having had both of his boys, Reed and Luke, go through. Now he does this only out of the goodness of his heart, and with a good ear for music. He may love the tradition of the Friday song as much as I do.

Here's to another year! Thanks again, Craig!


Happy Birthday, Will!

This is him tonight at the fifth grade party. The first thing I did when I walked in was figure out where he was so I could get his picture for the blog. My mind had spaced it earlier today (sorry, bud!).

Will and his family are no strangers to 5-1, because his brother was in my class many years ago. It wasn't until last summer that I really got to know him, though, and I knew right away that he was the kind of person I needed in Area 51. He is calm and collected, which is always more than welcome in one of my classes.

He is Mr. Athlete. Basketball, baseball, you name it. He is 100% boy in his interests. I was really happy this year to watch him go from being someone who didn't like to read into someone who is now what I would call well-read. I would enjoy seeing him quietly, and with extreme patience, not exactly roll his eyes, but he would just look out the side of them, when people were acting like idiots this school year. It felt like I had a kindred soul.

Will, I am so sad that tomorrow is your last day, but I hope you will always keep in touch. You have a very bright future ahead, man. You're one of the good ones, Will!

Monday, May 22, 2017

Accumulation Of This

You know, last week may have been one of the most epic weeks in 5-1's fabled history. When I realize how much cool stuff we did, it is at least right up there with some of the best.

As you know, I have had the kids working on their end of year presentations over the last few days. This has been so much fun, and that is exactly what it is meant to have been. I told the kids that there are no rules for this, all they have to do is present what they have learned independently about whatever they want. They can do it with a book, a speech, a powerpoint, or whatever medium they want.

Here the kids are working hard last Friday, in between visitors and specials and math. I turned off the lights at their request. I thought these pictures look like a cross between a blackout and mission control.

Can't wait to see what they give me tomorrow! I hope no one is stressing out about this, because this is not supposed to be even a little bit stressful. 

Full Circle

Friday was a very special day in 5-1, because not only did we receive a visit from my mom and dad, but later in the afternoon, we were visited by Michael Pitz. Michael is a very-soon-to-be Carmel High School graduate. He has spent the last year as the student body president, a member of the basketball team, a bass player for the orchestra, and pretty much just a man of the people.

Honestly, I was surprised that he was able to come. I have always thought that he belongs to the people now, but luckily for us, we are some of his people. Michael is the founder of the Circle of Manhood, which he spoke to the class about. Michael and his family have come to mean quite a bit to me in the past ten years or so, and I was really glad to have had the chance to share him with the class, and the class with him.

He is off to IU next year (well, I tried, at least), and we are all thankful that he was able to stop in on Friday before we went home. I'm sure you helped inspire some of these kids, Michael. Keep on doing what you do at IU and it will be a better place for it.

The Grandteachers

I was so happy on Friday when my mom and dad came to read to the class. My mom reads the same way she did when I was a kid. The kids had been waiting for a long time for a visit from my mom and dad. I was very happy with how the kids behaved, with their excellent questions, and with how naturally my class interacted with them.

My parents even wanted to sing the Friday song with them before they left, so we all got to sing a round of "The End of the Line" together.

Thanks, Mom and Dad! The kids loved meeting you, and I loved getting to show off my class to you (and you to my class...).

Excellence On the Field

There will be more to post later on, but right now I'm just trying to catch up.

I want to say just how extremely proud I am of my students' behavior and sportsmanship on Track and Field Day. They were often in hostile territory in competition with another class, but I am so happy to report that my class had class. What's even better than that is the fact that we beat the other classes! We tug-o-warred them out cold.

This is another one of those classes where I could not be more proud of their attitudes. Good people right here.

Sunday, May 21, 2017

Singularity And Continuity

On Wednesday, we actually did quite a few things that were counted as "fun" by one of my students later on that day. It wasn't intended to be a fun day, but it turned out it was, and from my end, too. Practically every day is fun for the teacher, but if it turns out to be good for the kids, well, that's bonus.

The first thing was that in Math class, we cut out and constructed 3-D models of geometric shapes to help us learn about vertex and edges. Everyone seemed to like this, and it was fun just to hang out while the kids cut out shapes and then did their best to mold them into the proper 3-D form with tape and glue sticks. I am proud to say that at least all the glue sticks came back with caps properly in place and firmly attached.
We did research with the 360 laptops for the kids' independent study program for the last few days of school. That was fun. It was silent for a good portion of this! Who knew? If I had known this, I would have checked out a couple of technology carts long. long ago! It was so much fun to see the kids researching whatever they want to present, and coming up with the appropriate way to present their findings. This project has just been perfect so far.

Finally, Will Keen safely got his anole back home to its new home. So did many other students, and I am very thankful to report that none of the anoles are left over at this time. Thank you, Will, and to all of the other students who gave our anoles a new hope and a new life beyond our research in science class!

Oh, and back up to the first picture--the library summer reading program starts very soon (if it hasn't already), so make sure your child has brought home their materials and get them reading over the summer--or keep them reading over the summer, I should say.


This isn't even one of Chris Cornell's originals, but I find this song to be an especially healing listen. This is a great performance, and I hope it's a good tribute to a man who struggled with mental illness. I hope this sheds some light on a less-and-less taboo topic that needs to come into the light if it's going to be dealt with in a realistic and unashamed way.

Another Mad Smile

Let me start off by saying that many things have happened since the last time I posted here last Wednesday:
  • Chris Cornell died. 
  • My mom and dad came to read to the class.
  • We had track and field day.
  • An old student, Michael Pitz, came to read to the class. 
  • We did the locks. I may try this one again with my class. 
  • We continued a research project. 
I will discuss all these things coming right up, but in the meantime, in the in-between time, I will leave you with a brief schedule of upcoming events:
  • Tomorrow, we will continue with our research projects. We will also have Math. By the way, these research projects are pretty much just for fun and using the computers.
  • Tuesday, we will rehearse and also have our fifth grade graduation.  There is also a graduation party later on that day, after school. I have received absolutely zero information regarding this, but I'm hoping you have? I'm in the dark, personally. :(
  • Wednesday is, of course, the last day of school. We will clean out desks, etc., that day. 
Okay, now I'm on with the show...

Wednesday, May 17, 2017

Getting Over the Last Big Hump

Tomorrow we are BLUE.

If you are coming tomorrow (I can always use parent helpers for Track and Field Day!), let me know! Evidently, I as supposed to let Mrs. Strong know by today...but I just got the email today, so there you go.

I look forward to a great day tomorrow.

Tuesday, May 16, 2017

Birds, Bees, Etc.

The kids survived the Ruth Lilly talk today. Our presenter did a great job, and was very frank and no-nonsense. I thought the kids did a great job. 

I did take some pictures of them looking extremely uncomfortable, but decided it would be unfair of me to post them here. However, if anyone gives me a good reason to, I will not hesitate. (Ha!)

And Now, a Word From Mr. Z

Woodbrook Track and Field Day 2017

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 18th, with a rain date scheduled for Friday, May 19th.  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. Vahle                                                        YELLOW                                                      
Mr. Carter                                                       BLUE            
Mrs. Stemnock                                                GREEN
Mrs. Loeffler                                                  RED

Thank You,
John Zangrilli
AKA, Mr. Z

Monday, May 15, 2017

This Is the Way We Roll

There is not too much new today compared with yesterday's update. Tomorrow we do have Ruth Lilly, but unlike in many of the years past, we do not go downtown. They come to us, so there is no need for a permission slip or a sack lunch or anything like that. We won't have math tomorrow because two of the other fifth grade classes will have their Ruth Lilly program during that time, so we can't separate out for Math classes.

We do have spelling, and the kids do have their bookmarks for the last time this week due on Friday. We also had Math homework tonight (three problems...three!). 

Sunday, May 14, 2017

Continuity Shuffle

This last full week will be abnormal as usual.
  • Monday: Fairly normal? I don't know of anything weird on this day so far.
  • Tuesday: Ruth Lilly! Woohoo!
  • Wednesday: There is nothing huge this day, but we do practice opening locks with Mrs. Wischmeyer on this morning. Get ready to "unlock" some new memories in middle school.
  • Thursday: This is the intended Track and Field Day. Their last Track and Field Day
  • Friday: Fairly normal? That is, at least until someone realizes that it's supposed to be normal, and so they come in to throw a wrench into it.

Saturday, May 13, 2017

Start Your Engines

Yesterday was the Kindy 500, and everyone gathered round once again at the Woodbrook Speedway to watch the greatest spectacle in tricycle racing. My class did very well, even though they were convinced that they were going to be chosen to be the fifth grade helpers. I had told them that it's not always my class! Ah, well. At least we got to enjoy the sunshine and see the race. It was a beautiful afternoon.

Friday, May 12, 2017

Neck and Neck

Whoa! We already have two lizards spoken for! Permission slips have been returning quickly already! Good for you guys for being so proactive.

Ahead for next week, we have Ruth Lilly coming to town! That's Tuesday morning, so I hope everyone is geared up and ready for that one.

Have a great weekend. Thus far, the weather is great!

Thursday, May 11, 2017

Classroom Beautiful

Today started off strangely. We had our lizards, but we had Math at first, and then we had Computer class, and then after that, we had homeroom, when the kids could finally get to know these guys and make observations on them and their strange, reptilian ways. Of course, they were also making observations on earthworms and crickets, and this time with decidedly less drama than the last time we tried this!

Then, we were treated to the choir show by the choir and the ORFF ensemble. We have so much talent at WBE! I hope everyone who finally got to see it tonight enjoyed it as much as I did.

Bookmarks are due tomorrow! Spelling test! Lastly, we have a math quiz that shouldn't be a problem. I did send a study guide home tonight.

I hope everyone had a great Thursday. Now, we are on to a frenzied Friday.

Wednesday, May 10, 2017

Today Was All About Reptiles

Okay, well, first of all, the bad news. We only received eight chameleons. Yeah. Eight. Anyway, Drew here helped me get them into the terrariums after school was over today. Thank goodness I still had one person who went to ESE today, so that I could have at least one helper. I'm afraid to report, as well, that you probably won't be allowed to hold the lizards like Drew is here, because when we have so many people in the room, they get really scared. But anyway, the lamps are in the room, along with the lizards, the crickets, and a baseball-sized clump of worms. 

Secondly, today we had a guest writer, Mrs. Laura Martin, come visit Woodbrook today. She gave a really great presentation about where she gets ideas, world-building, and how she wasn't even all that interested in dinosaurs until she had an idea for her dinosaur-based two-book series.

Laura Martin is a former CCS teacher, having taught middle school language arts at Clay for years. It was awesome to have her here today to share with us all that has gone into writing her books. It made the possibility of becoming an author seem more and more realistic to everyone there--including me!


Happy Birthday to Corrina!

Corrina is one of the sweetest girls in the whole class--possibly the number one contender in that category; I would have to think about it. She is always so happy and positive. I cannot think of a single person who would have even one negative thing to say about her.

She is very helpful, a great friend, and always there whenever someone needs a kind word or just a nice little smile. She has shown a lot of growth this year--I have been especially impressed by her work in Math. She has become one of my go-to girls for the right answer. She's a quiet one, but she will really surprise you like that.

I hope you have had a wonderful birthday, Corrina. You deserve it. Plus, did you notice I was extra careful to spell your name correctly throughout this post? Yeah, that's the special kind of extra care I add when doing these posts! (And, uh...sorry for all the times I misspelled your name...)

You're going to make your sixth grade teachers very lucky in, what, twelve weeks or so? You're going to do great! I will miss you greatly.

Tuesday, May 9, 2017


Over the last couple days, we have done a reading assessment, listened to more radio dramas put on by students, learned about probability and circles in math, and finished the book The Flashback Four: The Titanic Mission. This one had a bit of a let-down at the end, as it is a "to be continued" conclusion. This isn't the first time Gutman has done this. I told the kids that this is how we felt a few years ago as the Genius Files were coming out! I told them that they can all come back to listen to the next part next year when it comes out. Ah, well, Dan Gutman. You'll have us all coming back for more as always!

Monday, May 8, 2017

Inquiring Minds Want To Know

Sorry for the gigantic deluge of posts yesterday. I had a lot of catching up to do!

Today Clay came over (again). They answered questions again. But the good thing about this time is that at least they brought some students over with them, including 5-1's own Grace Fleming. I didn't even recognize her at first. She played shy when I tried to talk to her, but I'll bet she was actually happy to see us. She always was a really happy girl, and it was good to see her again.

This week we have Spelling, they kids have Math homework tonight, and the kids ought to be studying for their Science quiz on Thursday!

Have a great Monday and enjoy the sunshine.

Sunday, May 7, 2017

The Auteur Solo

Thank you so much to Mr. Craig Anderson, who came in on Friday afternoon--having been bumped twice already--to film my class singing out Friday Song.

Craig has come in every year since his son, Reed, was in my fifth grade class. In the two other years between, this has been a fully voluntary act on his part. He definitely has a gift for creating videos that I do not possess.

I am so thankful that Craig was willing to come over and film us all, even though he didn't have Mrs. Anderson, Reed, or Luke with him. I hope to see them all next year (plus a certain someone else). I can't wait to see what you come up with in the end, Mr. Anderson!

Thanks again!

The Entitlement Gap

Here is an excellent article that showed up recently in the Wall Street Journal. It's all about how the word "adult" has gone from a noun to a verb. As a person who sees the English language as a fluid animal, I don't necessarily hate the "verbing" of that word, but I do despise the laziness that comes from behind it. Sadly, this word envelopes the whole first five to six years of students whom I have taught, so please don't let your kids become a part of it too--for your own sake!

Here's hoping your kids will prove that the Millennials were just an aberration.

Free Smiles All Around

Free Comic Book Day was yesterday, but as we all know now, all available hands from Area 51 were at Gleaner's Food Bank.

That said, I am thankful to my good friends Pete Kilmer and Mike Costello at Downtown Comics of Indianapolis for supplying my classroom with a box full of free comic books for my class! They loved it when I cracked open that box and pulled out issues of Guardians of the Galaxy, DC Super-Hero Girls, and more than that.

On a day that included a spelling test, a Math quiz, a radio drama that provided its share of drama at no fault to the performers, and a grumpy teacher (I'm just saying this assuming I was), this was a much-needed bit of respite to an otherwise tense Friday.

I am very thankful to you guys for doing what you do best, and for going above and beyond for the kids we get to look after every day. Thanks for being the "cool uncles" for my students and supplying them with free comic books.


This is a Sunday full of much-deserved thank yous. It would be hard for me to come up with a thank you, however, that is more deserved than that which I owe to the families and students who gave me such a wonderful week last week. It was Teacher Appreciation Week.

I have to admit that I feel kind of bad that nurses, administrative assistants, mothers, fathers, grandparents, and even presidents only get one day, where teachers get an entire week! It really asks that I step up my game a bit more every year.

Thanks to you all, but especially to Mrs. Delaby, who not only is a great Area 51 parent, but also was the teacher appreciation volunteer for this school year. You made sure I was very well taken care of this year.

Each day, I found myself rewarded in ways I couldn't have even imagined. Even on Monday--flower day!--when I had specifically asked not to be "thanked" for dread of triggering my allergies, I was thanked in a better way than I would ever have imagined. The days devoted to cards and letters, snacks, school supplies, and the teacher lunch were all just incredible.

Mrs. Davis and Mr. Hunter, thank you so much for the second teacher-appreciation lunch on Friday, when you grilled out for us and gave us a great lunch that day.

In addition to that on Friday, thank you so much to all of the parents (I have no idea who all you are, honestly!) who took over our recess duty that day and provided us teachers with a decadent massage--the whole works--in the conference room. Seriously, we had the soft Japanese music playing and the cucumber basil water pumped out for us while we were waiting.

Anyone who says teaching is a thankless job--well, you may be kind of right. But at least this past week, you would have been at a loss of evidence. Never let it be said at Woodbrook that we are not appreciated. Thank you all for your generosity and your love for the profession that we do every day.

Back When I Was a Kid, Goldurnit...

I'm going to put the premise of this post right up front: I love the fact that my students are going through fads like bottle flipping, putty, and fidget spinners. Seriously.

Now let me backtrack a little bit and say that I have had to, and will continue to, prohibit and take each of those things away from my students. They drive me crazy when they cause a disruption in my classroom. They are obnoxious.

That said, at least they are not electronics.

For every teacher that has complained about what a horrible thing fidget spinners are, the same people have lamented what technology and the internet have done to the children's brains. This doesn't make any sense.

Any time I have ever been to Conner Prairie with a school group, I have heard parents and teachers alike speaking out loud about how sad they are the kids don't get to experience the pleasure and simplicity of things like stilts, or playing the game where you have three rocks stacked on top of each other, where you can only hit the top one off with another rock without having to hit the middle one off. Or remember the old "get the ball on a string into the cup"? Of course you don't; your parents probably didn't even play that game it's so old-school.

But this is the same thing. I have no doubt that if I could find one of those ball-and-cup things, I have about a dozen students who would become obsessed with getting that ball into the cup. For a few precious minutes, these things are replacing the inherent cyber-bullying that comes with Instagram and Snapchat. They replace the kids craving their accursed phones or their iPads. The kids aren't being mean to each other and they're not gossiping. Let's not let go of a good thing just because the kids seem to love it. Let's remember what it is. It's a physical act, and not a digital one.

Yes, the kids will still have these things taken away if they cause problems. (And they do.) But I would so much rather this than the psychological torture that comes form the world of electronics in the hands of kids who have no empathy.

Don't complain about the spinners and the bottle-flippers. Tomorrow you are going to miss them, and you will find yourself asking, "Whatever happened to the days when kids got a kick out of flipping a half-empty water bottle?"

I think you will find that it was actually half full.

(Okay, okay. That one even made me groan. But you get the idea.)