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!

Will

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.

Redemption



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
 CLASS TEAM COLORS


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!

Corrina

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

Sunk

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.


Lift

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.)


It's Generational











If you were there, you know what a great experience it was. If you weren't, I'm sorry. There's no way we can really explain it to you. It was great. Team 5-1, including the parents who wouldn't appear in the photo with the rest of us, put together 1,680 weekend backpack bags for kids in the greater Indianapolis area who otherwise would go hungry.

I loved watching the teamwork. I loved being able to talk to Mrs. Strines, Dr. Brink, Mrs. Swallow, Mrs. Keen, and Mr. and Mrs. Smiler. I also loved the fact that twelve of my students (plus Sophia Brink--who still counts as one of my kids--and Anna Strines) came out to volunteer yesterday morning. I know everyone has busy lives, but the fact that half of my students were able to come does much for my heart. Thank you to Noah Swallow, Char, Marissa, Noah Smiler, Charlie Mock, Rohan, Henry, Will Keen, Drew, Bill Strines, Brooke, and Ella, along with the volunteer workers at Gleaners Food Bank of Indianapolis.

What a perfect way to top off Teacher Appreciation Week. It was wonderful to watch my students and get to experience being their peer as a fellow volunteer. Thank you all. The world is a little bit better of a place now because of you.

Thursday, May 4, 2017

Words Of a Feather

This post is actually from April 2012, and I post an abbreviated form of it here today. During Teacher Appreciation Week, I wanted to post something about what I learned about teaching from doing and teaching karate for all those years...

The founder of my karate dojo, Shihan Doug Adamson, once asked our class as we were preparing for the black belt test and working on self-defense, "Have you ever tried to throw a feather?" As you know, when you throw a feather, no matter how hard you throw it, it doesn't cooperate. It just goes with the flow, and bends with the wind, just kind of drifting to the ground, no more shaken than when it first drifted down when it was shed. He said, "Be a feather."

What he was saying on the literal level was that when someone throws a punch or comes in to attack, you should let your body be light and flexible, bending around their punch and maneuvering yourself into a favorable position to do some damage to your attacker. To apply this to everyday life, and furthermore to teaching, I've learned to be flexible. We don't go through a day where everything goes exactly according to plan. One thing I've taught the students in my class is that everything will go so much better for them if they can learn these words: "It's all good" and "Whatever".

Of course, this is much easier said than done. We can all work on applying this to our daily lives. But I can tell you that it makes me smile any time I tell the kids apologetically that plans have been altered due to circumstances beyond our control, and I hear, "It's all good, Mr. C."

I am still trying to learn how to be a feather, but thankfully, because I've passed Shihan Adamson's words down to my students, the kids are helping me out in the process.
 

Rainy Day Drama

Today we studied more with line plots in math. We learned about outliers in them, and how they can give a false reading when you're trying to find the average of a group of numbers.

After specials, we read more of the Titanic book. I really want to finish it because I can't wait to see what happens next to the Flashback Four. I mean, the ship already went down, no surprises there, but this time travel story is actually pretty good.

We practiced radio dramas, finished one radio drama performance, then started another. We didn't make it all the way through that one, but at the time of this writing, I'm not sure whether we are going to finish it this afternoon or have our Daily 5 time instead, and pick back up tomorrow.

By the way, thank you so much for the wave of supplies that came in today. I got just what we needed--clipboards, tissues, tape, and binder clips! Plus more than that even. I love teacher appreciation week--it almost makes me feel guilty to be this lucky.

More to come. For now, it's almost time to get these kids down to lunch. Those mini corn dogs aren't going to eat themselves.

Wednesday, May 3, 2017

Humpday Update

In class this week, we have been learning about and talking about:
  • line plots and algebraic expressions
  • old-time radio dramas (practiced and performed)
  • cause and effect
We have also been eagerly awaiting our anoles, or chameleons. They don't have very long to get here!

Right Hand Free



If you need a little inspiration today, give this video a watch. This is what education can do!

Tuesday, May 2, 2017

Farm Girl Shows Us How It's Done



I really hope this one embeds correctly. What a great video that shows common sense intuition! I love this. Boys and girls, there are miles and miles and miles of untapped potential for new inventions out there at all times.

More Than Anything

Thank you so much to Noah Swallow, Will Keen, Grant, Reed, Charlie Mock, Drew, Lou, Riley, Henry, Kori, Ruby, Marissa, Char, Sammy, Charlie Hunter, Noah Smiler, Rohan, and Brooke for their very kind letters today. Those really mean more to me than anything else. I keep a couple binders in my office at home where I put all of those things, and I assure you that I will treasure them forever.

Thanks again, guys! Your words mean more than I can say.

He Could Have Been a Teacher



It's teacher appreciation week, so I feel good about posting this.

You know, it's not like my speech and grammar are perfect, but as a teacher, I am known to tell the students, "I hope you can go to the bathroom!" when they ask me if they "can" go to the bathroom. I am also guilty of taking off points when kids don't put a period at the end of their sentences.

It's not that I believe that I get joy out of correcting them, it's just that I don't want to enable the downhill slide of a somewhat educated society. In other words, I just don't want the world to get any dumber.

Also, as someone who has always been a self-professed nerd, I will always love the musical stylings of Weird Al Yankovich.

Monday, May 1, 2017

Fortune Tree

Look carefully, and you will see a little gnome peeking out of the pot. I love that. This is the money tree you all gave me because I am allergic to flowers. I didn't know what to expect, but it wasn't this! Thank you so much, everyone! This is so generous, and such a creative idea. Just think of all of the allergy medicine I'll be able to buy.

Seriously, Woodbrook is a very lucky school to have an incredible PTO, but I think 5-1 gets the cream of the crop on top of that every year. Thanks again, so much.

You'd better believe I'll keep this one watered!

Young Masterminds



Wow! I love this. I wish I had given this assignment! :) 

Friday, April 28, 2017

There's Something Fantastic About That, Isn't There?

As a reward for the kids' completion of ISTEP, and for their hard work throughout the rest of the ISTEP days as I tried my hardest to find ways to fill that time without any homework where the kids were still challenged and without quizzes or tests where the kids were still invested in what they were doing, I showed them The Fantastic Mr. Fox today. I love this movie, and usually I reserve it for the last day of school.

I have this poster in my classroom that features a wolf from the end of the film. I think it's awesome. Selfishly, I just wanted the kids to connect to it before the last day of school this year. Above the image, it simply says, "Good luck out there."


It's a great movie by Wes Anderson, and if you're familiar with him, you know exactly how this movie felt, in a kid-friendly kind of way.

It's also a movie about being different, midlife crises, and learning to be appreciative of what we have. It was a great movie to watch on a cloudy, cruddy day.

Thursday, April 27, 2017

Justice and Balance

Today, we learned about pan-balance problems in Math. These are problems that should "weigh the same" on both sides (hence the "=" sign), and will be getting the kids ready for the giant spooky world of algebra.

We took equal-sized Legos and put them on each side of a scale. It balanced out, but then when we took one out, it was off-balance. Whatever you do to one side, you have to do the same thing on the other side--it's the only way to keep everything balanced. 

We talked about the merchants in the marketplace who would weigh cheeses to see how much to charge. I talked about how this led to the word for a balance in Latin (I said Greek earlier...I will have to correct myself), which is libra. That should also sound familiar to all of you amateur astrologists out there. And this is what led to the use of lb. to stand for the word pound. Think also about words like liberty; the British symbol for pound, which is a capital L in cursive with a line through it (£); the Italian lira; and a whole bunch of stuff that has to do with weight, currency, and equality.

As I told the kids this morning, it's like we were having a Caesar's English lesson mixed with history and math--the ultimate teacher geek-out.

I made them promise that, when their parents were helping them tonight, to be cooperative and let you help as best you in their own way! I am also sending home the parent letter with the answers, so that should hopefully help.

Lastly, the kids did end up drawing pictures based on their friends' explanations yesterday. Let's just say that some turned out to be more accurate than others. It was a fun lesson nonetheless.

More later, I'm sure.

Wednesday, April 26, 2017

Assigning Lines



This morning, we had a gap of time before art. Normally we would have been doing ISTEP during that time, but today we have ISTEP after specials for some reason. I had the kids sit down on one side or the other of the dividers and write a description of the picture taped to the dividers. They have to use descriptors such as colors, shapes, and orientation on the page to explain to another partner exactly what to draw.

This afternoon, we'll swap papers and then it will be the kids' turn to draw what was described to them. I hadn't done this one in a long time, so I'll be interested to see how well the kids explained what to do.