Tuesday, February 28, 2017

Objects In the Mirror Are Closer Than They Appear

This man is being chased by an ostrich.

We are learning about prepositions and prepositional phrases. We just started this today, so I don't expect the kids to get it right away, but I was pretty pleased with how they did just today.

Also, we are learning about direct objects in a sentence, and there is an important difference between a direct object and an indirect object. They seem to understand this one really well already, even though today was only our second day talking about this matter.

Oh, and we started ISTEP. It wasn't bad! We get it over with pretty early on in the day, so most of the rest of the day is relatively chill.

More later. Like the man in the picture above, I gotta run!

Monday, February 27, 2017

You Are Getting Very Sleepy

Tomorrow we will begin ISTEP, as you know. I told the kids that they should get approximately sixteen hours of sleep each night, and should have a big hearty breakfast each day. Probably the best way to do this is to go to sleep right when they get home, and then stay asleep until 7am tomorrow. (At least that's what they came up with when they did the math.) (And for the sarcasm impaired, that's sarcasm. Please don't make your kids sleep when it's 3pm.)

Honestly, I'm not worried. As long as the kids don't stress about it, they will be fine. Today we went over how to follow a formula on the math parts. We went over how not to fill in the bubbles on their bubble sheets on the front.

The only homework they will have this week is reading 20 minutes each night.

So rest well, everyone. See you all tomorrow.

Virus? You Hardly Know Us!

During this time of the nasty virus/cold/flu/bacterial infection that is literally plaguing the area, I can't help but note that it is also ISTEP time. I want to say, on behalf of the class, please don't send your child in to school if they are sick.

Yes, it is important to be in school during ISTEP testing--this means don't schedule appointments during this time if it's at all possible. But for illness, we have ways of fixing that situation. We will make sure the testing is made up when they come back. They will not miss out on any testing.

Not only do we want to keep the germs away from the classroom as much as possible, but if your child is sick, they aren't in the condition to do their best on the test, either.

Illness isn't fun.

ISTEP isn't fun.

Two bad tastes taste even worse together.

Friday, February 24, 2017

Keeping Up Appearances

This is how I felt as I got to the end of enumerating the bookmarks early on in the school day today. We had them all! This may be the first time...ever? Ever. Yes, I'm pretty sure it's ever. As promised, we will have an extra recess next week when we need it most!

This is how I felt this week any time I had to stand in front of the kids and let them know that it was time for another ISTEP practice test.

This is my class when I told them to look as ugly as possible. Really, I just wanted to replace the old photo that was on my background, which was last year's class dressed up for interviews for BizTown.

Finally, this is what I want to do when I go on social media. Why do I ever even look?

Thursday, February 23, 2017

Seems Too Early To Be Wrapping Up the Week

The kids' desks are all in rows and ready for ISTEP testing. We only have a tiny little smidgen of the practice test left to do tomorrow. I have a couple kids that I will need to farm out to get the rest of their practice testing done, but hopefully we will be all finished by tomorrow.

We do have a study link tonight, and tomorrow we will have a Math Quest as well as a Caesar's English quiz. BOOKMARKS ARE DUE TOMORROW TOO! If we get 100% of them, we will get an extra recess.

More soon. Everyone have a great evening.

Wednesday, February 22, 2017

Museums, Quests, and Practice Tests

We took some more ISTEP practice today. It's a long and tedious process, but we are working it in where we can. I'm hoping to get it done tomorrow, because we still have a short little part of the Social Studies left, and a major portion of the English/Language Arts section to do still.

In between, we went down to the fourth grade this afternoon to visit the famous Hoosier wax museum, which was fun as always. It seemed awfully early in the school year, but I'm sure they're happy to have that out of the way.

We are going to have a Math Quest on Friday as well as the Caesar's English quiz.

More information to come!

Tuesday, February 21, 2017


Sorry for the late one tonight. Tomorrow's will most likely be later on as well, to be honest.

This week we are trying to get all of our things done before ISTEP testing next week. It seems to come earlier every year. We started our practice today with the intent of finishing it, but only got about a third of the way through it. It was complicated today, and I told the kids this was harder than ISTEP really should be.

Anyway, I hope everyone had a decent first day back today. A few of the kids had some catching up to do tonight, so I'm hoping it all got done. Remember: If you haven't turned in your bookmark from last week, there are still a few points you can possibly salvage if you get it in tomorrow.

See everyone tomorrow!

Monday, February 20, 2017

Catching Up Is Hard To Do

I'm taking a break right now from a grading marathon--getting caught up from what I missed getting done last week when I was down for the count--to let you know what we will be doing this week.

  • We will have a Caesar's English quiz on Friday, with the list given out tomorrow. 
  • Tomorrow we will at least start our ISTEP practice. ISTEP is next week! 
  • Because we won't have any tests or quizzes during ISTEP week, we are going to have a quiz/test in Math over everything we will have done so far in chapter 8. 
  • We will be doing some science stuff this week, including some exit slips over what we are learning. It's back to outer space! I want to get all of our other science stuff wrapped before Spring Break so that we can focus on animal adaptations for the rest of the year after that.
That's all she wrote. I will get these grades loaded into the grade book tonight. If you have any questions, let me know.

Sunday, February 19, 2017

Mr. President Goes To Washington

There is one Dan Gutman book that I love, and yet still haven't read to the kids yet. The first book by Mr. Gutman that I read was The Kid Who Ran For President. I still plan to read this to them eventually, probably after the new one that I'm reading now.

It does a really great job of explaining the electoral college, the laws involved in becoming president, and the way the general public is actually pretty dumb and easily manipulated. It was written back at the turn of the century, and it holds true still.

This is a great book, and I thought I'd share this on this Presidents Day weekend. There is also a sequel, The Kid Who Became President, which I have never read because I like how the first one ends. I may have to change that up this year, if only out of curiosity.

Those Magic Words

“Words are, in my not-so-humble opinion, the most inexhaustible form of magic we have, capable both of inflicting injury and remedying it.” ― Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows
 I love that I have been teaching long enough now to see the Harry Potter books go from popular to dying off, and now, at least in 5-1, there is a huge resurgence. Kids are comparing notes, discussing, and trying to keep up with each other in reading through them. They almost have me wanting to pull mine off the shelf and re-read them along with them. In fact, while I'm waiting for me head to clear, I might just get started.

These kids have all (or mostly, I'm sure) seen the movies. Luckily this hasn't kept them from wanting to read the books. I am personally of the mind that it is much better to see the movie first. If you see a movie first, and you liked it, there is always much more to be learned in the books. If you read the book first, you are always disappointed by what the movie leaves out.

People who read are smarter and more interesting than those who don't. I know that is a sweeping generalization, but I have never once found it to be untrue. It's great to see so many kids in my class with a huge set of text that they are anxious to get into.

That does it. Just writing about it, I've decided to re-read them starting today. This series was an instant classic for a good reason.

Delayed Reaction

It is way past due, but I want to thank everyone who came to give us a great Valentines Party the other day. If you were there, you know I wasn't feeling great at the time, and in fact I sat at my computer, furiously typing up sub plans for an absence that ended up being two days instead of just one.

And I didn't even take any pictures! That's how out of it I was. Sorry, everyone. 

Going only from memory, and please let me know if I forgot anyone, the kids and I owe a huge thank you to Mrs. Swallow, Mrs. Delaby, Mrs. Brink, Mrs. Smiler, Mrs. Rodgers, Mrs. Conley, and last but not least, Mrs. Mock, who was in charge of all the parties.

Thanks so much, everyone. I apologize that I wasn't more helpful, but I am very thankful that you were there when you were. You were lifesavers.

Friday, February 17, 2017

Back Among the Living

Well, today I am back in business. My voice doesn't sound great, but at least I am feeling about 200% better than I did a couple days ago.

I am still somewhat disoriented from being off for what seemed like an eternity, but luckily I've been able to get my bearings pretty well today. It's a good thing to start back on a Friday, especially one where we have a three day weekend.

I will work hard to get caught up on all my grading and everything now that I'm back in the swing again. If you have any questions, please let me know! Talk soon.

Thursday, February 16, 2017

A Moan From Under a Mound Of Blankets

Hello, everyone. I am just poking my head out of the ground to let everyone know that I am still alive, even if I am not at school once again today. This is the first time I have ever missed more than one day in a row at school, so you know. I did get some meds yesterday, including a powerful antibiotic, so I'm hoping that this will do the trick. So far so good.

Tomorrow, I will still be giving a spelling test and a science quiz. I can already hear the kids saying they didn't think we would have them because I was out for a few days. I should be there unless I take a downward turn today, but right now I seem to be on the climb.

Monday, February 13, 2017

Substitute Heroes

Man, I don't know what is going on with the bus situation around here, but evidently we need some more subs!

Speaking of subs, I will have one for a short period of time tomorrow, but then I'll be back for the remainder of the day after meeting with the NWEA person.

We will have a quiz on matter in its various stages on Friday. I will hand out the study guide tomorrow. It will be pretty basic. Tomorrow we are going to highlight our notes so they will have a better idea of what to study. The actual fifth grade standards for the properties of matter are incredibly basic. I'll be anxious to move on to a meatier chapter next.

More later!

Sunday, February 12, 2017

What Happens When You Break the Speed Limit

Shoo. I just finished grading the Math tests. They weren't great. I wish I could say they took their time on them, but they didn't. Almost everyone was finished with it within about twenty minutes, and I gave them a full hour.

Because it looks like this was just the result of carelessness, I don't think I'm going to give them a Whoops Sheet this time either. I think I will just say, once again, that they have to bring back corrections on Tuesday for five out of five possible points.

It looks like I will also have to give a couple of exit slips this week over PEMDAS and subtracting integers--I actually forgot to make any problems with "minus a negative" on the test.

We are also beginning chapter 8 this week. It's fraction time again.

Calendar Clearance

This week should be mostly normal, with a few minor quirks personally. I will be out of the classroom (but inside Woodbrook) for a chunk of Tuesday morning meeting with an NWEA consultant, and then on Thursday, I will be gone that afternoon to Clay to meet with their language arts teachers.

Tuesday afternoon are our Valentines Parties (thank you, room parents!). Tomorrow we should be making our Valentines bags in class. For anyone who hasn't made their Valentines yet, make it easy on yourself and just sign them all and don't worry about putting names on the front.

See everybody tomorrow!

Friday, February 10, 2017


Dear Woodbrook Families-

I wanted to send a quick THANK YOU note for all of your efforts this year (and in the past).  Jump Rope for Heart was a huge success once again.  Due to your efforts and generosity we were able to raise just over $12,000 for the American Heart Association -  WOW!  Woodbrook’s total donations over the past 15 years have now reached over $140,000 – Absolutely Amazing!

Thanks again – and have wonderful weekend!

(aka Mr. Z)

Wednesday, February 8, 2017

From the Middle

This morning I visited Clay Middle School with Mr. Vahle to get an idea of how things work over there. Last week, they came and watched us, so today it was our turn. This was very valuable, and we will make a return trip to discuss next Thursday.

In Science, we have been learning about the states of matter. It's really pretty basic. Solid, liquid, and gas are the three states. I have shown the kids how the molecules react when they are in their various states. The crazy thing is that this exact same standard is taught in sixth grade as well, but they will get more in-depth.

Sorry, but now I have to run. More later if I think of anything. Don't forget: Math test on Friday plus Spelling test too! BOOKMARKS DUE FRIDAY!

Tuesday, February 7, 2017


Since I posted about the bubonic plague earlier, I decided to look up a mini-lesson on the subject to honor our classroom plague. We learned about gross pus pockets, thick and scaly rashes, vomiting, and a horrifying fever, which all culminated in death.

We even watched a film! (It was made for grades 4-7, though, so no worries.)

Homework for tomorrow is 3x each and reading! Plus, the Social Studies test is due on Friday.

Don't forget to push fluids, take your vitamin C, and by all means, if your child is sick, please keep them at home if it is at all possible! I don't want everyone to have to wear those horrifying beak-masks while entering 5-1.

A Visitation Of the Plague

February 25 is the Mane Bash! It is being held this year at the Woodland Country Club. This is one of PTO's big fundraisers. There will be a silent auction, craft beer tasting, dinner, wine, and music. Sponsors this year include Finish Line, Celebrity Cruises, People's Brewing Company, Kroger, Sun King Brewery, Shane's Outdoor Living and Landscapes, and Circuit Thursday. Go to the Woodbrook PTO's website to buy tickets, and look for a flyer going home today with your kiddos.

We have had another great day so far today, although 5-1 is in danger of being sealed off in quarantine. We are missing five out of 24 kids at this point (it has been a really quiet day today), so I hope everyone gets to feeling better.

Ugh, now we're having indoor recess. At least it's nice and quiet in here.

Everybody stay healthy!

Monday, February 6, 2017

Time Is Of the Essence

I am sending home the kids' reading tests from last week tomorrow. For the most part, they didn't do too badly. That said, I will give them a separate grade for bringing in corrections on Wednesday. It will be five points if they do the corrections, zero points if they don't. Some of the kids have a hard time following the directions and/or writing in complete sentences!

Tomorrow the kids will receive a study guide for the Math test on Friday.

I have a bunch more little tidbits of news, but those will have to wait until tomorrow. We had a pretty darn decent Monday, so let's hope for an even better Tuesday.

Sunday, February 5, 2017

Blue Sky; Open Road

I'm riding with my dad in his truck. Any one of his trucks smelled like corn dust. There is a giant stick shift sticking out of the floor, and all I know is that I'm not supposed to touch it. I'm anywhere between 7 and 13 years old, and we've had breakfast on the road, or maybe lunch at a small town cafe where he has made countless friends and acquaintances (to this day, he doesn't not know anyone).

As we would rattle down the long stretches of road, I still remember listening to WIBC as my head banged against the window through which I watched cornfields, bean fields, and fields with circular hay bales standing watch. I would hear farm reports and then a bunch of words I didn't understand when they were strung together.

Somehow Paul Harvey's voice came through and felt like he was one of us. In fact, because he was on a station that gave the local hog prices, I assumed he was a Hoosier like me. He seemed to fit right in, even though he was--I could sense it in his voice--always wearing a coat and tie.

That "local boy" made the big time, after his death, in this Superbowl commercial from 2013, from a radio spot he wrote in 1978.

I am still thankful to Paul Harvey in 2017 for an ad that went public in 2013 that he wrote in 1978 which I probably heard in 1985 for the first time, because it takes me back to riding in the truck with my dad. Harvey died in 2009, just to throw another year in there.

I never knew why I was riding with my dad; all I knew is that I was. At most, I had the idea we were riding "to get a part". As far as I was concerned, it never mattered.

Credit Where It's Due

I want to publicly thank all of the Colonial Day volunteers who came on Friday to help make it possible: Mrs. Mock, Mrs. Ohrvall, Mr. and Mrs. Sell, Mrs. Andrews, Mrs. Rodgers, Mrs. Keen, Mrs. Delaby, Mrs. Goodburn, Mrs. Strines, Mrs. Swallow, and last but far from least, Mrs. Brink. Mrs. Brink has set the standard for a well-run program with the kids where they need to be at all times. It's such a nice day to spend just walking around and checking everything out and talking with the kids and parents in a much more relaxed way than a typical school day.

Thank you, everyone! It was a fantastic day.

I Don't Claim To Be a Photographer