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.

Tuesday, April 25, 2017

When Your Options Are Limited

First off, let me apologize for no post yesterday. Some days just get away from you. Rest assured, we still had school, and we were all fine.

Today I think the kids are starting to get finished up with the projects that we have been working on in class lately. We graded some GCLs as well as read more in the Titanic book. The kids learned what a sailor suit was, and we finally did the last part of the English portion of ISTEP. Tomorrow should be the Social Studies, and then we are finished for the school year with ISTEP. Then we can get back to our normal schedule of having Math again. I'm ready for normalcy, personally, for what little time of it we would have left.

By the way, I am sending home the Math Boxes today. I told the kids I needed to see their work on their corrections if they want any points back.

Sunday, April 23, 2017


Noah Swallow, I realized today that not only is it your birthday, but I also didn't take your picture! Don't worry, I will edit this one with a picture taken tomorrow.

Noah is a kid who loves his science. You should watch him come alive when we are doing science. He is a kid who knows much more than he says, and that is very refreshing in this day and age. You don't get kids like him too often anymore.

He is very creative in a gear-head kind of way. He is a builder, and kids will seek him out and actually listen when he talks when they are building something. Noah is going to do very well in school next year, where he will be able to take advantage of classes involving engineering and creating things. I will be very anxious to see how he does throughout the rest of his years in school, because from here on out, he will only have more opportunities.

Happy Birthday, Noah! I hope it was terrific. You deserve it, man. See you tomorrow--and I will get your picture for sure!

Take This Tired Old Routine

Hello there! I hope everyone had a great weekend.

I have just updated the grades, so if you thought a bunch of them weren't showing up in the grade book, you were right. Sorry about that. In addition to that, I found a small pile of papers that were graded a long time ago, but I had saved back to put in the grade book--which I have now done.

Several of the kids will have some papers to get turned in tomorrow, which have shown up missing. I will make lists and hand them out tomorrow.

This week will be a little bit crazy. We have three days of ISTEP and two days of Math--which is an improvement after last week's whopping zero times. ISTEP does weird things to the schedule. Actually, I have pretty much resigned myself to the fact that we are just out of normal weeks. We had that one right after spring break, but then that was it.

Here is a list of upcoming events as far as I know them:
  • Thursday, April 27: Volunteers Appreciation Brunch 
  • Monday, May 1: Officer DeWald visits fifth grade
  • Monday, May 1: Talent Show Auditions after school
  • Tuesday, May 2: Special Election Day (WB is a precinct voting location)
  • Wednesday, May 3: Talent Show Auditions after school 
  • Monday, May 8: Clay Principal Crosby visits fifth grade
  • Thursday, May 11: Spring Choir Concert
  • Friday, May 12: Muffins With Mom
  • Friday, May 12: Kindy 500
  • Tuesday, May 16: Ruth Lilly Life Begins program
  • Thursday, May 18: Track and Field Day
  • Wednesday, May 24: Last Day of School
As for 5-1, I am just hoping to keep everyone sane in the meantime, in the in-between time. We still have some ground to cover; the year is not over yet!

Friday, April 21, 2017


Happy Birthday, Anna!

Anna joined us back in what--Septrmber? October?--but pretty much since day one, it's like she has been here all along.

She is a one of those people who is nice to everyone, nobody ever complains about working with her, and she is always in a great mood.

In addition to this, she is a really bright girl, too. I remember back when she first came here, I was worried that they were going to take her and put her in sixth grade math, because she immediately became one of my go-to people for the right answers in that class.

I'm sorry that you had such a chaotic day at school for your birthday, Anna, but by now, I'm sure you're used to it. I hope it was a good one, because you deserve it.

Happy Birthday once again, Anna. I hope your weekend is a great one. Rest up, because we have more craziness coming next week!

Play In the Dirt

Today we played a lot of catch-up in class. First, I showed the kids how to make a checklist of things they need to do so that they can feel the satisfaction of crossing things off of it.

We did some soil inspections today, and it smelled really bad. I made sure the kids scrubbed their hands before lunch, because it was pretty disgusting. We are going to try something new with the soil (hopefully with the assistance of a soil expert) before we put more worms into the terrariums.

The kids began work on their in-class, open-book Social Studies chapter 10 assessment. No homework, no "real" tests other than ISTEP, so no worries. I told the kids it's not even due until next Thursday, so take their time and give me their best work.

Thursday, April 20, 2017

Food For Worms

Well, we've had an interesting couple of days. Between making sure we get our ISTEP testing in, trying to raise (and evidently kill) our earthworms, trying to come up with solutions, sending kids over a few at a time to make said observations, having indoor-then-outdoor recess, and baseball day in the cafeteria, this week has been bizarre to say the least, but then again, so are most weeks around Area 51.

I will keep you posted!

Wednesday, April 19, 2017

Neither Peanuts Nor Crackerjack

Hi Everyone,

Please don’t forget to talk to your students about baseball day tomorrow. Here is the menu.

Hot – Loaded Potato Skins
Sack – Hot Dog
Salad – Taco Salad
PBJ and Garden Salad also.

Ice Cream Cup for all who order any type of lunch.

Thank you,

Beverley Allen
Cafeteria Manager
Woodbrook Elementary

Tuesday, April 18, 2017


Today we all survived Day 2 of the ISTEP online portion of the tests, and I think it went pretty well. All of the kids finished their tests (am I allowed to say that? I will be taken by handcuffs tomorrow if that's going to far...actually, just joking about that may be too far...maybe I'd just better shut up).

We also began our Radio Dramas today. It will be a couple weeks before they present these to the class. They have lots of scripts to go over as well as sound effects to come up with in the meantime!

Here the kids are practicing:

We will also continue, God willing, our preparations on our terrariums tomorrow, including dispelling a myth or two about certain animals.

This video will give the kids a little heads-up about a few of them we'll be discussing tomorrow:

So yeah, there's 5-1 in a nutshell the last couple days. More to come, as always!

Monday, April 17, 2017

What a Time To Be Alive

Click here for some computer camps that are available this summer. I almost sent this to individual families, but then I realized I had so many individual families that I thought would be interested that I just thought I'd go ahead and put it here on the blog.

The words "computer camp" sound way cooler than they would have when I was a kid.

There is a saying among the various podcasts I listen to throughout my weekly commutes, "The geeks have inherited the earth." It's a good time to be a geek or a nerd. What a great world this is when neither of those words is offensive anymore. One could argue that Revenge of the Nerds (one of my dad's favorite movies) has come true. Excelsior!

The Principle of Restricted Choice

Well, ISTEP went off pretty much without a hitch today. Time is an issue in more ways than one, so we are doing our best to get everything finished in due time so that everyone else can get their test in also.

Today we started in with our Radio Dramas, our lizard care (who knew Mrs. Martha Stewart herself had a video on taking care of anoles?), and we graded some GCL's also.

There is more to come tomorrow, of course. Let me know if you have any questions. Oh, and the permission slips went home today for the volunteer day at Gleaners, so zip open your child's backpack and look in that green go-folder if you haven't seen it yet.

Sunday, April 16, 2017

Broken Sequence

Our ISTEP schedule for this week is thus:

Monday: 8:30-9:10
Tuesday: 8:30-9:25
Wednesday: 8:30-9:20
Thursday: 8:30-9:25
Friday: 8:30-9:25

And for next week:

Monday: 8:30-9:10
Tuesday: 8:30-9:20
Wednesday: 10:30-11:10, then 11:30-12:10

This assumes all of the testing goes according to schedule. Of course, there will be no spelling list this week, but we will have several ongoing in-class projects going on this week. We won't have any Math during these days, either. But don't worry; we will have lots of Social Studies, reading, writing, Science, and so on and so forth. Plus, hopefully, some fun things in there as well.

Friday, April 14, 2017

Character Development

What a great way to end the school year by giving back to our community!
Mr. Carter’s fifth grade service project
Gleaner's Food Bank
Date: Sat., May 6, 2017
I will be sending out a signup sheet and more information in the next few weeks.
We will need parents to help with carpooling.
 If you have any questions prior,
feel free to call or email me.
Nami Swallow-Novak
This is a re-post, but it's an important one. We had so much fun doing this last year, I wanted to make sure we did it again this year. Mrs. Swallow took it on to lead this year (although many of you volunteered--thank you!). Please come out that day if it is even remotely possible.

Wheel In the Sky Keeps On Turning

Profoundest apologies for the lack of informative posts this week. I have been busier than normal, with all kinds of meetings, tutoring, and transition meetings and observations at Clay Middle.

This week, we have been discussing the Bill of Rights in class quite a bit. The kids have done pretty well with this, and it has led to some pretty profound discussions about what people have the right to do vs. what people really should do.

In Math, we have talked about volume, as you know. The crazy thing is that, because of ISTEP, we will not have Math for nine days. The students in our classes have their ISTEP testing times all throughout the day because of a limited amount of computers and/or bandwidth for the testing, and that tangles us all up in a way that there is just no time to do it. I think I may do some Math review with my homeroom during some of those ISTEP days just so that everybody doesn't get too many mathematical cobwebs in their brains before we get back together with our limited amount of days remaining.

Thursday, April 13, 2017

The Future's So Bright

Tomorrow is NEON DAY! Sorry for the late notice.

Wednesday, April 12, 2017

Do You Have the Time?

Tomorrow is GREEN DAY!

We did have a lot of orange today, so that was great to see. More later!

Tuesday, April 11, 2017

Scene Of the Crime

Today we had a trail of blood leading out of the classroom. That was followed by shattered glass at the end of the day. Don't worry, though, no chalk outlines were drawn, nor was there any violence.

As you can tell, it has been a little bit of a dramatic day, but we did at least get one more part of ISTEP finished, learned about earthworms in preparation for our terrariums, and the kids did a good job of working on their Math volume problems with Miss Henry while I was at Clay early this morning. I got back in time to give them some corrections to work on for tomorrow.

Have a great Tuesday night!

But Not Annoying Day

Don't forget that tomorrow is ORANGE DAY! I'll try to dig up some orange shirts, but I don't know how many extras I have.

Monday, April 10, 2017

Another Blue Tomorrow

Homework tonight is Math Journal pages 324-325, Spelling definitions, and most of them will have some Language Arts homework to finish also.

Don't forget that tomorrow is BLUE DAY. (Wear blue.)

Sunday, April 9, 2017

What If the Good Old Days Really Were Better?

I posted this here a couple years ago during the summer, and then I saw that Woodbrook's own Mrs. Bowman posted it on Facebook a couple days ago. It made me realize that it definitely bears repeating.

Scarlet Monday

Darth Vader wants me to remind you that tomorrow everyone should wear RED, like his guards. I wouldn't disappoint him if I were you.

Who Pulls the Strings

I really wish I had gotten more pictures of the kids doing their skits and puppet shows about health the week before spring break, especially of Ruby and Brooke as a devil and angel. I guess it's good that I got so into watching them that I forgot.

Anyway, this week we have to plunge right in, because our weeks are limited. We have material to cover in Social Studies, Science, Writing, and lots of Math as well. Plus, we have ISTEP coming up next week.

Talk soon! Hope you all had a great spring break and are rested up--it's a busy ride from here to the end.

Saturday, April 8, 2017

The Spectrum

Hello, everyone! I hope you had a great spring break, and that everyone is ready to head back into action for a couple more months before the end time arrives.

As normal, the week we come back from break is Wellness Week at Woodbrook. Luckily, our spirit theme days aren't hard this time, and won't require any extra output on your kids' (or your) part. Here are the theme days for this coming week:
  • Monday: Red Day
  • Tuesday: Blue Day
  • Wednesday: Orange Day
  • Thursday: Green Day
  • Friday: Neon Day
I'm not sure I actually have any neon shirts, but I may be surprised by what I find in my closet. But everything else? I think I'm good to go.

Okay, it's a beautiful day, so I'm going to head out now.