Thursday, June 29, 2017

The Stories Of Akira

If you haven't read this book, I want to recommend it. As much as I would like to report that I discovered it myself, it was recommended to me by Mr. Norris, 5-1 parent from this past school year. As I have told you, thanks so much for the recommendation.

The first part of what is so great about this book is that it is chopped up into very short chapters. Each chapter has a parable about working hard, earning what you want to receive, honesty, integrity, kindness, remaining positive, and so on and so forth.

This is the kind of book that I could read to the class (and trust me, I will) one chapter at a time and lead a discussion after each chapter. Told through the narrative of a sensei and his student, it is easy to read and easy to understand. It reads like a corporate motivation book (see Who Moved My Cheese? or 7 Habits Of Highly Effective People), but it is better, because this one applies to children every bit as much as it should to adults.

It's not everywhere yet; I had to search it down (and ended up with two!), but once it becomes more popular and widespread, it's definitely worth a read.

Tuesday, June 27, 2017

Rumble In the Jungle

One of my favorite things about blogging in the summer is that I can share stuff like this. The Black Panther movie looks like it's going to be awesome!

Monday, June 26, 2017


Okay, Abdul, like with Ruby, I will definitely change this one out soon if you want. It's not a bad picture by any means, but I'm just repurposing another picture from before.

Anyway, I hope you have had a wonderful birthday, Abdul. You sure got a beautiful sunny day with the perfect temperature, in my opinion.

One unique thing about Abdul is that he created a mathematical contribution to our class in creating the Abdul Ray. You see, one day earlier in the school year, he pointed out that the viniculum--the line above a repeating decimal--should actually be a ray, because it goes in one direction forever instead of a line, which would go in both directions forever. This was one of the smartest things I had heard anyone point out in a long time. Therefore, it became known as the Abdul Ray. Personally, I think this should be taken into account by the mathematical community at large. (I'll talk to Dr. Goldberg about it.)

He is a fun-loving guy who has had more than one nickname. I liked shortening his name down to Abs, personally. He is also the future proprietor of Abdul's Pretty Good Fruit Salad.

Okay, so it turns out that Abdul is pretty much just the cornerstone of a lot of Area 51 in-jokes, but trust me; he's not a joke. He's a good boy with a great mind.

Happy Birthday, Abdul! You deserve it. I will see you soon.

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.