Monday, July 31, 2017

The Crickets Are Getting Louder

Here in the last few minutes of July, I find myself thinking about everything that will happen by the end of the next 31 days. My former students starting at Clay. The beginning of high school football season. The former students who are going off to college to start their lives as adults.

I live in Noblesville, and here, the kids are starting school tomorrow. I've seen friends on Facebook whose kids have started already. It used to be that Carmel was the first to start, but now we are actually among the last, and I'm not complaining about that.

August is both the longest and the shortest month for me. Earlier this summer, I was telling someone that throughout my years, between public school, college, working at camp, grad school, and then teaching, I have never ever known a life where August is not a new beginning. I've said before, it's like we're fiscal or something.

However you'll be spending your August, dear reader, I hope your next trip around the sun will make your world (and the world of the people you know) a better place. 

Wednesday, July 26, 2017

Squirrels In the Roof

I love this video. While some kids can indeed be cruel, I have found that this is true 99% of the time.

Tuesday, July 25, 2017


Happy birthday, Miss Kori!

Kori was definitely one of my quieter students this year. She helped create a nice balance with some of her...other classmates.

That said, some of my favorite times were when I would be leading everyone in from recess, and Kori was always one of the people right in front of the line. She would talk to her friends, and I would get the scoop when they thought I wasn't listening. She was quite verbal when she was talking to her friends in a loose time like walking in from recess. It was always such innocent fifth grade girl talk, but I would always crack up listening to it.

Another thing that I will always think of when Kori comes to mind were her gifts. At Christmas, teacher appreciation week, and at the end of the school year--all times when I am receiving (gratefully) gifts from students left and right--the kids would all stand in line, give me their gifts, get their hug after I read their note and opened the package, and then it would be time for morning announcements, math, etc. It never failed...I would always find, later in the day, a gift and a card from Kori, only when she wasn't around to receive the thank you and the hug. But doggone it if she didn't write the nicest letters I would receive. They were always so darn heartfelt.

It was just like Kori to do that. Never wanting the recognition, but as deserving (and often more so) than anyone.

Well, Kori, you can't help it. Here is your birthday recognition. I hope you have a great day today, and that you remember to look at this post today. You definitely deserve it!

Wednesday, July 19, 2017

The Comeback Kid

Happy Birthday, Charlie!

Charlie is one of those kids with a big personality, a big smile, and who always makes his immediate world a more positive place. No one at Woodbrook needed an introduction to Charlie. He is the type of person who will either be a coach, a teacher, or a salesman one day. He can talk for hours and is very passionate.

He was a member of the Broadcast Team and the Woodbrook Choir. Needless to say, he loves to get up in front of people and is quite comfortable on the stage. He's also quite an athlete, participating in hockey and lacrosse.

At the end of every day, I am given a piece of paper that tells me how each student is supposed to go home that day (bus, walk, etc.). After a very early joke between Charlie and me (in which I was proven wrong about the average annual rainfall in Vero Beach, Florida by him*--he never let me forget it), I started telling him what danger he was in for as he rode his bike home that day every day for the entire school year. Luckily for us, however, Charlie never let a lightning strike, bear trap, or squid attack keep him from coming in the next day.

Thank goodness for that. Area 51 wouldn't have been the same without him this year. I hope you have a great birthday, Charlie. You deserve it!

*In-jokes in 5-1 can be pretty obscure. You definitely had to be there.

Tuesday, July 18, 2017

Ideas Unleashed

This is a video that we watched at another training I was at today. I love stuff like this! Less than a month before everyone needs to get into thinking mode again...

Sunday, July 16, 2017

Punching and Kicking and Cash

Two bullet for this Sunday:
  • First off, I did a poor job in that I didn't get a picture of Will K. and his family last Monday, when I finally delivered on my PTO silent auction item in giving him a karate lesson. He wanted to take the lesson with his family, which was extremely cool. I taught them all kinds of escapes and self-defense moves, and word has it they have already tried them on big brother John, who was at football practice during the lesson. Don't worry, guys--I can make short work of him if you need me to! 
  • Secondly, I didn't get a shot of a former student from a little further back, Nick S., who is starting his senior year this year at CHS. I saw him at the C4 conference, where he was acting as manager for the Carmel High School's own Carmel Cafe and Market. As reported by the Indianapolis Star, Fox 59, and more, this coffee shop, which started with no money from the Carmel Clay Schools district, had a great first year with more than $90,000 in revenue. In talking to Nick, he has a serious nose for the business world, and what's more, he's a humble guy. I've known people who love to make money who can be fairly arrogant, but early success hasn't tarnished him at all. I'm proud of you, Nick.

Thursday, July 13, 2017

Confessions of a Luddite in Remission

If you want to build a ship, don't drum up people together to collect wood and don't assign them tasks and work, but rather teach them to long for the endless immensity of the sea.

--Antoine de Saint-Exupery

This quote was part of a presentation put on yesterday at Carmel's C4 Conference. I have no idea what C4 stands for, but I do know that it is a conference put on every summer by Carmel Clay Schools. Its purpose is to expose teachers to new ways of teaching through the use of technology. I have to say that I come away every year with new ideas and with my mind opened to new things. Last year was the first year I attended, but I still have--and did use--my notes from that experience. 

What I like about this conference is that it is right in the middle of the summer, where you still have time to let the information soak in before having to implement it right away. It was great to get together with my fellow teachers to get as much information as possible. I didn't even see any of my fellow Woodbrook Lions in any classes (Mrs. Vahle was in one of them, actually), so I know we had a wide variety of experiences. I am really excited to try some of these things in the upcoming school year.
It was also kind of cool to be in classes with cohorts from Clay Middle School and Carmel High School. This year, I was able to put together many names and faces and officially meet people with whom I had exchanged emails with for years now. 

Good times. I feel great about what I learned.
If you want to build a ship, don't drum up people to collect wood and don't assign them tasks and work, but rather teach them to long for the endless immensity of the sea. Antoine de Saint-Exupery
Read more at:
If you want to build a ship, don't drum up people to collect wood and don't assign them tasks and work, but rather teach them to long for the endless immensity of the sea. Antoine de Saint-Exupery
Read more at:
If you want to build a ship, don't drum up people to collect wood and don't assign them tasks and work, but rather teach them to long for the endless immensity of the sea. Antoine de Saint-Exupery
Read more at:

Wednesday, July 12, 2017

Undaunted Happiness

Click here to read an article of about a former Woodbrook student. Technically, he was my student of record. But in reality, all of the honor goes to 5-3's own Peggy Loeffler and her crew of aids.

Any time you would see Charlie in the hallway, he had that same smile on his face. There is a reason the kids--the boys, especially--each had their day that they got to read out loud to Charlie during silent reading time. He would just sit there and enjoy it, often even shrieking with laughter. It was impossible to stay in a bad mood when he was around.

Please read the article. It will brighten your day.

Sunday, July 9, 2017

Sweet Tunes of Summer

It's been kind of fun for me to hear how everyone's been doing throughout the summer from time to time. Trips to Florida, band camp, summer camp, lacrosse, softball, gymnastics, and baseball games...from the sounds of it, everyone is busy!

I hope you have all been soaking in the goodness of summer. Can't believe we are at the halfway point already, at least. I think if you look on the calendar, we're actually a little bit past that, but let's go with a glass half full thing here.

UPDATE: I did check now. We have been off for six weeks now, and we have five weeks left. But hey, we have an extra-long summer this year (additional week), so enjoy!

Thursday, July 6, 2017

Forests And Trees

Here is another article that I have read recently. Click here to read it. It's called "Teachers Don't Want All This Useless Data." In many ways, this is absolutely true.

Don't get me wrong. Data has a purpose. Maybe even as the spine guiding the path along teaching each individual child. But data also has some pretty darn significant faults. Let's say the child wasn't thinking while they were testing. Maybe on the day of the testing, he or she was thinking about what another kid said to them on the bus to school. Perhaps the kid got yelled at by their parents that morning for any reason. Maybe they didn't sleep the night before because they were nervous about the freakin' test.

At any given point, most kids are thinking about kid stuff.

 As teachers, however, we get to know the kids over the course of a year. We spend most--or at least half--of the child's waking hours with them. We know them.

There is a frightening percentage of the bureaucracy who put all of their eggs in the data basket. Of course, the poor administrators have nothing else to rely on. I'm not talking about them, because I feel their pain. I am talking about lawmakers and curriculum writers (plus the media outlets...the same companies as the curriculum writers--look it up), plus a couple of higher-ups whose jobs rely on data, proving that things don't work, and proving that things which actually don't work do work.

I want you all to know--past and present--that I teach your child as an individual. Every now and then, I need to have a conversation with that child about how to show the Golden Cow Data what they actually can do and what they know. But I don't worship that Golden Cow, FYI.

I hope your child doesn't either.

I hope you don't either.

Data can be handy when I'm helping a child during the summer, but you know what I usually find? Normally, I find that the kid does get it. Or they do after one reminder. It usually turns out they they just spaced it on the day of that test. It turns out that once I word it the way they remember it being worded, they remember it perfectly.

It's just a matter of "Oh, yeah!" or "Oh, now I get it" moments. It is not a measure of a child's aptitude nor their intelligence level. Data and computers and robots are no replacement for a teacher's understanding.

The article quotes Michael Lewis, author of Moneyball, very aptly:

“Intelligence about baseball statistics had become equated in the public mind with the ability to recite arcane baseball stats. What [Bill] James’s wider audience had failed to understand was that the statistics were beside the point. The point was understanding; the point was to make life on earth just a bit more intelligible; and that point, somehow, had been lost. ‘I wonder,’ James wrote, ‘if we haven’t become so numbed by all these numbers that we are no longer capable of truly assimilating any knowledge which might result from them.'”

Tuesday, July 4, 2017

Everybody's All-American

Happy July 4th, everyone!

The teacher part of me has to remind you that this is not actually the date on which the United States became independent; it's the day that most of the founding fathers signed the document that started the war with England proper. We didn't actually gain independence from England until the signing of the Treaty of Paris in 1783. (Not to be confused with the Paris Agreement. That's...well, that's something different.)

The good ol' boy part of me wants you all to have a great Fourth of July celebration tomorrow. I hope you have a hot dog, some apple pie, and play some baseball. Do some sparklers--but don't step on them when you're done. Watch some fireworks. Get out on the boat. Go to Carmelfest, although good luck going to the parade if you didn't have your spot staked out a month ago.

Whatever you do today, I hope it's All-American!

Sunday, July 2, 2017

No Use Falling From the Halfway Point

While it isn't a widely-renowned fact, nor is it an actual holiday, today is the middle day of the year. If you took all of the days of the year, and you started crossing them off on both sides, you would find that July 2 is the median of the year.

From here on out, we are on the downward slope toward the end of the year 2017. I know it's time for me, at least, to get started on some of those projects that I told myself I would accomplish this year. As we stand here at the equator (or is it the prime meridian?) of this trip around the sun, I hope you all take advantage of the summer to think about your goals. And as my students head off to middle school, I hope the second half of 2017 is as good--if not better--than the first.

Saturday, July 1, 2017

Happy Birthday, Eh?

Happy one-fiddy to our neighbors to the north! Without Canada, we would be without the Blue Jays, the Maple Leafs, round bacon, Mrs. Strong in the office, mounties, Aero Bars, and Alex Trebek.

I really hope they don't get fed up with us and build a wall. We know we're obnoxious, Canada, but we do our best.