Thursday, August 31, 2017

What a Way To End the Month

Okay, admittedly, I have gotten on a few of the kids recently for writing on post-it notes over the past week, because I thought they were writing notes to each other.

Little did I realize that they were writing notes like this.

After school today, a few of these caught my eye as I was walking by the cubbies on my way to a meeting after school.

I love that my class has a couple of kids (at least) that leave notes like this. Not the conniving kind of notes that are usually shared among fifth graders, but the kind of notes that kids ought to receive. And they are coming from each other.

It's official. I got the good class.


Generation Exit

To the parents of the kids in my math class: I am floored by how well your kids have done with some of the recent material. Today, we did our first open response lesson. An open response lesson asks the kids to reply to a real-world problem. So far, this seems to be the fifth (sixth) grade equivalent to finite math.

If your students are keeping up with things (and I have yet to believe that any of them have not), then their brains are incredibly awesome.

Today's open response question had to do with contract negotiations and persuasive graphs to help win people over to each side of the problem--the employers and the employees. We did today's open response lesson together, and we will continue it tomorrow, to help them get used to these response questions and problems.

This is new ground for me. I can only imagine what it's like for them.


Great Minds; Positive Impact

This morning we heard a very good message from a presenter known as Grandma Rose. Grandma Rose teaches kids how to deal with bullies the best way, if you ask me. She teaches that it's all up to you. You can either do extremely little to react, as if the insult or person is not significant. You can agree with them ("Yes, I am bald.") You can just distract them (thereby ignoring them) or laugh with them (they hate that). You can also just stay away from them if that's what works best in your situation. She likens the bullies to people who are fishing. You don't have to bite the hook, because once you do, they are in control. It's way better when you just swim free.

I talked to the kids about how it often takes people a long time to figure this out, and many people never do. Yet, once you can learn to ignore, smile, or just give them an incredulous look and shake them off.

Then, we came back to the room and we learned about George Washington Carver, who, in my opinion, is the smartest man ever to have lived. I did this as a part of our Seven Habits series, because of how he lived his life. I showed the video above in class. I told the kids that the fact that he was able to save the farming community in Alabama, which had come to plant copious amounts of peanuts and sweet potatoes. He did this by simply coming up with hundreds of inventions using those two ingredients. I told the kids that if they'd had too many carrots and too much cabbage down there to sell, he would have simply come up with many inventions using those.

I love this because it shows that there is just so much untapped potential out there still. Hopefully one day your kids might be the inventors who develop those ideas.

We reviewed our spelling meanings and our states and capitals, and now they are out at recess (and I do not have duty, so here I am).

This afternoon we will have the remainder of our NWEA testing time at the very end of the day.

Have a great Thursday evening. 

Wednesday, August 30, 2017

The Sun Also Rises

We were able to get a couple of interesting things in today--one was a Math lesson based on the Bell Curve, and the other was that we did a pretty neat activity in science.

At first, I thought the Bell Curve would be over the kids' heads, so I told them I would never ask them a question about it on a test or quiz, but they really seemed to get it pretty well. I was really happy.

You'll have to ask your kids about the science activity--it was a good one, and we are working on becoming more attentive scientists still. Hopefully they will get that one under control before long, but for the most part, it was a good afternoon.

Homework tonight was:
  • Meaning exercise for spelling
  • Math Boxes 1.8 for my math class
  • 20 minutes of reading
  • Lastly, don't forget to bring in your pictures for the front of your writer journal
  • And last but not least, bookmarks are due on FRIDAY!

Tuesday, August 29, 2017

Many Chairs One Table

Seriously, Walmart?

As a teacher, you hit me straight in the heart with this commercial. And now I'm posting a WALMART COMMERCIAL on my classroom blog.

One of the biggest corporate entities in the United States has managed to make a mark on this jaded teacher's weary soul.


Thank you, by the way.

Carnival Time Fast Approaches

The Mane Event Carnival is coming to Woodbrook Elementary Friday, Sept. 8 from 4:30 to 7:30 p.m. The outdoor area around Woodbrook Elementary will be transformed into a carnival playground with games, music, food and fun for the whole family as well as our community.

In order to make this fundraising event a success, we encourage all parents to sign up for at least one volunteer time slot. If you have time, please feel free to sign up for as many time slots as possible. You may work alone or if consider working the volunteer shift at a game as a family. We also have opportunities for those of that could volunteer outside of the time slots (building games, pre set up/tear down, etc). Middle School and High School students are welcome to volunteer! It is a great opportunity for community service hours.

If you have any questions regarding the carnival or volunteering opportunities, please contact Eve Smith at or Corey Keele at Thanks and we look forward to seeing you all at the Carnival!

Originally from the Woodbrook World, August 25, 2017. 

Keeping My Head Above Water

I will be sending you information soon about Canvas, but it would help first to know if anyone has tried signing in. If you have tried it, let me know whether or not it is working for you.

This is the kind of thing that makes me feel Amish! 

I Stand Corrected

Quick update: I was mistaken when I posted last night. The start time for the Grandma Rose program for parents tonight is 6:30, not 6:45. I have fixed it in the post below, but I wanted to make sure I reiterated it in case anyone wrote it down from what I said earlier!


Monday, August 28, 2017

The King's Centennial

Normally, I wouldn't put something like this on my blog, but I feel it is pertinent in this case. You'll understand in a second if you keep reading. 

Jack Kirby, known as the "King of Comics", would have turned 100 years old today. Kirby is well-known to comics nerds as the creator of Marvel super-heroes like Captain America, The Fantastic Four, Silver Surfer, The Hulk, Ant-Man, Thor, Iron Man, Black Panther, the X-Men, and Groot (yes, the talking tree thing in Guardians of the Galaxy!) This is just what he did for Marvel Comics. He also created quite an extensive cast of characters for DC as well as independently.

This streak of extreme creativity and artistic prowess came from a man who was a World War II vet. He was a Jewish kid who grew up in the Bronx. He was a cigar-chomping, jaded guy who was paid to create characters and comic books out of his imagination. Along with Stan Lee, he was the main driving force for creating so many of the movie characters we watch and love today. 

I love it when I see stuff like this. Kirby ranks right up there with Leonardo da Vinci, Albert Einstein, Bill Gates, Nikolai Tesla, Elon Musk, Benjamin Franklin, Steve Jobs, and the father of all modern inventors, George Washington Carver. Not because of his impact on the modern world (which is substantial), but because his was a brain that was exploding with ideas. 

If I could somehow show your kids that they have the potential for all these great ideas, I will have done my job this year. 

Wish me luck!

Chain Reaction

We are waiting to begin our guided reading groups until after NWEA testing is over. We have completed the Math portion of this, but we do the reading part this week. We will start this off on Wednesday, and we will finish it up on Thursday or later.

In fact, on Thursday morning, we have a presentation by Grandma Rose for an anti-bullying program. This is actually really good, focusing more on the bullied than the bully. It shows kids how to respond to attempts at verbal bullying. (There is a presentation for parents tomorrow night at Woodbrook at 6:30, by the way...I recommend it!)

Because this will take place while we would normally be in specials, we will have our specials (and testing) time in the afternoon that day.

It's just a little snag in our day, but it won't cause too much trouble. I'm just letting you know about this as an FYI.

This One Time

Today we spent some time brainstorming things to write about for our personal narratives. I told them a couple stories from my life, and my hope was that the kids would start to think about their stories (the ones  that begin with "this one time...") are perfectly good! In fact, they are exactly what I am looking for. It's a process.

Homework for tonight is:
  • Spelling definitions
  • Read 20 minutes
  • Study for States and Capitals quiz (Friday)
  • My Math class has Home Link 1.7
Also, I want the kids to bring in pictures to decorate the outside of their writing journals.

I have much more, but it will have to wait until later. I wanted to get this to you as soon as possible (which is late, I realize--apologies). 

Sunday, August 27, 2017

Shock of the New

  • Subjects and predicates!
  • The Seven Habits of Highly Effective Kids
  • GCLs
  • States and Capitals!
  • NWEA testing! (The reading test!)
  • Grandma Rose! 
  • The Hopi Buffalo Winter Counts!
Stay tuned to see what I mean by most of these things, and have a great week as we continue on our journey into fifth grade awareness.

Talk soon. 

Friday, August 25, 2017

And Now a Message from the Woodbrook PTO

If you weren't able to make it last night, here is a video I showed regarding the PTO. Woodbrook has an amazing PTO, and there is plenty for everyone to do!

Pleased To Meet You

Thanks so much to everyone who was able to come to Meet the Teacher Night last night.

Let me know if you were able to log into my Canvas site with your child's password. It's all new to me, so it's definitely a learning curve.

Talk to you soon. Have a fantastic weekend. 

Wednesday, August 23, 2017

Landmark Sharks

Today in my Math class, we took a little time to play a game (pictured), but we did a lot of finding averages: means, modes, medians, maximums, minimums, and ranges.

We have also been practicing turning fractions into division problems. We have taken two approaches to this and logged them in our Mathcabulary books, so hopefully it is sinking in.

Tonight's homework is a meaning exercise. The kids should know what this is, but in case they don't, it's either a sentence using each word on their spelling list, or an illustration for each word. They can also mix and match.

We did some review-ish stuff on the seven continents, the five (!) oceans, and we also took a Science quiz today over the eclipses.

Hope to see everyone tomorrow night! Until then...

Tuesday, August 22, 2017


Happy Birthday to Michelle!

This is where I lament the fact that I have only had a few days to get to know Michelle, but it makes me happy to let you know that she is a very positive force in 5-1. She is a hard worker, she loves to read, and she is an excellent helper.

Michelle has an adventurous spirit. I have loved reading her writing over the past week, and I can tell that she is quite the spirited individual. I can't wait to get to know her more throughout this school year.

She always comes to school looking very nice, as you can see in the picture above, taken this morning at recess. 

Michelle, I hope you have had an excellent birthday surrounded by loved ones. You deserve it!

From Never To Always

We had a good day today!

I have been trying to fine-tune my daily schedule to make sure that we have time in there for everything, and I think today was the most successful day we've had yet at doing that. It probably didn't help that yesterday was the big Eclipse Day which kind of threw everything off.

The only real homework for today was 3 times each for Spelling, and then my class had Math homework (a page I made and handed out). Starting next week, I will have the kids read 20 minutes each night, but those bookmarks will not go home until this Friday.

I look forward to seeing you all on Thursday night at 6:30. In the meantime, let me know if you have any questions.

Monday, August 21, 2017


All of the students at Woodbrook today had a pretty cool experience. The glasses worked great, and the kids who didn't go outside were able to remain in the library and watch live footage of the event, so nobody missed out on anything. We had some live footage in the classroom also today, also, but that didn't hold the kids' attention for very long (we went ahead and did some Social Studies for the end of the day).

Homework for tomorrow is Spelling definitions, my Math class has Home Link 1.3 due tomorrow, and that's it for today. We worked on a few things in class that will not be due until Friday.

Can't wait to hear the reports back from Kiarra and Wyatt, both of whom traveled down south to get a more "total" view of the event. 

Sunday, August 20, 2017

Full Week Frenzy

Well, the State Fair is over. Kids' football has begun. Pre-season NFL football has begun. The Little League World Series is narrowing down its remaining teams. While fall hasn't begun yet, I think it's safe to say we are at the end of summer now.

And yes, there are a few other things going on this week in addition to Monday's eclipse.

First, we will have a spelling list this week. I will go over the spelling schedule tomorrow with the class, but it will always be the same any time we have a full week of school.

Secondly, Thursday night is the fifth grade Meet the Teacher Night. It starts at 6:30. Be there! 

Finally, we will have a quiz on Wednesday on the positions of the sun, moon, and Earth in both a solar eclipse and a lunar eclipse. I will make sure the kids all take home their notes tomorrow to study for it. 

Let's make Week Two another good one!

Saturday, August 19, 2017

Music Of the Spheres

  • Do not forget that MONDAY is HAT DAY! I will try to have a couple extra hats in case anyone forgets. We want to keep those kiddos safe while getting them loaded onto the bus. Should be quite the cosmic experience, both literally and figuratively. 
  • At first I was going to wait until the speaker in the classroom sound system was fixed before introducing the class song that we sing every Friday before getting on the bus. The kids thought they had waited long enough, though, so after a quick consultation with a certain rock music expert, I revealed that the song this year is David Bowie's "Starman" from his album, The Rise and Fall of Ziggy Stardust and the Spiders From Mars. Of course, since our fancy equipment wasn't working, I had to just play it on my circa-1989 CD player after printing off the lyrics. I like this song, and it's a nice tribute to Bowie. 

So yeah. Make sure your kids are ready on Monday for some crazy cosmic jive. It's going to be a big day. 

Thursday, August 17, 2017

Blot Out the Sun

We had a good day today in getting used to our daily schedule--what a relief it was to actually have one, for one thing.

In Science today, we did a study on how the moon is able to block out the sun (and of course I forgot to take pictures of it). As your kids why the tiny moon is able to block out something that is so much bigger than it.

That is the very short version of what happened today, so I will try to post more later. In the meantime, let's make sure we get those permission slips in pronto for the eclipse viewing!

More to come.

Wednesday, August 16, 2017


Happy Birthday to Mr. Carson!

I really wish I had had more time to get to know Carson before doing his birthday post (after all, my last birthday post of last year was less than two weeks ago), but I am happy that I get to do one this soon in the school year. Also, I am happy that at least I got to see his Bio Bag today so that I can say a few words about him.

Here are a couple things about him that I learned today (and realized that we are kindred spirits in many ways)...
  • He loves horror. I don't enjoy horror movies at all (in fact, I avoid them at all costs). But I do love scary stories and horror books and especially comic books. I get why he finds this so enjoyable. This makes him very cool in my eyes. 
  • He is a martial artist! Little did I know that he would know so much about martial arts. He brought his foam nunchucks today (or should I say nunchaku) to share this fact with the class. I love that we have this in common. I told the kids today that they are in the safest room in the building in case of an intruder alert. 
  • He also loves riddles. So do I. 
Carson is brand new to Woodbrook this year, having come to us from nearby Forest Dale. He has come in with a smile and seems to be getting along really well with everyone else in the class. He's only had two days with us! I can't wait to see where you go from here, Carson.

Happy birthday, man! You deserve it!

Don't Be Left In the Dark

The biggest news for tonight is to make sure you turn in--either electronically or on paper--your child's permission slip for next Monday's eclipse viewing. They are due back tomorrow, so if you did not receive an email from Carmel Clay Schools, check your junk folder. If it's still not in there, call the school tomorrow.

Follow this link to see how the eclipse will look next Monday! Pretty neat. We looked at this as well as a power point from Carmel Clay Schools. They (and we) are really drilling into the kids' heads about eye safety during the eclipse!

Today we discussed expectations on the playground, our class expectations for becoming organized and independent throughout the school year, and the activities and field trips we will be taking throughout the school year.

Homework tonight is to bring in a book tomorrow for reading time, as well as reading 20 minutes at home.

More to come, but I hope your kids all had a great second day of school today. 

Tuesday, August 15, 2017

Ready Steady Go

What a great first day we had today! I did a whole lot of talking, and I told them that tomorrow it's their turn. I want them to bring in their Bio Bags--a bag of any kind with three objects that they can share with the class that tell us more about who they are.

We are off to a good start. I'm tired!

Monday, August 14, 2017

Chomping At the Bit

Okay, everyone!

This afternoon/evening is the Ice Cream Social. We will be in our pod areas for this. I have spent the morning doing copious amounts of labeling, putting name stickers in their proper places, having meetings, doing last minute check-ins and trying to work out my technology.

I'm just about ready to get this year under way. In fact, it was in late July that I really got the itch to start teaching again, so you could say I've been mentally prepared for a long time.

I hope to see everyone this evening. If not, I'll see you all tomorrow.

Let's do this!

The Purdue Mortar Board quote of the week is, "Live as if you were to die tomorrow. Learn as if you were to live forever."  --Mahatma Gandhi

Sunday, August 13, 2017


I never thought this image would ever be considered controversial. The fact that it would now be considered questionable in any way in the United States is horrifying; I'm sorry. 

Will teachers ever be asked to teach World War II from "all sides"? It makes me shudder to think about. 

Let me say this: Nope. No, no, no, no, no, not in Area 51.

Yes, everyone deserves the right to free speech. Not everyone deserves the right to be thought of as the victim or the good guy.

Thursday, August 10, 2017

From the Lion's Mouth

Well, here's some progress! I've got quite a bit more work to do, but this made me feel accomplished today.

Tuesday, August 8, 2017

Our Neighborhood

As a teacher who, only within the past year--has taught students who are Korean, African-American, Italian, Jewish, Christian, Caucasian, Puerto Rican, Chinese, Indian, Irish, German, Muslim, Russian, Serbian, from single-parent families, from gay married families, and from traditionally-married families*--teaches all kinds of kids from all kinds of backgrounds, I loved seeing this sign tonight. This also includes students who were adopted, are step-kids, and who have both biological parents in their lives still. We had all kinds, and we will continue to do so in Area 51.

It was right across the street from the library in downtown Indy where I took my last-minute CPR class so that I could teach for the next five years. After it was over, I was taken by the urge to just walk around the neighborhood for awhile.

I found myself hoping that this "neighbor" thing extended all the way up into the north side of Hamilton County, because I felt pretty great about the possibility of being a part of this little community.

*This is from the 2016-2017 year alone...I could go on and on given all my years...

Monday, August 7, 2017


Normally by this point in the summer, I have decided what song is going to be my classroom song for 5-1. For those who aren't yet in the know, every Friday, we sing the same song before going home for the weekend. I hadn't actually thought about it much until just in the past couple days.

Within the past ten minutes, this year's song hit me. I can't wait to share it with the kids on that first Friday of school.

This tradition started back in 2010, by the way. Here is the list of past selections:
  • Journey: Don't Stop Believin'
  • The Foundations: Build Me Up, Buttercup
  • The Rolling Stones: Good-bye, Ruby Tuesday
  • Oasis: Don't Look Back In Anger
  • Whitesnake: Here I Go Again
  • The Eagles: Already Gone
  • OAR: Road Outside Columbus
  • The Traveling Wilburys: End of the Line
 Here's to another great year, and another awesome Area 51 anthem!

From Some Other Beginning's End

Well, here I am again.

Yesterday, while I was at the store, I was going through all of the school supplies and making sure I had everything (I assure you I didn't), and I saw all of the college dorm supplies. This got me thinking about the start of the school year from their standpoint.

As much as we enjoy summer and a small part of us laments starting school next week, we all at least know we are waking up and going to bed in the place where we've always done so. This includes the kids who are going off to Clay and to the high school. For the most part, our lives will continue on the way they always have.

I have stayed pretty tight with some of the families from the class that is starting college this year, more so than in years past. I've heard from some of my old students who are a bit nervous about the big changes in their lives. I remember them, and while they were scary, they were really pretty exciting.

Wherever you are, and whatever school you are going to this year, I know that this school year has awesome things in store for you.

As the wise storyteller says: Be well, do good work, and keep in touch. 

Friday, August 4, 2017


Happy Birthday to Nathan.

One reason Nathan holds a special spot in my heart is that I can remember this little blonde speck of a kid knowing my name from the time he was in kindergarten. He would yell, "Hi, Mr. Carter!" and I would say back, "Hey there, Mr. Rodgers!" At that time, I didn't know exactly what his name was, but I did know that he was the little brother of a student of mine. I felt so old this year when I had him in class at last, and especially so now that he is going off to Clay.

Nathan is passionate, spirited, and has a great heart. On my refrigerator, I still have a note that he sent me in the mail to my house last fall. It says:
Dear Mr. Carter,
Thank you for being my teacher and helping me. Thanks for reading T.G.F. and 2MM* because they are funny and interesting. Thanks for getting me motivated for tests and answering my questions. 
He would not have wanted me to put that on the blog during the school year, but now that he's been out for more than two months, I get to brag on him all I want.

I loved watching how excited he would get when the Word of the Day from a month ago would pop up in something he was reading. He remembered the stuff I taught in such a way that it gave me hope that someone out there was listening. This tendency is going to serve him incredibly well as he goes throughout the rest of his schooling. He has the heart of a boy while having the brain of a graduate student, and you can't ask for more than that.

Nathan and I both got the shaft this year when it came to our birthdays being on the morning announcements. Neither of us were mentioned in the summer birthdays. Well, kiddo, I hope this does a little bit to make you feel better. I'm pretty sure you have received the longest birthday post out of all of them.

Nathan marks the last of the 2016-2017 birthdays, which is a little sad for me. But what is sad for me is very happy for all of you, so I'm not going to be a downer.

Happy Birthday, Nathan! You definitely have it coming, buddy.

*Two-Minute Mysteries...those didn't last all that long this past year, actually.