Sunday, September 30, 2007

Best Brother Ever

I don’t say this very often, but my brother really hooked me up today. Captain Jim Lovell from Apollo 13 was in town as the grand marshal of the NASCAR race at the Kansas Speedway. My brother is the editor of the Kansas City Kansan and he called up the press contact at the speedway and told them I was a teacher and asked if I could get a press pass. They said yes and I got to go to the race and the press conference with Mr. Lovell. I was able to get a picture with him and asked him what he would tell a class of elementary school students. He had a great response that is posted below. To view the video, just click on it and then hit play.

I also got to watch the first 15 laps of the race from the infield. There were a couple of things that I noticed. First, the cars were not nearly as loud as I thought, at least at first. When they started their engines, I was underwhelmed. When they started actually running around the track, they got a lot louder. It still completely paled in comparison to the shuttle launch. The thing that did impress me was the speed. You watch on TV and they look fast, but not amazingly so. When you are watching them speed by, they are going really, really fast.

Friday, September 28, 2007

Blog Hall of Fame

Today we had our first induction into the Blog Hall of Fame. Whenever a student puts a post or comment onto the Reading blog that is amazing, they will get inducted into the Hall of Fame. This doesn’t just mean a perfect score, but a truly phenomenal post or comment. We talked today in class how when a baseball player is inducted into the Hall of Fame, they can then write HOF ’07 after their name. Any student who makes it into the Blog Hall of Fame can then write HOF ’07 after there name on any paper that they turn in. I am also going to be adding these signatures onto the Blog Hall of Fame Web Page. Congratulations to Brittany, our first Hall of Fame inductee. You can read her amazing comment by clicking on the link below.

Thursday, September 27, 2007

Glow in the Dark

Room 42 has a student from William Jewell, Mr. Wolrond, that has been observing and teaching lessons each Thursday. Today he taught a very interesting lesson about fireflies and chemical reactions. I took a couple of pictures as he was teaching, I thought they turned out kind of cool with the glow sticks he was using. Today we had a big work time on the book blog. Tomorrow will be more of the same. It is really important for the kids to check their own work with the evaluation form. I have talked a lot about the different components of a good post and a good comment and still I have had many turned in that don’t have some of the very basic parts included. A student can do a great summary of their book but if they don’t talk about what they liked and didn’t like, they will lose half of their grade for that post. This first month, especially we are still working out some of the kinks. Also, you may have noticed that the due date is a Sunday. Basically what I told the kids was that they will have a large amount of time to work on it in class but if they don’t get it finished, they will need to finish it at home. We will go over in class tomorrow exactly what is due and who needs to turn what in. The main thing for me is that everything is in by the time I get to school on Monday. After that, I won’t accept it. The great thing about a blog is that everything that comes to me has an exact time on it so I know when it was submitted.

One other thing I wanted to mention before I forget, there is a full size replica of the Space Shuttle in town this weekend and on display at the Lenexa Fall Festival. I have put a link below that has some pictures on it. It should be something pretty cool to see. I plan on heading out there sometime on Saturday to look around and get a few pictures. I will post those next week.

Wednesday, September 26, 2007

What an amazingly beautiful day. I don’t think that we have had a more beautiful day for Radical Challenge in my 9 years. I was worried that mud would be a problem but it wasn’t. I think we had the most positive group of kids and parents that we have ever had. Last year was my least favorite year ever and this year was my favorite. One of the really great things about this trip is that all of the kids take turns being leaders and you get to see some leadership qualities in kids that you don’t always get to see. Not only is that good for us as teachers to see but also for the kids to realize that they have the ability within themselves. Sometimes I think kids just fall into the groove of being a follower and that is where things come easy. These kids don’t ever try to lead and to see them today thrust into the leadership role is always fun to see. I want to thank all of the parents that went along. I know how hard it is to get up and over there at 7:00 in the morning to go traipsing around the woods. I have literally seen groups of parents come slumping up the hill. This year there were smiles and enthusiastic thumbs ups! I’m ready to go back again.

Monday, September 24, 2007

The Mayor is Coming!

I just confirmed that KMH has their first interview of the year scheduled. The mayor of Liberty, Robert Steinkamp will be joining KMH for an interview in November. I think it is really exciting when people take time out of their busy schedules to help out a school. Once again, it shows the power of education.

On another note, we have an upcoming field trip that I wanted to talk about. On Wednesday we will be traveling to Earnest Shepherd Youth Center for Radical Challenge. Some of the kids have asked me what Radical Challenge is. I tell them that it is a bunch of challenges that are . . . radical! They don’t like that explanation very much. Actually it is a series of outdoor team building exercises that the kids will be completing. Thanks so much to the parent volunteers who will be showing up at 7:00 for their training. As of now, the weather looks beautiful. Last year it was about 34 degrees and drizzly. Hopefully there will be much better weather this year.

Friday, September 21, 2007

KMH: Patriot News

For the last six years I have sponsored the broadcast club at Manor Hill. Currently we are the only elementary broadcast program in the district. It seems like each year we grow a little bit or accomplish something new. In the past we have done a lot of exciting things including interviewing visiting authors, a former Harlem Globetrotter, our state representative, and a United States Congressman. We have also covered a professional soccer game and participated in the Show Me Tech-Knowledge Student Showcase in Jefferson City where we met the Lt. Governor, and were recognized on the floor of the House of Representatives. We have also gotten a couple of grants including a $2000 Best Buy Grant last year. I teach the kids how to use the equipment and to create the broadcasts but they literally do all of the work.

I just found out that KMH: Patriot News is a finalist in the Reel Spirit Student Showcase Awards. I am heartbroken because I don’t get to attend the awards ceremony. It is October 20th and I will be in Colorado Springs on the Microgravity Flight. Apparently they have a movie theatre and they literally have a red carpet for the kids to walk down. It should be a great experience for the kids. Below are a couple of links. The first is to the video that we entered into the competition. As you watch the video remember that everything was done by 5th graders. On this broadcast, I literally did not touch a computer, camera, or anything to help. They did all of the filming, writing, and editing, including all of the green screen effects.

Reel Spirit Website:

Link to KMH: Patriot News video entry:

Wednesday, September 19, 2007

I am smiling - right?

I don’t know if you call it a smile, or a grimace, or exactly what the expression on my face is but Room 42 was featured on the front page of the Liberty Neighborhood News section of the Kansas City Star today. When I went out to pick up my paper this morning, there I was staring back up at myself. It really was a very nice article along with two pictures of me and one of Charlie and Chasity. (That is my favorite picture from the article.) There were some very nice things said about me, which I truly appreciate. I have included the link below.

Tuesday, September 18, 2007

Room 42 Reading Blog

Hot diggity dog, we got to start the Room 42 book blog today. I know that there will be some bumps along the way as the kids figure out exactly what the expectations are for this project but I am still excited. I thought I would take a minute to go over some of the intricacies of this project and also invite anyone reading this to follow along. We want EVERYONE to participate. Parents, grandparents, aunts, uncles, older brothers, former students, anyone and everyone is welcome to participate.

If you are reading this, you already know what a blog is, it is a type of journal. We will be using it differently for our reading project. Basically what the kids are doing is having a year long discussion about books. Every month the kids will be required to write up a “post” about the book they are reading. They don’t have to have the book finished, they can actually do this as long as they have read at least half of the book. I put the word post in quotes earlier because for our classroom use we are calling them posts. Technically they will be publishing their thoughts under the comments section. (Have I confused you yet?)

In each of the kids “posts” they will be giving a short summary, and a run down of what they liked or didn’t like about the book. This is actually the main part. We want them to support whatever they say with evidence from the book. (Think MAP test). The other part of the project is for the kids to do two “comments” on other kids sections about what they are reading. This is to help spark the discussion about books.

Story time. Last year there was a book on the Mark Twain list called Yankee Girl. It was very definitely a girl book. Flowery looking cover, the whole nine yards. One girl from another class posted about that book. A boy (that liked her) read her blog and decided to read the book. He loved it! He posted about it and pretty soon all of the boys were reading it, and they all enjoyed it. They never would have even thought about reading that book if it hadn’t been for the blog.
Each month the kids will start a new grading period but the blog will continue to grow. We have a map that shows where people have looked at our blog from. At last count we had six of the seven continents and almost 40 countries. Talk about a world wide audience.

Some of you might be asking yourself about safety. That has been thought of as well. Anything that goes on the blog goes through me first. I personally look at everything and either approve or reject it. I hope that after reading this I haven’t confused you. If I have, check out our reading blog at: . There are some links on the right side of the page that explain what the blog is all about and there is a Word document that you can download that has all of the directions about how to participate.

Monday, September 17, 2007


It is that time of year again, DRA time. The DRA is a reading assessment that we give to the kids to see where they are as far as reading level goes. It is a very involved test that requires a lot of effort on the kids part. A lot of times, the amount of effort put into the assessment determines their final level. Basically if the kid try their hardest, the score will be accurate but if the kids do not work hard on it and sluff their way through it, their score will be low. We will be talking about it more tomorrow as we continue getting all the DRAs complete.

Saturday, September 15, 2007

Room 42 in the News

I just got in my Saturday paper and when I opened to the Local section, what did I see but our very own Logan working on a science experiment. We had a photographer from the Kansas City Star in the room on Friday taking pictures to go with an article that will be in the local section of the paper next Wednesday. They ran this picture with a cool caption as a bonus today. Below is the link to the picture on the KC Star website. I’m not sure if you have to register with the Star to be able to see it. Below is the caption that ran under the picture. The title was: Science Experiment for Fifth Graders.

“Fifth-grader Logan Riddle contemplated the results in a science experiment Friday at Manor Hill Elementary School in Liberty. Riddle and his classmates were testing theories in an experiment that teacher Marty Kelsey will duplicate next month when he will experience zero gravity during the Weightless Flights of Discovery Program."

Here is the link to the Kansas City Star story.

Friday, September 14, 2007

Flight Tracking

I just found a really cool web site that I wanted to share. I will be sharing it again later but if anyone is doing any traveling or is picking someone up from the airport, this is a really great site. The address is . It allows you to track almost any aircraft that is flying. The map that shows all the aircraft in the air right now is kind of frightening. I have always been interested to know what I am flying over and what route we are taking. Not real easy to do while you are on the plane but you can also register so you can look at flight tracks after they have happened. I don’t know my flight number for the October 20th Microgravity flight but when I get it, I will post it and you will be able to follow along real time (I think you have to hit the refresh button) but you will be able to see the real time track that I am taking as I am flying over Colorado. I just looked up a track from a previous microgravity flight, kind of an odd track. Out and back over the ocean. Mine won’t be over the ocean, just mountains.

Thursday, September 13, 2007

Flying Fish

Yes, you read correctly there have been flying fish in Room 42 this week. While we have been busy working on our tests, we occasionally will have two or three minutes between tests, or before specials. We have been catching gold fish as they fly around the room. Much to everyone’s amazement today, Marressa became the Room 42 gold fish catching champion. This surprised everyone because she hadn’t caught one before today.

We have one more day of testing left and tomorrow we will be working on the second of three experiments that I will be taking up on the zero G flight in October. Today we worked on mixing oil and water and tomorrow we will be learning about Newton’s Laws by using tennis balls. Who knows, there may also be more flying fish tomorrow.

Wednesday, September 12, 2007

Heavy Testing and a Busy Day

Usually testing week is pretty laid back. Today was anything but. Testing took a lot longer than I thought it would. Not that this is a bad thing, I really feel like the kids are doing a good job of concentrating on the tests and doing their best work.

Part of the reason that it was busy was because I have been trying to schedule interviews with the Kansas City Star. They contacted me and wanted to know about me going to the space shuttle launch and the microgravity flight in October. Because of this I had to contact Northrup Grumman so they were aware of the interview. I actually got a picture of myself from the class I took in Colorado Springs in my flight suit. Not a great picture but at least you can see what the flight suit looks like. They also sent me a press release which I will post below.

Press Release:

Teachers Prepare to Soar as Northrop Grumman Foundation’s
Weightless Flights of Discovery Nears

Two flights from Colorado Springs Airport set for October 20

Program endeavors to inspire the next generation of scientists, mathematicians and engineers

COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. – Sept. 12, 2007 – Martin Kelsey of Liberty Public School District in Liberty, Mo., will be among the 58 math and science teachers from six states who will experience weightless flights and share those experiences with their students as part of the Northrop Grumman Foundation Weightless Flights of Discovery program. The flights will take place on Saturday, Oct. 20, from Colorado Springs Airport.

“This program is all about giving teachers the tools and experiences they need to show their students that math and science are not only entertaining, but can also be the basis for a fascinating career,” said Sandra Evers-Manly, president of the Northrop Grumman Foundation.

The teachers will participate in a parabolic or zero-gravity aircraft flight, which creates temporary weightlessness, similar to what humans experience during space travel to the moon or Mars. The experience simulates how astronauts train for space flight.

To prepare for the flight, Kelsey recently attended a workshop where the teachers reviewed relevant science and engineering concepts and designed in-flight microgravity experiments to share their weightless experience with students when they return to the classroom.

Kelsey teaches 5th grade at Manor Hill Elementary School. He is the sole participating teacher from Missouri (or Kansas).

“Northrop Grumman’s work for the U.S. government is, at its core, based upon a fundamental understanding of science, technology, engineering and math, so we look carefully for opportunities to bring philanthropy to the education enterprise. This is a particularly special opportunity because we recognize and appreciate the critical importance of what teachers do to inspire our nation’s dreams and ensure the continuing success of our country,” said Tim McMahon, Northrop Grumman corporate lead executive for Colorado Springs.

The Northrop Grumman Foundation Weightless Flights of Discovery program is designed to inspire students to pursue science and technical careers by first inspiring their teachers. Since being introduced in June 2006, the program has doubled in enrollment size; it now provides professional development to 480 current and future teachers. The Weightless Flights of Discovery program was created and developed by Northrop Grumman in cooperation with Zero Gravity Corporation.

This program is one of several initiatives that the Northrop Grumman Foundation sponsors in support of promoting education and student interest in the science, technology, engineering and mathematics fields. To learn more about the Northrop Grumman Foundation Weightless Flights of Discovery program, visit:

Northrop Grumman Corporation is a $30 billion global defense and technology company whose 120,000 employees provide innovative systems, products, and solutions in information and services, electronics, aerospace and shipbuilding to government and commercial customers worldwide.

Tuesday, September 11, 2007

Where were you?

Flag in my classroom that flew over the US Capitol

I was getting ready to start teaching (I still have the lesson plan from that day). I had been in a meeting all morning and had left home before anything started happening. One of my students came in and told me that a plane had hit the World Trade Center. I honestly didn’t believe her at first. Then all of the kids started telling me about it. I went to my computer and pulled up CNN. That was when I knew something big had happened. The CNN website was overloaded. All they had up was an image of the second plane hitting the tower. I can still see that picture in my mind. As the day wore on, we would get periodic updates from the office but we were told not to say anything to the kids. Talk about a hard thing to do. The kids knew something was going on (they can always tell when I’m upset, or having a bad day, or not feeling good) and we couldn’t say anything, we just had to keep teaching while all we wanted to do was sit down and watch the news. At the end of the day, I sat down with the kids and I told them that something happened today. When you get home, talk to your parents about it. It is something that you will never forget.
The next day was hard. Everyone was still scared about something else happening. As a teacher I wasn’t sure how to talk about it. Is terrorism appropriate to discuss at the fifth grade level? So I improvised. I had worked at one of the local casinos on the grounds crew one summer and when they changed the flag, I asked if I could have the old one. They let me have it and it had been in a box since then. It is huge, literally covering most of one wall of my classroom. I took it out that morning and hung it up. It was pretty impressive to see it hanging there. When the kids came in we didn’t talk about the attacks, we talked about patriotism and what that meant. If anything good could have come from September 11th, it was that there became a renewed sense of patriotism. I think it has lasted pretty well but needs to be emphasized. I also gave the kids some small flag stickers that I had in my desk and they wore them. By the end of the day I had teachers coming in and asking me if I had more for them to wear.
In my classroom there are always two flags flying. The small one provided by the school and one that I bought that has flown over the capitol in Washington D.C. I think it is important for us not to take our freedoms for granted and to remember those that protect us. On this anniversary, that is what I will talk to the kids about. Where were you on this day six years ago?

Monday, September 10, 2007

Quick Post

Just a quick update today, I only have a few minutes before my early release meeting starts. Testing went very well today. I thought the kids took it very seriously and did their best. With an early release, and a big chunk of time take up with testing, we didn’t get a whole lot else accomplished today. We did have some time for silent reading, which was great for me. I am getting close to finishing Harry Potter and the Deathly Gallows. It has been a great book so far and I can’t wait to see how it turns out. I will definitely be taking it back and forth between home and school so I can finish it up. And now I am off to my meetings!

Friday, September 7, 2007

SAT Testing Next Week

Next week is SAT testing. This is not quite like the high stakes testing that we have for the MAP in the spring but is still a test that we should take seriously. We will be testing every day next week, including the early release on Monday. (We get out at 1:25). There are several hints that can help your child do well on the tests. Most of them are common sense but I wanted to list them anyway.

1. Get to school on time. Once we start a test, we will not stop until we are finished. Some of them are 50 minutes long. If a student isn’t in the room when the test starts, they have to hang out in the office until we are finished and then make the test up later in the week.

2. Avoid absences. You should always try to do this but especially on testing week. If a student is gone, they will make up whatever they missed when they get back. This usually means missing some class time. Please try to avoid scheduling doctors appointments next week if you have to have a doctors appointment or take your child out of school, try to do it in the afternoon. If your child is truly sick, keep them home but if it is just a runny nose, send them to school.

3. Keep a normal schedule. If your child normally goes to bed at 9:00, don’t have them go to bed at 7:30. They will lay there awake and not sleep at all. A little early would be good, but not way early.

4. Have a good breakfast. Being hungry is not a great way to take a test.

5. Get everything ready the night before. Lay out clothes, make sure that the school bag is packed. There is nothing worse than rushing around the morning of a test looking for a lost shoe, or trying to scramble to finish a piece of homework.

6. Tell the kids that you are proud of them and you just want them to do their best on the test and that you will be proud of them no matter what.

Wednesday, September 5, 2007

Audio Math Review

A project that I really wanted the kids to work on didn’t work out quite like I had planned but the kids can still get something out of it. I had created a build your own math review where the students would take Audacity, an audio editing software and create a math review just for them with segments that I recorded as well as my wife. Because of some technical difficulties and a lack of time in the computer lab we did the project a little differently. We built the audio review together and I posted it online. Hopefully the kids will listen to it tonight. You can listen to it by clicking the link below or by right clicking and save target as. That allows you to download it and put it on an mp3 player.

Link to the Audio Math Review

Tuesday, September 4, 2007

Class Participation

I wanted to talk a little today about class participation. Today was a rough day on that front in Room 42. We had to have a class discussion about my expectations for participating in class. I asked a question today and literally no one raised their hands. I understand that it was the first day back after a long weekend but wow. I really emphasized that I want participation and I don’t care if the answers are correct. As a matter of fact, the question I asked this morning had no right or wrong answer. I think this is something we will continue to work on the rest of the year.

On a different note, today we started one of my favorite projects of the year, the Room 42 reading blog. If you are reading this then you already understand how a blog works. We will be using a blog (very similar to this one) as our big reading project for the year. Next week when we really get into it I will explain more about it. Today the assignment was to write an introduction of yourself as a reader. This will be on the main reading blog page for the year and will be most peoples first introduction to the kids. Our reading blog has a map like the one on this page and we have had hits from all over the world. So the kids really do have a world-wide audience for their writing. Pretty cool stuff.

The other project we started today was the cartographers challenge. For this geography assignment the kids create their own country and design it based on a theme. I can’t wait to see what they come up with. I am hoping to take a few pictures and post them on here.

Launch Video . . . Finally

Photo taken from NASA website at:

I finally got it done, I have officially posted the video I took from the Space Shuttle Launch. I think you will be able to tell from the audio what an amazing experience it was. To truly get the full effect, use the biggest speakers that you have and get close to them. Wait until about 2 minutes into the flight and you will really hear what it was like. The sound literally thumped you in the chest. Video doesn’t do it justice but I wanted to post it anyway. Enjoy!

Video of the Space Shuttle Launch