Thursday, February 28, 2008

Math Casts

Despite the short day, we were able to get a lot accomplished today, especially for our Math Casts. I don’t know if I have mentioned this project or not. The students have each been given a math problem. They now must create a short movie explaining exactly how to solve this problem. Students are working in pairs and today spent a good deal of time just figuring out the steps needed to solve the problem. (Most of them could solve the problem easy enough but had trouble breaking it down into steps and explaining each step). Next week we will work on our final storyboards and on creating the steps and taking digital pictures. The last step will be putting it all together in Movie Maker and narrating it. Once all of the projects are done, I will post them online and students will be able to watch them to review for their test.

Enjoy your long weekend!

Wednesday, February 27, 2008

More Wax Museum Pictures - Finally

After much delay, and looking at my house, I found the cable to connect my old camera to the computer and I was able to download the lat two wax museum pictures. Brittany and Madison, sorry about the delay. You both had great costumes and did well on your presentation. This was even the first year that I had a "peg leg."

Tuesday, February 26, 2008

Parent Teacher Conferences

Just a short post today about Parent Teacher Conferences tonight, I know I won’t have much time after school to get anything posted. As soon as school is out it will be a quick dinner (at 4:00) time for a quick pit stop and then conferences until almost 8:00. I look forward to seeing everyone tonight. Remember, these are student led conferences, so the kids need to be in attendance. If they are not present, conferences will be really short. If you are unsure of your conference schedule, click on the link below to go the Room 42 web page. The schedule is on the front page, just scroll down to see it.

Room 42 Web Page

Monday, February 25, 2008

Exchange City Mania

Two words pretty much sum up this week. Exchange City. This week will be spent on getting ready for Exchange City. Applications, resumes, cover letters, shop meetings, interview, and a million other little details to get ready for the day. Tomorrow we meet with Mr. Fisher to go over interview techniques. Our class will be doing interviews for their jobs on Monday, March 3rd. Students need to dress appropriately and will need to have their resumes, job applications, and cover letters done by then. We have two hours of computer lab time in the next two days, I am pretty sure that we will get all of that done at school in plenty of time.

Friday, February 22, 2008

Extra Pictures

As I was looking through some pictures on my computer today I came across a couple additional photos that I thought I would share. These are pretty much just random pictures of different class projects that we have worked on this year. Also, I have not forgotten, I am still looking for the cable that I need in order to get the rest of the Wax Museum pictures off my old camera.

Happy Unexpected Snow Day Part 2

I really was not expecting the call this morning saying that we didn’t have school. I love the snow day but I know that we have to make it up, probably at the end of the year. That won’t be as much fun. I have actually gotten a lot done today. I wanted to take a little bit of time to post some pictures of the lunar eclipse this week. I braved the cold and spent probably too much time outside taking pictures. If you didn’t get a chance to see it, you missed a great show. A lunar eclipse is when the Earth passes between the moon and the sun. Basically the earth casts a shadow on the moon. Everything started about 7:45 and you could just see a slim shadow starting to creep across the moon. At around 9:45 the shadow completely covered the moon. Now, you could still see the moon but it took on this really cool reddish shade. The pictures here in order and are fairly small. I had a really good camera (Thanks again Brian and Gina) but the moon is a really looooong way away. The pictures are good enough, however, to see the shadow. Enjoy the pictures. If anyone else took any that turned out well, I would love to see them.

Happy unexpected snow day!

What did you do on your snow day? I got to go to school. I was already scheduled to be gone for a technology conference in Lee’s Summit. So when I got the phone call this morning saying that school was cancelled, I was almost ready to leave. There was a debate about if we were going to go or not. We decided to go so I spent the day in Lee’s Summit. I’m actually in a session right now about email and blogging. I presented a session today about how to create a news broadcast program. My session went really well – I really think that a couple of the people in my session might be going back to their schools and start a broadcast program. It kind of stinks that I didn’t get to sleep in today on the snow day (my wife had school in KCK) but I think I have learned a lot today, not only from the sessions that I was in but from the other teachers that went along. I am always amazed at what great ideas a group of teachers in a van (on really bad roads) can come up with.

Wednesday, February 20, 2008

Eclipse and Pictures

Just a few pictures today of our Exchange City Job Fair. Also, don’t forget that tonight is the total lunar eclipse. The observatory at William Jewell is open but you can see it from your back yard. It will start around 7:45 and be in totatlity (when the earth completely blocks the sun from hitting the moon) around 10:00. If you go out to see it, stay warm!

Tuesday, February 19, 2008

Hectic Schedule

Today the fifth grade teachers were working on our schedule for the next few weeks and let me tell you, hectic is the word to describe it. With trying to coordinate Exchange City lessons, lessons with Mr. Fisher for Exchange City, interviews with Mr. Williams and Mrs. Cunningham, and the lessons we have to teach, it has been difficult. We think we finally have everything scheduled. Not only do we have to schedule all of that but we have to schedule all of that around Spanish, strings, computer lab, library, and book fair preview, and an early release. We think we finally have a schedule that will work . . until something else comes up.

Today the kids created posters for the different shops at Exchange City and tomorrow they will be traveling around looking at the different posters to see which shops, and specifically which jobs they want at Exchange City. Later this week we will be working on applications and check book writing practice. Mr. Fisher has already begun the process of creating resumes and will soon hit cover letters. Also, all of the kids will be interviewing for their jobs this year. We will talk about interview techniques and appropriate dress. Right now we are scheduled to interview on Tuesday, March 26.

Monday, February 18, 2008

VFW Award

This weekend I was honored to receive an award from the VFW. My mom is a member of the local ladies auxiliary. My grandfather was a WWII veteran who served in Germany as a barber. I was chosen from the Liberty post of the VFW and entered in the district competition which I won. I got to attend the district VFW meeting on Saturday to receive my award. I have to tell you, it is a very powerful thing to be in a room of so many men who helped protect our country. One of the coolest things from the meeting was the pledge of allegiance. That group of people, didn’t just say the pledge, you could tell by the conviction in their voices that they mean every single word of it. Several students were honored for participating in the Voices of Democracy essay contest. This is a contest open to students in 6-12th grades. I highly encourage students to enter this contest when they can. Each of the winners not only received recognition at the district meeting but also a nice certificate or plaque and the top winners even got savings bonds.

The award that I won was for teaching patriotism and citizenship. In my application I talked about writing letters to soldiers in Iraq and Afghanistan, bringing flags with me on the microgravity flight, and included pictures from some of the historical places that I have been that I use in the classroom. From what I understand, they said that I was close to making it to the national competition. It was a great honor to get this award from the VFW. I will be proudly displaying my certificate in the classroom starting on Tuesday.

Great Picture

I had to post this picture because I thought it was awesome. This is my little niece, riding her Space Shuttle that we got her for Christmas.

Friday, February 15, 2008

Space Station

I just got in from freezing a little bit but also taking some really cool pictures. The International Space Station docked with the Space Shuttle passed over Liberty tonight. It was unbelievably bright. I will post later how to see it when it comes over. The way that I took these pictures was by shooting an 8 second exposure. The three pictures I have posted here show just the space station (looks like a streak) just coming into view. The second is taken as it passed near the moon (not literally but from where I was looking it was near the moon). The final one, and one of my favorites is of the station and shuttle passing over Manor Hill.

Thursday, February 14, 2008

Happy Valentines Day

Today I want to tell you about a lesson that I did in class today. Usually I don’t go into this much detail but I think this is a really cool lesson that is centered on a great (and the research I have done – true) story. A couple of weeks ago I talked to the kids about writing positive comments for each other. We talked about what a really good comment would be. We then used a blog (mainly to save me time) and the kids wrote a comment about each student in room 42. This week I have been compiling those lists. Today in class I read a story (see below) about a teacher, student, and soldier in the Vietnam War. You might want to read the story below now. After reading the story, we read the book The Wall and talked about the monument in Washington DC. After that, we unfolded a miniature scale model (see picture) and found Mark Eklund’s name. I also showed them a tracing of a real name on the wall (by the way, anyone heading to DC anytime soon, I would LOVE a tracing of Mark Eklund’s name). The last part of the lesson was to pass out each kids own list of positive comments. I think they really enjoyed reading these, and I love doing this lesson on Valentines Day. On a side note, I was talking to a former student yesterday who was in my class 8 years ago. She still had the list of positive comments that I had done back then.

Here is the story:
He was in the first third grade class I taught at Saint Mary’s School in Morris, Minn. All 34 of my students were dear to me, but Mark Eklund was one in a million. Very neat in appearance, but had that happy-to-be-alive attitude that made even his occasional mischievousness delightful. Mark talked incessantly. I had to remind him again and again that talking without permission was not acceptable. What impressed me so much, though, was his sincere response every time I had to correct him for misbehaving - “Thank you for correcting me, Sister!” I didn’t know what to make of it at first, but before long I became accustomed to hearing it many times a day. One morning my patience was growing thin when Mark talked once too often, and then I made a novice teacher’s mistake. I looked at Mark and said, If you say one more word, I am going to tape your mouth shut!” It wasn’t ten seconds later when Chuck blurted out, “Mark is talking again.” I hadn’t asked any of the students to help me watch Mark, but since I had stated the punishment in front of the class, I had to act on it. I remember the scene as if it had occurred this morning. I walked to my desk, very deliberately opened my drawer and took out a roll of masking tape. Without saying a word, I proceeded to Mark’s desk, tore off two pieces of tape and made a big X with them over his mouth. I then returned to the front of the room. As I glanced at Mark to see how he was doing, he winked at me. That did it! I started laughing. The class cheered as I walked back to Mark’s desk, removed the tape, and shrugged my shoulders. His first words were, “Thank you for correcting me, Sister.” At the end of the year, I was asked to teach junior-high math. The years flew by, and before I knew it Mark was in my classroom again. He was more handsome than ever and just as polite. Since he had to listen carefully to my instruction in the “new math,” he did not talk as much in ninth grade as he had in third. One Friday, things just didn’t feel right. We had worked hard on a new concept all week, and I sensed that the students were frowning, frustrated with themselves and edgy with one another. I had to stop this crankiness before it got out of hand. So I asked them to list the names of the other students in the room on two sheets of paper, leaving a space between each name. Then I told them to think of the nicest thing they could say about each of their classmates and write it down. It took the remainder of the class period to finish their assignment, and as the students left the room, each one handed me the papers. Charlie smiled. Mark said, “Thank you for teaching me, Sister. Have a good weekend.” That Saturday, I wrote down the name of each student on a separate sheet of paper, and I listed what everyone else had said about that individual. On Monday I gave each student his or her list Before long, entire class was smiling. Really?” I heard whispered. “I never knew that meant anything to anyone!” I didn’t know others liked me so much.” No one ever mentioned those papers in class again. I never knew if they discussed them after class or with their parents, but it didn’t matter. The exercise had accomplished its purpose. The students were happy with themselves and one another again. That group of students moved on. Several years later, after I returned from vacation, my parents met me at the airport. As we were driving home, Mother asked me the usual questions about the trip, the weather, my experiences in general. There was a lull in the conversation. Mother gave Dad a sideways glance and simply says, “Dad?” My father cleared his throat as he usually did before something important. “The Eklunds called last night,” he began “Really?” I said. “I haven’t heard from them in years. I wonder how Mark is.” Dad responded quietly. “Mark was killed in Vietnam,” he said. “The funeral is tomorrow, and his parents would like it if you could attend.” To this day I can still point to the exact spot on I-494 where Dad told me about Mark. I had never seen a serviceman in a military coffin before. Mark looked so handsome, so mature. All I could think at that moment was, “Mark, I would give all the masking tape in the world if only you would talk to me.” The church was packed with Mark’s friends Chuck’s sister sang “The Battle Hymn of the Republic.” Why did it have to rain on the day of the funeral? It was difficult enough at the graveside. The pastor said the usual prayers, and the bugler played taps. One by one those who loved Mark took a last walk by the coffin and sprinkled it with holy water. I was the last one to bless the coffin. As I stood there, one of the soldiers who acted as pallbearer came up to me. Were you Mark’s math teacher?” he asked. I nodded as I continued to stare at the coffin. “Mark talked about you a lot,” he said. After the funeral, most of Mark’s former classmates headed to Chuck’s farmhouse for lunch. Mark’s mother and father were there, obviously waiting for me. “We want to show you something, his father said, taking a wallet out of his pocket. “They found this on Mark when he was killed. We thought you might recognize it.” Opening the billfold, he carefully removed two worn pieces of notebook paper that had obviously been taped, folded and refolded many times. I knew without looking that the papers were the ones on which I had listed all the good things each of Mark’s classmates had said about him. “Thank you so much for doing that,” Mark’s mother said. “As you can see, Mark treasured it.” Mark’s classmates started to gather around us. Charlie smiled rather sheepishly and said, “I still have my list. I keep it in the top drawer of my desk at home.” Chuck’s wife said, “Chuck asked me to put his in our wedding album.””I have mine too,” Marilyn said. “It’s in my diary.” Then Vicki, another classmate, reached into her pocketbook, took out her wallet and showed her worn and frazzled list to the group. I carry this with me at all times,” Vicki said without batting an eyelash. “I think we all saved our lists.” That’s when I finally sat down and cried. I cried for Mark and for all his friends who would never see him again. The density of people in society is so thick that we forget that life will end one day. And we don’t know when that one day will be. So please, tell the people you love and care for, that they are special and important. Tell them, before it is too late.

Wednesday, February 13, 2008


Today was spent working on science. The entire 5th grade actually had subs today. (At last report, the class was doing great) We spent the entire day unwrapping science GLE’s. A GLE is a grade level expectation. The unwrapping process is actually kind of cool but very time consuming. I won’t go into the whole process of it but let’s just say that we have been working for most of the year to get these done and we finally completed the task today. We also were able to plan out some upcoming science lessons. I love planning. I really do. I love the ideas that I can come up with on my own and I also love bouncing ideas off of other to see what they think. Mr. E and I have a great relationship in that way. Many times we are on exactly the same page but sometimes we are on complete opposites. What is so cool about this is that even when we disagree – bottom line is we both know that we are trying to do what is best for the kids. A lot fo times I will disagree at first and then after hearing his entire idea, like it. And he is the exact same way with me. We got a ton accomplished today including finishing up the unwrapping process as well as getting our next couple of science units planned out.

Tomorrow is the valentines party and I have a very special lesson planned. I will be sure to take a couple of pictures and post them tomorrow.

Tuesday, February 12, 2008


That pretty much describes the day. When I got to school this morning the air conditioner was on. I got it turned off but the heat cannot be turned off so we had a hot room today. The kids did a great job of not complaining and getting their work done. We were able to finish up a science experiment and learned to subtract positive and negative numbers. We will definitely be reviewing that concept more in the upcoming days.

Monday, February 11, 2008

More Pictures Coming Soon

I have two more pictures to post of the wax museum. Unfortunately, I didn’t have a memory chip in my camera when I took the pictures – don’t worry, I still have them – but I need a particular cable to connect to the computer and for the life of my, I can’t find it right now. I am going to look at home again tonight (I looked for about two minutes this morning) and once I find the cable, I will put the pictures up.

This afternoon was dominated by science. What I have been really impressed with is how much effort the kids have been putting into planning the science experiments we do. The kids have a Science Methods page that they use that walks them through the scientific method. It also has them detail who is going to do what during the experiment and makes them list the different steps. We are still working on getting them done the first time without some help but the progress we have made has been amazing. The kids spent a huge chunk of the afternoon just planning the experiment for tomorrow. I think this will be our most successful experiment yet (maybe not in results but in using the scientific method.)

Thursday, February 7, 2008