Samurai School - New Week

Reading and Math tests today. Results should be in by Wednesday. Science chapter 11 study guide went home today along with a grammar worksheet. Science test on Wednesday or Thursday. Science is very important. So many students miss Tuesdays at Enrichment I may use Wednesday as an all-class teaching day and give the test on Thursday.

Review the difference between qualitative and quantitative data supporting your child's growth.

Feeling good about themselves is qualitative and is the DREAMING BIG part of our class motto.

Higher test scores is quantitative data and is DOING BIG.

These two combined WILL allow your child to BE BIG.

And now we're done
Today was Fun
Your child is great
I've gotta leave before I'm late


Samurai School - Think Tank

Random pictures from yesterday's class. They have a big story to tell which I'll share as soon as possible. Today we're off on our first field trip.



Very quick weblog as I'm running off to the university.

Science was the big focus today in addition to the reading and math work. Your child has been assigned the task of taking any part of the information from Chapter 11 (matter) and teaching it to the class tomorrow. Ideas that were brainstormed were from word searches for the vocabulary to lab experiments to outdoor games to filming our own science show. This week's spelling and vocab words are going to be from Chapter 11 of the Science text. The reading test on Katie's Trunk is still this Friday.

What You Can Do
Facilitate your child's enthusiasm by asking how their project is going to teach others the material they selected in the chapter.

Math homework is Study Links 4.5 and 4.6.

What You Can Do
This is the time to check your child's papers for their notes and highlights of what they know and what they need work on.


Samurai School - RISE!

Welcome Back! I can truly say I was happy to see the familiar faces of my fantastic people-like students. I have a great time teaching them and miss having the little ones to boss around and make their lives miserable. It makes me feel big and powerful to do this. I get the same feeling at home by eating my meals with Sofia's baby fork. I pretend I'm a giant.

Over the break we reached our 2,000th visitor to the site. In addition to our American friends, new ones from New Zealand (twice)
, Norway
, India
, Canada
, Singapore
, Brazil
and "Unknown" (twice) came on
. Can this "Unknown" be proof of life "out there"? Now I wished I would have watched "The X Files" when it was on TV.

In READING we went over their morning work, or their journal entries detailing what skills they were going to work on improving today. At least that's what they were supposed to write. Some are doing this. They are picking one area that they didn't master on the Fall Edusoft test (i.e. My goal for today is to work on "Cause & Effect"). But many are still writing vague, unmeasurable goals such as "I want to do better in reading".

But what can you do?

What you can do is keep reinforcing it and approaching it in different ways until EVERYONE has the ability to write specific and measurable goals. I brought out the test results and told them if I can take the time to know the strengths and weaknesses of every one of them, they can take the time to know each of their own strengths and weaknesses.

We went over the results of the Cause & Effect areas of the test. Out of 4 questions, only 4 students have proven themselves Samurai Masters: Serena, Esha, Kieran and ......Well knock me over with a feather, I've forgotten. I think it was Sandeep. I'll check when I get back to school.

Read "Katie's Trunk".

What You Can Do
1. Ask your child to name at least three cause and effect relationships in the story.
2. Ask them to name at least one area where they need to improve (hint...if they weren't mentioned above, they got either a 25%, 50% or 75% in this skill).
3. Ask them to "measure" their progress in this area. Are they improving? How do they know? Were they able to identify 3 cause & effect relationships? Yes? Then they know they're getting better.

When I picked them up at lunch I handed them the results of their Unit 3 Reassessment Test. I graded it on their answers (40% of the final grade) as well as their reasoning, or justification for their answers (which was 60% of their final grade). This took so much extra time to do I can't promise a reassessment will be available for Unit 4, which we're now on. The results were mixed, with half the class showing remarkable scores and/or improvements and the other half showing negligible gains or even dropping scores, indicating little intellectual wealth has been acquired.

But what can you do?

What you can do is focus on the positive instead of the negative.

An old adage says
"Twice I did good,
That I heard never.
Once I did bad,
That I heard ever."

So I took"The Scorpion King" movie CD out of my gym bag and played the song "Rise!" as loudly as possible without disturbing other classes.
As it was playing I typed in the names and accomplishments of the 10 students who did show great grades and/or growth from the original test. As the students saw this on the big screen, they heard these lyrics

"Our time has come
Watch us set it off

RISE! Let your spirit fly!
RISE! Stand up for yourself
RISE! Hold your head up high!

We made it. We made it. We made it this far.

Let your spirit fly
Don't you quit. Don't you quit.

Don't you quit on me."

I'll include who these 10 were 2morrow. My grad class starts in 15 minutes. There were three students who blew the test away, showing incredible mastery of the material and great gains in intellectual wealth with 100% scores! These students were Mark, Devan, and Dallas. Congratulations!

And for all those not attaining mastery I sent a dramatic message as I picked up Sarah in her chair (who did test at a very respectable score). As I lifted her high I said I would help them rise until they learned to do it for themselves.

Study Link 4.3 & 4.4

What You Can Do
1. Check over their work
2. Ask them to create a few new problems of their own and solve them (Warning: This involves higher order thinking skills and may result in increased brain power. As parents we know what this means; trouble :-)

And a big thanks to the talented singer and partolgirl Shannon, who brings my daughter to my classroom every afternoon. Thanks Shannon!

It's my turn to be a Samurai Warrior and focus on what I don't know, and change it to what I know. As Groucho Marx said, "Wait right here until I hear from you."


Motorcycle Moments #4

The other night I was driving home after umpiring my son's baseball game and having my own daughter Bella heckling me. Last night I was coming home after spending the best 5 plus hours of my day with Sofia and Stina. I've heard that "home is where the heart is". I realize now that my home is with my children, and everytime I'm with them I am "home". These times are invaluable to me, priceless moments that open my heart and bathe my soul in warm swirling waters of peace and happiness.

(Although my son plays for the wolvernines, I had an Ohio State shirt on underneath my chest protector :-)

This morning I am trying to respond to emails but can't because my mailbox is too full and I "must delete some items before sending". I began by deleting the numerous system emails telling me my mailbox is over the size limit and I must delete some items. I responded to one of them telling them my mailbox wouldn't be so full if they would stop sending me all these emails. It wouldn't let me send it and I was told "your mailbox is over the size limit and you must delete some items before sending."

In my search to delete emails I found hidden among them a very special one sent back in August. It was an email from my baby sister that echoed my "pricless" thoughts of my children. She is my favorite little sister. Actually she is my only little sister but don't tell her that because she feels so special being my favorite one. She's also the mother of my Godson Jack, for whom I wrote my first children's book, "My Name is Jack", inspired as I was holding him in my arms over three days.

The Price of Children

This is just too good not to pass on to all. Something absolutely
positive for a change. I have repeatedly seen the breakdown of the cost
of raising a child, but this is the first time I have seen the rewards
listed this way. It's nice.

The government recently calculated the cost of raising a child from
birth to 18 and came up with $160,140 for a middle income family. Talk
about sticker shock! That doesn't even touch college tuition.

But $160,140 isn't so bad if you break it down. It translates into:

* $8,896.66 a year,
* $741.38 a month, or
* $171.08 a week.
* That's a mere $24.24 a day!
* Just over a dollar an hour.

Still, you might think the best financial advice is don't have children
if you want to be "rich." Actually, it is just the opposite. What do you
get for your $160,140?
* Naming rights. First, middle, and last!
* Glimpses of God every day.
* Giggles under the covers every night.
* More love than your heart can hold.
* Butterfly kisses and Velcro hugs.
* Endless wonder over rocks, ants, clouds, and warm cookies.
* A hand to hold, usually covered with jelly or chocolate.
* A partner for blowing bubbles, flying kites.
* Someone to laugh yourself silly with, no matter what the boss said or
how your stocks performed that day.

For $160,140, you never have to grow up. You get to:
* finger-paint,
* carve pumpkins,
* play hide-and-seek,
* catch lightning bugs, and
* never stop believing in Santa Claus.

You have an excuse to:
* keep reading the Adventures of Piglet and Pooh,
* watching Saturday morning cartoons,
* going to Disney movies, and
* wishing on stars.
* You get to frame rainbows, hearts, and flowers under refrigerator
magnets and collect spray painted noodle wreaths for Christmas, hand
prints set in clay or Mother's Day, and cards with backward letters for
Father's Day.

For $160,140, there is no greater bang for your buck. You get to be a
hero just for:
* retrieving a Frisbee off the garage roof,
* taking the training wheels off a bike,
* removing a splinter,
* filling a wading pool,
* coaxing a wad of gum out of bangs, and coaching a baseball team that
never wins but always gets treated to ice cream regardless.

You get a front row seat to history to witness the:
* first step,
* first word,
* first bra,
* first date, and
* first time behind the wheel.

You get to be immortal. You get another branch added to your family
tree, and if you're lucky, a long list of limbs in your obituary called
grandchildren and great grandchildren. You get an education in
psychology, nursing, criminal justice, communications, and human
sexuality that no college can match.

In the eyes of a child, you rank right up there under God. You have all
the power to heal a boo-boo, scare away the monsters under the bed,
patch a broken heart, police a slumber party, ground them forever, and
love them without limits, So . . one day they will, like you, love
without counting the cost. That is quite a deal for the price!!!!!!!

Love and enjoy your children and grandchildren!

Thanks baby girl. I love you!


Samurai School - Science Inquiry Learning

What a busy week! With the 1st quarter ending Wednesday, it was a busy-busy time. But never too busy for real learning, as can be seen from the photos.

As we were headed back inside from recess I grabbed the cupcake wrapper I had set down by my boots. Immediately my hand started stinging as a dozen red ants tried to convince me to drop their food source by biting me.

We were headed back inside for Science anyway, and I realized we already were in the classroom, right here at our feet.

With a few well-placed guiding questions, the students became scientists and took control of the class.

It all began with "Why do you think the ants are all over the cupcake wrapper and not on the milk or my boots (which I took off to play football frisbee)?"

First it began with observation from a safe distance.

Then Serena and Jessica began offering hypothesis.

The students were drawn in and began to observe more closely.

And hypothesis testing began.

Finally, some ants were collected in an ant farm for further observation in our "other" classroom" (Thank you Mrs. Hool and Ms. Michelle for the farm).