Favorite Characters – Must They be Good Guys?

Image courtesy of Disney

Image courtesy of Disney

When I was growing up I loved to read the Disney story books based on the animated (cartoon) movies they had released.  One of my favorites was Sleeping Beauty.  Now Sleeping Beauty is full of wonderful characters.  You have Sleeping Beauty herself, one of the nicest people around.  She was so nice that even the animals in the forest loved her.  She was beautiful, too.  What more could you ask for?  What little girl wouldn’t pick her as their favorite character?  Not me!! I thought the evil fairy, Maleficent, was the most wonderful character.  First of all, she was green.  That was about the same as my having freckles!  Then her name, Maleficent, tells you two things about her; she’s Malevolent (really, really evil) and Magnificent.  Pretty cool, huh?  Third, she was able to put curses on people.  I knew quite a few who deserved a curse or two, starting with my two sisters!  Then there was her ability to change into a dragon.  Oooh, to think you could become a large, scaly monster that could eat what annoyed you.  Life just couldn’t get any better than that! 

I always felt a little wierd when we talked about our favorite characters in school, and I often didn’t volunteer for fear of being laughed at if I disclosed (told) the identity of my favorite character.  Most of my friends picked the good guys, but is that really necessary?  I think any character that impresses you in one way or another can be your favorite.  Therefore, bring on Maleficent, the most magnificent of them all!

Blog Assignment 2 – Who is your favorite character?  Why is he/she your favorite?  Be sure to tell what book he/she comes from.  Write your answer in good paragraph form.

Bring on the Bloggers!

Today was a good day for blogging!  We began the class by talking about blogging, how it’s nothing more than keeping a log online for others to read.  We then went to the computer lab, and that’s when the fun really began.  Students accessed their blogs, set their backgrounds, and completed their first blog assignments.  I reminded students that they were not to put their first and last names anywhere on any of the blogs, even mine.  If they wish to leave a comment, they are to put first name and last initial only.  There is no reason to give any more personal information than that.  Please allow your child to share his/her blog with you as students are very proud of their work.  They may add extra articles to their blogs at any time as long as they keep up with their assignments.

Blog Assignment 1:  What is your favorite food?  How does it make you feel?  Your answer should be at least five sentences long.

Robot Power; Book Report 1

Robot Project

Parents, the first book report has been assigned and all information and materials have been distributed.  You should have seen the parent letter already since it contained a portion that was to be signed by you and returned to me.  The book report itself is due on September 29.  Since it is a very simple one, I will not be accepting any late book reports.  I will scan a copy of the robot and output sheet and will link them to this post. I have already attached a copy of the parent letter.  If you need an extra copy of any of the forms, just download the ones you need.  It would be best to print the robot on card stock so that it will be sturdier than the output sheet.  Please check your child’s spelling and sentence structure before he/she writes on the output form.  Have fun, everyone!

Time Flies When You’re Busy!

First of all, I’d like to introduce myself to those of you I have not spoken to yet.  My name is Debbie Daniels, and I am the new fifth grade reading teacher at Churchland Elementary.  Although I am new to this school, I am not new to the system.  I have taught at Churchland Junior High (now Churchland Middle), the old Churchland Academy, and have been at Olive Branch for the past 18 years.  I was the language arts/reading teacher for fifth grade while at Olive Branch.  I moved this year because my teaching partner of 18 years retired, and I just didn’t think I wanted to stay without her.  I guess I figured if she was making a change, I would too!  I am very excited to be here as I have heard nothing but good things about Churchland Elementary’s staff, students and parents.  Please feel free to contact me through the school or through this blog at any time.  I have told the children that comments will not show automatically as they come to me for approval first.

We’ve been in school for over two weeks now, and I can’t believe how fast time is moving.  It seems like we just get into our first class, and it’s already time to change.  Students have done a nice job of getting their class work completed, but I am having quite a bit of trouble with getting the AR logs signed.  Parents, logs should be signed each night.  Don’t let them wait until Sunday night because, chances are, they’re going to forget!

Students in my homeroom will be receiving their blogs (web logs) later this week.  I will start blogging with them next week after we have a class on how to use them.  They may work on their blogs at home, but they will also have an opportunity to work on them in the computer lab.  Students go to the computer lab every four days as part of their encore rotation.  It is not necessary to have a computer and Internet access at home to work on a blog.

I look forward to a very productive and happy school year with all of your children.  Thanks for sharing them with me.




It seems like forever since I’ve written anything on the blog!  When I returned to school, we jumped right into reviewing for the SOL reading test.  Then we had a week of tests followed by all of those things needed to close out the different subject areas for the school year.  You guys have worked very hard finishing up your graded activities.  I was very impressed with your book reports as they were both creative and well written. 

Change is not always a good thing for everyone involved in it.  For instance, Mrs. Matthews has decided to retire this year.  That change is a really good one for her.  She will be able to travel and visit with her grandchildren more often than last year.  However, for me, it’s not such a great change.  She and I have shared children and ideas for the last seventeen years.  I almost feel like she’s deserting me since I’m not ready or old enough to retire yet!  I just can’t imagine what it will be like to teach here without her.

SO…. I’ve decided I need to make a change of my own.  Next school year I will be leaving Olive Branch, my home for the past nineteen years, and will move to Churchland Elementary.  I will still be teaching fifth grade, but my primary responsibility will be teaching reading. 

The time is right for everyone to make new beginnings.  You guys and girls will be starting a new school year in a new grade.  Mrs. Matthews will begin a new phase in her life where she can pamper herself and her family.  I, too, will be starting again in a new school, but Olive Branch students and staff will always be a part of my family.   I wish the best of luck to all of you.

 With much love,

Mrs. Daniels

Happy Birthday, Tucker!

Tucker, the Birthday Boy  Tucker’s birthday was April 8.  It’s hard to believe that the little fellow was a year old.  I spent the day repairing his stuffed animals.  (He likes to tear them open at the seams.  I’ve found that the only way to fix them is to sew them back together with dental floss because it’s a lot stronger than ordinary thread.  Of course that doesn’t keep him from tearing them open again a day or two later.)  He also went for two long walks and a “swim” in his pool.  Since it was his birthday, I bought him a box of doggy ice cream sandwiches.  Since they were scored (marked) in fourths, Kolleen, Todd, my husband, and I all got to give him a birthday treat.  Hmmmm, looks like the start of his own birthday tradition.

When I was growing up, birthdays were special days for us.  We got to pick whatever we wanted for our birthday dinner, and then we got to pick what kind of cake we wanted.  Being the strange kid I was, I sometimes asked for cherry pie instead.  Since it was my birthday, that’s what mom fixed.  I have since carried that tradition into my own family.  Whether it happens to be my husband’s birthday or one of my children’s, the “birthday boy or girl” gets to pick what he/she wants.  Over the past few years, we included my mom and sister in our tradition, fixing their favorite foods as well.  We all get together and share a meal.  After all, that’s what families are all about!

Blog Assignment 13 – Talk about what you do on your birthday.  Do you have a tradition that the members of your family follow each year?  Describe it.  If you don’t, what tradition would you like to see started?  BE REALISTIC! 

They’re Baaaack!

For the past five years, we have had a pair of mallard ducks fly in to visit with us during the spring and summer.  They usually spend most of their time under the bird feeders and around the crepe myrtles where my husband tosses out extra bird feed, corn, sunflower seeds, and peanuts each day.  We found that the birds, squirrels, rabbits, and ducks enjoy them all.  In addition to sharing meals with us, Mr. and Mrs. Duck also like to swim in the pool.  However, I’m not very fond of this practice as I don’t like finding duck poop in the pool!

Last year, Tucker was terrified of the ducks.  Weighing in at twenty-eight pounds and being all of eight weeks old, he quickly realized that he was no match for them.  He stayed on the other side of the yard and merely watched them go about their daily business of feeding and swimming.  He definitely wasn’t pleased that they were in his yard, but what was a small guy to do? 

This year things have changed quite a bit.  Tipping the scales at a little over one hundred pounds and almost a year old, Tucker is no longer intimidated by the ducks.  He charges out the back door at full speed, heading for the feeding area.  If he doesn’t find them there, he charges to the pool to see if that’s where they’re hiding.  He’s so quick that he can almost catch them before they fly off.  I’m not sure what’s going to happen if he really is able to grab one as they are some pretty big birds!

Blog Assignment 12 – Think back to a time when you were little and afraid.  What were you afraid of?  What did you do to conquer your fear, or were you able to?  Write your answer in good paragraph form with plenty of details.

Rainbows, Gold, and Little Tiny Men

Everybody loves St. Patrick’s Day and not just because you’re allowed to pinch people who don’t wear green.  In fact, that part of the holiday should be abolished.  Too many people take advantage of it and try to hurt others.  However, that’s not what I really wanted to discuss today.  I, personally, have always been infatuated with the idea that there are little men out there who live at the end of the rainbow and own pots of gold, all for the taking.  In this day and time with the price of gas going sky high, who wouldn’t like their own pot of gold!  Legend says that all you have to do is catch the little guy and the gold is yours.  What if you did catch a leprechaun, and then you found there was a twist to the legend.  The gold became yours, but you couldn’t keep it.  You had to find someone to give it to, someone who really needed it.

Blog Assignment 11:  You have captured a leprechaun and claimed his pot of gold.  Now you have one day to decide who to give it to.  The person who receives it from you must need.  Who would you choose, why would you give it to him/her, and what would he/she use the money for?  Your answer should be written as a good paragraph, about 8 sentences long.  Be sure to answer all of the questions in your paragraph.  May the luck of the Irish be with you!

Ouch, Mrs. Palmer Lied to Me!

When Mrs. Palmer had her surgery she told me not to worry.  She said it was much easier than her appendectomy (she had her appendix removed).  So I just assumed everything would be fine – I’d go in, have surgery, come home, and that would be that.  Right? Wrong!  She neglected to tell me that even though it might be better than having your appendix removed, it would still feel like you had been hit by a speeding car!  The only good thing is that every day it hurts less and less, and it’s much easier to get up and move around.  I’m actually looking forward to being able to do some things for myself and not feeling guilty about it. 

I’m not able to get out and walk Tucker any, and that is very hard.  I’m allowed to walk around the house as often as I want.  Whoopee!  I usually start from the bedroom, walk down the hall, turn left, cut through the living room, head into the dining room, turn right into the kitchen, head through the den, and back down the hall.  I guess it’s a good thing that several of the rooms are arranged in a circle.  As I make my way through the house, I decide it is time to pick out my favorite room.  I really do like my bedroom because that’s where the computer is.  My kitchen is pretty neat, too, because I can sit at the table and look out into the back yard and watch Tucker, the birds, and the rabbits.  However, if I had to pick my favorite room, I think it would be the living room, even though I probably use it less than any other except the dining room.

The living room faces south, and is always flooded with sunlight; there are two floor to ceiling high windows in it.  The room itself is not really that large.  There are a couch and a chair in it, and it also holds a small table that my grandfather bought my grandmother when they were first married.  There are two additional pieces of furniture (a bookcase and a dry sink) that my dad built for me.  The couch and chair are dark green, burgundy, and gold and comfy enough to curl up in and read.  That’s what I like best.  It’s the one room in the house where I can go to be alone and still be surrounded by things that remind me of those I love.  When the rest of the house gets crazy, I can sit in the living room and read.  Everyone knows where I am, but no one bothers me unless there is some huge crisis, except for Tucker, and everything is a crisis for him!

Blog Assignment 10 – Which room in your house is your favorite room?  Describe it so that someone can see in his/her mind what it looks like.  What do you do there that makes it special?  Your answer should be 8 – 10 sentences long.

Promethean Power

This year we were fortunate enough to have a Promethean board installed in our classroom.  That in itself was great!  I never imagined how wonderfully interactive it would be. 

One of the things that I love the most about it is the fact that the students readily grasp how to use it.  Not only are they capable of using a majority of the tools, they are very able and willing to let me know when I have made a mistake with one of them and what I need to do to get back on track. 

Even with all of the neat things we could do with the board by itself, I never realized just how powerful it could be until I introduced the Activotes or clickers.  Oh, my gosh!  Suddenly everything we did was fun, even the SOL writing test multiple choice reviews (How much fun could that be?).  For students to be able to click on their answers and see the results immediately posted was truly awesome.  Then, when they could see how they did on all of the items combined by a mere click of the Summary button, it nearly blew them away, as it did me!  Not only could I see at a glance how everyone did, but I also had an instant matrix which showed which items I needed to review in order to achieve class mastery.  No more tallying test items for me! 

The more I use this glorious teaching tool, the more I thank my lucky stars that our school system saw the value in such an item as the Promethean board.  And to think that when I bought my first computer I used to get the sweats just thinking about using it!  You just never know! 

Blog Assignment 9 – What do you like best about the Promethean board?  Do you think the Activotes (clickers) will help you in the classroom?  Why or why not?