Reading Too Much

I was doing some guided reading groups with my 5th graders this week and we were doing pretty good. I had the kids all on the big table and we were reading quietly to ourselves and I was spending about 90 seconds with each kid and making the rounds.

Then after reading a few more minutes, one of the girls says to me, "I can't do this."

"What? You're doing a great job." It's only been about six minutes since we had started.

"I can't read anymore."

"How come?"

"I've got asthma."

Comment guide

Inspired by Comments4Kids, I am planning to start having my students leave comments on blogs written by people outside of our school building.

This will be a pretty exciting next-step for my students and their blogging project.

Before we start doing that, we will have to revisit our expectations for leaving a comment. Hopefully they will recall our classroom discussions around leaving comments. We talked a lot about how sometimes our comments are the only way we are known on a blog or on the internet. We need to think about what kind of impression we are making when we leave comments.

Here is what we use for our commenting expectations.

Commenting Guide

Pertinent It should connect to the original post, or original comment.
Positive You want to encourage the author.
Purposeful Only leave a comment when you have something to say.
Professional Use your best writing conventions - capitalization, punctuation, spelling, etc.

He's a Runner

One of my former students is running Cross Country for Conrad Ball Middle School. He was part of my first class and he'll be someone I'll always remember. He even invited me to his housewarming party when Habitat for Humanity finished with it. I even went, too.

I thought I had written a post while he was in my class, but I can't find it. I remember writing it somewhere, that it was my plan time and my kids were outside running the track. And I remember watching him run, thinking, "This kid was born to run." He just looked like he was made for it. He was fulfilling his purpose. Running.

Anyway, I can't find that post, and I wish I could. But I'm so proud of him.

First Day of School Quiz

What is Mr. Arakaki's favorite iCarly episode?

That was the number eight question on my 3rd Annual First Day of School Quiz! For the past two years of doing fourth grade, I kicked off the year with this quiz.

It's a great way for me to share some of personality with the students and I hope it shows them that I'm a person, too. A person who lives outside of the school building. Someone who was once a kid, too.

The style of the last question, though, was new for me this year. I wrote an open ended question, not multiple choice like the first nine Qs. It reads, "If Mr. Arakaki wanted to be the BEST teacher you've ever had, what would he need to do?"

Here are some of their answers. FYI, some of these students had me last year for fourth grade.

  • Go to middle school because he's awesome. Then, go a little older and teach high school, also.
  • Be himself. Be fun and creative. Do what he did last year.
  • I don't care as long as I learn and pass.
  • I don't know. He is already a great teacher. Maybe let us eat snacks.
  • I think he is already the best teacher.
  • Nothing, because last year in 4th grade he gave us cookies in the middle of a math class for no reason.
  • Stay young.
  • He is already a good teacher, but to be a better teacher, give (name of student) $100.
  • Play laser tag.
  • Be himself. (Don't change)
  • No clue.
  • Nothing.

After giving the class time to complete it, we go over the answers together. I usually share a short story that goes along with every question, and sometimes the different responses available. A lot of times, the multiple choice options are derived from a personal experience, or some of my friends.

I think it was a good quiz. My building admin and the district super came in on a walkthrough while we were going over the answers. They stopped in during questions five and six. They hung out for quite some time, and expressed some interest to find the right answer to number six.

I drew out number five at length and elaborated on this answer for an extended period of time, hoping that they'd leave before I would have to reveal the reasons why I was sent to the principal's office when I was in elementary school.

They left.

Anyway, here's a copy of this year's quiz embedded below.

5th Grade Eve

I really should have started this two years ago, during my first year of teaching, but I'll start year number three off this way. With a blog.

Today is the day before school officially starts. I'll have to say I'm pretty nervous considering I've switched to a new grade level with my only experience being in 4th for two years. My team is great, and I kind of wish they had Twitters or blogs that I could link to, because they are all phenomenal teachers.

Anyway, I've got a few ideas for tomorrow. Getting to know your classmates. A rundown of the expectations and goals (&hopefully how to get there). High energy ice breakers. And my traditional first day of school pop quiz.

This pop quiz is something that my high school science teacher did, and I totally ripped it from him. It's a ten question quiz. Mostly multiple choice (for added fun) with a few true/false, fill in the blank and short answer questions as well.

This is something that I've done every year (the past two) that I've taught. So far, it's been great. This past year, my principal was doing a walkthrough and sat in on this quiz as we got to the question that asked, "What’s the lowest grade Mr. Arakaki ever received on his report card in high school?"

Yeah. I never heard the end of it.

Here's what I gave to my last year's class. I've updated and modified some questions this year, since I had some of them already. Haven't shared many things in the past, so this is something new for me.

It was a D, by the way.

5th Grade Present

Today was a screening test day for elementary students in our district and middle school started in full swing yesterday, with sixth graders going in on Monday to learn the ropes. I had just finished up testing my last student while also trying to get ready for my first full day with students when I found that some of my old students were in the building.

It was two boys. We'll call them Scott and Alex. Scott wears glasses and shoots beams out of his eyes. Alex has blond hair and projects plasma blasts from his hands. Not really. Anyway, they were part of my first real class was back in 2008 when I taught fourth grade. Earlier this year, they graduated from our building and have now gone on to several other schools. So it was these sixth graders who were back during their first week of middle school, for who knows what reason.

So I asked them. "Why are you guys doing here?"

They answered. "You told us to come visit you."


It was a great experience having some of my very first students recalling and acting on a few words that I had spoke to them several months ago. They told me about their first days of middle school and how they're excited. It was great.

Having them come in was the encouragement I needed the day before I start teaching a new grade. It has added an excitement to my already anxious state of starting a new school year.

I hope they come back again.