I’m sorry to say that this will be my last post as Northeast Middle School’s AVID teacher. After summer school I’ll be taking a leave of absence from Minneapolis Public Schools to pursue a really exciting opportunity, the opening of a new school.
It is not easy to leave a community of teachers, students and families that has meant so much to me.
I’ve really enjoyed learning with my students over the years and watching them grow up. Before I leave I’d like to celebrate my time at Northeast by sharing a few photos and stories.
In my first year, I taught only one class at Northeast (and several elsewhere), a year-long course in robotics. I’d worked on developing this course over two years with considerable input from math and science teachers, but it was the group of students that made this the most rewarding class I’ve ever taught.
These two star students from that class came back to visit recently and it was clear that they were the stars of their high school robotics team.
2009-2010 was a very busy year for me. At Northeast I taught 6th grade Robotics, 7th grade World Studies and 8th grade U.S. History. And at the same time I taught high school students 9-12 grade social studies online. Let’s just say that I had an opportunity to try a lot of different ideas.
My favorite memory from that year is from our Ancient Egypt Unit. In the interest of learning about ancient burial practices the class mummified a chicken.
This was a fantastic year. For the first time I was able to focus my efforts on just one subject, World Studies. That gave me an opportunity to bring some solid experiences into the curriculum like Ra Fa Ra Fa and the Model UN (with the help of Taylor Harris).
One of my favorite parts of the class was that after finishing a unit we tried to find ways to celebrate the culture of that part of the world. This is Latin Dancing Day.
Another part of that year is when I agreed to help chaperone the annual trip to Chicago. The bus broke down less than an hour into Wisconsin and I ended up teaching a lesson at McDonald’s while we waited for a replacement. Then a freak snow storm stranded us in the Wisconsin Dells. It turned out to be a happy accident. We still managed to visit three colleges, the Wisconsin capitol and history museum. We liked it so much that the trip became the Wisconsin trip instead of Chicago.
This year I was honored to be asked to teach AVID. As I tell people often, I became the luckiest guy in the building. It’s required that every student in AVID wants to be in AVID, and what teacher doesn’t want to teach students who are eager to learn?
This year we had a 1960s theme. In one activity we practiced our inquiry skills by interviewing people in the building who lived through the 1960s. This class was lucky enough to interview Wendy who had gone to Northeast Middle School in the 1960s. She told us of a secret tunnel where they did bomb drills. I still want to find it.
A few teachers around the school helped me in my effort to get more math questions in tutorial. This is one of many cheesey videos that I did over the years.
Part of AVID is learning how to collaborate, and what’s a better way to do that than going through astronaut training? Students had an opportunity to examine actual moon rocks (borrowed under tight security from NASA) and to launch rockets. But by far the best part was our simulated mission. My after school GISE group made a spacecraft simulator and worked with me on a script. Then students in AVID played the parts of astronauts and mission control personnel for the mission.
That brings us to this year. I have so many happy memories. I still smile when I think of our binder king and queen contest. We took amazing field trips where students impressed me again and again. We got mail from prestigious colleges from across the country (and England). I am a very fortunate teacher.
Over the years I’ve also had the opportunity to work with some pretty talented students. We’ve won a number awards, including fastest CO2 Car in Minneapolis. We’ve launched countless rockets. We’ve programmed and built some very capable robots.
Thank you Northeast Middle School. I have many happy memories.