AVID Events in December

It has been a very busy month in AVID.  

December 6: AVID Family Night


For quite a while I’ve had two large telescopes in my classroom in the hopes that we might do an astronomy night.  Lynn Lurvey, our AVID coordinator, took the idea and turned it into a “Starry Night” themed family event.

Unfortunately the weather didn’t cooperate for the telescopes, but we were still able to enjoy a meal together followed by painting with Carla Korb, artist and teacher.  While families painted on minature canvases, I had the chance to mingle with our AVID families.  It really was a great opportunity to enjoy the company of AVID students and their families outside of class.  Thank you for everyone who made the event possible.

December 12: Seventh Grade Visit to Metro State


Our seventh grade took their first college field trip of the year to Metropolitan State University in St. Paul.  It was a plesantly unconventional trip.  Our students worked with students from Metro State to learn about Gordan Parks, a groundbreaking photographer.  Then our AVID students worked in teams to create their own photographs with digital cameras and Adobe Photoshop.  

Many of our seventh graders are expert Photoshop users already, so I’m sure that we really impressed the Metro State trainers.  You can see some of our photographs here.


December 13: Sixth Grade Visit to Minnesota School of Business


Our sixth grade took their first field trip the next day to a new AVID college site, the Minnesota School of Business in Brooklyn Park.  This was part of our career exploration unit, but I also hoped that our students would have a chance to see our AVID skills put to work at a college site.

It was a really amazing trip.  Our students had the chance to sit in on classes in several disciplines, but they weren’t content to just sit.  They took copious notes, asked intelligent questions and in some cases even demonstrated work on the board.  It was a chance to be a college student for a day.  

Learn more about the trip here:  MSB Blog.

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

AVID: The Video Game

After attending a technology conference, I wrote this short video game.  Click below to give it a try:


Scratch Project

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

AVID Advisory Group Shows School Spirit

Ms. Schenk claimed that her advisory had more spirit than us.  She might be one of Northeast Middle School’s favorite math teachers, but she knows nothing about spirit.  To prove our worth, we sought to be voted the best dressed during this year’s spirit week.

It led to a week of fun, and in the end we tied.  We were equally backwards on backwards day.  Ms. Schenk’s class was more nerdy on nerd day (obviously) and more retro than us on 1980s/1970s day (despite some ultra-cool popped collars).  We won best dressed on dress-up day and craziest on crazy hair and pajama day.


Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Team AVID Science

This year we are offering several different “flavors” of the our after school student support group, Team AVID.  I teach Team AVID Science, but students can also choose Team AVID Reading & Writing, Team AVID Humanities, Team AVID Math or Team AVID ELL with some of the best teachers at Northeast Middle.  All of these combine AVID study and organization skill-building activities with enrichment activities related to that content area.

This video documents the latest experiment in Team AVID Science.  We’re looking for new members.  Contact me to join.

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Ra Fa Ra Fa


The pictures above are our recreation of a cultural simulation first created for the U.S. military.  The activity required students to learn the rules of one of two ficticious cultures, Alpha and Beta.  Then students had an opportunity to visit the other culture in an attempt to learn the rules.

The activity is part of our Study Abroad theme and I must say that it was a very effective way to recreate what happens when people have the opportunity to interact in a different culture.

Here’s what students said about visiting another culture . . . 

“I felt odd because it was so different from my culture.  They say different things than me, talk different and act different . . .”  – Cooper

“When I visited another culture, I felt lost.  I barely knew what people were doing.  The rules were really different from ours.  It’s like going to planet Mars . . .”  – Florentina

“It felt really weird to visit the other culture.  I really had no idea what to do and they kept making wierd sounds.  In my head I was just like, ‘What’s happening?’  So I just stood there until someone came up to me.”  – Julianna  

“To go to another culture was fun, but very confusing.  The other culture seemed very weird, but they probably felt the same way about us . . .”  – Mykenzie

Here’s what students said about the visitors who came to their culture . . .

“When visitors came to my country they looked so confused . . .  we couldn’t talk to them, so it was hard to communicate  . . .”  – Danielle

“It was really funny when they came into our country.  They didn’t know what to do.  They stood there in shock and didn’t move at all.  So I felt sorry for them.”  – Bruce

“They didn’t know anything . . . they were being disrespectful!”  – Alexis

“When people came to our culture they avoided us because they didn’t know how to play our game.”  – Ruby




Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Sixth Graders Share Their Creativity


Students in my sixth grade classes had an opportunity to share their creativity in a brainstorming exercise.  After learning the rules of brainstorming, students came up with places that people might live.  Most people would limit their lists to the ordinary: apartments, houses, condos.  But in AVID our students came up with extremely appealing ideas like living in the bakery on Johnson Street, extremely unappealing ideas like living in a sewer and extremely odd ideas like living in a giant binder at the bottom of an ocean.

Then students wrote essays inviting friends to join them.  Here are some of the best:


Ever heard of living in a giant can?  Well, it’s awesome.

It smells sweet like soda such as Fanta, Sprite and Dr. Pepper.  It also smells metallic, as cans usually do.  

The sides are smooth, but fragile.  So it’s best to live in the city.

It’s good for storing “healthy” foods like peas, ham, corn or milk.  Come live with me in a can!

– Mykenzie


Hey Keyshonna,

Do you want to live with me in a fridge?  It smells like fruit.  You won’t feel angry or ashamed.  We could talk and eat strawberry cheesecake.  

There will be no silence.  You’d just hear us talking!

Just so you know, you’ll be cold.  

You will not feel regretful.  You could have any food or drink you want.  The cheesecake tastes delicious.  

– Aiyana

P.S. The strawberry cheesecake is homemade by my grandmother and if you come, bring a blanket.


Dear Gabe,

Come live with me in a dumpster.  It is a cool place to live because there’s food to eat.  We have a lock on the dumpster every other day, so there isn’t much trash in the dumpster.  We get old shoes to wear.  

You can use a trash bag as a pillow.  I do.  

If you don’t eat the food out of a trash bag you can eat squirrels, racoons, bugs, mice or rats. 

It smells bad.  And it looks bad.  

It feels nice.

– Matt


Come live with me in dead space.  You can hear footsteps, feel cold metal and see abandoned ships.  

I am infected.  My hands still have flesh on them.  

I am being watched.  My gun is constantly sizzling.  

Help me!!  I feel sick and another arm is sprouting.  Please help me.  

My gas tank is running low.  

I need HELP!!

– Tim

Is your student missing this assignment?  If so, the directions below may help.

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Advise for Families

Students who were not able to attend family night wrote essays answering the question, “How can families help their student succeed in middle school?”  They had great advice, so I thought that I’d share some here:


In order for any person to succeed in middle school they need BIG binders, Cornell Notes and they need to participate in tutorial.

– A.D.


. . . families can organize ‘practice binder checks’ for their students

– D.H.


They could also check up on student’s grades and binders.  Give them the feeling that it matters.”

– G.Z.


Another way [to help] is by . . . getting in our shoes and understanding how we feel.

 – B.C.


. . . [It’s] a good idea for them to take their video games, cell phone, ect. until they’re done with their homework. “

– Student who would probably prefer to remain anonymous

Did your student forget to do this assignment? The worksheet is attached below.



Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment