Wednesday, February 24, 2010

The Bobcat

When we took the kids sledding, J and I noticed a great big cat. It was a big orange cat. We watched it and said "Woah."

I knew it was a bobcat. It was fun to watch it spring on it's prey. I thought it surprising the bobcat wasn't afraid of us and our loud noises didn't seem to bother it.

I called my dad and told him about the bobcat we saw. He told my mom and my mom insisted we call the DNR. She was pretty upset - a bobcat by the school.

I called the sherrif's department like my civic duty called for and told them about the bobcat.

"We'll get right on that."

Jason drew me to the computer "Ummm this is a bobcat?"

"Huh? Well the cat did look like a bobcat."

"Are you sure?"

"Well - maybe it was a mix?"

Later, I got a phone call from a church lady. I remembered she lived by the school. I asked her about the cat.

"Oh - that's not a bobcat that's Dale's cat. It's pretty big."

"ohh... I got a few calls to make.... see ya later."

I had to call back the sherrif's office, my mom, my friends, and my sister.

I had just made a concerned citizen call regarding a pet.

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Day on the Hill

One thing about Red Lake Falls - it's our hill. It's not the biggest hill in the entire world - but it's a hill!

This is the hill I sled down in the winter. This is the hill I rolled down in the summer.

It's fun to see the girls and their cousins doing the same thing.

Saturday, February 13, 2010

Twenty-Three Years Ago - that was me.

Today, I was a judge at a speech meet in Fosston. Twenty-three years ago, I was a young whipper snapper in seventh grade. I was in Storytelling - the category. I was struck how these kids looked just like us. They were us.

Back in the olden days, We had our draw and were sent off to practice. We went to various corners throughout whatever school and reviewed our stories - and practiced our stories to which ever wall we were around. And we did this because it was fun?

I ended up judging Prose Novice - which is basically "Stuff That Makes Junior High Students Cry" category. There were a lot of sad speeches that scared the crap out of me.

The next category I judged was Informative. I learned a lot. One girl even sounded like she was on MPR.

And of course, I got to judge Storytelling. After being in Storytelling, I can tell you one thing. You can do anything. If you go in front of a snippy judge with glasses down to her nose - and make all those funny voices - you can get up in front of any crowd and say anything.

After turning in my score cards, I went home. I needed to get home to my kids and J.Bird. I'd have loved to stay and remember the excitement of the awards ceremony. To see if I got an excellent or a placement. To see if that cute speech boy noticed me.

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

War is Kind

We are reading "Reflections from the Civil War," a selection from our 8th grade text books. One of the assignments was supposed to write a letter from the point of view of a civil war soldier.

My sixth hour moved from the civil war to discussing the current wars. They took the entire hour to debate the war in Iraq and Afghanistan.

Did it get out of control - I can't say. I love and hate debate. The kids did too. I can't decide if I was uncomfortable because I hate disagreement or because the kids were out of control. Was I ready to let the kids debate 7th hour? NO. I was "debated out" after sixth hour. Should I let seventh hour debate too? Perhaps- wish me luck on that one.

I plan on reading Stephen Crane's "War is Kind" to see what they think of his point of view on war. I hope they give it a chance. And think about their debate - and think about what war really means.

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Who's that Teacher?

This week, our school published our first edition of the school newspaper. We have a feature entitled "Who's that Teacher?"

Some of the comments I heard from the kids on this picture...

"Is that Mr. Schmidt dressed up as a girl?"

"Well - it's kind of creepy that that kid now teaches us in this very school."

"Is that a boy or a girl?"

Well - ok?

So - it's a good thing I have a sense of humor.

Monday, February 8, 2010

Reading Strategies

Last week, I went with a couple of teachers to a literacy workshop in Bemidji. It's a series of workshops. The first workshop focused on vocabulary retention. This last workshop focused on reading strategies. The very last will focus on test-taking skills.

I am always interested in reading strategies and getting kids to read more and more effectively. The two points that really stayed with me;

1. People need to have a job to do while reading. When they read an article for the fun of it, they are usually asking themselves internal questions that they want to know the answers, or they are given an assignment by a supervisor. This work keeps readers focused. - Makes sense? No?

2. Along with a job to go with reading a person must have a purpose. Much like an author's purpose - there is a teacher's purpose - and a reader's purpose. I like that. Deciding on a purpose helps me find my job - What can I learn from this? What do I already know about this.

Our presenter also gave us the web address to . For comfortable reading, I have my students read between 690 - 850. I had given my students a newspaper article I had found the other day on racism in a school in Owatonna, Minnesota. After giving students the simple task of finding the 5'w's (Remember - who, what, where, when, why), we talked about the article and the audacity of the behaviors of students. A lot of students wanted to know what happened. Did the racism ever dissipate? Has the racism escalated?

Later, I remembered my lexile analizer on I found the article was at a 1330. That's a big difference betweent a 690 and 850 eh?

Sunday, February 7, 2010

That is Just Top Notch Journalism.