Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Late Work

Before I became a teacher, I thought I would be very strict with my deadlines. It made sense. I felt it would help them learn to be responsible adults. After my first few weeks of teaching, the reality of what seventh and eighth graders deal with everyday adjusted my way of thinking.
Generally, I give work to be completed in class. Mr. O once pointed out that there is no place of business where they expect employees to finish their work outside of the workday. Why expect this out of our students? This philosophy stuck in my mind. I try to give my students homework to do within a class time. I’m not sure what happens at home.
Last year, when I read through my students’ journals I was surprised just how much middle school kids go through everyday. There is always a student struggling with parental issues, divorce, alcoholism, drugs, and even bullying, and that’s just what I know about (and report when necessary)
I let them hand in work late. I’m not sure what goes on at home. The kids don’t tell me everything. I dock off a few points when it’s late, but I’m just glad to have the work. I just want students to learn a bit of something in the midst of middle school and whatever is going on at home.

Tuesday, March 23, 2010


I got the giggles.

Think about this ---- Go to facebook and read all of the statuses as a dramatic monologue.


"Jon Doe is watching Cops."

"Sully McCalhan is now friends with Donna Shore."

On and on.

Say it with Gusto!

"Billy Non became a fan of Farmville."

And then, some sasafrass is "liking" it.

Amazing stuff really! How amazing is it that we announce these things to the world. Ha! Love it.

Friday, March 19, 2010

Poetry Out Loud

Two of our seniors went to state for the Poetry Out Loud competition. When I saw them perform at the local level, I was convinced that they would move on from the regional competition. Lakeland Public Television has a very nice segment from the regional competition here.

Sunday, March 14, 2010

The Things We Would Bring

A few weeks ago, we read "from Letters From Rifka" by Karen Hesse. My imagination soared at this short selection. This young Jewish Girl from Russia escapes with her family to Poland. Rifka has five minutes to pack up and leave her home forever. Her mother hands her some candlesticks and asks her to pack them in her bag.

We talked about those candlesticks and what they must have meant to Rifka's mother. Then, I told them to write the things they would bring.

A lot of kids said they would bring their ipods, cellphones, and Gameboys. So, that night I went home and put on the timer and packed up the things I would bring.

When I came back to school, I had my girls' baby pictures, a pad of paper, some pillowcases that my great-great grandmother crocheted, and some silver expresso cups I had received as a wedding gift from Petra.

The kids were totally annoyed with my selection. It made no sense to them. HA! The irony was not lost on me.

I brought my things home and put them away. Allison came into the room.

"Mom, what is this?"

I explained it to her.

"Are YOU running away?"

"Uhh no?"

I explained it to her again.

"Are you sure you're not running away?"

Multicultural Day - Brownie Style.

Yesterday, the brownies went on an excursion to Grand Forks to a council-wide event. The council brochure had advertised "Ethnic Foods, Dances, Storytelling, Learn about Languages and much, much more."

I thought this sounds fun.

And it was.

University of North Dakota's Multicultural Center
volunteered for the event. Student interns and Teacher Assistants taught the girls dances, games, and languages from Africa. Allison's favorite was playing Mancala the ancient game from Africa and Asia. She also played "Ichi Ni San Shi Go - " a game from Japan.

I noticed the girls were pretty thrilled at the idea of speaking Swahili and Hindi. Allison has been calling Natalie "Dada" for sister all morning.

The girls' eyes were opened. I forgot what it's like to have my eyes freshly opened to the cultures of another land.

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Chuck Norris Lives ON

Our day was a hit with Chuck's birthday - we're even on a first name basis. You see!!! :)

We loved Terry Dullum. We are so excited to see what Terry ('cuz you know - the boys' new best friend!) will have to say about the exciting day.

We loved The Grand Forks Herald
The reporter really gets with the whole "spirit" of the event


Monday, March 8, 2010

Wednesday - March 10th

Chuck's birthday will be celebrated- Christian called up WDAZ - Terry Dullum will be coming - as in Terry Dullum from "The Dullum Files."

Also Lakeland Public Television will be coming from Bemidji!

And, the Grand Forks Herald!

And, The Fargo Forum.

I don't think they are coming because we love Chuck Norris in Fosston - I think they are coming to meet this persuasive 8th grader who has us all laughing and smiling. I think they heard this boy on the phone and how he his art project snow-balled.

I think people like hearing stories on how a teacher can believe in a student - and stay after school to make 160 t-shirts. And how the janitors rush to the room to put their names on the specific shirt they wanted and giggle because they got one.

Excuse me - I need a kleenex - Gowrsh - I love my job.

Friday, March 5, 2010

Chuck Norris

Did you know it's Chuck Norris' Birthday on Wednesday, March 10th 2010?

He'll be seventy. And so just so you know - There will be 150 students and teachers wearing Chuck Norris T-shirts to celebrate in Fosston.

One of my Students decided to sell T-shirts for the event- expecting to sell about ten - but as I said before - he's sold about 150. Our superintendant will even be wearing a T-shirt that day.

This afternoon, he called all of the local news stations. I mean ALL.

I have to tell you... that all of these phone calls have made my day.

Uhh Hello? I've got a news story for you? Ummmm Yeah? This is Christian R. Landsverk of Fosston High School, and Umm yeah - ummm Did you know that it's Chuck Norris' Birthday on Wednesday, March 10th? Umm Yeah?"

Sometimes, they blew him off - sometimes- well, they let him talk - because who wouldn't want to hear an 8th grader rave and rave about Chuck Norris?

Christian has started a blog - you can read along at

MCA Outrage

As part of standardized testing - I have to review the next few weeks -
we've been looking at analogies and reading short pieces with multiple choice options- grrrr...

I try to point out that the short pieces can be interesting if you set your mind to - oh what can I learn about this topic? (for example making maple syrup)

Knowing more is always better - it gives the kids some background knowledge on life - of course it's not my style to just have kids read and then answer multiple choice questions - but now, my days are spent teaching to the test- is this tickin' kids off - yup - should it? yup!

I had to laugh yesterday as one kid called out

"Another lame worksheet from Mrs. Aakhus"

I love how a five minute reminder worksheet causes so much outrage.