The Home of #MNstudies & #CHCougars in the Westy Wing
Welcome to the Westy Wing! Our newly designed #FlexSeating #LearningLounge was created to provide students with a style of learning that provides comfort and sophistication
White House Credentials Four Capitol Hill Gifted and Talented Magnet School Students-Journalists For The Seventh Time in Six Years.
"We were given a unique opportunity to try to capture a more complete picture of a complicated story in our nation’s history. Rather than accept a singular snapshot of the event told by someone else, we seized the opportunity and were able to build and preserve of multitude of snapshots to showcase complex perspectives of this dynamic and historic series of events that continues to unfold in front of us and shape our country. I would be a fool to not push for that opportunity for my students."
I've been asked a lot over the past week week why I would subject students to the level of hate, vitriol, ignorance and more associated with President Trump's visit(s) to Minnesota. I think it is a rather easy - and yet, complicated - answer. When the House credentials our students, it provides for a unique set of opportunities to better understand the process of civic engagement, be witness to thousands of primary sources in the making through the lens of first hand accounts, and ultimately becoming creators of primary sources that could be used to view the historic set of events in the years to come. We also have an opportunity to tell history through the perspective of a group that often times has their voices minimized and/or discarded, simply because of their age.
Check out this very detailed look at our objectives and goals, along with a recap of the event
Four Student-Journalists Meet the President of the United States as White House Credentials Capitol Hill Gifted and Talented Magnet School Students.
For the fifth time in five years (and the first time during the Trump Administration), the White House provided my students with press credentials for a Presidential visit to Minnesota/Wisconsin. I couldn't be more proud of the four young ladies who were credentialed, as they went into a situation where they knew they would be challenged on numerous levels and had the courage to confront everything head on with tremendous professionalism.
Eve Wasylik, Emma Smith, Pria Staunning and Quinn Logan documented the events through the lens of a historian, learned what it was like to be behind the scenes as a member of the media, photographed and interviewed supporters, protesters, journalists and the Federal Security Director (MN) for the Department of Homeland Security.
While we have been credentialed four previous times, this was the first time we also had the opportunity to watch Air Force One arrive at the 934th Airlift Wing Minneapolis-St Paul Joint Air Reserve Station.
This unique opportunity to photograph the President's arrival led to meeting the President of the United States. After learning that I was there with four student-journalists, the President turned to the Secret Service agents and said, "Bring them on up. Come on. Get them up here!" When I told the President that I was going to take three quick photographs, (Who tells the President of the United States that?!?!) The President turned to the Secret Service agents and said with a chuckle, "That man's aggressive! He's aggressive. He's an aggressive one!" I think I embarrassed at least a few of my students. After a couple quick handshakes, and thanking our student-journalists for being there, the President turned around, headed into his Presidential limo a few feet away, and we watched his motorcade leave the airport.
Our experience was not over however. We headed to Rochester, Minnesota where the President was holding a rally. We wanted to make sure we covered multiple aspects of the President Trump's visit to Minnesota, not just the rally itself.
Eve, Emma, Pria and Quinn interviewed and photographed rally supporters and protesters to learn more about why they came to Rochester, how far they had traveled, how long they had been standing in line or on street corners, what they hoped their presence would accomplish and what they expected to hear from the President when he would take the stage later in the evening.
After receiving our official media credentials from the White House, we entered the Rochester May Civic Center and immediately made our way to the special section where local, national and international media were located. At first, the young ladies felt out of place. That feeling quickly faded as they started talking to journalists about what their roles were, what sort of deadlines they were on and what they were hoping to capture in terms of quotes, footage, photographs and interviews. They talked with AP reporters and photographers, political Analysts from WCCO, KARE11, photojournalists from the Star Tribune and reporters from CNN, NBC and numerous other outlets. It was truly amazing to see each of the young ladies quickly adapt to their role as a bona fide member of the media... despite the nearly dozen times the President pointed at them (and all of the media) and declared us "fake news".
Throughout the nearly two hour rally, my four students continued to document the event through the eyes of a historian and journalist. As we departed Rochester, we talked about what they had experienced at the airport with Air Force One landing, meeting the President of the United States, being credentialed by the White House, witnessing the crowds of thousands of supporters and protesters, and of course, what was observed inside the arena during the rally. The events of the day could best be summed up as an emotional roller coaster.
Regardless of your views on the current administration, or the state of politics in general in our country, Eve, Emma, Pria and Quinn were able to experience something that very few people have an opportunity to do, let alone middle school students - they met the President of the United States of America while gaining first hand experience of the importance of journalism.
In St. Paul, a new generation learns 9/11
Kare 11 sat in during a sixth-grade class in St. Paul as they learned about 9/11 on Tuesday - an event they did not live through.
Kare 11 asked if they could join us in our #MNstudies class to learn how a new generation of students, who never lived through the historic day, are learning about the attacks on September 11, 2001. Danny Spewek, a journalist for Kare 11, saw how we were using Twitter to ask people to share their memories with our students and joined us for one of our three days of September 11 lessons to see how we put the historic event(s) into context. Watch the Kare 11 segment and see why United States Senator Amy Klobuchar gave our students praise.
What a rush! Each of the last two school years, more than 500 educators from around the state were nominated for Minnesota Teacher of the Year. The field was narrowed to about 115 candidates and a 25-member panel of community leaders met and selected me as one of the Minnesota Teacher of the Year Semifinalists.
I was very excited to have been nominated by former students, colleagues, past and present families and even members of the community. The nominations are not only a reflection on me, but a testament to the the wonderful colleagues that I have been privileged too work and the support my students and families have shown me. Thank you.
In February and June 2014, and again in June 2015 several of my Capitol Hill students were credentialed by the White House Press Corp to cover President Obama's visits to Minnesota and Wisconsin. Check out how we were able to meet the President at Minnehaha Falls and pictures from the experiences!
In December 2015, I applied for a $2,000 grant from the Education Minnesota Foundation CLR Grant Fund for the further development of my education learning trunks we use in our #CHCougars classroom. On February 2, 2016 I was notified that I have received the grant! This is wonderful news for our students, as they will be able to interact with more artifacts and participate in many more hands on actives. The money will help further develop our Civil War Trunk, jump start our WWII Trunk and start our Immigration Trunk.
Take a look at some of the numerous artifacts my students have been able to hold in their hands, wear and research with! https://tinyurl.com/y9za5vb7
If you have artifacts that you would like to donate, please feel free to let me know!
In spring 2015, I announced that I would be spending time in Washington D.C. this summer as a Catherine B. Reynolds, Ford's Theatre Civil War Washington Teachers Fellow. The experience was simply amazing. Along with 19 of the nations best and brightest educators, we learned about the role Washington D.C. played during the Civil War and received behind the scenes looks of places likes Ford's Theatre, Lincoln's Cottage, the Fredrick Douglass House and more! As a part of the fellowship, I designed a lesson plan that will be shared with educators throughout the country. I'll continue to collaborate with my fellow fellows and will be creating several more lesson plans for Ford's Theatre and Lincoln's Cottage. If you want to see what my trip was like, check out the Twitter feed for #TeachCivilWar
How can students, especially those who were not alive at the time, understand the tragic events of September 11, 2001? check out how we used primary and secondary sources, in conjunction with social media and oral histories to gain a better appreciation of what took place on 9/11.
Follow Along on Twitter
If you are on Twitter, be sure to follow our class adventures as we offer a window/door to our classroom to see what our students are doing, and to participate in their education! Our 7th grade American History and Current Events will be using the hashtag #CHCougars throughout the school year.
As we learn about all things Minnesota, we'll use the hashtag #MNstudies, so join in the conversation and to be an active part of our classroom culture.
During the 2016-2017 school year, I really stareted to make plans to transform my classroom into a flex seating learning lounge. I wanted to provide my students with a place that they could come into and feel comfortable, while still enjoying the hands on experiences that I offer in the classroom. I partnered with Adopt-A-Classroom.org to raise $3,500 in an effort to transform the classroom.
Check out this video that they produced in my classroom last year to see my old classroom and students actively engaged in hands on learning.
The classroom has been completely transformed and Adopt-A-Classroom.org has already swung back to create a Part II video of what the classroom loooks like now, and will come back again in the first month of school to interview students and see them activily using the classroom.