Wednesday, June 12, 2013

Of Pirates, Pioneers and Old School Houses

I love old school houses. If they could talk, they would tell beautiful stories don't you think?   Here are pictures of two old school houses in Isanti County where I live. 

This old school house was the high school.  Currently the building to your left is still being used as the Cambridge Intermediate School. The building to your right is gone and the new Cambridge-Isanti High School is a few blocks behind the old high school. 

Here is the old Isanti High School. This goes back to the days when Isanti and Cambridge had their own. 

"This 1905 building was 2 stories tall, included a full basement and had four rooms with more space for expansion.  Years later, in 1950, an old country school was moved in to serve as a cafeteria and band room.  This building happened to be the very first school in Isanti's first school district." (From Isanti Primary webpage) Now this is the site for Isanti Primary School.

The Old School in Isanti County
As we close out this school year at School For All Seasons and Isanti Intermediate School , my co worker and I thought how much fun it would be to have a Pioneer Day Experience on our school grounds.  In the past, the third graders have been able to go to this school house located a few miles from us for half a day, but in the recent years, that has not been possible.

Still, we wanted to close out our unit on Isanti county History with an experience!  So we created a plan. 


  • 8:00: Homeroom 8:15-8:30: Morning Meeting                                                                                                                                      
  • 8:30-8:50: Mrs. Sarault comes to talk about the Ox Cart Trails Red River Trail Ox Cart Trail 
Break students up into two small groups of 17 each

The original Pledge of Allegiance: "I pledge allegiance to my Flag and the Republic for which it stands- one nation indivisible-with liberty and justice for all."

  • 8:50-9:30: Pat plays outdoor games with students: Annie Annie Over, Red Rover, Oh Dear  
  • 9:30-10:10 Repeat
  • 10:10-10:25: Whole group singing:  

Yankee doodle, Home on the Range, You’re A Grand Ole Flag w/ Jolina on the fiddle and a square dance! 

  • 10:25-11:00: Butter Making(Pat) and Old Time Photo Booth (Kimberly) 
  • 11:00-11:20: Lunch on the lawn with our tin pails, baskets and cloth wrapped baggies, etc..
  • 11:20-11:45: Split into three groups for making spinners, working on the weaving loom and creating yarn dolls.
  • 11:45-12:20: Practice for end of year program with other grades
  • 12:20-1:10: Continue working with spinners, the loom and yarn dolls. More time to play outdoor games 
  • 1:10-2:00: Specials
  • 2:00-End of Day: Finish projects of button spinners, yarn dolls and copy book.

As you know, "The best laid plans of mice and men often go awry." (John Steinbeck, Of Mice and Men) For the most part we did accomplish all we set out to do with our students. With a few switcharoos here and there because of our concert practice, that we had to do twice.  It was a lovely day! 

We made an iMovie of our Pioneer Day Experience. 

As you know, I am a big advocate for the book Teach Like A Pirate by Dave Burgess. I think Pat and I have always done our best to teach in this manner throughout our teaching careers. It is a powerful way to connect with students and create meaningful learning experiences. Sometimes, you may feel alone on your ship when you teach like a pirate, for it is a radical way to approach your teaching and being creative is VERY hard work. As I have said before, a pirate's life is for me.  I want to take moment to say thank you to four people.

  • 1) My parents for cultivating in me a sense of adventure.
  • 2) Mr. Ziebarth, my principal who allows us and gives us space to be creative in the classroom. Working with him and for him is an honor. 
  • 3)Mrs. Coleman, who put up with this crazy scalawag this whole year and the adventures we had. She is a treasure a dear kindred spirit and a passion driven teacher. 
  • 4) Mr. Dave Burgess who's inspiration, sound advice and excellent wisdom I lean into when the seas get rough. 

You all are a gift from God to me in my life. I fully recognize the blessing and I am eternally thankful.