Northfield seventh graders practice self-reflection, introspection with defining moments project - Northfield MN: News

  • Welcome!
    Logout|My Dashboard

Northfield seventh graders practice self-reflection, introspection with defining moments project

Font Size:
Default font size
Larger font size

Posted: Friday, December 6, 2013 1:11 pm | Updated: 9:37 pm, Fri Dec 6, 2013.

At the suggestion of the seventh grade social studies teachers at Northfield Middle School, teenagers did what adults 10, 20 or even 30 years older sometimes never do and reflected on moments, big and small, that have changed the course of their lives.

“To understand the importance of history and current events, we need to understand the importance of events in our own lives,” said Earl Weinmann, a seventh grade social studies teacher. “It doesn’t have to be earth-shaking. Sometimes defining moments are very small.”

When she was first assigned the project, a few different moments quickly popped into Elsa Hoff’s mind. But ultimately she settled on an interaction that lasted no more than a few seconds, igniting a long journey to discover her inner confidence.

“In elementary school, a kid said that I didn’t look very good in my glasses and then I didn’t wear glasses for a whole year,” said Hoff.

Hoff chose to battle headaches rather than face the criticism of her peers, but as she matured, she realized that maybe looks aren’t everything.

“I learned that people like me for who I am and not what I look like,” said Hoff. “I have more confidence now. I asked my friends and they said they can tell a big difference.”

Through his own defining moment Joe Gatzlaff didn’t learn to be confident, but patient with himself and others.

“My defining moment was the first time I saw my baby sister,” said Gatzlaff, whose sister was adopted when he was 8 years old. “It changed the course of my life. It was the first time I had to share my parents, and my mom says it helps me to be frustrated with someone but then move on. It helped me find things in common with my friends, too.”

While Gatzlaff can’t necessarily measure how much of an impact having a younger sister has had on his life, Trey Coudret has proof that he has changed.

“I didn’t really like reading before fourth grade,” said Coudret. “But then Mrs. Johnson showed me a book series that helped me enjoy reading again.”

Coudret was skeptical of the series at first and only read a few pages of the first book before putting it down again. But not wanting to disappoint his teacher, he tried again and has now read every book in the 15-book series and is scoring higher and higher on reading tests.

“Now I am able to read books above the average reading level,” said Coudret.

After completing essays describing these life-changing events, the students had the option of getting up in front of the class and sharing their experiences with others, giving their classmates a glimpse at a deeper side of who they really are.

“One thing not taught in many schools is self-reflection and introspection,” said Weinmann. “The ability to look at your interests, personality, hobbies and how these things have shaped who you are. Only by looking at where you came from can you hope to guide your future.”

Reach reporter Erin O’Neill in Faribault at 333-3132 or in Northfield at 645-1115, or follow her on @ReporterONeill.

© 2014 All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

More about

More about

  • Discuss

Welcome to the discussion.


  • parentvoice posted at 7:33 pm on Thu, Dec 12, 2013.

    parentvoice Posts: 419


    You can "look on the bright side" and "accentuate the positive" til the cows come home. The problem is, that does NOTHING for the 20-25% of kids who aren't reading at grade level or the 40%+ who aren't up to speed in math. That's the problem with only celebrating success. There's no urgency to make needed changes in the curriculum and the delivery of the curriculum.

    It's way nicer to only say good things about ALL the teachers in town. But doing that really does DOOM a lot of kids to a continuing experience where their basic needs are not met.

  • Peter Millin posted at 7:17 pm on Wed, Dec 11, 2013.

    Peter Millin Posts: 174

    Sparo do you have any facts to support that the NFLD school district does its job?

    Here are mine:

  • Sparo73 posted at 11:48 am on Wed, Dec 11, 2013.

    Sparo73 Posts: 1214

    The Star Tribune Southextra section of Wednesday, December 11 has an impressive article titled "A history lesson in Northfield textbook: that describes teacher Earl Weinmann and a project he and 10 of his students embarked on that would "let them leave their mark on the city." Very impressive. Nice job Mr. Weinmann and students. I'm very proud of the Northfield school district, regardless of the negativity we see in the comment section here.

  • Peter Millin posted at 7:31 pm on Tue, Dec 10, 2013.

    Peter Millin Posts: 174

    Inferior? Really, that's your argument. Denial is not a river in Egypt. Again you are attacking me instead of discussing the issues at hand. Namely, that despite spending more than any other country in the world on education we are mediocre at best.

    In the meantime we are raising a bunch of kids who are behind the rest of the world. lets just keep telling ourselves that all is fine.

  • Sparo73 posted at 5:08 pm on Tue, Dec 10, 2013.

    Sparo73 Posts: 1214

    Peter - You must have aced the 7th grade curriculum then if it was "All About ME." It shows.

  • Darwin posted at 12:57 pm on Tue, Dec 10, 2013.

    Darwin Posts: 14

    "People hate those who make them feel their own inferiority."

    - Lord Philip Dormer Stanhope Chesterfield (1694-1773

  • parentvoice posted at 3:24 pm on Mon, Dec 9, 2013.

    parentvoice Posts: 419


    7th grade at NMS is all about self-reflection. The Language Arts curriculum requires the students to write a book entitled "All about ME." In social studies, they reflect on defining moments of their lives. They've been using these assignments for about 25 years. You're not seriously asking them to change or update those assignments, are you?

  • Peter Millin posted at 5:57 pm on Sun, Dec 8, 2013.

    Peter Millin Posts: 174

    Self reflection? A week after US students have been beat again in math and science scores by half the world? Are you serious?

    In the meantime our esteemed Senator Kevin Dahle gets an award from an educational association. Excuse me for what exactly. It certainly wasn't for educational excellence.

    My guess is for making sure the NEA got all their money they wanted. Math and science performance? Oh well who needs that.

    We can always issue more H1 visas to foreigners, when in the meantime our labor participation rate has fallen to its lowest level ever.

    In the unemployment line you should have plenty of time to self reflect. i.e. why can't i find a job?


Reader ToolBox

Forms, Contests and Special Content

Northfield News Forms

Contact Us

Northfield News

115 W. Fifth St., Northfield, MN 55057
Office Hours: Monday through Friday 9:00 a.m. – 5:00 p.m.

Publisher and Editor
Sam Gett, 507-645-1112
Lauran Rott, Rice County ad manager, 507-645-1110
Joan Koester, advertising consultant, 507-645-1103
Megan Zwolenski, advertising consultant, 507-645-1114,
Kris Johnson, circulation manager, 507-333-3125
Chris Lee, customer service, 507-645-1107
Susan Palmer, district manager, 507-333-3106
Jerry Smith, managing editor, 507-645-1136
Nick Gerhardt, sports editor, 507-645-1111
, reporter, 507-645-1115
Rich Larson, Editorial Assistant 507-645-1134

Online poll


Pro Picks