Giving a Hero His Due

I was recently sent a copy of a book to preview, and just today ordered a class set of them for my classroom for next year!

Dog Diaries #4: Togo by Kate Klimo is a fantastic story of Togo who, according to many historians, should get the mostdownload credit for the success of the 1925 Serum Run into Nome.  Balto was the lead dog who carried the serum into town, but Togo was the lead for the longest leg of the relay, almost double the length of any other team!  The story is told from Togo’s point of view, which honestly usually rubs me the wrong way, but this one is really well done!  Togo has a lot of spunk, energy, and determination.  I think the book will be great for talking about visualization with readers… it’s easy to see many of Togo’s pre-serum run antics in your mind!  The appendixes are full of extra information too.  I was thrilled to see that the appendix talks about the Iditarod without claiming the race commemorates the Serum Run!  Instead, it makes the connection between the two via the history of the trail, which to me is the perfect way to do it!  The book is recommended for grades two to five.  I think it will be a fairly easy read for my third graders, so perfect for the beginning of the year.

I’m thinking that I will pair this book with my unit on Stone Fox (LINK) next year.  I think there will be many good connections made between the two books.  Throw Mush! Sled Dogs of the Iditarod (LINK) in there as a non-fiction text and I think I will have the perfect little trilogy of sled dog stories to start my year and set the tone and ignite the passion for following the race!

If you have a couple of weeks of school left, grab Dog Diaries #4: Togo as a quick read aloud.  Or, grab a copy for yourself to preview for next year.  Later this summer, keep an eye on the Iditarod Education Portal. I will post my unit plans there for anyone who is interested!

Tales from the Trail: Special Delivery

This year, two mushers will be carrying special packages on their sleds to make a special delivery in Nome.

In order to promote vaccine awareness, Martin Buser and Aliy Zirkle will carry vaccine from Anchorage to Nome.  Vaccines are given to children to help prevent various diseases.  This event is being organized by Lisa Schobert, Vaccine Coordinator and Dawn Sawyer, PA.  The I DID IT BY TWO: Race To Vaccinate program has been working hard to encourage people to have their children immunized.  The program has done several events to promote their cause including providing dog jackets for the Iditarod race dogs on start day, giving families mushing themed charts to track their immunizations, and many more.  The I DID IT BY TWO slogan is to remind families:

I  – Iditarod

DID – Did you know that children need 80% of their childhood vaccines by age 2?

IT – It can seem a little complicated keeping up with recommended immunizations, but the payoff is big!

BY – by immunizing your children on-time by age…

TWO!

Lisa tells me that she chose Martin Buser to help with the project because he has worked with the I DID It By Two group before and is a great spokesman for the campaign.  He will be carrying the DTAP.  This vaccine is given to children between the ages of  two months and six years.  The DTAP is a vaccine given to children to prevent diphtheria, tetanus, and pertussis (whooping cough).  The organizers think that with Martin’s playful personality, he may actually pass the vaccines off to other mushers to carry down the trail!  That would be in keeping with the spirit of the original serum run which was actually a relay.

Aliy Zirkle was asked to participate because Lisa wanted a front line contender, and with second place finishes in the last two races, Aliy certainly meets that criteria.  Knowing how competitive she is, Aliy will most likely put the vaccine in her sled and run her race!  She will be carrying Tdap vaccine which is used for adolescents and adults.  Tdap stands for tetanus, diphtheria, and pertussis and is used for people aged seven and older.

Each musher will get a box of ten vials to transport and they can package them however they would like to.  Each box weighs 2.3 ounces.  This made me think of the classic, “Can you package an egg and drop it off the roof?” science experiment.  So here’s a little Iditarod themed twist on that activity:  Protect that Vaccine

Here are some photos to share with your kids to show what the vials will look like:

The temperatures that the vaccines are stored at are very, very important.  If the vaccines are not kept between 35-46 degrees F they cannot be given to patients.  Lisa explained to me that if the refrigerator door is left open or someone goes in and out of the refrigerator a lot, the inside temperature can be affected.  They use a Data Logger to continually monitor the temperatures of the vaccines as they travel from one location to another.  The logger, which is similar to a thumb drive, can record temperatures for fifty-six days. Then when the vaccines and logger arrive at their final location, the data can be loaded onto the computer and the temperature information can be displayed in a graph form.  My class has been given a data logger to experiment with, but you can replicate this with a basic thermometer and a refrigerator at home or school:  Keeping the Vaccines Cold

Obviously, to many people, the Iditarod has come to serve as a reminder of the 1925 Serum Run.  That was not Joe Redington, Sr.’s main objective though. His main goals in establishing the race were to project the sled dogs and their role in the culture of Alaska and to save the historic Iditarod Trail.  The Serum Run definitely has a huge role in the history of Alaska and the history of the Iditarod Trail, so it’s kind of neat to see this event as a way to bring the message of the importance of immunizations to villages on the trail.  Here is more on the history of the race and the reasons it started from Katie Mangelsdorf:  Bustingmyth

The go-to picture book for kids to learn about the Serum Run is the Great Serum Race by Debbie Miller.  You can also join the Cleveland Museum of Natural History for a Distance Learning Program about Balto. I wrote about that here: LINK

The Cleveland Museum of Natural History has a great PDF file you could print to give some kids the story behind the Serum Run.  It even has a picture of the original vials to compare to the ones Zirkle and Buser will be carrying this year:  LINK

Here’s a Venn Diagram you could use to compare the Serum Run with the modern trip the vaccines will be taking with Aliy and Martin this year.  VennDiagram

For a writing piece, students could write and record radio spots, like public service announcements for the I DID IT BY TWO Campaign.

The official Press Release is here:  January Press Release – Vaccine

You can learn more about this project here:  LINK

I will have more information soon about other mushers who are “mushing for a cause” or using their Iditarod runs to bring awareness about causes near and dear to their hearts!

Animal Heroes Everywhere

Alaska races sled dogs.

In Maryland we race horses.

Alaska has stories about heroic dogs.

We have stories about heroic horses.

My school and I wanted to send greetings to the schools along the trail as a way to kind of let our schools meet each other and to show a connection between schools that are so far apart, and yet have so many commonalities.

My boys and I have been talking all year about the similarities and differences between Alaska and Maryland.  While there are obviously many, many differences, we did find several similarities.  Alaskans race sled dogs. There are different styles of racing dogs – sprint, marathon, etc.  There are many sled dog races throughout the state, the biggest one obviously being the Iditarod.  Here in Maryland, we race horses.  There are different styles of racing horses – speed, agility, steeplechase, sulky, etc.  There are many tracks and many races in Maryland, the biggest being the Preakness which is a part of the Triple Crown.  We have also learned the names and stories of many of the dog heroes of the Iditarod Trail.

Here at Gilman, we all know the story of one particular horse hero above all others.  We all know the story of Goliath, one of the brave horses who helped saved the city during the Great Baltimore Fire.  We all know the story, because one of our very own teachers, Claudia Friddell, researched and wrote a picture book telling Goliath’s story.

So, naturally, Goliath: Hero of the Great Baltimore Fire became the perfect good will wish to send down the Iditarod Trail.  This week, each of my third graders paired with one of Mrs. Friddell’s first graders to write a letter to accompany a book down the trail to a new school.

We hope the students will enjoy learning about one of our heroes as much as we have enjoyed learning about theirs!

A is For Iditarod!

A is for Iditarod!

“What?” you ask.

A is for Iditarod.

Because the Iditarod awesomely takes place in Alaska and starts in Anchorage!

One of my favorite books to share with my students is A is for Musk Ox by Erin Cabatigan.  My third grade boys always roll their eyes when I tell them I am going to share an alphabet book with them – they are WAY too cool for that you know.

But, by the second page they are hooked!

This book is a funny way to show the kids how to play with language, use humor in writing, and teach them a lot about musk oxen!

We used the book as mentor text for our own version of the book A is for Iditarod.  The boys worked in groups to brainstorm ideas and then we combined their ideas together into one book.  We created illustrations, bound them, and then presented them to our kindergarten little buddies as a gift!  It’s a great way for my boys to get some practice reading orally and for the little buddies to learn a little more about our Iditarod obsession!

You can see a fippable copy of our book via Youplisher here: A is For Iditarod Book

Here is a copy of the brainstorming sheet my boys used: A is for Iditarod

It’s Crunch Time!!

It’s getting to be crunch time and I am finalizing plans for my sub for the time that I am away on my amazing adventure! 

Here are some things that I am leaving for her to do that you may be able to use also!

Math:  The class will be rolling along with our Iditarod Math Unit, most of which I have shared with you in one form or another.  And more will be coming!  Once the race actually begins, they will be tracking their mushers, updating their charts, and moving their pin along the map during their warm – up time.  In the meantime, here are some of the quick activities that they will be using as math warm-ups:

Week 1:  Mental Math Challenges:  My guys love mental math challenges.  These test their mental math skills AND their Iditarod knowledge!  Iditarod Themed Mental Math Challenges

Week 2:  Create a Number Challenges:  Students will create number sentences to form Iditarod important numbers.  Create a Number Challenges

Reading:  My boys will be reading Mystery on the Iditarod Trail by Carole Marsh. I’m surprised to say that I’ve never actually taught this unit to my class!  I’ve been in Alaska for the Iditarod during this book for the last three years!  In any event, that’s why it’s pretty much a stand along unit!  It’s a third-fifth grade reading level, but others would enjoy it as well.  There is a national park tie in with Kenai Fjords National Park as the characters visit the park in the novel.  Challenge you kids to earn their Junior Ranger Badge from there as they read the book!!

 Mystery on the Trail – unit

sled directions

Writing Workshop:  The boys will be working on writing fables, specifically pourquoi stories, or stories that explain something.  Their mentor text will be Aurora, A Tale of the Northern Lights by Mindy Dwyer.  This book explains that the Northern Lights were formed when a girl named Aurora follows a caribou into the Land of Darkness, finding her courage, and creating the Northern Lights in the process.  They will also look at Northern Lights A to Z also by Mindy Dwyer to see some explanations for the Northern Lights from other cultures.

Of course, I anticipate they will spend the majority of their time sitting by the Skype phone waiting for me to call!

Skyping Stone Fox

Last year, 2013 Iditarod Teacher on the Trail ™, Linda Fenton issued a challenge to see how many students she could get to read Stone Fox (http://itcteacheronthetrail.com/2012/12/28/stone-fox/).  The timing was perfect for me.  The fourth grade had recently dropped the novel from their repertoire, so I was able to pick it up and tie it into my curriculum!  I had never read the book before, and was soon just as hooked as Linda is!  It’s a great novel which is a great choice to teach students about point of view.   It also lends itself to discussion on an authors’ craft as you can discuss why the author made the story telling choices he did.

To begin our novel unit, we did a prediction activity by looking at the various illustrations that have graced covers of various editions of the book.  The boys quickly decided that I chose the book because of the obvious dog sledding connection to the Iditarod!  We discussed what it takes to be a responsible pet owner, as the boys predicted that the boy on the cover must own a dog.  (Here are some ideas if your students need some help:  http://www.loveyourdog.com/whatdogsneed.html).   We also talked about whether or not those responsibilities would be different if we lived in a cold environment and/or if that dog was a working dog instead of a household pet.

 As we had recently finished our unit on the fifty states, we spent a day looking at the setting of the novel.  The students each had a map of Wyoming and we created symbols and a key to identify key locations from the novel:  Jackson (the setting) and the Two Wind Indian Reservation (to represent Stone Fox’s tribe).

The students had predicted that there was a dog sled race involved from looking at the covers of the novels.  I introduced the kids to the International Pedigree Stage Stop Race (http://www.wyomingstagestop.org/) which is a modern day race held in Wyoming each winter. This year’s race begins January 31st.  The race is quite different from the Iditarod in that the mushers stop in towns after each leg.  We added the race route to our Wyoming Map and realized that this contemporary race is held in the same area of the state that the novel is based.  So by looking at photos of the race, we had some aids to help in our visualization of race scenes in the novel.

One of the covers we previewed also had a picture of a person whom my students identified as Native American. So I introduced them to the fact that this character is Shoshone, and that the Shoshone National Forest in also in the same area as the rest of the novel setting, so we added that to the map also!  We also located and identified Yellowstone National Park, because it is also a key location in the northwest corner of Wyoming.  If Yellowstone is new to your students, the Yellowstone Park Rangers do a distance learning program for students through Skype in the Classroom:  https://education.skype.com/projects/2237-yellowstone-national-park-rangers-can-skype-with-classrooms

Since we had already participated in that program, I needed a new Junior Ranger program for my students to complete related to this novel, and I found a great one through Shoshone National Forest.  The Forest Service offers a Junior Forest Ranger Badge program here:  http://na.fs.fed.us/ceredirect/jfr/.   The students complete the packet and send in the back page with an adult’s signature to demonstrate that they have completed the program.  They are awarded a patch and pin and get a membership card that allows them access to a special kid’s only online clubhouse.  The Forest Service also offers a Junior Snow Ranger Program that I am going to use with my guys to talk about winter safety in January:  http://www.fs.usda.gov/main/conservationeducation/smokey-woodsy/junior-rangers

Once we were finally ready to start reading the novel, we Skyped with Linda Fenton’s class.  I have never tried to simultaneously read and discuss a novel with another class, let alone another class in another state in another time zone… but it was really an amazing experience.  We did a mini-mystery activity by coming up with a list of ten questions to ask the other class, and then using the answers to determine what state we were virtually visiting.  Timing wise, it worked for us to Skype at the start of our Reading class which was at the end of Linda’s Reading class.  So during our first Skype, after determining their location, her students introduce the novel to us and helped pique our interest in reading.  In other Skype sessions throughout the next couple of weeks we discussed character traits for the main characters, shared our surprise at was happening, our feelings on the book vs. movie debate, and then finally shared our end of unit projects.  It was so cool to discuss the book with Linda and her class.  They had a different perspective on the novel and it was also neat for my kids to hear how different some things are between Wisconsin and Maryland!

Our Skype-Shared Brainstorming Chart

Our Skype-Shared Brainstorming Chart

Our final project, to tie together the race in the book, the Iditarod, the Wyoming Stage Stop Race, etc. was that each class designed a sled dog race for their state.  Linda had her kids begin their race in their hometown of Waupaca and then decide where to go to make a one hundred mile race.  They worked in partners to create a race course.  My kids worked as a whole class to create a race across the state of Maryland.  (We actually decided on a Northern Route and a Southern Route so we could visit Baltimore City and Washington, DC on alternating years!)  We decided to start on the Eastern Shore and end in the mountains of Western Maryland.  As a group we chose a series of towns to get us across the state and then they worked in partners to plan the checkpoints.  The partners used online travel sources to determine a great location for their checkpoint, decided what assistance they would be able to provide the teams, and explained all of their thinking.  We put the whole thing together in a Narrated Google Earth Tour, where we were able to fly over our race route and zoom into each checkpoint location and see the details that the boys had planned for each stop.  We quickly discovered there are A LOT of golf courses in Maryland and determined they would make great checkpoints because of the amenities available and the amount of open space for parking teams.

 

Tales From the Trail: The Junior are Training Too!

The story goes that a group of five to seven kids started the Junior Iditarod because they were less then eighteen years old and therefore couldn’t compete in the main race.  The first race was held in 1978 and there were actually two divisions that year; a junior division for ages 11-14 and a senior division for ages 15-18.  Ever since that first race, there has been only one division for ages 14-17.  The first year the juniors ran a total of 36 miles while the seniors ran forty miles.  My students were especially interested to hear that the person with the most wins – three consecutive – is Tim Osmar!  They refer to him as Monica’s Tim (we have been following her training all year).  And that the red lantern that first year was won by a young woman named Barbara Ryan, whose married name is now Barbara Redington (daughter in law of the founder of the Iditarod Joe Redington, Sr.)! Their jaws just about dropped.

JR LogoWe wanted to get a little background information about the Junior Iditarod, so we used the Junior Iditarod official rules [2013 Rules] to compare the race to what we already know about the Iditarod.  In partners, they read the Junior Iditarod rules carefully and hightlighted everything they thought made the Junior race different than the main race.  We discussed their findings and summarized them on a chart.  They knew most of the answers to the questions about the Iditarod, but it was a good chance to clear up a few questions they still had.  I also had to fill in some of the missing blanks from other sources.

Blank Chart            Completed Chart

There were a few things that were still unclear about after reading the rules, so we consulted with two people in the know, Barbara Redington, who ran the first race, and Lacey Hart, who has completed the race and will be serving as Race Marshall this year.

From Redington and Hart we discovered that there really are two checkpoints in the race.  The kids will leave the starting line and in about fifty-five miles will reach Eagle Song Lodge.  This is a checkpoint where you can stop and drop dogs or speak to a veterinarian or race judge, if needed.  Most of the mushers won’t stop there for an extended period of time.  From there it’s about 20 miles to Yentna Station Roadhouse and the extended, mandatory rest stop.  They will also pass through Eagle Song again on the return trip.

Nicole at the Start of Her First Race!

Nicole at the Start of Her First Race!

We got the chance to interview Nicole Forto, the very first musher to sign up for the Junior Iditarod this year!  I tried to encourage the boys to find a new way to interview her… but our standard movie interview won out!  She sent us a great reply you can read below the video.

Nicole’s Response

You can learn more about Nicole and her family at Team Ineka here:  Team Ineka

We will be bringing you lots more news from the Junior Iditarod!  We have an interview set up with Lacey Hart to learn all about the job of a Race Marshall, and we’ll be checking in with Nicole monthly to see how things are going with her training!  Stay tuned!

Tales from the Trail: Ghosts of the Trail

“… make sure you leave something (such as food) for the Old Woman when you leave.  You don’t want her ghost chasing you to Nome and throwing bad luck your way.”  From Don Bower’s Trail Notes  http://iditarod.com/about/the-iditarod-trail/

2013-06-26 11.42.03So much of the Iditarod Trail is the history.  With that history come the stories of the people of the trail and of the people who have perhaps never left the trail.  Mushers tell stories of seeing other mushers and teams dressed in old clothing and hearing cheers along the trail.  In addition to the actual ghost towns the trail passes through like Ophir and Iditarod, are the stories of the ghost of the Old Woman on the trail between Kaltag and Unalakleet.

There are versions of the Old Woman legend according to an article published in the Alaska Dispatch (http://www.alaskadispatch.com/article/ghosts-alaskas-iditarod-trail).   One version tells of a woman who died in an avalanche as a result of a curse for doing men’s work on a mountain used by men as a hunting lookout.  Another version says that the woman and her husband were trappers who lived in the area long ago and were caught in an avalanche. The woman was buried and her husband, refusing to leave her, eventually died on the mountain as well.

One of my favorite things to do at this time of year when I taught fifth grade was to challenge the boys to write ghost stories that were set along the trail.  They could set them in one of the Gold Rush turned Ghost Towns found on the trail or along a lonely section of the trail like where the Old Woman cabin is found between Kaltag and Unalakleet.

I would love to share some of your students’ stories in the Student Tales section of the website!

Ghosts of the Trail

Mushing Towards Understanding Non-Fiction Text Features

My students, maybe because they are boys, seem to gravitate towards non-fiction texts. They love to pour over the pictures and stats that fill their favorite non-fiction books.  But, I have noticed that they don’t always use all of the features in the book like captions and sidebars to their advantage as readers, and they certainly don’t carry those elements over into their own non-fiction writing.

The non-fiction book, Mush!  Sled Dogs of the Iditarod, published by Scholastic is a great book to use to introduce features of non-fiction texts to your students (and sneak a little Iditarod knowledge in too)!  I introduced this book to my boys after we had finished our first fiction novel and had analyzed the elements of a story.  I began by having the boys search through Mush with sticky notes in hand, marking everything they found that isn’t typically found in fiction novels.  After we discussed them, the boys made posters that explained the various features and why authors may choose to use these devices in their books.  The posters will serve as our anchor charts for this unit.

As we read the book, we focused on using those non-fiction text elements to pull out important details. We made bio cubes highlighting Dallas Seavey’s accomplishments, debated if mushers are as athletic as their dogs, identified characteristics of huskies, and compared and contrasted changes in race equipment over time.

Attached is the unit plan with five days of lessons (although, truth be told, the bio cubes took two days – one to plan and to create).  I’ve also posted one of my student’s responses to whether or not mushers are as athletic as their dogs here:  LINK  Don’t forget to send me your student’s writings!  I’d love to post as many as I can!

Mush Unit Plan

Cube Planning Sheet

Tales From the Trail: Iditarod Dogs in DC

News Flash:  Three dogs destined for the Inaugural Parade were stolen from the Maryland Farm where they were staying.  Joe Redington Sr.’s lead dog Feets and his faithful Candy who made it to Nome 7 times and carried Redington to the top of Mt. MKinley are two of the missing.  Norman Vaughan’s leader was also stolen.  The theft occurred around midnight on January 18.

As reported in the Iditarod Runner, January, 1981

 

This past weekend I had the chance to see some Iditarod dogs in DC…. Not your everyday occurrence!  I went to the 2013-09-14 17.01.57Capitol Hills Arts Workshop to see Wes Schaefer’s exhibit of photographs he took while following Lance Mackey’s 2013 Iditarod preparations and race.  Wes lived and worked at Mackey’s Comeback Kennel off and on from October to April to document every aspect of his life. The photographs are an extraordinary look at the relationship between dog and musher and what it takes to take part in the race.  If you get a chance to check it out, I highly recommend it.  The exhibit will continue through October 12th.

Being in DC and thinking about sled dogs, made me think of the story quoted above from Ronald Regan’s 1981 Inaugural Parade.  I first stumbled across the story this summer during the Summer Camp for Teachers when we had the chance to explore a handful of materials that are going to be included on an online Iditarod Museum.

Attached is a creative writing lesson where the students will tell the story that only the missing dogs could ever tell!  If you do the lesson with you kids… please be sure to share their stories with me!  I’d love to publish some on the Tales from the Trail Student section!

Case of the Hot Dogs Lesson

Going to the Dogs!

If you are anything like me, even though you are on summer vacation, your mind is always going and going and going and you are always thinking of things to do to make your classroom more welcoming and more inviting for your students.

???????????????????It’s safe to say that in the last two years my classroom has officially gone to the dogs!  I have always used the Iditarod as a part of my teaching curriculum and toolbag, but two years ago I really let it take over my classroom and become my yearlong classroom theme.   I say two years ago, because that is the year that my life took a turn on the trail towards this amazing adventure I am embarking on.

Two years ago, my good friend and teaching partner Ellen Rizzuto, burst into my room one morning declaring, “I just heard the coolest thing and you are the only person crazy enough to do it with me!”

The crazy thing she had heard about was Wintergreen Lodge in Ely, Minnesota, where you could go for a long weekend and learn to dogsled.  Not just go for a ride, but really get your own team and learn how to mush!  I immediately countered that if we were going to do that, we should tie it into something educational and apply for a grant from our school.  That winter we spent Martin Luther King weekend at Wintergreen, and then attended the Iditarod Winter Conference for Educators and the start and restart of the 40th Iditarod.  It was a life changing experience, and has directly led me to where I am today.

As you can imagine, with all the excitement of that first trip, my trip to the race last year as a finalist, and then of course all that will be happening this year, my classroom revolves around the Iditarod.  I’ve found it to be an amazing classroom theme for my third grade boys… the race is full of action, adventure, dogs, wilderness, and competition… all things boys adore!  In using it as my classroom theme, it surrounds us all year long, not just at race time.  I can sneak in little tidbits of information when time allows and not have to let it dominate one portion of my curriculum.  (Although the race IS my math curriculum from January-April… but that is a post for another time).

So during the summer, I thought I would share with you some of the ways I use the Iditarod as my classroom theme. I hope that you will be able to find something that you can use – or “borrow and tweak” as 2013 Iditarod Teacher on the Trail™ Linda Fenton would say!  Let me know if you do….I’d love to hear about it!

At the start of the year before adding student samples

At the start of the year before adding student samples

To that end, I thought the first idea I would share with you is the Advice from the Trail activity we do in my classroom.  When Ellen and I attended that first conference, I found myself writing down tidbits of advice and quotations that mushers, vets, volunteers, and presenters said.  I realized that many of the quotations, while obviously focused on the Iditarod, had applications in the “real-world” too.  Advice that I hoped my students would take to heart!

Every month I choose a quotation and post it on the Advice from the Trail bulletin board.  Throughout the month, we discuss the advice and what lessons we could take from it.  We try to apply it to what we are experiencing in the classroom.  We talk about how it applies to characters in books we are reading and our lives outside of school.  At the end of the month, the students write a reflection about the quote in their journals and then we start the whole process over with a new quote.

This activity, while obviously a good writing assignment, also allows me to sneak in some character development lessons.  An added bonus, which I didn’t originally anticipate, is that it allowed me to introduce several key and memorable mushers to the students.

Included in the lesson plan is a list of quotations that could be used for this project.  I keep adding to the list! Lesson Plan Here:  Advice From the Trail July

Choose A Musher

As the Iditarod Race quickly approaches (27 Days 6 Hours 26 Minutes  48DSC_1333 Seconds and counting so the clock at iditarod.com tells me) it is time to choose a musher.  There are a few different ways to do this.  The classrooms at my school – including the kitchen staff, office staff, custodian, and aides – all picked a name out of a hat.  Students in my class, however, had to do some research.  They studied the musher profiles and had to come to me with a name and a fact about the musher they would like to follow.  Not an opinion – a fact.

DSC_1335It was interesting because in the past students were a little more random so we had rookies in the mix with the veteran mushers.  This year’s class is a little more Iditarod savvy.  They already know names of some of the top mushers and they know a little more about what it takes to be a top contender in the race.  I also encouraged them to choose a musher who had a website for easier access to information about them and their dogs.  They now each have a musher to follow and this coming week they will create their musher trading card.  MusherTradingCards  27 Days 6 Hours 4 Minutes 30 Seconds and counting . . .

Stone Fox

Students wearing the Aurora Borealis T-Shirts

Students wearing the Aurora Borealis T-Shirts

In order to keep students engaged the last week of school before the Holiday Break, I had them read Stone Fox by John Reynolds Gardiner.  This is a great book of friendship, family and the love between a boy and his dog.  All the things to keep students wanting to turn the page and go on to the next chapter are in this book.  My students are third graders, but it would be a good read aloud for 2nd graders and I know teachers thru middle school who have used it in their classroom.  (I don’t want to spoil the ending, but keep a tissue handy.)

I’d like to keep track of how many students we can get to read this book.  If you have already read it with your students (or when you read it in the future), please send me your name, grade level, number of students who read the book and your city & state at:  emailtheteacher@iditarod.com

Full lesson plan with activity ideas are attached.  The attached Venn Diagram is for watching the movie Stone Fox after you have read the book.  It’s a great lesson in how much is changed when making movies.

Stone Fox

Stone Fox.2

It All Starts as a Rookie

The champions of the Iditarod are true icons.  They embody the enormous accomplishment that we aspire to within our own individual passions.  We look at them and we see success.  Although these amazing examples inspire us, we often feel very small around them, as though we could never do what they do because, after all, we are only human, right?

It is for that reason that I find the rookies so very interesting.  Iditarod rookies are mushers that have not yet completed the Iditarod and crossed under the arch in Nome.  I find I can relate to them more easily.  I watch carefully each step they take toward their successes and think to myself – that’s doable, not easy, but doable.

There are 12 rookies signed up so far this year and as the school term progresses you will be able to learn about them and their hopes and dreams by going to http://iditarodblogs.com/teachers/category/news-for-classrooms/rookie-mushers/

I have a new inspirational partner of my own this year.  His name, oddly enough, is Rookie and he is a sled dog that appears on my easel every morning.  My job is to work with him until I can draw him quickly and easily (under a minute) to introduce him to the students I meet along my trail.  Rookie helps me see things with an accurate and positive perspective. He reminds me every morning that there isn’t much I can’t do if I put my mind to it.  So far he has gotten me back out on the pre-dawn running road four out of five mornings this week.

We are all really rookies at something.  This month I offer you the beginning of Rookie’s development, (please feel free to offer suggestions).  I also offer three lessons you may wish to include this year.  They all involve imagining a goal and planning for it, which is where all rookies start on the road to success.

The first lesson is “Safety First” and can be adjusted to any grade level.  We begin with a reading of Rivers, Diary of a Blind Alaska Sled Dog by Mike Dillingham showing us how his musher prepares a place and life for him that helps to keep him safe and on the trail. safety first

The second lesson is “Tracking the Musher.”  This activity may seem a little premature in the heat of late summer, but some video of the race itself may inform the students about the enormous complexity and overall scope of information generated by the race and is a slightly less overwhelming planning exercise than the planning of volunteer placement and supply drops that we will look at later.  It is never too soon to start planning how we will keep track of the grand movement that is the Iditarod.Tracking the musher

The third lesson I call “Imagine the Possibilities.”  Norman Vaughn, explorer and WWII hero was an Iditarod rookie at 83 years of age.  His story is in Iditarod Classics by Lew Freedman (available on line from Iditarod.com).  Many of the stories would be great jumping off places for a discussion of dreaming big and making the choices necessary to achieve a goal but Norman’s is my favorite. Imagine the possibilities – lesson plan

I hope you find one of my lessons this month that works for you and as always feel free to email me with reactions, suggestions and new ideas.

Staying on the trail with Rookie,

Blynne

Finding What Works in the Classroom 2.24.11

Temperature in Wasilla, late morning, 20°F, little wind

Teachers want to know what works in the classroom to facilitate student learning and to achieve growth in their learning. The research-based document,What Works in Classroom Instruction by Robert Marzano, Barbara Gaddy, and Ceri Dean (http://www.leigh.cuhsd.org/teachers/pdf/Marzano_Strategies.pdf),  is a good resource which explains the research behind classroom strategies and their effect. The effect sizes of various strategies range from .59 to 1.61. An effect size of 1.0 is roughly equivalent to one year’s growth in achievement. Please refer to the above article for a table of strategies and effect sizes.

Strategies that were found to strongly affect student achievement include homework and practice, setting goals and providing feedback, non-linguistic representation, summarizing and note-taking, identifying similarities and differences, cooperative learning, reinforcing effort and providing recognition, generating and testing hypotheses, and activating prior knowledge. The two highest effect sizes fell in the strategies of summarizing and note-taking and identifying similarities and differences. This site has helpful information about using these strategies.

http://www.tltguide.ccsd.k12.co.us/instructional_tools/Strategies/Strategies.html

Part of my job as the Target® 2011 Iditarod Teacher on the Trail™ is giving presentations to students in Alaska schools. I started those today.  The presentation gives students a chance to learn aboutsome  similarities and differences of Alaska and North Carolina. Letting students use a Venn diagram, Thinking Maps (double bubble or bubble maps) or write about the differences and similarities of the two states would be methods to carry out a strategy with a high effect size.

The Iditarod Race is a tool to use to create a lesson on note-taking and summarizing or on identifying similarities and differences. Perhaps your area has a sport or race which could be compared and contrasted with the Iditarod, or watch Iditarod Insider video clips to practice taking notes and then organizing those notes into categories. Maybe those categories could be more easily remembered by using non-linguistic representation, another strategy which can positively affect student learning.     

Iditarod Inspired Poetry

In my classroom, our study of poetry falls at the end of March. To ease the transition from the Iditarod and Alaska to poetry, I start with The Cremation of Sam McGee by Robert Service.

“There are strange things done in the midnight sun/By the men who moil for gold; The Arctic trails have their secret tales/ That would make your blood run cold;” (Robert Service, The Cremation of Sam McGee) 

A darkly humorous narrative poem, its setting is familiar to the students who have been following the race.  This poem is an easy way to teach stanzas, rhyme scheme, and figurative language, especially personification.

We work with haiku and concrete poetry, also. This serves as a unique method to summarize their knowledge of the race and Alaska. Illustrating their poems serves as another way to summarize what they know, too, and lets those creative juices flow.

Enjoy the poetry photo exhibit. Especially note how the mug of hot chocolate poem was colored to look like a winter jacket.

Honest Dogs

Martin Buser

Honest dogs—I first came across those words in Gary Paulsen’s book, Woodsong, used to describe one of his dogs, Storm. Paulsen defined Storm as a dog who always worked, always pulled, ran many miles, and taught Gary many things about life.

Curious about the phrase, I researched it by asking people who asked others about “honest dogs”.  Author and Iditarod finisher Pam Flowers describes an honest dog as one who is a hardworking dog, and if the dog is not working hard as it usually does, then the dog has an honest reason for not doing so—snow or ice between the toes, getting jarred while running by stepping in a hole, sneezing, or other reasons to make their line go slack. (Note: the line referred to is the line attached between the tug at the rear of the dog’s harness and the gangline)

Pam says it’s the musher’s job to find out what the reason is and to take care of it. A dishonest dog is one who has learned to keep the line just tight enough to make it look as if the dog is pulling, but he isn’t.

Martin Buser, four time Iditarod winner, defines an honest dog in the following way:

I don’t mind if a dog eventually goes off the line during a long run as long as he or she gets back to work on their own.  Taking a break is fine by me, the honest part is that the dog does not lay down or quit.  If I’m stupid, I can make any dog quit.  One has to find what is possible to ask, what can be given.

 How does a musher know if a dog is pulling or not? They keep an eye on the line from the harness tug to the gangline. If it’s tight, the dog is pulling. If it isn’t, the dog is taking a break.

So, after I gathered all this information about honest dogs, I started thinking how this is an example of figurative language and how it relates to people. Usually, we think of honesty as a the quality of being truthful, saying what is true. But, honesty can show in actions, too.

How do we people know when other people are working like honest dogs work? We don’t have harnesses, tugs, and ganglines to look at. I think people listen to what we say we will do, and then people watch to see if we do what we said we would do.  People watch to see if we carry out our responsibilities or not.  Carrying out our responsibilities is like keeping the line tight.  Some people call this “talking the talk and walking the walk”. You do what you say you’re going to do.

Hardworking, “honest” people take breaks too, to recharge or to consider another way to get something done, causing their line to go slack for a little while. They get back to work, tightening their lines on their own. And if an honest person falters or hesitates, the reason they do so is an honest reason, a real reason.

When people offer excuses or dishonest reasons for not getting something done, then it’s like being a dishonest dog—pretending to do the work, but not really doing the work. The line looks tight, but the job isn’t getting done.

And, as a teacher or employer or co-worker, think about Martin’s statement that if he’s stupid, he can make any dog quit, that it’s up to him to find out what is possible and what the dog can give. Seems like that’s advice for folks who work with students, employees, and colleagues, too, not just mushers.

Are you an honest dog?  How do others know that you are? Think about it! (Thanks to Terrie Hanke, Sue Allen, Pam Flowers, Hugh Neff, and Martin Buser for their help with this information.)

Something to Do While You Follow Me!

When I arrive in Alaska around February 22, I’ll post often to keep you in the loop about what I am doing and what is going on with the race. And, when the race starts March 6, I’ll post daily about the race and teachable moments.

The NUMBER ONE question I’m asked is: “Don’t you get cold in Alaska?”   To help others Outside of Alaska understand the cold, I’ll post the temperature and wind speed daily on my site while I’m in Alaska. By the way, Outside refers to anywhere not in Alaska, and usually to  the other states of the U.S. Use this information for the following activities to figure out if I’m getting cold! (Don’t worry. I’ve got all the right gear to keep from getting cold!)

  • Elementary–Color a paper thermometer which shows your area’s temperature and another one showing the temperature I posted. Write the temperatures correctly.
  • Elementary–Make a chart or graph showing the temperatures I post.
  • Middle School—Use the lesson plan I posted in Coordinates for Your Sled-The Math Trail to make a 2 or 3 line graph plotting and comparing the temperatures I post and your area’s temperatures.
  • Middle School—Relate positive and negative numbers to the temperatures I post and the temperatures in your area.
  • Secondary—Convert the Fahrenheit temperatures I post to Celsius, and then back again. It’s a great workout for your brain! (Don’t use the converter program, use brain power.) http://www.albireo.ch/temperatureconverter/formula.htm Accessed 12.27.201    

 Fahrenheit to Celsius  

    Celsius to Fahrenheit  

     

  • Secondary—Calculate windchill and use those algebra skills. I’ll post the temperature and the windspeed daily during the race. You calculate the wind chill for a REAL brain workout. http://www.usatoday.com/weather/resources/basics/windchill/wind-chill-formulas.htm Accessed 12.26.2010
  • Any age level—Research and learn about Fahrenheit and Celsius temperatures. Write a paragraph or paper or create a power point show about the history of how these different ways of measuring temperatures came to exist, why scientists use Celsius more than Fahrenheit, which countries use Fahrenheit more than Celsius, what Celsius used to be called, etc.
  • Read Sanka’s postings on Zuma’s Paw Prints. This K-9 reporter includes weather and climate information in his postings.  http://iditarodblogs.com/zuma/

Mushing on,

Martha

Iditarod is Coming! Fill Your Sled Now!

(Keep on reading to find some ideas of activities for your students to do.)

Mushers carry the following mandatory items in their sleds during the race. I bet you can make this list relevant to what students need to be prepared for their job of school.

  •  Proper cold weather sleeping bag weighing a minimum of 5 lbs.
  • Ax, to weigh a minimum of 1-3/4 lbs., handle to be at least 22” long.
  • One operational pair of snowshoes with bindings, each snowshoe to be at least 252 square inches in size.
  • Any promotional material provided by the ITC.
  • Eight booties for each dog in the sled or in use.
  • One operational cooker and pot capable of boiling at least three (3) gallons of water at one time.
  • Veterinarian notebook, to be presented to the veterinarian at each checkpoint.
  • An adequate amount of fuel to bring three (3) gallons of water to a boil.
  • Cable gang line or cable tie out capable of securing dog team.
  • When leaving a checkpoint adequate emergency dog food must be on the sled. (This will be carried in addition to what you carry for routine feeding and snacking.)
  • http://iditarod.com/pdfs/2011/rules.pdf

Right now, mushers are preparing for the race by freezing and bagging their dogs’ food for the race, planning and preparing their people food and supply bags, running their teams on daily training runs and in races like the Copper Basin, the Sheep Mountain 150, or the Gin Gin 200. I am always curious about names, so I researched how the Gin Gin 200 got its name.

Who was Gin Gin?
The Gin Gin 200 is named after a remarkable dog who dominated a dog kennel for over 10 years. She was an inspiration both on the trail and in the dog yard. She was a dog with unswerving loyalty and stubbornness. She did not know” quit”. Her ability, drive and attitude should serve as an example to dog drivers everywhere.  http://www.gingin200.com/ accessed 1.1.11

Fill your classroom sled with some of these ideas to get your class prepared for the Iditarod.  Choose one way or several ways, or think of your own way to connect your students, your curriculum and the race.

  • Start now visiting www.iditarod.com and  http://iditarodblogs.com/teachers/ , the For Teachers section of that site for ideas to use. There is an exciting lesson plan idea using the Blabberize website on the For Teachers section. http://iditarodblogs.com/teachers/
  • Read Zuma’s Paw Prints at the For Teachers page. Zuma and other K-9 reporters give you information about the race. http://iditarodblogs.com/teachers/
  • Adopt a musher(s) and use this form to chart his/her race progress. http://iditarod.com/pdfs/teacher/MusherDataSheets.pdf Scroll down to find the southern route chart. The southern route is run in odd-numbered years. The race data is free and is found on www.iditarod.com.
  • Create a race route map along your classroom’s walls or down your hallway and move your adopted musher(s) along the map. This link takes you to the race map and access to a list of the mileage between each checkpoint for the southern and northern race routes. http://iditarodblogs.com/teachers/2009/11/21/maps-of-the-iditarod-trail/
  •  Teach a novel or read books about the race or related topics. Find books to choose from on these lists.  http://iditarodblogs.com/teachers/iditarod-books/
  • Math problems for elementary and middle school are in December’s posting on this site.
  • Teach students to convert the 24 hour clock time, used to report race times, to 12 hour clock times. Great mental exercise!
  • Temperature charting, wind chill calculation, converting temperatures from Fahrenheit to Celsius and back again. (See my posting on this site titled Something to Do While You Follow Me! for details)
  • Watch the free Iditarod Insider videos or sign up for this special video view of the race. You and your class can see what’s happening in the race via these clips. http://insider.iditarod.com/

Mushing on,

Martha

Brochures, Research, Cite Your Sources!

This lesson plan addresses several different skills for students. It’s written for sixth graders, but can easily move up in grade levels. Most eighth graders write a term paper, and this lesson introduces younger students to doing research both on the Internet and using print media in preparation for the term paper. Skills covered are evaluating websites for accuracy and reliability, technological skills to search for information, taking notes, ethics in using information found on the Internet and in print media, and the proper format to cite sources. This is a great time to introduce plagiarism.

Before starting their research, discuss with students the qualities of a reliable, accurate source, whether it’s a print media or Internet. Also discuss what copyrighted material is, how they can identify it, and why they cannot copy and paste it without permission from the author. The same applies to photographs, artwork, and clipart. When we did this project, we got permission from the website or the photographer to use certain photos.

These brochures were “made by hand” for several reasons. Scheduling enough time in the computer lab to do them on the computer was not possible; for some students, trying to format a newsletter on the computer would be too challenging; entering text takes them a long time as most have not learned correct keyboarding skills; and I wanted them to enjoy the creativity of design, colored pencils/crayons, and decorating.

The brochures pictured unfold in the center and students had the entire inside to fill with information and photographs or artwork. On the back of the brochure, they cited their sources. We used MLA format because that is what they would use in eighth grade and in high school.

Mushing on,

Martha

Word Processing and Iditarod

As a sixth grade English/language arts teacher, one of my responsibilities is to teach students word processing. By sixth grade, most students are familiar with the mouse, the delete button on the keyboard, and have a general idea of where the letters are on the keyboard. Formatting a document, though, is something they usually aren’t familiar with, and to prepare them for 21st century learning, they need to know how to do this.

This lesson and its skills were written for sixth grade. Each document is about a different aspect of the race—mushers, awards, and the Junior Iditarod race. Included are pdfs of the document to format, how the document should look after formatting, and directions for formatting each document. Skills used are justifying and centering text, capitalization, indenting, single spacing, cutting and pasting, highlighting, deleting, spell check and grammar check, and entering text.

The first day we’re in the computer lab, we work through the musher document together as I assess where the students are with their skill level. Each student has a copy of the directions for formatting that lesson in front of them, and teaching this is aided by projecting the image from one monitor via LCD projector. During the second lesson about race awards, students work slightly more independently, and by the time they get to their third lesson about the Junior Iditarod, they can usually work independently.

A couple of tips—I teach from the back of the computer lab where I can easily see everyone’s monitor and know at a glance how their work is going. At my school, the technology facilitator put these documents on the school’s shared folder for students to access, and we discovered that sometimes Microsoft Word wants so badly to capitalize words that it wouldn’t “hold” what should be wrong so the students can correct it. After a few tries, it held. Other subject areas could teach Excel or Database using Iditarod information, too.

Mushing on,

Martha

Taking Care of the Iditarod Dogs, Writing, and Sequencing

Buddies at the 2010 vet check

The dogs of the Iditarod are athletes and get the kind of training and health care human professional athletes get. Volunteer vets man the race’s checkpoints to examine teams as they arrive throughout the race. These dogs have been cleared physically by a pre-race exam which includes bloodwork, EKG, and a physical exam. This article, Caring for Dogs of the Iditarod, details the care they receive before and during the race.

Three days before the race start, there is a final vet check opportunity at the Iditarod Headquarters in Wasilla, AK. All the dogs here have already cleared their labwork and EKG and receive the final physical exam on that day. Fans enjoy watching the vets and dogs, meeting mushers in person, taking photos, and interacting with the dogs.

This lesson about sequencing is written for first grade. It includes pictures from the 2010 final vet check for students to use in sequencing and writing a book. The article above gives teachers background information to familiarize them with healthcare for the dogs.

Not a primary grade teacher? Here are some more ideas for upper grades, including high school, for you.

 1) Make an Iditarod Trail game using this cube pattern. Put photos of the vet exam on cube faces. Number each photo. Use a trail map and advance a sled dog playing piece (or colored button or coin) along the trail’s checkpoints based on the roll of the cube.

2) Write a description of the vet check exam from the dog’s point of view.

3) Research physical exams for people and dogs. Compare and contrast these exams in a formal paper. Cite sources.

Mushing on,

Martha

I Knew I Could Do It! Write a Personal Narrative

This lesson plan for grades three through high school uses the book Big-Enough Anna to spark students’ thinking. The book, by Pam Flowers, is a true story about how a little sled dog was big enough to learn to lead the team, to step up when the team counted on her, and to meet a dangerous challenge and continue on in her position as lead dog. Take a look at one of my July posts to order the book.

The lesson generates thoughts on universal themes such as accomplishing things that others don’t think you can do or continuing to work even though you are challenged. Then, students brainstorm personal experiences they’ve had with the same situation—doing something or accomplishing something that someone thought they couldn’t do—and write a personal narrative about it.

The narrative should reflect the students’ writing abilities and levels, thus a high schooler’s personal narrative will be more extensive and developed than the elementary school student’s paper. A rubric to score the narrative is part of the lesson.

Publish your students’ “can do” narratives and refer to them when students feel challenged in the classroom or in life, just like teams and mushers push through the tough parts of the Iditarod to move on down the trail.

Mushing on,

Martha

September Ideas for Your Sled

 It’s after Labor Day and we’re all back in school. I hope you’ve found ways to use the clipart and bookmarks in your classrooms or you have plans to use them during the year.

I‘ve had another remarkable Iditarod experience since school began that I’ll share with you. About two weeks ago, my classroom phone rang, and the caller was a parent of a student at another school in my school system. She had read an article about me in my position as the Target® 2011 Iditarod Teacher on the Trail™ in a school system publication and was excited to contact me about her family’s history of racing Siberian huskies when they lived in Iowa. The most wonderful part of the call, though, was finding out they were selling a dog sled, only 20 minutes away from me! Last Saturday I picked up my “new” old sled, harnesses, and a gangline as well as some great stories of their dogs and running dog days. And, I got a super lead on the sled’s  history which I’m working to confirm.

Iditarod has provided unexpected opportunities for me over the years; where I least expect a connection, there is one. Who would have thought that in Cabarrus (say kuh bear us) County, North Carolina I’d have a chance to buy a dog sled with some really remarkable history connected to Alaska? It’s like going on a treasure hunt. I bet that you will have remarkable experiences in your classrooms when you use Iditarod as a teaching tool, too.

Here are some lesson ideas my sled generated. I can’t wait to hear about the activities and results you get when you try these.

  1. Use the photo of the sled next to the Toyota Prius as a writing prompt.  Compare and contrast the two types of transportation, their size, their purpose, their use, where they are used; create an analogy between the dogpowered transportation and the mechanical energy saving transportation; write a dialogue between the sled and the car; choose either the sled or the car and write about why it is a superior form of transportation; write about what you can do with the sled that you can’t do with the car.
  2. Write a story from the sled’s point of view.
  3. Write about a race the sled was in.
  4. Persuade someone to buy this sled with an illustrated advertisement.
  5. Build your own small scale sled using popsicle sticks.
  6. Use a computer program to design your sled.
  7. Create an illustration of the sled and team using an art technique such as mosaic, pencil, or collage.
  8. Write a fable about the sled and the car. (This reminds me of The Tortoise and the Hare fable.)

Mushing on,

Martha

Bookmarks and Activities for Students and Teachers

Use the bookmark for your classes. They can be rewards for students who achieve reading goals, everyone can have one for themselves, or use them for end of the year gifts for your students. Print them on card stock so they will stand up to use.  I printed bookmarks on my school’s color printer. The pictures on the bookmarks are from the 2009 Iditarod.

Earlier in August I posted a Scavenger Hunt lesson with a summary and evaluation exercise, combining a physical education lesson with English/language arts. Here is a modification for the summary activity, and here is an example of the activity without modification.

You can keep up with the Iditarod Trail Committee now on Facebook. Here’s the address—

http://www.facebook.com/pages/Iditarod-Trail-Committee/112545578798091

Remember to visit the For Teachers section of www.iditarod.com for messages posted by Diane Johnson of the Iditarod Education Department.

Mushing on,

Martha

More Lessons & Ideas to Fill Your Sled!

August is upon us, and we teachers know the clock is ticking towards that first day of school. In July, I posted clip art to help you with bulletin boards, room decorations, and more. You got a great start with reading Big-Enough Anna by Pam Flowers, too. The lessons this month will show you how to apply an article in almost any subject and how to take a seemingly unrelated lesson and use it in your subject area. The first lesson, Using The Story of the Iditarod Trail Sled Dog Race, takes an article from The Learning Works, Inc. and shows you how to use it not only for reading and language arts, but for subjects such as science and history, and that it can be used with all ages, including adults. I use the article to introduce the race and its history to my classes each year, and I share it with adults and staff as a quick way to familiarize them with the race. Here are two sets of questions to use with the article, too. One focuses on reading for detail, and the other set is multiple choice informational text questions.

The second lesson is a physical education lesson plan by Terrie Hanke, the Wells Fargo 2006 Iditarod Teacher on the Trail™, and shows how I adapted it for my English/language arts classes several years ago. This scavenger hunt got us running around outdoors, but it also taught cooperation and problem solving. We put the checkpoint names on the cards under the cones for student teams to find. When we finished the physical education part of the lesson, students wrote a summary of the activity’s procedures and an evaluation of the successes and challenges of the activity. The writing portion of the activity was completed over several days. One modification I made to Terrie’s lesson was to only have one team running the hunt at a time. We played our scavenger, or checkpoint, hunt outdoors on the softball field’s outfield to avoid conflict with PE classes in the gym or on other fields. This hunt is also a good way for students to become familiar with the names of the race’s checkpoints. Younger students can focus on writing directions for playing the activity. Secondary students should write clear, varied sentences with correct mechanics and show insight regarding the activity in their writings.

The photo of Togo was taken at the Iditarod Headquarters in Wasilla, Alaska. He is “stuffed”, having been preserved by a taxidermist. The statue of Balto is also at headquarters. It is identical to the one in New York’s Central Park. Read the article The Story of the Iditarod Trail Sled Dog Race to find out more about these dogs.

Fill your sled this year with your variations on my plans. Let us know what you do and how you do it!

Mushing on,

Martha

Big-Enough Anna

This lesson was written with fifth grade standards, but easily moves up or down grade levels. Students use foldables to analyze the book. The book can be ordered from the author’s web site below.

This book is a biography for children. It’s by Pam Flowers, with Ann Dixon, and it’s about Pam’s 1993 2,500 mile trans-Arctic journey and an unlikely little dog who saved the expedition. Pam is the first woman to travel this trip, a trip which traced the1923-34 route of explorers Knud Rasmussen, Anarulunguaq, and Miteq. Anarulunguaq was a young Inuit woman of Greenland whose job was to drive the dog teams, interpret, cook, mend, sew, and help Rasmussen collect information about the culture and history of Inuit people in Canada and Alaska. In fact, Anna the dog is named for this young woman.

When Pam talked to us at the Iditarod Summer Camp, she told us the story of her journey and of Anna’s adventure. I was enthralled by the challenges Pam and her team faced and dealt with—the trust in each other to keep going where one led, whether it was the musher or the dog, and the determination to finish what they started.

Pam writes books and travels to present at schools. Visit her web site for more information. http://www.pamflowers.com/ Pam also wrote an autobiographical accounting of the trip for older readers and adults titled Alone Across the Arctic.  Still an adventurer, Pam hiked the Appalachian Trail, approximately 5 million steps, with her black lab named Ellie. Look for a new book coming out about Ellie’s adventure.

Mushing on,

Martha