The Patch!

Each year the Teacher on the Trail™ gets to create their own patch and mine has finally come in!  My patch was designed by my 4th grade student, Libby McMahon.  Libby’s design was one of 35 submitted, and it was selected as the winner by the 3rd-8th graders at Saint Andrew.

Libby’s design included three important things—an Alaskan husky, the Chicago flag, and a little red heart.  The Alaskan husky represents the Iditarod and all the wonderful dogs of the race.  I am looking forward to being out on the trail and seeing the dogs joyfully make their way to Nome. fullsizerender-1

The Chicago flag represents the pride I have for my city.  As a born and raised Chicagoan, the flag reminds me of my family and my city upbringing.  The Chicago flag is one of pride for Chicagoans and can be seen everywhere throughout the city!  The four red stars represent large events that happened in Chicago: the great Chicago fire, World’s Columbian Exposition (1893), Century of Progress International Exposition (1933), and Fort Dearborn.  The three white stripes represent the different sections of the city and the two blue stripes represent Lake Michigan and the north and south branch of the Chicago River.

And lastly, the little red heart with SG in it.  This heart is for my friend Susan Gardner.  Sweet Susan was one of my roommates at the 2015 Iditarod Teacher Summer Camp, and she passed away suddenly this past summer.  Susan loved the Iditarod and loved getting her students excited about the race.  Susan always wanted to see the Iditarod in person, so it is my honor to take her memory with me down the trail.

Patches can be seen all over the Iditarod—from jackets to sled bags, they are all around.  A simple activity your students can do is create a patch that represents themselves.  Students can write a description of their patch, or practice their public speaking skills and discuss their patch with classmates.  I have included a template below for your students to use.

Create Your Own Patch

Below are pictures of Susan’s 2015 trip to Alaska, and the designer of my patch, Libby McMahon.

Other Iditarod Teacher News:

I am Skyping with classrooms across the country!  I have enjoyed taking my students on virtual field trips over the years, so I’m excited to work with you and your students to bring the Iditarod to life in your classroom.  To find more information and sign up for a time click here– I’ve added a few new dates and times!  I will also be continuing the Iditarod Classroom Club.  To join in the fun, click here: Iditarod Classroom Club.

Join us in Chicago for a conference on  January 21!  Speakers include Iditarod finisher Charley Bejna (via Skype), local musher Pat Moon, and 2017 Iditarod Teacher on the Trail (along with a few other Teacher on the Trail alumni).  Click here for more information.

You can also join us in ALASKA!  The 2017 Winter Conference will be held February 28-March 3 in Anchorage, AK with the theme of “Making Sense of Problems and Persevering Through Them”.  Don’t miss the opportunity to learn from strong educators, and from the mushers themselves.  For more information on this conference click here.

Woodsong

woodsong-unit-page-002Severe weather, sleep deprivation, and animal encounters are just a few of the challenges of participating in the Iditarod.  In Gary Paulsen’s Woodsong, he recounts his adventures in completing the Last Great Race on Earth!

This book of memoirs is great for upper elementary and middle school students.  It gives students the opportunity to experience the race through the lens of a rookie musher which will keep them guessing what Paulsen will do next!

I have created a novel study for Woodsong, in which students complete comprehension questions, along with working on vocabulary words.  The comprehension questions include sequencing, analyzing quotes, text-to-self connections, visualization, and more. The vocabulary section has spots for students to write the sentence from the text, definition, part of speech, connection, and sketch.  Along with the entire novel study, I have also included a word document that includes all of the questions.

Woodsong Novel Study

Woodsong Comprehension Questions Only

Woodsong Lesson Plan

Other Iditarod Teacher News:

I am Skyping with classrooms across the country!  I have enjoyed taking my students on virtual field trips over the years, so I’m excited to work with you and your students to bring the Iditarod to life in your classroom.  To find more information and sign up for a time click here– I’ve added a few new dates and times!  I will also be continuing the Iditarod Classroom Club.  To join in the fun, click here: Iditarod Classroom Club.

Join us in Chicago for a conference on  January 21!  Speakers include Iditarod finisher Charley Bejna (via Skype), local musher Pat Moon, and 2017 Iditarod Teacher on the Trail (along with a few other Teacher on the Trail alumni).  Click here for more information.

You can also join us in ALASKA!  The 2017 Winter Conference will be held February 28-March 3 in Anchorage, AK with the theme of “Making Sense of Problems and Persevering Through Them”.  Don’t miss the opportunity to learn from strong educators, and from the mushers themselves.  For more information on this conference click here.

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Join us at the Chicago Iditarod Teacher Conference on January 21!

The Amazing Iditarod Race

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This past Monday was a chilly one in Chicago!  The temperature at the opening of school was -7*, and many schools in the Chicagoland area were closed.  However, the weather made for a perfect setting for my Iditarod math lesson.

This is a fun lesson that can be adapted for any grade.  In the lesson students have been selected to travel across Alaska in the “Amazing Iditarod Race” as math mushers.  In order to move from checkpoint to checkpoint the math mushers must complete math problems, along with a given task that is supposed to warm them up as they travel along the chilly trail.  Tasks include jumping jacks, running in place, and a victory dance once they reach Nome.  This lesson is a lot of fun, as it gets the kids moving while doing math.

I have created two separate documents for teachers tothe-amazing-iditarod-race-division-for-blog-page-004 use.  The first one is for 4th or 5th grade teachers who are teaching long division.  This is the topic my students were working on, and I have attached the PDF we used below.  The second document is a Word Document which is a template of the handout.  Teachers can then fill in the math topic they are working on, so it can be adapted to any grade and topic.

The Amazing Iditarod Race: Long Division

The Amazing Iditarod Race Template: Word Document

The Amazing Iditarod Race Lesson Plan

Other Iditarod Teacher News:

I am Skyping with classrooms across the country!  I have enjoyed taking my students on virtual field trips over the years, so I’m excited to work with you and your students to bring the Iditarod to life in your classroom.  To find more information and sign up for a time click here– I’ve added a few new dates and times!  I will also be continuing the Iditarod Classroom Club.  To join in the fun, click here: Iditarod Classroom Club.

Join us in Chicago for a conference on  January 21!  Speakers include Iditarod finisher Charley Bejna (via Skype), local musher Pat Moon, and 2017 Iditarod Teacher on the Trail (along with a few other Teachers on the Trail).  Click here for more information.

You can also join us in ALASKA!  The 2017 Winter Conference will be held February 28-March 3 in Anchorage, AK with the theme of “Making Sense of Problems and Persevering Through Them”.  Don’t miss the opportunity to learn from strong educators, and from the mushers themselves.  For more information on this conference click here.

Musher Music Playlist

Music is enjoyed by so many people across the world.  From rock to pop, and country to classical, music is all around us.  Music can tell a story, convey a feeling, or simply help us relax.

img_3126The music in the Insider videos help us catch the feel of the race, while listening to Hobo Jim gets us pumped for the 1,000 mile race across Alaska.  Music can even be found at Matthew Failor’s 17th Dog kennel.  Failor said that music is a big part of his kennel, and he has speakers all over his dog yard.  Failor and his team enjoy listening to classic rock n’ roll and classic country and his team’s favorite song to jam out to is Space Oddity by David Bowie.

In this lesson your students will create a playlist for the Iditarod.  They will choose music based on its lyrics and/or feeling the music conveys.  They will choose 5 different songs which match up with 5 different checkpoints along the race.  Students will also explain why they chose each song in their playlist.

I began the lesson by pimg_3124laying 8-10 different songs (see the lesson plan for suggestions) and had my students discuss how the song made them felt (i.e. sad, happy, energized, mellow, etc.).  We then discussed how a song can make us feel and how we can use songs to describe how mushers might be feeling out on the Iditarod trail at specific checkpoints.  I had my class look at the southern route map (the route being used this year) to locate the different checkpoints.  I gave them my example playlist which is below.

Willow: Wake Me Up by Avicii
Rohn: Ain’t No Mountain High Enough by Marvin Gaye and Tammi Terrell
Iditarod: Beautiful Day by U2
Unalakleet: Fight Song by Rachel Platten
Nome: Eye of the Tiger by Survivor

This lesson was a bunch of fun, and my students loved picking songs and dancing around the classroom a bit.  When they were finished my students shared their playlists with their table group, and then we put them up in the hallway.  We also shared them with our music teacher who enjoyed reading why each student picked their songs.

Musher Music Handouts

Musher Music Lesson Plan

Other Iditarod Teacher News:

I am Skyping with classrooms across the country!  I have enjoyed taking my students on virtual field trips over the years, so I’m excited to work with you and your students to bring the Iditarod to life in your classroom.  To find more information and sign up for a time click here.  I will also be continuing the Iditarod Classroom Club with Skype which began last year with 2016 Iditarod Teacher on the Trail™ Laura Wright.  To join in the fun, click here: Iditarod Classroom Club.

Join us in Chicago for a conference on  January 21!  Speakers include Iditarod finisher Charley Bejna (via Skype), local musher Pat Moon, and 2017 Iditarod Teacher on the Trail (along with a few other Teachers on the Trail).  Click here for more information.

You can also join us in ALASKA!  The 2017 Winter Conference will be held February 28-March 3 in Anchorage, AK with the theme of “Making Sense of Problems and Persevering Through Them”.  Don’t miss the opportunity to learn from strong educators, and from the mushers themselves.  For more information on this conference click here.

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Winter Conference field trip to Matthew Failor’s kennel in 2016!

Honoring Our Veterans (and the Iditarod Connection)

dsc00796At first thought you may think there is no connection between the Iditarod, a sled dog race in Alaska, and Veterans Day, a day that honors those who have served in our country. However, there quite a few connections.

In this lesson your students will explore how they can use the gifts and talents they have to honor our US veterans this Veterans Day. This lesson was inspired by musher, Rick Casillo who has dedicated his life to helping our war veterans.  Casillo has finished the Iditarod six times, but his kennel has more than just a goal of racing the Iditarod.  His kennel, Battle Dawgs, has the added goal of raising awareness of combat veterans.  The mission of Battle Dawgs is to help combat veterans and empower them through therapeutic and exciting experiences in Alaska’s beautiful landscape using the healing power of sled dogs.

286101_158128761036389_619532534_oCasillo invites veterans up to the kennel to participate in various camps and day trips.  One of the camps is the “Iditarod Camp” in which veterans have the opportunity to help Rick prepare for the race, attend the start of the Iditarod, and fly out to a checkpoint along the race.  Casillo’s wife, Jennifer, is a combat veteran herself and she is still active as a Lieutenant Colonel in the Alaska Air National Guard.

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Two of my students after they completed writing down ways they can honor our veterans

Rick Casillo shares his talent and passion of mushing to help and honor the veterans of our country.  He gives of his time and makes certain that each veteran who visits his kennel feels loved and appreciated.  He helps them heal from the emotional toll of war, and allows them to experience Alaska and Iditarod in a most unique way.

Rick is an outstanding example of how each of us can use our gifts and talents to help and honor our country’s veterans.  Have your students take time to reflect on how they can give back to the veterans of your community.  Can you make them cards?  Share your gift of art? Share your gift of song? Perhaps read them a story you wrote.  How can you make a difference in a veteran’s life?

Veterans Day Reading Handouts

Veterans Day Writing Handouts

Veterans Day and Iditarod Connection Power Point

Veterans Day Iditarod Lesson Plan

Thank you to Rick and all who are involved in Battle Dawgs.  Your dedication to our US veterans is an inspiration to us all.  To learn more about Rick’s efforts, check out the Battle Dawgs website.

When doing this lesson with your students, you can also include information about the founder of the Iditarod, Joe Redington Sr, also being in the military.  Joe, along with many other past mushers, have bravely served our country.  To learn more about Joe Redington Sr., click here.

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Other Iditarod Teacher News:

I am Skyping with classrooms across the country!  I have enjoyed taking my students on virtual field trips over the years, so I’m excited to work with you and your students to bring the Iditarod to life in your classroom.  To find more information and sign up for a time click here.  I will also be continuing the Iditarod Classroom Club with Skype which began last year with 2016 Iditarod Teacher on the Trail™ Laura Wright.  To join in the fun, click here: Iditarod Classroom Club.

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Skyping with the Duluth Teacher Conference on November 5

Join us in Chicago for a conference on  January 21!  Speakers include Iditarod finisher Charley Bejna (via Skype), local musher Pat Moon, and 2017 Iditarod Teacher on the Trail (along with a few other Teachers on the Trail).  Click here for more information.

You can also join us in ALASKA!  The 2017 Winter Conference will be held February 28-March 3 in Anchorage, AK with the theme of “Making Sense of Problems and Persevering Through Them”.  Don’t miss the opportunity to learn from strong educators, and from the mushers themselves.  For more information on this conference click here.

*Photo credits: Battle Dawgs and Rick Casillo