Since I started using Iditarod as a teaching tool in the classroom, I’ve been surprised and amazed by the connections the race has made for me. First, the connections the race makes for my students. The race, the mushers, and the dogs catch the students’ interest and provide real-life examples of the skills the students need to master. Students use the information to make connections to what they are learning and to their own lives, finding similarities and differences in their lives and their surroundings. And, in our school’s very first Idita-Read, the student who turned in the 1,049th book, our Red Lantern winner, adopted musher Phil Morgan to follow during the race, the 2005 Red Lantern winner in the race.
Second, the race connects me to others in unexpected circumstances. In June, I met Gail Somerville, an Anchorage teacher whose class received a quilt from my middle school team via Jane Blaile’s quilt project during Jane’s tenure as the Target® 2008 Iditarod Teacher on the Trail™. There’s one connection.
Believe it or not, I made two connections on a bear viewing trip in Homer, Alaska. Our bear guide, Dave, commented on my Iditarod ball cap on my daypack, so we began talking about the Iditarod and my position as the 2011 Target® Iditarod Teacher on the Trail™. Turns out he handled dogs at the 2006 race start for Tollef Monson. As we talked about this, another trip client began talking about my position and telling all of us what I would be doing this year. I was amazed! Everything he told us was exactly right! He explained that as a college professor in California, he used Target® for his students to study regarding branding of a company. He knew all about the application process, the competition for the finalists, the responsibilities of the teacher, and Target’s® areas of philanthropic support, including education. Here is also a connection to higher education. Iditarod isn’t only for elementary students!
Then, when I returned to North Carolina July 5, I found an email from a teacher who met a colleague of mine in Cancun on vacation. Through this connection, this New Jersey teacher learned about the Target® Iditarod Teacher on the Trail, is now learning about the Iditarod and planning to use it as a teaching tool. She says budget cuts prevented the purchase of some math textbooks, so she is looking for real-life examples and sources for her students. Wonderful!
Make connections for your students, teachers, and the public. Learn to connect the race, learning, and education standards for your classes. Share this site’s address with others, post it on your school web page, and in your classroom. You will find, as I have, that Iditarod Works!