Hello all and welcome back –
It is that time of year when we plan, plan, plan, but often lose sight of the real first step, which is imagining the goal. A favorite quote of mine is by Albert Einstein – “Imagination is more important than knowledge.” If you cannot imagine something, you cannot accomplish it. If a rookie musher expects to cross the finish line in Nome, he has to first imagine himself finishing. Oddly, this means that he needs to plan backwards. So too, with your students, if you want them to be reading at a particular level by the end of the year you will need to plan backwards, scaffolding experiences for them along the way by feeding their interests, sort of like sending out drop bags to the trail. You need to anticipate what you will need to get there. This is where I come in. I will be offering you ideas and plans that will build on their skills by involving their curiosity and imaginations.
So, I guess this is the perfect time for me to get into your schedule. Here is my plan – log onto my blog on the 20th of each month starting August 20 and I will have a menu of opportunities to include the Iditarod into your lessons. You know that building on a common theme is crucial for keeping skills in context so I will have a minimum of three different lesson ideas revolving around the Iditarod. Many of my lessons could be used in a number of different contexts, but a clear focus on the Iditarod will build a knowledge base and context that will allow your students to truly deepen the skills and understanding they will experience as we approach race time. So, as always, build your contexts before starting a lesson with video clips from the Insider or fun stories from our trail reporters from last year like Zuma. Your students will think they are getting a treat. These resources are all available at Iditarod.com in the teacher’s section. Ready-made introductions, it couldn’t be easier or quicker.
My favorite successes with Iditarod inspired education have been with my at-risk kids and character education, so I will start there. It may even be something we can all learn from since we are all lifetime learners. Teacher on the Trail sponsor, Target®, emphasizes and supports literacy. In support of their efforts, I’ll share monthly reading activities. Education sponsor Exxon-Mobil supports many science and math teacher academies so I will be sure to include a science/math inspired lesson. I will try to vary the targeted grade level through the year, but also offer some ideas for adjusting the delivery up or down as you may need.
I picked up a great idea from someone this summer for my career exploration class. Take the map of the Iditarod Trail with checkpoints and have a sub goal to be accomplished at each checkpoint. That, in itself, is a tremendous life skill. My planning challenge for this one is to identify what those sub goals will be, what I will need at each checkpoint. Planning backwards will keep my class and me on track. I will let you know how it goes.
SO – log in on August 20 for some lessons to get you started. I will probably be visiting with you between now and then so bookmark me and visit often.
Staying on the trail,