Gary Paulsen, an Iditarod finisher, is one of my favorite authors for my 4th grade students. Paulsen’s style of writing is engaging and keeps the readers on their toes. Currently my language arts class is reading Hatchet, a story of a thirteen year old boy who survives a plane crash in the Canadian wilderness. I am always looking for ways to connect Iditarod to what I am teaching, even when the connection might not be obvious.
Hatchet begins with the main character flying in a Cessna 406, a plane similar to those used in the Iditarod Air Force. Therefore, for this lesson my students learned the reading skill of inferences using the Iditarod Air Force (IAF). My students began the lesson by learning what inferencing is and making inferences based on pictures from the IAF. Once we completed making inferences from the pictures, they made inferences based on a short text based around the Iditarod. They read 16 different text cards, and as a class we inferred what was occurring. The text cards can be done as both whole class or small group. Lastly, I had my class complete an inferring handout with both pictures and text as an assessment.
This activity was one of the lessons I presented to teachers at the Midwest Mushing Symposium and Iditarod Teacher Conference last week in Curtis, MI. It was a fantastic weekend of learning and engaging with the dog mushing community in the lower 48. I had the opportunity to chat with many Iditarod mushers including Kristy & Anna Berington, Charley Bejna, and Ed Stielstra. Iditarod rookie mushers Laura Neese and Roger Lee were also in attendance. The conference wrapped up on Sunday at Nature’s Kennel where we had the opportunity to meet the racing teams of Ed and Laura for the upcoming season. We also got to hold 3 week old puppies!
While this conference is in the books for 2016, there are quite a few still coming up. Check out the Iditarod Education Portal for the upcoming conferences including Duluth, Chicago, and Anchorage!