The 2013 Iditarod Summer Camp for Teachers has been over for almost a week now, and I’ve had a chance to reflect on what a truly wonderful professional and personal experience it was. It is always rewarding to be surrounded by educators who believe the same things you do, but when your entire focus is on something as rich and exciting as using the Iditarod as a teaching tool, the experience is unparalleled.
We had so many opportunities to do amazing things… live and work at the Dream a Dream Kennel, visit the home and studio of official Iditarod artist John Van Zyle and his wife Jona, explore the Native Heritage Center, and attend the Volunteer Picnic and Iditarod Sign-Up. We met with author Katie Mangelsdorf and learned about race founder Joe Redington and his vision for what the race could be. Pam Flowers regaled us with stories from her arctic adventures and gave us a sneak peek into her newest book. We got a different perspective on the race from volunteers Jansen and Stacey Cardy and Sonny Chambers. Mushers Angie Taggart and Vern Halter intrigued us with their tales from the trail. Past Iditarod Teachers on the Trail™ Terrie Hanke and Linda Fenton shared amazing pictures and lesson ideas with us. Anchorage teacher Sara Lamont shared her school’s Iditarod math project and taught us about the different groups of Native Alaskans. In our free time Sara took us on plenty of adventures as she shared “her Alaska” with us… moose sighting tours, glacier hikes, and more!
The teachers collaborated and shared lots of ideas about how they will use the Iditarod as a teaching tool in their classrooms next year. The race will serve as a tool in Math, Science, Reading, Character Development and Social Studies classrooms from kindergarten through high school as a result of the conference. Many students will be learning about the race and its lessons from the first day of school! We all passed our final exam challenge from Vern – making an Iditarod race plan, predicting the outcome of next year’s race, and getting a dog bootied and harnessed! One fun thing we got to do was dig through some archived materials that will be a part of a future online Iditarod museum and create some lesson ideas! Look for those on the Iditarod Education page soon!
I know that many of the teachers are making plans to return for the Winter Conference for Educators where they will have the chance to participate in more sessions and field trips. They will also have the opportunity to attend the Musher’s Banquet where the mushers draw their starting numbers, and then the Ceremonial Start, and then the Restart! If you have never attended one of these Education Department sessions – you definitely need to make plans to hit the trail and join us for one! It will be the highlight of your professional development experiences!