I didn't give up on this blog, I just shifted my focus to the Photo Blog of our Iditarod Experience which you can check out here:
For the last week or so, the EE Musher team has been sweating out a decision that the Trail Committee was going to make early this week. It seems that there has been a lack of snow in Alaska recently and that fact has impacted the upcoming race on so many levels. One is that the mushers were having trouble finding places to prepare for the race and the other is that there suddenly loomed the possibility that due to a lack of snow, the Texas mushers were going to miss the official start in Willow completely. Not only was the Trail Committe considering moving the location from Willow, but they were thinking of delaying the start as well. The EE team is flying out on Monday, March 3, based on what we thought would be the date of the start in Willow - Sunday, March 2. We have been on pins and needles waiting for the decision to be made.
Because most of us follow Jen Reiter, this year's Iditarod teacher on the trail, we received word late last night via her blog Iditarod Teacher on the Trail that the decision was made and we were a go for driving to Willow on Sunday and getting to see the race start on Monday! That had implications for us because we were so excited about being a part of this special event, but it also meant that classroom teachers didn't need to redo the wonderful course maps that they have made with care and hung in their classrooms.
So, it seems that we are, indeed, heading North to Alaska. The moment that we have all worked so hard to prepare for is almost here and I couldn't be more excited!
It is funny how our impending Iditarod experience has opened up unexpected conversations and connections on a pretty regular basis. Here is one example.
I had the privilege of attending the Texas Computer Education Association conference this last week and on the last day that I was there, my friend, Margie Brown, introduced me to Carol Teitelman, the coordinator for distance learning for Region 13. Carol and Margie had been talking about our trip and that lead to a conversation about the video conferencing service that Region 13 offers and that our district has access to. Carol thought that it would be a good option for connecting to classrooms on our campus while we are in Alaska. That was good news in and of itself, but in addition to that it can all be done via an iPad/iPhone app. Carol offered to come to our campus on Monday to show us how to use it.
The even more serendipitous part of this conversation is that Carol had a brother who lived in Alaska for awhile. She visited him often while he was there, so she was a wealth of information about the weather, internet connectivity, the best Hot Spots to take along, etc. However, probably my favorite part of the conversation was her story about racing with a moose. Seems she was taking her niece and nephew to school one day while visiting in Alaska. They happened upon a moose on the side of the road and slowed to look at it at which point the moose decided to try to keep up with them. The car would speed up and the moose would speed up. The car would slow down and the moose would slow down. This went on for about a mile and then the moose just stopped.
So, here's the deal. I am going to find that moose when I get to Alaska and I am going to challenge him to a race. Just watch me!
One of the things that we are doing as a campus in preparation for our Iditarod adventure is to select mushers to follow. Each classroom will select at least one musher using the Keynote presentation that outlines important info on each musher that is posted on the front page of this website. Some classrooms are electing to let students each select their own musher to follow rather than simply selecting one for the entire class.
During the race itself, we will be using a GPS tracker that the Iditarod organization makes available through subscriptions on their website to track our mushers. Click here for more information on those subscriptions.
Check out this blog post about the dropped dog blanket project and please note the number of blankets sent from Texas! The person in charge of the project is one of the finalists for the "Iditarod Teacher on the Trail". The first three pictures are of Jennifer Wolff's students and some of our students are included in the slide shows. Thanks to Laura Wright for making this project happen on our campus!
On September 11, 2013, our wonderful Assistant Principal, Lesley Ryan, was rocked by the news that her then 18 month old son, Rex, had Stage 4 Neuroblastoma cancer. Since that day, Rex and his family have spent most of their days at Dell Children's Hospital where Rex has proven to be a true warrior. He has a huge circle of RexStrong supporters, including the faculty and staff of his mom's campus.
This week, the Ryan family began one of the last legs of this long journey as they traveled to Houston where Rex will receive a stem cell transfusion at the end of the month. Tonight, Lesley sent me this photo of Rex watching the Iditarod Start video. How very cool is it that this little dude that we have all been supporting since September 11 is now supporting us as we embark upon this journey.
Alaska is about to become a part of the RexStrong community!
We mailed our blankets to Alaska today! Check out our Blanket Project Page for details on the background of this project and for some pretty adorable pictures of our students and the blankets that they helped create for the Iditarod Dropped Dogs.
This afternoon, our team gathered in the library in preparation for our faculty meeting tomorrow during which we will roll out the details of our school wide Iditarod adventure to the staff. We are using Nearpod to cover the goals of our project with our peers and to preview all of the resources that we have gathered to share with them. Each classroom teacher will be given QR codes to the most important sites that they will need and a calendar of daily events that they can take part in during the week that we are in Alaska.
It is a pivotal meeting for all of us as it will set the tone for this entire adventure campus wide. Wish us luck!
I was lucky enough to be invited to be part of a 6 woman team of teachers from our campus in Austin, Texas, who will be traveling to Anchorage, Alaska, to participate in the Iditarod 2014 Winter Conference for Educators. The other 5 members of our team are classroom teachers. My inclusion in this group was based on the fact that I am the Educational Technologist on their campus and technology will play a key role in facilitating the communication and collaboration with our campus back in Austin while we are away at the conference.
Deciding what technologies will and won't work in Alaska while we are sitting thousands of miles away in the balmy Texas Winter has been a challenge to say the least. Fortunately, our district has far wiser souls than I who are helping me not only pinpoint potential issues, but find solutions to those issues. Today in our planning session, we brainstormed a myriad of technology options for the trip from Go Cameras for our Dog Sled adventure to posting daily videos on our website to keep our campus apprised of all that we learn during the week we are there.
We spent a lot of time today thinking about our reasons for making this trip. Here is what we came up with.
1. Student engagement. Building curriculum around a topic like the Iditarod is highly engaging for any and all students.
2. Global connections. We often speak of our desire to make classroom connections with other parts of our world, but rarely do we get an opportunity to make that happen on such a grand scale.
3. Cross curricular, TEKS based components. There are a multitude of curriculum resources available. We are accumulating these on this website on the Resources tab.
4. Building community within our campus. We are hoping that uniting behind this project as a campus will strengthen our campus community.
Stay tuned to our blogs for updates on our adventures. Mush on!