So I packed my suitcases for our Iditarod trip, and I had to make some very tough decisions about what to bring with me with limited space in my bags. I don't know what the weather will really be like day to day, so I found myself having to really strategize! It got me thinking about what mushers have to pack in their sleds. They have certain requirements of course, but they can bring a few other things that are personal to them. My students and I talked about the choices they have to make. I mentioned to them that they are not allowed to bring cell phones or devices that that could give away positions of other mushers. They thought that was fascinating! This is a race after all!
We are off! Tomorrow, Sunday, Feb. 23rd, 2014, I fly out with my musher team to Anchorage, and we start our Iditarod adventure!
Friday my students came to school to a new look for our classroom. With the help of my two wonderful homeroom moms and friends, we created a winter iditarod scene for the students. They are my mushers with their own teams to race. Of course we did not leave out Megan in South Africa. She moved a few months ago to be with her family there, and we all miss her, and think of her a lot. Her family is following our blog, so we included her on our musher mountain. The students were so excited, and it helped set the stage for this event for all of us. Enjoy the photos in the slideshow!
The photo above is my front door. Great advice for my substitute Mrs. Douglass!
I made my "mushers" using a free Iditarod looking musher and sled team coloring page. The link is below. I used the wallet sized school photos I happened to have, and they fit perfectly. I put them on popsicle sticks with hot glue and we built our winter scene out of white butcher paper, cotton sheets, polyfil and glitter spray. I cannot say enough good things about spray adhesive from a can. What have I been missing? The beautiful Iditarod poster was custom made for me by Kaylie's mom in my class! Thank you!
This next week our third graders will begin reading the novel Stone Fox by John Reynolds Gardiner. The Teacher on the Trail has some great lessons with this book, and her link is below. I like the introduction to the novel in her lesson where she shows the students various book covers and asks them to "notice" things about them all. They put together many clues about what the book is about. That is a great way to start!
Today we learned about musher characteristics for the Iditarod and what types of mushers run the race. This is an adapted lesson from several sources, including the Teacher on the Trail and a teacher named Paul Miller.
We have just started our fraction unit in math, so this really fit perfectly. This is a three part lesson. Yesterday, we used blue and pink notes with each musher photo to write down where they live and whether or not they are a rookie or a veteran. The qualities were:
gender, experience, and residency. We talked a little about what all these words meant! The Iditarod web site has all the information for each musher, and the students had a fun time researching each person. They already know some of the famous mushers, so they were excited!
Once we found that information, today, we used unifix cubes and color coding to make characteristic "towers" for each musher based on those qualities.
male - blue
female - pink
veteran - black
rookie - white
Alaska resident - yellow
lower 48 state resident - red
foreign resident - green
It was clear to see that male veterans who live in Alaska race the Iditarod more than anyone else! See our groupings below.
Tomorrow we will use a graphing program online to find the fractions of each type of musher in the race, and the probability of who will win. Of course, there are other factors! We talked about weather, passion, practice and whether or not a rookie or veteran dog would make a difference in the outcome. Great analyzing going on!! Check out the bottom of the post for links and more photos!
Our huskies are in!! Each third grade teacher was given a husky stuffed animal for a little racing fun when the Iditarod starts. Each student will choose a musher to follow the day after the musher banquet. When we track our mushers on the trail, whomever is in the lead gets the husky on their desk! The student who chose a musher with the best time at the end gets to keep him! Fun!
I am also thinking of making a red lantern for the student who chose a musher with the longest time to reach Nome.
I love the fact that the race is not over until the last musher comes in. That is such a great lesson for our students!
As a follow up to our wonderful Denali National Park Skype, I have a Smilebox video of some of the wonderful sled dog curriculum they offer. We had a great time learning about sled dogs, their positions, and what qualities make a great sled dog. We even got in formation and tried to run like a team! I wonder if we could make it in the Iditarod??
We had our wonderful Skype with Denali National Park! What a wonderful curriculum they have to introduce students to their dogs and the history of dog sledding in Alaska. I learned so much myself! We had a pre-activity where we learned about dog sled formation, and what it takes to be a lead dog, swing dog, team dog, or wheel dog. I had no idea! The students had wonderful questions and ideas. We had several fun hands-on activities and we really dug deep into the adaptations of a sled dog in Alaska. Check out the link above about Denali with all their resources for the classroom. The Puppy Paws videos are priceless!
We had a great time in math this last week with an adapted lesson from Jen Reiter, the Teacher on the Trail. We are learning about angles and parallel lines, so this lesson was perfect. I changed her lesson a little and came up with a rubric for my students to use to create harnesses using paper strips and a rubric. The students loved it! We really learned so much, and I love bringing art into the classroom!
Here is her original lesson:
Well, I broke down and made the mistake of going into the Sun and Ski shop here in Austin, I wanted a great pair of socks for Alaska, and I found these North Face gloves! My mother had bought a great pair for me already, but these caught my eye. I usually run the other way when I see the words North Face because they are so expensive.....but it was pointed out to me that these are high tech gloves! Cool! I can take pictures and video without taking off my gloves because of the special high tech "finger" built in. This will be totally worth it during the Iditarod and dog sledding!!
So, one of my favorite dogs in the world is Des. He is my mother's westie. He is a mess. We love him for this, but he is a whirling dervish on their 12 acres outside Gruene, Texas. My mother sent me this photo of him today...we imagined that he is dreaming of running in snow in Alaska. He loves snow and the cold, and sadly, does not get enough of it here. It got me thinking about what kinds of dogs run the Iditarod, and what kind of amazing animals they are.
The Iditarod Teacher on the Trail, Jen Reiter, put together a lesson about creating a "fantasy Iditarod dog sled team." I have the link below for her "idita-math" lesson where students study the characteristics of great dogs and mushers, and then create their fantasy team. I don't think Des would make any team, but he is a tough little guy with a big heart!
About Ms. Wright
I have taught 20 years, and 17 of them here at EES! I love Project Based Learning and thematic teaching to help lessons come alive! I love animals and respect nature, and I bring that passion to my students! I am thrilled to be a part of this special project!