Friday, March 5, 2010

Learning About the Iditarod Sled Dog Race

The Iditarod sled dog race across Alaska starts tomorrow. The Iditarod presents teaching opportunities as it engages some students through adventure and other students through their interest dogs. I've compiled a short list of resources for teaching about the Iditarod.

Image credit: Flickr user

The Official Iditarod website is probably the best place to start looking for teaching resources. The Teacher's Resource page of the Official Iditarod website has 15 lesson plans and activities for classroom use. The Learn About page of the Iditarod website has some good background information about the race including lists of past winners, profiles of past winners, a photo gallery, and a glossary of musher (racer) terminology.

For your students who are interested in learning about the dogs used to pull the sleds over the 1100 mile Iditarod course, the American Kennel Club is a good place to find information about Alaskan Malamutes and Siberian Huskies.

The From Alaska Educational Program has five pre-made units of study about mushing (dog sledding). Each unit has articles, images, and quizzes about mushing. Three of the units also include video and audio clips.

The Discovery Channel offers 26 video clips related to the Iditarod race. The clips cover information about the dogs, the mushers, the sleds, and the history of the race.

In 2009 some folks at the University of Alaska produced a Google Earth tour of the race. You can open that tour by clicking here. The 2009 tour could be used as a model for having your students create a Google Maps or Google Earth tour of this year's race.

The Best Internship on Earth!

The Sierra Club is looking for a summer intern to fill its "best internship on Earth." From what I can gather from the Sierra Club's application page, the primary responsibility of the intern is to
be a video blogger. The intern will go on Sierra Club outreach outings and create videos of the experiences. The chosen intern will receive a stipend of $2500 to live in the San Francisco area for the summer. Additionally, the intern's travel to all outings will be paid for and the intern will receive approximately $2000 worth of outdoor clothing and gear. Applicants must be between the ages of 18 and 25. You can read more about this opportunity here.

Applications for Education
If you work with students who have an interest in the outdoors and are between the ages of 18 and 25, you might want to pass along this opportunity to them. Likewise, if you have an adventurous video production student this opportunity might pique his or her interest.

Math Live - Animated Mathematics Lessons

Math Live is a neat mathematics website developed by Learn Alberta. Math Live presents students with animated stories that teach mathematics lessons. In all there are twenty-three lessons for elementary school and middle school students. The lessons are divided into four categories; Number, Patterns and Relations, Shape and Space, Statistics and Probability. Each animated lesson is accompanied by a mathematics worksheet that students complete either while watching the lesson or after viewing the lesson. Each lesson is divided into sections and students can advance or rewind as needed.

Applications for Education
Math Live attempts to and does a fairly good job of providing students with some real world examples of the uses of mathematics. In addition to the student worksheets, Math Live provides teachers with downloadable teaching guides. For parents who would like to help their children with mathematics, Math Live offers parent guides.

Here are some related items that may be of interest to you:
A Maths Dictionary for Kids
Math Run - A Fun Game for Practicing Math Skills
Carrot Sticks - A Fun Math Game for K-6 Students

Power Typing - Games for Developing Typing Skills

Power Typing hosts a small collection of five typing games that students can use to develop their typing skills. Power Typing also offers typing lessons for Qwerty and Dvorak keyboards. The two games that I found easiest to access are Alphabetic Rain and See Don't.

In Alphabetic Rain letters, numbers, and symbols drop from the top of the screen. Players have to type the letters before the letter hits the bottom. As you progress through the game the letters, numbers, and symbols drop at increasingly faster rate.

In See Don't words appear from a dark background. As the words appear you need to type them in order to make them disappear. The faster you type, the faster the next set of words appears.

Applications for Education
Power Typing's games are easily accessible to most students, even younger elementary school students. These games provide a fun way for students to develop their typing skills. If you are going to use the games in your classroom I recommend directing students to the direct url for each game rather than sending them to the Power Typing homepage. I make that recommendation not because there's anything bad on the homepage but because the format of the homepage could be confusing for younger students.

Here are some related items that may be of interest to you:
Listen and Write - Practice Typing and Hear the News
Touch Typing Practice
Typing Web - Free Typing Lessons

Fake Newspapers and Talking Tomatoes

Fodey is a free service that offers you the ability to create fake newspaper clipping, "talking" tomatoes, "talking" squirrels, and a few other simple animations. I discovered Fodey after seeing Wesley Fryer use the fake newspaper clip generator in one of his blog posts.

Fodey's Newspaper Clipping Generator allows you to create a fake newspaper clipping just by typing or pasting text into a form. Fodey then creates the clipping and provides you with a code to embed the clipping in your blog or other online space.

Fodey's Talking Tomatoes and Talking Squirrels are simple animations to which you add text bubbles. The animation then flashes through a couple of transitions of speech. The amount of text and number of animations are limited. That said, Fodey isn't trying to promote its talking animations as a full-fledged storytelling platform. Check out my talking tomato below.
Create your own Animation

Applications for Education
At first I didn't think much of the Fodey tools, but after some reflection I realized that the fake newspaper clippings and the simple animations could be used in a Glogster project. Students could also download their fake newspaper clippings and use them in slide presentations or as a still shot in a documentary video.

Here are some related items that may be of interest to you:
A Great Glogster Tutorial
The New Glogster Edu is Live

The Scratch Workshop