CINCINNATUS FIFTH GRADERS LEARN THROUGH|
AN INTERDISCIPLINARY UNIT OF STUDY
ABOUT THE IDITAROD
On Monday, February 24th the fifth grade embarked on an exciting two week unit of study. The unit style of learning is unique as it encompasses all areas of our learning. (English Language Arts, Social Studies, Mathematics, Science, Health, Physical Education, Computer, Music, and Art) The theme of this unit is: The Iditarod Sled Dog Race. This race is run each year on the first Saturday of March in Alaska. The unit covers: history, geography, people and wildlife of Alaska. It also includes information concerning: weather, climate, aurora borealis, health concerns in the cold and many reading and writing opportunities. The fifth graders read some classic novels, Call of the Wild, by Jack London, Gary Paulsen's books, Woodsong, Dogsong, Puppies and Blue Northers, Julie and the Wolves, Aunt Lulu and many, many more articles and books. The students were immersed in writing journals, storybooks and research. The lessons correlate closely with the New York State Standards and give the students an opportunity to branch away from textbook learning to discover new knowledge offered through other mediums.
There were lessons concerning the canine athletes (dogs) that run this race. The fifth graders discussed types of sled dogs and their working abilities. The students were able to meet three types of these dogs and have hands-on lessons concerning them. These presentations concerning the dogs and actual equipment of this sport were given by: Mr. and Mrs. Robert Crowley and Mrs. Maroney. The students enjoyed seeing the equipment as many are visual learners.
All of the students love the canine athletes. Ms. Dudley was able to hitch a ride on Mr. Crowley's dogsled to end our outdoor activity day. The snow driving down hard at this time and the pretty icy conditions made her a brave and courageous soul to ride the sled!
The students partook in outdoor activities in Physical Education as well. They learned that it took a great deal of cooperation of the canines and some skill for the musher to be able to even advance forward. The mushers that the students follow in the race actually travel over 1,000 miles. A new appreciation was gained for what seemed on videos and in pictures to be a relatively easy sport.
The students were also able to be newscasters and authorities on topics concerning Alaska. This was taped in a newsroom setting and they enjoyed viewing their performance. The computers in the classroom were running constantly in order to give students information concerning positions of their mushers in the race and up-to-date information about their particular topics of interest. Mr. Webb correlated lessons in the computer lab to allow more investigative learning concerning Alaska and dog sled topics.
Our Health teacher, Mrs. Wagner assisted the learning by teaching about the disease diphtheria. (The Iditarod race route follows the route which was once used to relay serum from Nenana to Nome during an outbreak of diphtheria. It was this dramatic run by mushers and their dogs that inspired the annual dogsled race.) She taught about hypothermia and the conditions of weather in Alaska. The students related their knowledge to everyday living here in the Northeast. Overall fitness of the mushers was also discussed and healthy hearts were learned about.
Many students excel in the area of the arts and simply enjoy expressing themselves through this medium. Aurora Borealis pictures were drawn, sled dog mobiles made, storybooks written and illustrated, totem poles similar to the Tlingit Native Americans were made. Some students made actual dog booties, people chow and dog biscuits. In Music class, Ms. Chapman taught the classes, "I Did, I Did, I Did the Iditarod Trail" song by famous Alaskan singer, Hobo Jim.
The classes held a Iditarod Button Contest similar to the real contest which is offered each year to Alaskan children. The button portrays a scene of Alaska and usually has a theme of dog sled racing. This year our first place winner was: Ashlyn and tied for second place: Tyler and Elyshia. The girls won small stuffed husky dogs that were bought from the Iditarod Committee in Alaska.
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Copyright © 2003 artwork and photographs to D. Smith and C. Whitlock