Back to the Basics with Iditarod Based Learning

There are mysteries in the world, but WHY Iditarod WORKS as a tool to teach students, is no mystery.

Teachers today face the challenges of helping students conquer educational milestones as they prepare students to ‘compete’ and succeed by shading in the dots on standardized tests to prove what students have learned or the skills of a teacher or school district.  The quest for students to be at the top academically is real.  It’s important.

Good teachers know, however, that teaching to the test and remaining only within the confines of a text book, do not bring all children to academic excellence nor does it bring most children beyond short term learning and to the goal of life-long learning.   Good teachers know that an individuals score on a standardized test doesn’t always equate to an accurate picture of the student.   Good teachers know that when planning lessons, they must remember concepts such as Blooms Taxonomy, brain research, multiple intelligences, learning styles, and the ‘latest’ phrases to come from recent in-service and teacher training they’ve attended.  Lessons need to be aligned to standards, be strong in STEM, and be engaging.  Lessons need to be designed so that students excel academically.

But the best teachers also know that they must GET REAL with education.  They must reach deep into their bag of teaching tricks and methods to strengthen the basic skills students need and to inspire students to arrive at the life-long benchmarks of learning.  Iditarod Based Learning™ is one such method that leads students down the trail of success to achieve academic success.

Iditarod Based Learning™ is an approach to instruction that allows students to experience first-hand and in real time, an actual event via the Internet.  While students experience the race, they gain intellectually because the race concepts and themes stimulate reality based learning and life-long learning rather than short term learning.  Students discover that the event – and all of the connecting themes surrounding it are sources for strengthening the skills they need to use and develop for their daily life and their future.
Iditarod Based Learning™ works because:

1.  Teachers are creators of the standards aligned lessons, activities, and projects.  Teachers are the facilitators of the learning process and the students are easily and quickly engaged in the learning.

2.  A multiple intelligence approach (which is essential to learning) triggers and motivates both the learner and the teacher.

3.  Technology is used as both a teaching tool and a learner’s tool.  Technology allows the race to be real-time.

4.  The real life circumstances and events are easy to relate to and perceived as something that even in the learner’s environment, what is learned can be practically applied.   Interests develop.  Desire and a self motivational factor develop automatically.

5.  Students (and the core content, basic skills, motivation, etc. that they need) drive the learning from the race to the learner, crating students WANTING to follow the race and to learn ‘almost by osmosis’ resulting into development of life- long learning.  Often students develop interests in a particular area of the unit and become engaged in the learning, taking on facilitator roles at school as well as at home.  The family very often becomes involved  in the topics.

6. For most, the Iditarod is something ‘far away and distant’ but somehow at the same time, it is in very close proximity to real world, real life, and speaks to each individually in a way that inspires the learner to read more, write more, do more without being asked, and even ‘be’ more culturally, socially, emotionally, and even spiritually.

7.  Iditarod Based Learning™ inspires the learner to think carefully, be more creative, problem solve, dream, set goals, see patterns, make a best attempt, be resourceful, and be a productive community member/citizen.

8.  Iditarod Based Learning™ allows teachers to teach according to their own personal learning and teaching style.  A teacher that is a kinesthetic learner is also a kinesthetic teacher.  When teachers enjoy what they teach and how they teach, do a better job at teaching.

9.  Students (and teachers) have FUN during the activities.

10.  Iditarod Based Learning™ is a purposeful, well planned, organized, and a flexible- ever changing trail of academic learning.  It can be used for a 3 – 4 week period, a semester, or even as a classroom theme or project during the entire school year.

Iditarod Based Learning™ works and results in academic success.

It can’t be denied that Iditarod Based Learning™ creates some future race fans, but using the race in the classroom is more about creating students that are academically successful than anything else.  Using the race empowers students along the spectrum of the learning scale to create scientists, mathematicians, inventors, economists, environmentalists, journalists, mushers, musicians, artists.  .   .  .  The list goes on.

In short, Iditarod Based Learning™ results in successful adults living healthy lives.

Amazingly, Iditarod Based Learning™ intertwines with all content of instruction meaning lessons have been developed for all core content areas, math, science, social studies, reading, writing, and essential areas such as music, art, physical education, and even character education.

Research shows that the best way to perform on a test is not to practice taking a test, but to actually learn the concepts that will be demonstrated within the test, by practicing and experiencing the concepts in a variety of ways.  The best way to do well on a test is to know the material, inside and out.

Teachers who are making a difference in education today have put to practice the best elements of instruction possible; by discovering tools to inspire students to learn in unique ways, using a multiple intelligence approach to learning, challenging students and empowering them in the problem solving, decision making, and discovery process they are guiding students to academic success.  These teachers have challenged the learner to know material from the inside and out.  To accomplish this, they have not just used ‘lecture’ and the text book memorization, but they have chosen methodology that is research based and that has required students to take risks of discovery, exploration, and enrichment.

Iditarod is the Last Great Teaching Race and the core of Iditarod Based Learning™.