Cranberry Bog – Media Literacy

Right from the start, your students need to know they have walked into an Iditarod classroom. But they may not know much about the Iditarod.  You could, of course, tell them all about it, which would not be a wrong instinct!

Media Literacy Through the Iditarod Web Page (Photo: K. Newmyer)

What if we combined self-directed learning about the Iditarod using the go-to source, the official web site, and develop students’ media literacy skills at the same time? That was the thinking behind the lesson plan for this month, Take Your Students to the “Cranberry Bog!” Digital media, particularly the overwhelming plethora of web sites and social media sites, can be confusing.  Students may not know how to navigate and find sites and information they need to answer their questions. With this lesson, you can do as Blair Braverman shares about in her book, Dogs on the Trail: A Year in the Life and take your students to the official Iditarod web site where they can learn about the Iditarod while practicing media literacy and reading skills. 

As I sat down to write the lesson plan, I felt a bit of anxiety about how much great information there is on the Iditarod web site.  So many links to click, and so many facts to take in! I wonder if that’s how Braverman’s puppies feel when they first come to the cranberry bog and the ground is squishy—and occasionally flips over! I thought, in order to be a good guide to you, and to our students, I needed to go and “play” on the site. I found so much great information and was able to think about the content and about this wonderful race that we love in new ways. You can do this too. Make sure you are a good leader so you can introduce your students to this wonderful world of Iditarod information. First, students will ask questions, and then they explore on their own or use the specific page links included. 

This lesson does not address social media. It helps students evaluate how information is conveyed by various types of media—photos, text, links, font size, graphic features such as sidebars and even ads, audio and video. This lesson works for any grade level or content area because it addresses media literacy skills that all students need to be successful with 21st century learning.

With this lesson, you can post links to specific pages or allow students as much self-direction as you want. I have added components for elementary, middle, and high school grade levels, but of course, do what works for your classroom.  You might even discover areas of the site that will inspire you to do more with the Iditarod in your classroom.

Access the complete Cranberry Bog LP July using this link.  I’d love to hear from you about this activity!  Feel free to email me at