Winter Conference

2016 Winter Conference for Educators – March 1,2, 3,and 4 – Anchorage

Download 2016 Winter Registration Materials at this link.

 *Please note: Scroll down this page and view information you need to know about attending the conference.  We’ve lots of tips for you to help you plan your trip! If you have additional questions, please contact

2016 Winter Conference for Educators!

“*Make Sense of Problems and Persevere in Solving Them”

(*Mathematics Common Core:  Standard #1 – CCSS.Math.Practice.MP1)

Iditarod Educational Learning Projects connect a real event, in real time- to content learning by providing experiential, project based, place based, standards aligned/common core aligned, and 21st century technology rich learning projects that focus on best practices of education and enhance curriculum areas of literacy, science, math, and other content areas. (STEM strong!) These technology based projects put rigor in your curriculum, enhance classroom instruction,  and inspire students to read more, write more, solve more mathematical and scientific problems while involved in technology based and experience enriched lessons. Iditarod Educatonal Learning Projects are standards based, common core aligned, motivational, and a key to academic success.  Join us at the conference to learn more about using Iditarod in the classroom and experience first hand this motivational teaching tool!

Event Location: Anchorage: Downtown HiltonA pre-conference reception will be held February 29 at 7:00 PM at the Downtown Hilton.  

*Special bonus:  The 2016 Iditarod starts on March 5 in Anchorage and Restarts on March 6 in Willow.  Make your plans to stay for those events!  We can provide you information on how you as an attendee of our conference, can sign up to volunteer at the start or the restart of the race.  This provides attendees with an opportunity to be involved in Service Learning projects. Contact for further information.  We suggest if you are flying to Alaska for our conference that you book your itinerary to arrive by 5:00 PM on Monday, February 29 to attend our 7:00 PM pre-conference reception and if at all possible, your departure late Sunday evening, March 6  or on Monday, March 7 to allow time for you to attend the Restart.

Join our Facebook Page to get announcements and meet some of your fellow attendees!

Conference Schedule (tentative, subject to change in order to provide you the best experience.  Please check back often!)


“Make Sense of Problems and Persevere in Solving Them”

Our conference theme, based on mathematics common core standard 1, sets the stage for educators to gain information on helping to meet this and other standards to provide enrichment and rigor to lessons in order to guide students to greater academic success. Students must discover multiple ways to solve problems, be flexible to change gears and try a different method to solve problems, and ‘stick to it’ to solve problems and reach goals.  In a sense, that’s what the Iditarod mushers are doing as they set goals, problem solve, and journey from Anchorage to Nome.  This common thread…  is the environment for success, academically for students….. and for the mushers, so similar!

 Educational Presentations (Light breakfast and lunch are included.) Theme of the Day:  (STEM)

Tuesday, March 1: Educational Presentations (Light breakfast and lunch are included.) Theme of the Day:  (STEM)  Applicable to all grade levels.

  • 7:30 – 8:00:     Registration and light breakfast.  Get on the ‘sled’ with us!
  • 8:00 – 8:15:     Welcome, Announcements, Information on University Credits, — To the Starting Line of the Last Great Teaching Race!  Diane Johnson – Diane Johnson, Director of Education for the Iditarod Trail Sled Dog Race
  • 8:15 –  Meet Katie Mangelsdorf, Author and Historian:  Taking A moment to Look Back in History and be a Myth Buster.
  • Top Ten Facts – Iditarod: PowerPoint Slide Show:  What You Need to Know- 
  • 8:30:  Jen Reiter – Get out your devices! * Bringing Your Classroom Along Virtually – Through the use of Skype. Snapchat, Facebook,  and/or other means of communicating. connect with your classroom while you are in Alaska and during the race.  We are your resource to the successful use of technology tools to enhance this week’s experience for your students and educational community.  Tips and Time!   Jen is the 2014 Iditarod Teacher on the Trail™.  Jen has presented on the National Level and is a member of the Iditarod education team striving to put ‘Rigor’ Iditarod style in classrooms around the nation.
  • 9:00 – 9:10   Diane Johnson * The Iditarod Teacher on the Trail™ Program is designed to provide classroom lessons and race coverage specific to classrooms around the world.  This is the journey of a lifetime for one teacher each year and an educational tool for classrooms around the world.  This session is a introduction to this nationally known program and serves to introduce the finalists for the 2017 Iditarod Teacher on the Trail™.

The next 3 speakers are finalists for 2017 Iditarod Teacher on the Trail™.  Presentations will center on practical use of Iditarod in the classroom as a vehicle of instruction to address STEM and other content areas. Challenged based learning projects add rigor to curriculum and helps students use technology as a tool of discover, communication, and to demonstrate knowledge they gain. The finalists will be selected in January and their names will be place on the schedule at that time.  Each finalist will provide lesson samples and information to the attendees that can energize and revitalize curriculum.  (Appropriate and applicable for Pre K – High School educators.)

  • 9:15 –   10:00:   Finalist Presentation
  • 10:15 – 11:00:   Finalist Presentation
  • 11:15 – 12:00:   Finalist Presentation  
  • 12:00 – 12:45:  Lunch will be provided to our attendees
  • 12:45 – 1:45:    Key Note Speaker:  Linda Fenton, 2013 Iditarod Teacher on the Trail™ is from Wisconsin.  Linda, an elementary school teacher, inspired her entire school to get involved with rigorous Iditarod based lessons which allowed each grade level to focusing on specific content skills.  The teachers developed projects to support their curriculum and follow the race.   Linda’s presentation will have a focus on Social Studies and technology as well as highlight on other curriculum areas.  Linda’s experiences as Iditarod’s Teacher on the Trail™ has inspired other educators to take the challenge of enhancing curriculum and helping students reach their goals.
  • 1:50 – 2:45:     Jen Reiter, 2014 Iditarod Teacher on the Trail™.  
  • 2:45 – 3:15:     Sara Lamont: Iditarod Math: A School Project to Promote Math Success! Sara is an elementary educator from Alaska.  She has been a race volunteer for many years, too. 
  • 3:15 – 3:30:     Break-out sessions led by the 2017 Finalists
  • 3:30:               Depart for Field Trip to Jon Van Zyle’s kennel and art gallery.
  • 3:45- 6:30       A Visit with Jon and Jona Van Zyle.      Field trip to their kennel, home, and art gallery.  This session is mandatory for attendees taking university credit.  Other attendees may opt out of this field trip. 

March 2, Wednesday:  Our transportation leaves from the Hilton at 7:45 AM.  Focus of the Day:  Iditarod 101:  Everything you need to know!

  • AM: Field trip to Iditarod Headquarters:  It’s Vet Check Day at Iditarod Headquarters!  You will catch a glimpse of some of the mushers and teams getting ready to hit the trail.  This is also a chance to checkout the museum and gift shop.
  • Lunch – A delicious meal and beautiful scenery awaits you!
  • PM: Visit to Iditarod Veteran Matt Failor’s kennel and homestead. The 17th Dog Kennel! This is your opportunity to meet an Iditarod musher, visit the kennel, meet the dogs, and get your questions answered about living the life of a musher. 
  • Return time, around 5:00 p.m.  This event is also sold to the general public based on availability. 

March 3, Thursday:  Educational Presentations (Light breakfast (coffee, juice, rolls) and lunch are included.)  Focus of the Day:  Stem, Social Studies, Life Skills – Elementary and Secondary

  • 8:00 – 8:30:  Regrouping and Sharing – Diane
  • 8:30 – 9:30:  Key Note Speaker: Jen Reiter – Trails: Math & Social Studies on the Iditarod Trail.  Jen Reiter, an elementary teacher from Baltimore, MD,  was the 2014 Iditarod Teacher on the Trail™ and has presented  national conferences.  Her rigorous math lessons are featured on Iditarod’s website and are a common core aligned tool to students developing stronger math skills.  Her session  provides insight about Iditarod and how to make the connections from the race to higher level thinking.
  • 9:45 – 11:15 Full STEAM Ahead! Meet educators from the EANES School District, Austin, Texas.   In this something for everyone session you will discover exciting and practical lessons and activities for an entire school! (Science, Technology, Economics, Arts, and Math – school wide rigors lessons and projects.  These educators have spent the last several years working as a team to involved the entire school in real world , technology based, engaging Iditarod based projects.
  • 11:15 – 11:45:  Terrie Hanke, Key Note Speaker:  8 Traits of Iditarod, Sanka W. Dog….   The race provides the perfect environment to challenge students to set goals and strengthen character traits.  If you are looking to create a classroom behavior program or strengthen your school’s program, this session will inspire you and get you thinking about the needs of your own students.
  • (*11:30 – IditaRiders depart with Nancy – Musher Meet and Greet Pizza Lunch)
  • 11: 45:  Hands on Session:  Create your Trait Project – Led by our Iditarod Edu Staff
  • 12:00 – 1:00 Lunch (Provided by our partner, ExxonMobil) and Collaboration Time
  • 1:00 – 1:30  Get Moving Iditarod Style!  We’ll provide you with ideas on how to incorporate movement into your classroom to stimulate brains and gain the energy students need for maximum learning.  IditaWalks, IditaOutside, and IditaMore!  Martha Dobson, Linda Fento,  and additional Iditarod Edu staff.  Martha is a member of the Edu team and the 2010 Iditarod Teacher on the Trail™.
  • 1:30 – 2:00:  Math Focus (Information to be added soon.)
  • 2:00 – 2:30: Meet our Science Guy!  Sid Lucas.  We’ll be web conferencing with Sid, a secondary science teacher in Kiel, Wisconsin.  Sid will provide advice and information on adding more rigor to your science lessons through standards aligned/common core science instruction.  We’ll introduce you to his lessons that are featured on our Education Portal.
  • 2:30 – 3:10 Meet Laura Wright, 2016 Iditarod Teacher on the Trail™ – Laura will be ‘hitting the trail’ and traveling by small plane from checkpoint to checkpoint during the race.  In this session, you’ll learn how to follow the race in real time and view Laura’s journal postings from the trail. 
  • 3:15 – 3:30:  “Checkpoint Summary” Led by Finalists for 2017 Iditarod Teacher on the Trail™

Evening:  Musher Drawing Banquet  (meal included for attendees)

* Musher Drawing Banquet tickets are included in the conference fee for teachers attending the 4 day event.  Teachers attending less than 4 days may purchase banquet tickets for $82. *Tickets will be distributed on Thursday

March 4, Friday:  Location:  Millennium: Iditarod Speaker Event  (Breakfast is on your own.  Transportation to the Lakefront will leave at 8:30 AM. Noon meal is included for attendees who are attending the 4 day conference .)

9:00  – 10:00 – Katie Mangelsdorf, Author and Historian, Champion of the Alaskan Huskies, Joe Redington Sr.  Who was Joe?  What’s the back story behind the Last Great Race on Earth® – Iditarod.

10:15  – 11:15:  Speaker to be announced.

11:30 – 12:00:  Sharing Session.  Attendees, this is your opportunity to share your ideas or ask questions of our Edu. staff.

12:00 – 1:00 Lunch, provided to attendees

1:00 – 2:00:  Dr. Stuart Nelson, Jr., Chief Veterinarian for Iditarod  The Science behind the Sled Dogs.  Why do they run?  What care are they given before, during, and after the race?  This session will provide you with every thing you need to know  and provide you with a trip along the trail  with Dr. Nelson’s slide show.

2:15 – 3:15:  Behind the Scenes of Iditarod:  Find out what’s happening right now behind the scenes of the race as we prepare to stage the 2016 Iditarod.   Speakers Race staff – You will meet a variety of staff who will answer your questions and give you a glance behind the scenes.

3:15- 3:45:  Final wrap up session led by the Finalists for 2017 Iditarod Teacher on the Trail™. 

*Evening meal is on your own!

Tip for Attendees:  Go out on the streets and watch the street department haul in snow and make the starting areas for Saturday.

Full schedule to be published at a later date.  Thanks for your patience as we finalize every detail to maximize your experience.


Quick Facts About Attending the Teacher Conference


1.  If you are not from Alaska, book a flight to Anchorage.  Plan to arrive by 5:00 PM on Monday so you can attend the Pre Conference Social at the Downtown Hilton which begins at 7:00 PM. The Start of the Iditarod will be on Saturday, March 5 and the Restart will be on Sunday, March 6 in Willow.   If your schedule permits, plan to stay in Alaska to attend both of these events for the maximum Iditarod experience.  Contact us if you have questions about your departure or arrival times. (*We will sell shuttle bus tickets at the conference to those wishing to attend the Restart.  ($20)  The shuttle will leave and return to the Hilton.  Time to be announced at a later date.  See below for more information.)

2.  Upon arrival at the airport in Anchorage, take a taxi to the Downtown Hilton. The Hilton does not have free shuttle service.

3.  Attending the Iditarod Musher Drawing Banquet:  Your banquet ticket is included in the 4 day conference fee.  Dress is casual.  The banquet is held at the Dena’ina Civic and Convention Center.  The Hilton  is 0.2 miles from Dena ina Civic Convention Center.   Most attendees walk to the banquet.  Tickets will be handed out on Thursday afternoon of the conference.

4.  Attending the start of the 2016 Iditarod:  The race begins in downtown Anchorage.  This is a short walking distance from our conference hotel.  The starting line is just a few minutes from the hotel.  Plan to get up early and get on the street to meet mushers, handlers, and dogs!

5.  Attending the restart of the race at Willow, Alaska:  A shuttle bus will depart from the Downtown Hilton and take you to the restart and bring you back to the Hilton.  There will be a $20 shuttle bus fee for the shuttle bus.  Since parking in Willow is very limited and traffic is heavy, this is your best and only option for attending the restart of the race.  The $20 fee will be collected at the teacher conference and cannot paid in advance when attendees register.  Plan to ride the shuttle to the Restart of the race.  Times and details of the shuttle bus will be announced at the Teacher Conference.

6.  What to wear:  Dress is casual for all events.  For outdoor events, ‘winter’ dress is necessary:  gloves/mittens, hat that can cover your ears and keep you warm, winter coat, *optional – winter pants/snow pants, winter boots. 

7.  What to bring to Alaska:  In addition to your clothing and personal items, we remind you to bring your camera!  Most teachers also bring their laptop, ipad, or other technology tools they normally use.   Your cell phone will generally work in Alaska, but check with your personal cell phone service prior to going to Alaska.  Internet is available at the Hilton, Race Headquarters – , The Lakefront Anchorage, A Millennium  Hotel, and other places, however if you have a personal Wifi hotspot, you might consider bringing that with you.  There are places we may travel that you’ll find  Internet and/or cell service may be spotty due to the nature of your location and other factors.  Bring your devices!  Plan to use them!

Most attendees conduct Skype calls to their classroom while they are in Alaska.  If doing so, we suggest you work with Jen Reiter, 2014 Iditarod Teacher on the Trail™, our Iditarod Skype in the classroom expert.  She is an expert in using Skype in your local classrooms and in Alaska.  She’s got tips and ideas for you to use Skype and to create/maintain blogs for your classroom to view to and follow you while you are in Alaska.  Contact Jen for details.

8.  Attendees can opt to take up to two credits from the University of Alaska, Anchorage.  Please note, our conference schedule is designed to meet the hours in attendance necessary to be eligible to receive credits.  We therefore must ensure attendees are in sessions a minimum number of hours as required in order for us to provide this option of university credits.  Our days are long, jam packed with options, and designed to provide every attendee with maximum information and attention from our staff regardless of whether they are taking the university credits or not.  Attendees not in attendance for the required 4 days, and wishing to take the UAA credits must attend make up sessions and complete homework assignments in order to obtain the university credits.  Contact for additional information.  Attendees not taking the conference for UAA credit are free to limit sessions they attend or opt out of the Tuesday evening field trip, however those taking the UAA credit, must attend all sessions on Tuesday – Friday.  The additional fee to UAA for University credits is about $100 per credit.  The conference fee for all attendees is the same, with the additional cost for university credits collected at the conference when registration materials are collected.