Sunday, September 17, 2006

Run, Dean, Run

Life has become 50-50-50. As a marathon runner, I have a natural curiosity when it comes to Dean Karnazes' planned running of 50 marathons in 50 states in 50 consecutive days. As a teacher, it goes a bit farther. Tomorrow, the day of Dean's second marathon, my students will be exploring his site, the site The North Face (the event's major sponsor) has set up and the Runner's World website to gain a better understanding of what exactly is underway.
Friday, I used the USA Track & Field route mapper to show my students what 26.2 miles from our school would look like using the site's Google Maps-based technology. They were hooked.
Then, with no prior knowledge, I had them predict the times for Dean's first 10 marathons.
As he goes, we'll fill in the actual times and work in Excel to create formulas to track the differences. The math teacher on my team is on board to help the students with graphing of the results and tracking trends. It's actual data. It's something real.
Outside of that, Dean's blog will be a big focus. As we uncover information, I'm going to show the students how to post their findings as comments to his blog. Hopefully, this will whet their appetites and usher in the use of blogs in my classroom. My difficulty thus far has been the idea that they would probably not just latch on to blogging. It needs a purpose and I think this will help them see it.
As far as how this connects to writing, it's clear to me. They are doing authentic research, interacting with the world and making informed predictions. I'll be asking them to think about why Dean's doing what he's doing and how that could be compared to their lives. They'll be looking at what this can do to his body and explaining it to others. The hope is for this to build natural intrigue.
In other realms, I missed an opportunity Friday. My daily journal prompt asked my students to identify who was the more successful of two men pictured. The picture on the left was popular rapper Ludacris. The picture on the right was Vice President Cheney. There wasn't one class where at least one person could identify the vice president, though it did take time. Were we farther along, I could have posted the prompt on my blog and had my students use the "Blog This" function of Flock to pull down the pictures and then write their response.
The piece that's missing is the learning of the skills. I'm not only trying to integrate tech. literacy into my classroom, but I'm also charged with paving the way for my students to come in to their own as writers. Some days, I'd settle for capitalizing the word "I".
I've been doing some interesting reading lately, but, as always...
More later.


Anonymous said...

You bring up a very valid point when you mention that you are building Tech Literacy with your students. It is a different skill set than traditional literacy and I think people underestimate the significance of those differences. I've been to one workshop on that topic that helped make me aware of this reality, but only one. Thanks for the reminder!

Anonymous said...

This is a GREAT idea. You are so smart and inspiring! :)