Category Archives: Innovation

IditaType™ Folders: Organizing and Using Hard-Copy Documents

The Documents Folders

Musher’s Folder

  1. Team Member Positions & Dog Names
  2. Photos of Team Member Masks & Names
  3. Checkpoints Table
  4. Checkpoint Research Assignments
  5. Checkpoint Research
  6. Musher’s Daily Numbers

Trail Log Folder

  1. Checkpoint Table
  2. Daily Trail Log

Daily Numbers Folder

  1. Checkpoint Table
  2. Daily Trail Numbers

How & Why

  1. Catalyzing Teamwork
  2. Organizing Chaos
  3. Minimizing Copy-Paste
  4. Reinforcing Accountability

Determining Winner by Shortest Elapsed Time to Nome

The winner of the real Iditarod Sled Dog Race is the first team to Nome. Since each team leaves the starting line at different times, the staggered start is equalized by corrections elsewhere on the trail.

The IditaType™ Race teams likewise do not start at the same time; they don’t even start on the same day. Additionally, due to holidays and other schedule disruptions, grade levels may not have the same number of class meeting each week.

To equalize the differences, the Race Marshall will log actual time spent working by each team with the Racing Time Google sheet shown above.  In this way, the shortest elapsed time working among all the grade levels will determine the first team to Nome.

Easy Implementation of IditaType™

Your most efficient implementation of this project is for me to provide all the daily trail positions for your typing test data.

The project is scalable, so teachers can start with the basics; the 14 one-minute typing tests through Teachers create an account (free), then add their students to the class.

Teachers establish minimum accuracy standards. Students have to have 14 tests at or above the standard. I use 90% accuracy for my 3rd through 6th grade classes.

Students do all the tests in one class session. Teachers export the results from the Reports page and email the file to me.  I’ll run the data through my macros and build two evenly matched teams, then turn their tests into 14 days of Iditarod trail progress. I’ll return the results as PDF’s and they can take it from there, as much as they are comfortable with. I’ll charge a nominal fee, say a buck per student.

Pre-Race Dog Trading

I allowed two teams to swap one wheel dog after being approached by a student with the request due to a personality conflict with the musher.  It was OK’d by both mushers, but objected to by the other wheel dog.

After crunching the numbers, it turned out that the deal would make the two teams more evenly matched, so by a meeting with all parties involved, I informed the reluctant fellow that he’d been traded.  In the end, he was impressed that his numbers made such a big difference to the new team.

IditaType™ Implementation Overview



  • Rationale
  • Prerequisite Teacher Skills
  • Prerequisite Student Skills

Typing Test Data

  • Online Typing Site
  • Number of Tests
  • Length of Tests
  • Minimum Accuracy

Using Typing Test Data

  • Exporting Data
  • Preparing Data
  • Transposing Data

Creating Matched Teams

  • Microsoft Excel “Teams” Workbook
  • Using Macros to Populate Teams
  • Paste-Linked Data

Determining Rate of Progress on the Trail

  • The Rate Sheet
  • Lowest Number of Words to Nome
  • Setting the Rate

Team Rankings

  • Communicating Test and Team Outcomes to Students
  • Multi-grade Racing
  • Potential Winners
  • Teamwork Wins

Race Preparation

  • Masks and Collars
  • Dog Names
  • Musher Selection
  • Positions and Responsibilities
    • Musher
    • Lead Dog
    • Swing Dogs
    • Team Dogs
    • Wheel Dogs
    • Pilots
  • The Trail Log
  • Pilot Testing and Training
  • The Pilot Map
  • The Pilot Log Book
  • Checkpoint Research
  • Trail Research
  • Weather Research
  • Workstation Assignments
  • The Musher’s Workbook
  • The Trail Time and Resting Time Calculator
  • Practicing Team Location Plotting
  • Practicing Race Day Procedures

Race Day Procedures

  • Masks and Collars
  • Mushing Position
  • Race Marshall Briefing
  • Release of Data
  • Hard Copy Trail Log Completion
  • Return to Mushing Position
  • Race Marshal Verification
  • Release of Online Trail Log
  • Completion of Team Responsibilities
  • Return to Mushing Position for Verification of Online Trail Log and Map
  • Release of Additional Days’ Data as time allows
  • 5 Minute Debriefing at close of each class session


  • Prizes


  • Adding Photos and Videos to the Race Map
  • Comparing IditaType with actual Iditarod race
  • Modifying IditaRead

Online Resources

  • Teacher on the Trail
  • Weather
  • Pilot Resources
  • Online Typing Sites
  • Cooperative Learning
  • The Official Iditarod Photographer


Idita-Type™: WPM, Team Strength, and Winners

The strength of the student teams is based on the average wpm of each member of the team (see Team Profiles).  If this were the only factor in the race, then the outcome would be settled before the race even started. The table and chart below show data from the 2016 keyboarding tests and how that affects trail position relative to the other teams.

Screen shot 2016-03-20 at 3.18.13 PM
How Team WPM Affects Race Rankings

The cooperative teams must complete all of their required tasks before trail advancement is awarded. This enables all teams to have a chance to win based on the efficiency that they complete those tasks.

Idita-Type™: Google Flight Simulator and the Iditarod Air Force

Iditarod Air Force Support

Okay, so if I open up the use of Google Earth to the students, I’m seriously thinking about incorporating the Flight Simulator tool into one of the positions. The role of the Pilot will be to provide air support for the team on the ground. Read about the function and importance of the Iditarod Air Force here.

The student who qualifies for Pilot will have to demonstrate the ability to perform touch-n-go skills at one of the airstrips along the Iditarod trail, such as Nikolai in the image above.

I will have one Pilot sit in the front of the room and deliver supplies at designated airports along the trail. The forward progress must be ahead of the ability of the teams to place each day’s pins and fill out the Trail Log.

The Pilot will be responsible for posting a screenshot of the trail topography on each day’s shared Trail Log in the Food Drop section and maintaining a Flight Log Book.

Screen shot 2016-03-24 at 9.00.50 PM
Piper J3 Cub at Rohn using Google Earth browser plugin

Trail Log

Pilot Log Book

Screen shot 2016-03-15 at 12.12.13 PM
Pilot Log Book

Pilot Log Book Example



Google Earth Airport Layers

If you choose to incorporate Pilots into your teams, you can download a .KMZ layer of the airports and FAA sectionals along the trail here. If you want more detailed information from the FAA, check out these overlays:


Intermediate Skill Level Pilots

Intermediate pilots can use GEFS Online, but browser problems with the CesiumJS version and school district filters will have to be solved. The older Google Earth browser plugin through the old.gefs-online site actually has better terrain resolution for the remote sections of the Iditarod trail, but you’ll still have try different browsers for it to work right.

Screen shot 2016-03-24 at 8.10.04 PM
Old gefs-online detail entering Rainy Pass
Screen shot 2016-03-24 at 8.15.48 PM
New gefs-online entrance to Rainy Pass

Advanced Skill Level Pilots

What would really be nice would be to have X-Plane running for the students who really can fly a plane.  Here in Alaska, that’s not all that uncommon.

Screen shot 2016-03-14 at 3.49.08 PM
X-Plane Piper Super Cub Cockpit

Idita-Type™: Incorporating Google Earth

Depending on the sophistication of your students’ skill, they can incorporate Google Earth 3D topography images into their Google MyMap of the race.  The header of this article is an image of the entrance to Rainy Pass, looking northeast toward Denali with the KMZ file showing the trail. (This is also a great place to show Aliy Zirkle’s You-Tube video of her team entering the Alaska Range.)

To be able to use the image on the map, your students will need a place to upload it on the internet. My sixth-graders have accounts on a Piwigo site that I moderate. They’ve used it for other projects, and it would be fantastic on this one. If you don’t want to set up a Piwigo site, your Team, Wheel, and Swing dogs can upload images directly from Google Earth into your shared Google Doc Trail Log.

Google Earth image incorporated in MyMaps
Google Earth image
Google Earth image uploaded to Team shared Google Doc file

You can also use the Weather layer and Sunlight functions in Google Earth for advanced possibilities of time-of-day calculations for trail position.

Google Earth Weather and Daylight function

Of course, if you allow your students to use Google Earth, somebody is going to start having too much educational fun and be using the flight simulator tool instead of mushing.  Maybe that’s a job for a position that has not been incorporated: Team Support.

Google Earth Flight Simulator entering Rainy Pass