Tag Archives: Microsoft Excel

Idita-Type™ Grade 4


Absolutely awesome performance by both Grade 4 teams today! They listened well during the pre-race briefing, they found their official shared map in their Google My Maps account, Wheels got daily data and passed it on to Mushers, Mushers entered data in the Excel workbook and passed the info on to the Leads who measured trail miles, Swings edited daily position pins, and Team dogs placed pins with pictures and text.

Great job, students!

Idita-Type: All of the excitement of two dog teams in one room

The “second-ever in the history of the world” Iditarod typing race took place today at Eagle Academy Charter School.  Today’s contestants were two teams of 6th graders.

The similarities between the racers’ positions and a real dog team were amazing.

  • The Musher has to keep track of all of the team members, making sure that they are completing their tasks.
  • The Wheel dogs are responsible for getting the team going on each new day’s run.
  • The Team dogs keep track of all of the sights along the trail.
  • The Swing dogs back up and assist the Leader
  • The Lead dogs have to figure out where the trail is and how far the team is getting.
  • The Race Marshal makes sure all of the rules are being followed and verifying official team positions.

The refinements I discussed yesterday made the process much smoother today. I made a new document for the Team Dogs: every one of them had their own Trail Log to keep track of the pins they created on the shared map.

We still had the issue of one person losing the trail map, and it didn’t reappear even with a different browser. Don’t know what to think about that.

Other changes: have the Swing Dogs be in charge of providing pictures and text to each day’s position pin.  Make the text a journal entry of how their team performed.


Iditarod Typing Race: Results of Typing Tests and Team Generation

The 5th and 6th graders have completed their typing tests in preparation for the race next week.  After running the team-generating macros, this is how the teams compare:

Screen shot 2016-03-02 at 12.02.44 AM
Grade 5: Team 1 and Team 2 data and profiles
Screen shot 2016-03-01 at 7.35.07 PM
Grade 6: Team 1 and Team 2 data and profiles

Some of the students were not able to complete fourteen timed typing tests with a minimum 95% accuracy.  This will result in a sharp decline in trail progress toward the end of the race.

After running a macro to  populate the test scores on the Data sheets, it became evident that in both grades, one of the teams would arrive in Nome before the other. However, team progress will also be determined by the efficiency and accuracy with which the teams’ official online maps are completed.

Implementing the Iditarod Typing Race

I am currently using this project on grades 3 through 6. The technology skills required are:

  • logging into an online typing skills website and completing timed tests
  • navigating through a multi-sheet Microsoft Excel workbook and entering data in appropriate places
  • acquiring relevant Checkpoint and Milepost positions from the Excel workbook
  • opening and editing a shared online Google Apps Map
  • using the Ruler tool to pinpoint exact location of each day’s position
  • editing Checkpoints to include relevant pictures and text
  • placing relevant pictures on the online map as the team progresses
  • researching relevant trail, geography, and weather information in order to fill out a shared Google Doc trail log for each day of the race

The activity is divided unto different stages. This article will explain how to get ready for the race by Typing Tests, Team Selection, Team Positions, Position Responsibilities and Seating Assignments, Creation of Official Map and Workbook, Creation of Google Earth files, and Creation of Shared Daily Data files.

Setup: Day One Student Prep

  1. Students will need to have 14 one-minute typing tests; one for each day of the Iditarod.  Timed tests must be completed with at least 95% accuracy to be counted. All of the tests must be completed within a single class period.

Setup: Day Two Pre-Race Teacher and Student Prep

  1. I will pick equal teams based on students’ typing test scores. I will then create matched teams by splitting the two slowest typists, the next two faster typists, etc. The top typist of each team will be designated Musher. The second fastest typist will be Lead Dog. The next two fastest typists will be Swing Dogs, the two slowest will be Wheel Dogs, and the rest will be Team Dogs. The students will give themselves dog names. The team will be named after the musher.
  2. The Race Marshal will prepare and share read-only Daily Data sheets for Wheel Dogs after each day’s position on the official online map has been verified.
  3. The Musher will be responsible for the team’s Excel workbook. The Mushers will add their names and the dog names to the Data sheet.  The Musher will be in position 1, the Lead Dog in position 2, Swing Dogs in 3 and 4, Team Dogs in 5 through 14, and Wheel Dogs in 15 and 16. The Musher will assign seating positions as follows:
    Swing Lead Swing
    Team  Team Team
    Team  Team Team
    Team  Team Team
    Wheel  Musher Wheel
  4. The Lead Dog will be responsible for the official Google Map. The official map will be created in the Lead Dog’s Google Apps account, and shared with editing privileges with the other members on the team . The official map will be shared with the Race Marshal with viewing only privileges. The official map will also be shared with the opponents’ Musher, with viewing only privileges.
  5. The Swing Dogs will assist the Lead Dog in maintaining the accuracy of the Google Map.
  6. The Team Dogs will be responsible for determining the approximate position of the team after each day’s data has been entered. They will work in pairs on the online Google Map and pass that information on to Swing Dogs. The Team Dogs are also responsible for adding pins with embedded pictures and text as the race progresses.
  7. The Wheel Dogs will receive each day’s data in a read-only document from the Race Marshal. The data will be recorded on a hard-copy document and handed to the musher.
  8. The Musher will enter the daily data in the official Microsoft Excel workbook, then record on the hard copy the team’s exact position passed the last checkpoint. The Musher will return the document to the Wheel Dogs, who will pass it forward to the Team Dogs.
  9. When the daily data sheet makes it up to the Swing and Lead Dogs, the Musher will hand-carry it to the Race Marshall once the exact position of the team has been verified on the official online map.
  10. Additional rules and instructions will be discussed on Race Day by the Race Marshal.

A Summary of Team Responsibilities can be found here.

The Idita-Type Microsoft Excel workbook can be found here.

IditaRead: Using the RANDBETWEEN function in MS Excel to practice plotting team positions

Check out the functionality of the MS Excel IditaRead workbooks by using the RANDBETWEEN function on the Data sheet.

RANDBETWEEN allows you to set minimum and maximum integers, so you can see how team positions might play out by generating random numbers.

For example, if your target reading time per day is 45 minutes, consider students reading between 0 and 60 minutes per day.  Your formula would then be =RANDBETWEEN(0,60)

Screen shot 2016-02-25 at 9.24.40 AM

Put this formula in the Day 1 cell on the Data sheet and Fill Down for all your readers.  Check the Trail Position sheet for exact locations of each team and pin them on your Google map.

Screen shot 2016-02-26 at 6.34.51 PM
Exact positioning of team positions on the trail.

Screen shot 2016-02-25 at 9.21.24 AM

Iditarod Reading Project


I was asked to help develop a computer-based Iditarod reading project.  IditaRead™ has been around for many years, but I have not seen an online version showing team progress.

I did find, however, a Google Earth KML file on a Google Earth blog to start as our base map.  I’ve used it to create a Google Earth  map with checkpoints, photos, information, team reading progress, etc.

I’ve also created an online Google Maps Engine project, so I can display student reading progress publicly or with restricted access.

The KMZ file can be downloaded here.  [If you need help creating a Google Map, go to My Maps Help.]

The following articles will give you more detail on how my IditaRead project is set up.

At the moment,  four downloadable workbooks are set up; individual and team workbooks for the Southern Route and the Northern Route.  The Micosoft Excel workbooks contain macros to generate random numbers and also to start a new race.

Both Southern and Northern Route checkpoints are included on the online map. To my knowledge, there does not yet exist a Fairbanks Route KML file.


An outstanding alternative to the Iditarod Reading Race is my new project: the Iditarod Typing Race. The typing component uses students’ words-per-minute rates to compute trail miles. This is a much more involved project using cooperative learning teams and sophisticated educational technology skills. Please click here for more information on this project.

The Microsoft Excel IditaRead workbook: Southern Route
The Microsoft Excel IditaRead workbook: Southern Route