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.
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.
Google Docs allows us to share a file amongst all the members of a team for the purpose of communication and record keeping. Shown above is an example of the Musher’s shared Trail Log. All of the team members have editing privileges, as does the Race Marshal. Interesting possibilities……
I’ve created a multi-page Google Doc that can be viewed here and downloaded as a MS Word file in the Iditarod folder here. It contains a page for every day of the race, a trail map, checkpoint links to Iditarod.com, and bookmarks within the document for easy access to different pages. Each day has a table to be filled out by the members of the team.
Team Members’ Responsibilities
Musher: Starting Milepost, Last Checkpoint, Time on Trail, Average mph, Resting Time, # of Dogs, Dog Health, Musher Health, Sled Condition
Lead: Finishing Milepost distance and pin
Team: Weather, Temperature, Points of Interest
Wheel: Miles Traveled
Pilot: Food Drop, Comments
Position responsible for the information is shown in parentheses:
M = Musher
L = Lead
S = Swing
T = Team
W = Wheel
P = Pilot
NOTE: To compute Resting Time for this race, the Musher will divide the Miles Traveled by an average speed of 5 mph and subtract the quotient from 24.
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.
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.
The Iditarod Typing Race and the Risks of Innovation: What could possibly go wrong?
The first ever in the history of mankind Iditarod Typing Race took place this afternoon at Eagle Academy Charter School in Eagle River, Alaska. Contestants were two teams of 5th grade technology students. After years of skill development and weeks of planning, the race was a tremendous learning experience in the “We Love Technology” department.
The wireless keyboard for the main instructor’s workstation (which displays on the SMART board) runs on battery power. Guess when the battery decided to go kaput.
Files that contained crucial data for each day of the race were shared with each team’s Wheel Dogs via Google Apps. They did not show up when the students logged in to their accounts.
No matter what we tried, one team’s official map also did not show up in one of the Swing Dog’s Google Apps account.
Two students’ official map did not show the Common Trail.
I’ll do some troubleshooting and see if the issues are individual workstations, browsers, or sharing privileges. The battery for the keyboard is easy enough.
A parent volunteer who works as a structural engineer was there to help, so we eventually were able to make some forward progress. He told me afterward that all-digital projects in his line of work are not trusted; hard copies are much more reliable and secure.
The next class to run the race will be the 6th grade tomorrow afternoon. Changes I’m going to make:
Print hard copies pre-race of Daily Data for each team.
Use only one online map for Swing and Lead dogs.
Print hard copy Trail Logs for every Team and Wheel Dog.
Assign specific sections of the trail to each level of the team.
I’m also going to spend more time for pre-race instruction going through a one-day round, showing demonstrating what I expect for every position on the team.
I’m looking forward to a more successful race tomorrow.
If you’ve used the Excel workbook macros to generate teams, forward progress is going to be closely matched throughout the race. At some point, one of the teams is going to win and one is going to come in second. Making it all of the way to Nome in this project is an accomplishment in itself, so the students will need to be prepared ahead of time for the dynamics of a competitive atmosphere in the computer lab. Good sportsmanship opportunities will abound.
For the 2016 race, I’ve pre-plotted the positions for each day’s run. For one of my classes, a team that led most of the race falls short of the finish line by three miles. This happened because one of the particularly good typists failed to complete 14 days of 95% or better one-minute tests. I will be discussing this with the musher during the race and offering a solution.
The aforementioned student will have to leave the team during the race and complete at least one more timed typing test. I’ve included an Additional Mile calculator on the Rate sheet to determine exactly the minimum wpm needed to get the team across the finish line. Nobody fails or quits three miles from the finish.
Setup: Race Marshal uses three terminals: one for Team 1, one for Team 2, and one for the Race Marshal’s predetermined team positions for each day of the race.
All students gather in the instructional area for briefing.
Display seating assignments as per Team Profile sheets.
Review Team Position Roles and display Documents
• Trail Log: Hard-copy to Wheels to Musher and through the Team to Lead
• Excel Workbook: in Musher’s Google Drive
• Official Google Map: Lead’s Google My Maps; editing privileges with whole team.
Explain and demonstrate: Using the Ruler tool in Google Maps to measure exact distance from the last checkpoint. Display and use both teams’ actual numbers to show pins for Day 1. Wheels record data on Trail Log.
Explain and demonstrate: Team members adding pins with text and photos to the shared map.
Explain that once Musher okays Lead’s position on the map, Musher brings Trail Log to Race Marshal for approval.
Explain that Race Marshal compares Team’s Google Map position with Race Marshal’s own map. If they match, Race Marshal will release the data for Day 2, and so on throughout the race.
Race Marshal gives 10 second countdown. Team members disperse to positions and begin. Race Marshal displays timer.
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:
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.
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
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
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.
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.
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:
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.
The Swing Dogs will assist the Lead Dog in maintaining the accuracy of the Google Map.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
The Iditarod Typing Race uses keyboarding words-per-minute instead of time spent reading to determine trail position. It uses all of the same features of the Excel workbook and Google Earth maps as the reading version.
The team aspect of this race works outstandingly well in a computer lab setting, as it allows for head-to-head competition while utilizing the benefits of cooperative learning. Every student in the class has an important, though differentiated, role in the race. All of the students use multiple higher-order cognitive and computer skills to move their team towards the finish. The technology component allows for real-time monitoring and display of team progress.
The students do not need to print or save any files. The teacher can download a csv file from their typing.com teacher account in the Reports section. I use a minimum accuracy criteria of 95% to qualify wpm and delete every score below 95%. The students ideally will have 14 qualifying tests; one for each day of the race.
Check out the following articles for more information: