On the Trail of Lewis and Clark in Wisconsin

Field Notes, January 2012
by Jim Rosenberger

Since the bicentennial celebration we all have worried about a loss of interest in Lewis & Clark history, then something happens which shows the magic of the story of the Corps of Discovery is alive and well.

I received an email from Don Peterson at the Lewis and Clark Trial Heritage Foundation headquarters in Great Falls, MT telling me of a Mr. Paul Timm who had inquired about the signs which appear all along the Lewis and Clark Historic Trail. Mr. Timm lives in Friendship, Wisconsin and Don thought I might be interested in contacting him. I did email Mr. Timm and found something truly impressive was taking place in Wisconsin relative to Lewis and Clark.

Paul Timm is a physical education teacher in Grand Marsh, Wisconsin. He and fellow teacher, Ginny Fritz received a grant from Fund for Teachers because Grand Marsh Elementary was a Wisconsin School of Promise/Recognition for two consecutive years. This past summer, with the help of this grant, Paul and Ginny, along with their spouses, traveled the entire Lewis & Clark Trail by motorcycle. They traveled nearly 7,000 miles in 22 days, visiting many of the sites, interpretive centers and museums along their route. Like the Captains, Paul and Ginny had to improvise along the way, especially when they confronted Mother Nature in the form of the flooded Missouri River.

Lolo Pass: An unforgiving wilderness, then and now.

Upon their return Paul and Ginny started on a project to bring cross curricular activities to their students. “We wanted to incorporate physical education with history and science”. To accomplish this they blazed replica of the Lewis and Clark Trail through one of their school forests located just north of Grand Marsh Elementary School. The westbound trail is .75 miles, the Clark return trail is also about .75 miles and the Lewis route is about .8 miles. Signs will be placed along the trail to indicate where you are and what historical significance the location has. Community schools, businesses, teachers and students are working together to have the trail completed by spring.

The trail will be used for history, science and physical education classes. It will be mostly used for hiking, bicycling, snowshoeing, and cross country skiing. The trail will be open to the community and no fees will be charged. Since it is school property, it is considered public land and the hope is that the community will use it as much as the school. Paul and Ginny would like to see Grand Marsh use the trail for a yearly celebration similar to Westfield’s Rendezvous Days.

It is exciting, not only to see this enthusiasm and interest in Lewis and Clark history here in Wisconsin, but also to see the effort being put forth to utilize the story of the Corps of Discovery for the education of our students. Our Chapter has offered any assistance we can give to help accomplish this and Chapter members will be updated as progress is made.

You can read about their motorcycle trip on their blog, “Corp of Discovery, II“.

This article appears in number 41 of “Field Notes”, a newsletter created by the Badger State Chapter of the Lewis and Clark Trail Heritage Foundation, Inc. The publication can be accessed here, in its entirety.

Houston Fellows Appear on HISD Student Achievement Show

2011 Houston Fellows Kristina Long, Terri Marsh and José Torres appeared on HISD School Board President Paula Harris’ television program, “Student Achievement Show”. They shared information about their summer projects, implementation plans, and how other teachers can benefit from a Fund for Teachers fellowship.

Thank you Kristina, Terri and Jose for representing Fund for Teachers!

Oklahoma Fellows Tour German Auto Plants

by Silas Allen
The Stillwater News Press

STILLWATER, Okla. — As a part of a program designed to help teachers bring the world into their classrooms, two automotive instructors at Meridian Technology Center took a trip over the summer to the birthplace of the automobile.

David Shields and Shelly Smith went to Germany recently to tour auto manufacturing facilities there. The trip was funded by a grant from Fund for Teachers, a program designed to enrich K-12 education.

The two instructors toured auto manufacturing facilities in Stuttgart and Munich. During the trip, they toured plants owned by BMW, Porsche, Mercedes-Benz and Audi.

One of the more interesting aspects of the trip, Shields said, was seeing the differences in the attitudes toward cars between Germany and the United States. While the Germans take as much pride in their cars as Americans, their driving habits are different, particularly in urban areas, he said.

When Germans commute into a major city, rather than driving to their place of work, they’ll typically park in a commuter lot on the outskirts of the city and take a train into the city, Shields said.

That style of commuting is possible, Smith said, because light rail systems in major urban areas like Stuttgart and Munich are so comprehensive. Unlike urban areas in middle America like Dallas and Kansas City, urban areas in Germany are designed to allow commuters to get anywhere in the city limits without the use of a car.

“If you knew what train to take, you could get there,” Smith said.

Each of the factories Shields and Smith toured included a museum chronicling the history of the company. Those museums included details on how existing technology came to be, Shields said.

For example, he said, the Mercedes-Benz museum has a display that includes the world’s first automobile, the Benz Patent-Motorwagen. Being in the same room as that kind of history was a great experience, Shields said.

The museum did a good job of explaining how engineers had produced the car simply by trying their options, finding out what didn’t work and learning from their mistakes, he added; one of the exhibits in the museum lists ideas that ultimately failed, but allowed the engineers eventually to build a working product.

“It was just trial and error,” he said.

Smith said he was also impressed with the so-called fit and finish, or alignment, spacing and security of the car’s components. By today’s standards, he said, it might not be impressive, but considering the engineers were working with a brand-new product and using 19th-century technology, the car was remarkably well assembled.

Although they recently returned from the trip, Shields and Smith said they’re already working to incorporate lessons they learned in Germany into their courses. The two took about 1,200 photos during the trip, and they said they hope to be able to use them to show students what the inside of a German auto manufacturing plant looks like.

Another idea they hope to incorporate into their classes is the use of virtual tours. Many German auto factories offer online virtual tours of their facilities, as do several factories in the United States and Japan. Those tours could allow the students to compare an American auto plant — for instance, the Ford F-150 plant in Dearborn, Mich. — with one in Europe to see what methods are different and what are similar.

As important as it is to show students the inner workings of German factories, it’s also important to give them an idea of the culture surrounding the German auto industry, Shields said. To that end, he said, the two instructors won’t simply be giving students an overview of auto factories, but they’ll also be discussing German culture and geography.

From Umbria to Ulaanbaatar

Many thanks to the Association for Supervision and Curriculum Development (ASCD) for featuring Fund for Teachers in their latest edition of Education Update. Read here about three Fellows who shared their “experiences of transformative personal and professional growth achieve through exciting, death-defying, and enlightening adventures” for the article.

“Disability is not inability. Give me a chance to prove it.”

Fund for Teachers Fellows Danielle Merdin and Terri Wellner traveled to Kenya to establish a Virtual Information Project partnership with classes at Nairobi’s Kilimani Public School, an inclusive school for students with disabilities, similar to their school in Boston. Watch their touching documentary here.

Students honor McAuliffe legacy with science fair

Sarah Thomas
The Boston Globe

FRAMINGHAM – A quarter century after high school teacher Christa McAuliffe died on the space shuttle Challenger, a new generation of students honored the teacher’s legacy Thursday evening with a science fair held at her alma mater, Framingham State University.

“More than anything else, Christa was about teaching,” said Mary Liscombe, executive director of the Christa McAuliffe Center for Education and Teaching Excellence, which is based on the campus. “Her story reinforces the message that anyone can live their dreams, and that message endures through teachers who inspire their students to learn.”

Training for the Challenger flight included some lighter moments for Framingham State grad Christa McAuliffe (left), chosen as the first teacher in space, and her backup, Barbara Morgan. (Nasa via Associated Press/File 1986)

The fair, which showcased the work of McAuliffe Regional Charter Public Middle School’s eighth-grade students, was the capstone of the center’s memorial for McAuliffe and the six other crew members who died on Jan. 28, 1986.

Hundreds of people crowded into the McCarthy Center Forum at Framingham State for the evening’s events, which included short speeches by Liscombe and state Senator Karen Spilka.

“This is a bittersweet celebration,” Spilka said. “Christa is an inspiration to us all, and it’s great to see such a packed room. My thanks to all the students that participated. You are our future.”

Grace Corrigan, McAuliffe’s mother, was scheduled to appear, but was unable to attend.

The fair was conceived by Dan Anderson, McAuliffe Regional’s eighth-grade science teacher. Despite his school being named after such a famous crew member of the Challenger, Anderson said that until last year, he didn’t know much about space.

“It wasn’t on our curriculum. We focused on cells and genetics, and that’s where my passion really was,” Anderson said. “I didn’t have as much genuine excitement for space science, and I think my students could tell that.”

Luckily, Anderson had a solution: space camp. With the help of McAuliffe Regional’s director, Kristin Harrison, Anderson applied for a grant from the Fund for Teachers to spend a week at the Space Academy for Educators in Huntsville, Ala.

“Part of the grant was bringing some part of my experience back, and this fair was the way we decided to do it,” Anderson said. “We have learned so much. The students at our school learn experientially, and they have interviewed space scientists from all over the world. I love space now!”

One student, Matthew Yaeger, wore a regulation NASA space suit to present his research on propulsion in space, and said he has wanted to be an astronaut since the second grade.

“It was a great project,” said Yaeger, who collaborated with his friend Jacob Komissar. “We went to Worcester Polytechnic and talked to a lot of scientists. It was kind of cool, because I had all these ideas of how propelling space ships could work, and then I found out NASA had been thinking of the same things.”

Another student, Caroline Boldt, said she didn’t have much of an interest in space before she started her project on Pluto with her friend Shannon Pruyn.

“My favorite subject is biology, but when I grow up I want to do something in the arts,” Boldt said. “Now I think I’ll have to do pictures of space in my art.”

The evening’s events also included archival displays from the Christa McAuliffe collections, and performances at the Challenger Learning Center planetarium.

The students who participated in the fair put themselves in contention for a grand prize trip to space camp in the summer by writing short essays about what the project taught them.

Sarah Thomas can be reached at sarah.m.thomas@gmail.com.

© Copyright 2011 Globe Newspaper Company.

NHS teacher serves dual role as documentary filmmaker

Aaron Wright Gray
The Norman Transcript

NORMAN – Judith Blake haphazardly discovered her passion for film. It started with a membership in a food co-op. She wanted to publicize the benefits of being a member and thought that video might be a good medium.

To gain the skills needed to produce the video, she took classes at Norman Cable, where she learned movie-making basics and discovered her knack for producing films. She continued her education by taking classes at Rose State College.

“So, then, I started producing all over the place,” Blake said.

She began with the community access channel, but soon extended her passion into Norman, filming “The River Crossing 1889-1989,” her first documentary, narrated by James Garner, in honor of the Norman Centennial.

Following this documentary, Blake made several more before deciding she wanted to share her love of film with others through teaching. She got her certificate and began teaching speech, drama and yearbook at Alcott Middle School in 1997.

In 2002, she reached her goal of teaching television production at Norman High School. Blake serves as adviser to the student program “Tiger Den,” as well.

But teaching didn’t hold Blake back from producing her own work. As part of a Hitachi teacher exchange program, Blake created the film “A Mosaic of Japan,” which won a Marshall Gregory Award from the Oklahoma Education Association.

In the summer of 2009, she received a $5,000 grant from Fund for Teachers to travel to Cape Town, South Africa, to film a documentary focusing on four different schools in the city.

Blake said the question she wanted the film to answer was, “What do our high school kids look like compared to Cape Town, South Africa?”

The work is titled “Ubuntu, Sharing Voices from Cape Town, South Africa.” It is currently in the final stages of completion.

Parts of this documentary will be shown at the Cinematic Artists of Norman meeting 6 p.m. Wednesday at Norman High School Fine Arts Building.

During, “An Evening with Judith Blake,” Blake will address the group of local filmmakers and film affiliates about her film career. The first CAN meeting for the public is free.

When it comes to maintaining a balance between teaching and producing her own work, Blake said they go hand-in-hand.

“I think it makes me a better teacher,” Blake said, noting that producing her own work puts her in the shoes of the students. She faces trials, such as learning new equipment, experimenting with various styles and having film plans suddenly change.

Experience, Blake said, translates into the classroom.

“You have to stay a step ahead. And the best way to learn anything is to do it,” she said.

Fund for Teachers Helps Teachers Travel the World

Grantwrangler.com

What will you do this summer? A learning odyssey may be just the journey you need to rejuvenate and energize your teaching. Funds for Teachers, a national, donor-supported grant giver, honors the professionalism of dedicated teachers with a unique fellowship program to help teachers travel the world. They fund life-long learning opportunities for teachers to transform learning for their students.

Design Your Own Journey
Our Fellows use $5,000 individual grants or $10,000 team grants to explore ideas, terrains and cultures on all 7 continents,” said Stephanie Ascherl, Supervisor, External Relations. “Each Fund for Teachers fellowship application is as unique as the teacher who designed it.

Beth Mowry, a 2010 Fellow, pursued her interest in paleontology by joining a dinosaur dig in Wyoming. The staff paleontologist offered to send her home with 150+ million year old dinosaur bones for her students to study. Not only did the fellowship transform Mowry’s classroom, she presented her work at a poster session at the annual meeting of the Society for Vertebrate Paleontology.

“My Fund for Teachers grant changed my life,” Mowry writes. “I’m a do-er and a teacher…I’m networking and currently have a list of at least 20 paleontologists from around the WORLD who are willing to support our kids.”

10 Years of Supporting Teachers
Over the past decade, Funds for Teachers has invested more than $14 million in 4,000 preK-12 educations, creating a rich pool of project ideas. The teacher project online search tool allows you to search by keyword, subject area, year or location to get ideas and connect with local Fellows.

Not only do teachers pursue an individual odyssey, they become part of a larger network. An online forum at Fund for Teachers encourages Fellows to share experiences, curriculum ideas, travel tips and thoughts about fellowships.

Winning Applications
Eligible teachers in 18 program locations around the country apply online to be a fellow for the upcoming summer. (Check for eligibility.) Applicants are asked to describe the object of their odyssey and reflect on how the proposed experience will make a difference for them as teachers, for their students, and for their community.

Applications are judged by a regional selection committee made up of past grant winners, community members, local district or school administrators, and donors. Using a scoring rubric, judges evaluate applications to find the programs that will have the greatest impact on participating teachers, their students, and their communities. (View the scoring rubric.) Fund for Teachers receives about 1,500 applications each year and awards an average of 20% of those applicants.

“Turning away teachers who are actively seeking ways to improve their practice is the most challenging aspect of our work,” said Ascherl. “While we can’t accept applications from every teacher, the projects we are able to fund make an enormous difference in our Fellow’s teaching and in their students learning.”

Resources
Fund for Teachers grant application are due at the end of January for the following summer. Applications for summer 2011 are due Friday, January 28th.

Start your application today: www.fundforteachers.org

o find more summer grants, go to Grant Wrangler Search and select Professional Development in the category drop-down.