Wednesday, August 17, 2016

Fishing in Alaska and the Classroom, part 2

The River in Alaska

This trip to Alaska was amazing! 
The first five days were living and breathing fishing. The pictures you see in this post are on the river. 

Here I am with the first King Salmon that I caught! Let me just say, Wow!!! 

You know when you have hooked one and they only let you keep 4 for per person for your time on the river. So you keep the bigger fish. Most of the fish are between 32 and 42 inches long with some getting as large as 50 inches. They filet them that day and then freeze them. (The only electricity in the camp is for the freezers for storing fish and for the food we ate. Did I say there is no such thing as cell phone connectivity up there. It was nice to be truly disconnected from the outside world.) When you come back you travel with your salmon packed away in coolers that you brought with you!

We slept in tents that had raised platforms with sleeping bags, mosquito netting and sleeping bags. The mosquitoes were bad. The netting worked wonderfully to keep them away from you at night. During the day there was typically a breeze that kept them at bay, as well.

Summer time there is almost no darkness. You have to remind yourself how late it is and go to bed otherwise you might end up not sleeping. The picture above was taken looking out from the tent area at the river at somewhere close to 2am. I didn't use any special filters. This is just me and my iphone.

The river. Check out the mountains in the distance.

Check out the purple flowers growing on an island in the middle of the river. Too beautiful. 

How about the paw print. Look closely you can see that it is a bear track. One of the places we stopped to have shore lunch...yes we ate part of what we caught each day for lunch. There was evidence that bear had been there before us...paw prints and the remains of salmon were quite common. 

The river where we fished was about 4 to 6 hours upstream from the bay where the commercial fishing is taking place. We were in an area where the members of the camp were all of the people that you would hear or run into. Getting away from everyone and everything. In this picture I am holding my first sockeye salmon. They taught us how to use fly fishing gear to catch these fish. Too cool. 

This part of the river is very different from the other area. It is shallow and slow moving (it actually is a different river by name.) This region has successfully been protected from outside intrusion. Most recently a European mining company tried to put a copper mining operation in this area and after several years of court room and legal action, the river has been saved. I am hoping to have some guests on my audio podcast this fall who will talk about this battle to protect the river and the wildlife.

 After so many wonderful days of fishing and getting to spend time with my family members the planes came back to get us...waaaaaaaaa. I sure did have fun! Now it was time to go in to civilization briefly before discovering more about Alaska from whales to fishing for halibut, eagle watching, encountering puffins, flying in helicopters to the top of glaciers to interact with sled dogs and so much more.

The Classroom

So let's talk about using trips like these to create engagement in the classroom.

You can't do it through just showing pictures but that will help.

I don't know about you but many of the students I taught or worked with over the years had never been out of their state nevertheless out of the small community where they lived. Their view of the world was small. 

Alaska? Where is Alaska? We would have to start with an activity there.

What if we did it though through an activity that let them find more information about the region of the country? We could use the information I shared in this post. What activity could you create that would require the students to develop an understanding of words that will be new to them. How about an activity that would help the kids understand location on the globe? Think about the landscape and the wilderness?  What is so different about where they live and what is similar?

How could you make this fun, interesting, and engaging?

Remember that we had to fly by float the way the pilots call them Beavers.

The only way to get people and supplies into the camp is by plane. 

There is no cell phone communication. The camp has a satellite phone for emergencies. Expensive to use so they have to reserve it for real emergencies.

Do you remember that I said that the only electricity was used for feeding us and storing food? Guess what else we didn't have...bathrooms. They created a shower tent that used water collected in barrels from the river and rainfall. They treated these barrels so that the water was safe for human consumption as well. But this also meant that there were no toilets ...we had to use outhouses. By the way the outhouses had a wonderful view of the tundra.

So what ideas are you getting about how you could use this trip or one you have taken to create an engaging activity to introduce some subject within your content?

Does it give you an idea for creating an experiential trip for your students in your subject area?

Here is another possibility for a topic. Have the kids you taught ever fished or eaten fish that didn't come from the grocery store or a fast food restaurant? How does it get to them? What is the difference between wild game fish and farm raised fish? In the salmon industry this is very controversial. Why?

Hopefully, the grey matter is on fire and churning!

I challenge you to help the kids explore the world while helping you grow their understanding of the content area that you teach.