The Use of GoNorth! In My Classroom

by Lead Teacher, John Clay

As and introduction, my name is John Clay and I have been a third/fourth grade teacher for over 20 years.  Polar Husky was introduced to me in 2004 and I have been using it ever since.  If you have had interest in starting a program like this, I strongly recommend that you use the Polar Husky program.  It is set up in a way that you do not need any other resources and you can depend on this program to get you started and keep you going.  It is inclusive, thorough, well thought out, and can immediately be adapted to your curriculum and standards.  You can use the whole program or use the parts you are interested in or serve your needs.  While expansive, it is very easy to use.

Overall, the Polar Husky online learning adventure draws students into real lifetime learning opportunities.  At this age, the hook is the dogs.  The students are attracted with the relationships with the dogs.  Students are eager to read about the culture, tribes, geography, and global issues. State standards are easily met by incorporating this program into your daily routine.  The specifics are more amazing. This adventure becomes integrated throughout the daily activities.

Reading/Writing - provides a challenge for the student to build background knowledge about something they know nothing about.  It is highly motivating and interesting causing the students to want to do more.  It reinforces the skills such as context clues, building vocabulary, compare and contrast, main ideas, cause and effect, generalizations, summarizing, and the pleasure of reading.  It pulls together the daily requirements for effective reading skills.  Writing can be an active part of this program using summarization, writing a biography, comparing and contrasting, interviewing, and getting a connection through live internet chats.  

Social Studies/Science - intertwined throughout this adventure are cultural and scientific discoveries.  From a social studies perspective, geography is a huge highlight along with cultural and historical view along with the current events of the region.  Real life interviews and perspectives of the natives from that region, their cultures, and the global issues affecting that region are brought to student's attention.  You would be amazed at what the students learn about themselves, their community and how it is the same or different from other global communities.  Science is demonstrated through weather, history of the region, geology, fauna, ecology, natural resources, animal life, and many aspects.  The students remain attentive because they are interested and have active participation.

In general, this program provides the opportunity to use a theme-based approach to organize a plan around meeting standards, daily activities, and the need of your students in an innovative way.  Parents will love the approach because it motivates their children and enhances learning.  It has brought media attention, recognition from the city and parent involvement because it goes above and beyond basic classroom expectations.  The fabulous part of this program is that it can be used at all levels and can be integrated with subjects.  As an example, we built a dog sled that enhanced mathematical skills which was motivated by the research that students had completed and brought the initial idea to our attention of building a dog sled.  It eventually involved the whole school through education of dog sledding, and built school camaraderie.  In our case, it touched 900 students. 

So, how do you get started?  Here are some easy steps to take:

  Take it one step at a time, you don't have to do everything at once.
  Begin by getting the students hooked onto the dog yard.  Have your students explore the kennel.
  Have them make their own biographies for each of the dogs working on the writing skills of summarization
  Follow the list and work into the next components such as Polar Husky World, The Puppy Pen, etc.  It is all spelled out for you through the pull downs on the website.
  Continue to incorporate reading/writing skills such as summarizing.

Meet the team through the website pull downs (and a great way to introduce interviewing skills.)

Selective Topical Approach:

  Build background for the adventure using things like A to Z or the logistics tab found on the website.

A to Z is a great place to build vocabulary skills
  The next tabs to tackle are Greenland, Cool Science, Investigate and Climate Chaos.
  Greenland focuses on social studies.
  Cool Science, Investigate, and Climate Chaos deal with science topics.

Deep Dive Approach:

  Look under the support tab and go to curriculum.  Under curriculum, you will find 4 modules that are all encompassing.
  The four modules can be viewed separately or in a book format. 
  Within each of the modules there are several levels and all subject areas are addressed including the standards.

Good Luck! Yip! Yip! And harness the power of Adventure Learning!

John Clay is a PolarHusky Lead Teacher. If you would like to contact John, you can do so by emailing Education Basecamp. Your contact information will be forwarded to John and he would be happy to assist you.