ASTE Interior Region Educators Carry On the Nature, Learning, and Technology Theme

Head ShotBy Tracie Weisz, ASTE Interior Region Board Rep

Regional representatives on the ASTE board are always eager to hear about exciting and innovative ways our members are using technology in education.

Iditarod Area School District, in the Interior Region, has been doing some noteworthy things with their students for the past couple of years. Some of you who attended ASTE 2014 were able to hear the highlights of their adventures in teaching and learning in their presentation given by Assistant Superintendent Bernie Grieve titled, “Making Nature Relevant: Developing and Applying Culturally Responsive Thematic Lessons While Tracking the Academic Value”.

IASD exemplifies the ASTE 2014 theme of “Nature, Learning, and Technology” by applying it district wide through a Thematic Teaching grant they received in 2011.  The grant specified that IASD would “establish a pilot project for the purpose of developing and implementing culturally relevant and theme-based curriculum materials and strategies for students who are enrolled in the district in grades kindergarten through 12.” (from House CS for CS for Senate Bill no. 84(FIN) am H, April 2011).

IASD Curriculum Director Woody Woodgate, sent the following update about recent activities in IASD with the Thematic Teaching grant:

IASD Thematic TeachingIn Early April, 19 IASD students attended a Thematic Teaching camp for high school students to learn about and gain employability skills in Shageluk, AK.  Students divided their days learning about GIS and studying to earn their driver permits.

GIS is a Geographical Information System.  GIS is a tool that has multiple applications in today’s job market.  More information about the GIS class and see the map the student’s created at:

Resources and the school site can be found at

There was a 79% pass rate for students in the driver’s education class.  Successful driver’s ed students will be able to get their driver’s permit, when they go to a larger city with a DOT office.  This opportunity to have driver’s education in our IASD schools that don’t normally offer it, increases employability opportunities for students.

In addition to GIS and driver’s education, students had two days of working with a local traditional expert who discussed indigenous survival and orienteering skills with students.  Students also had a chance to attend a dance sponsored by the district Student Government.

Much thanks goes out to Joyanne Hamilton and the staff at Innoko River School for a wonderful week and great hospitality.  Also, special thanks to our instructors Rudy Hamilton (Shageluk), Katie Kennedy (Alaska Geographic Society) and Ben Eisen (Yuut Elitnaurviat).

Lessons, resources and more information will soon be posted at the IASD Thematic Teaching website:

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