Hustling in Huslia this Fall

 JHS middle school students taking dogs for a walk. Photo by Mickey Kenny.

JHS middle school students taking dogs for a walk. Photo by Mickey Kenny.

A-CHILL has a strong grip in Huslia! The middle school teacher at Jimmy Huntington School (JHS) has been teaching the A-CHILL Alaska Culture-Dog Mushing course to 9 students. With an emphasis on experiential learning, the middle school teacher has reported he and the students are very excited to tackle a variety of outside-the-classroom learning during the 2017-2018 school year. So far, hands-on activities have included fishing for dogs in the nearby river. In the classroom, math and sled dog nutrition lessons have been designed around the outdoor/field experience.

In October, students started In-Kennel classes taught by 3 local Dog Musher Teachers taking turns twice a week with lessons on dog care, including feeding, overall dog health, checking dog houses for straw, jogging with dogs via skijoring belts, and more. Two high school students enrolled in the A-CHILL Veterinary Technology class also joined the weekly In-Kennel classes, who are also naturals at mentoring the younger middle school students.

 JHS middle school students building a dog house with Dog Musher Teacher Floyd Vent, Sr. Photo by Mickey Kenny.

JHS middle school students building a dog house with Dog Musher Teacher Floyd Vent, Sr. Photo by Mickey Kenny.

More hands on activity have included students using carpentry tools to learn to build doghouses. There are plans this semester for students to learn to build sleds from a well-known A Huslia sled builder has recently joined A-CHILL as a Local Culture Expert (LCE). The community is also encouraging volunteer support to students attending In-Kennel classes during the week, and the planning of youth & sled dog related events on weekends all winter. With the snow falling and community support, the middle school teacher is also hoping to start a ski/skijor after-school program. This means more time with dogs and students learning more about healthy living from locals of all ages!

In the classroom, the middle school class has been reading the novel, Dogsong, by Gary Paulsen. They have also started a routine called Lead Dog Leap: Each week students are asked to try to complete a difficult board puzzle. Students select a student winner to become the lead dog of class the following week. Different puzzles challenge different skill sets and eventually all students get cycled into different positions on their class team.

 JHS middle school students "Lead Dog Leap" classroom lesson. Photo by Mickey Kenny.

JHS middle school students "Lead Dog Leap" classroom lesson. Photo by Mickey Kenny.

The middle school teacher is very engaged writing lesson plans challenging students to learn how studying Alaska culture and dog mushing can directly apply to life. Also, there are plans to start soon a student behavior health-related dog mushing video storytelling project and an interest in working in collaboration with an A-CHILL HISTORY PROJECT class. A goal is to teach students storytelling/communication from locals, and also learn to collect media and a variety of computer skills.