Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Buggy One - Revisited

Over the last couple of weeks, a lot of people have been asking me what it was like living aboard Buggy One for a few days. No matter what I tell them about my experiences within Buggy One, words alone cannot convey what it was like.

While poking around on the web yesterday, I discovered a really interesting interactive tour of Buggy One - both inside and outside. A select few people get to experience Buggy One during the fall polar bear migration each year. If you really want to know what it was like to live and work within this confined space for a few days, click on the image below and you'll be directed to a simple tour that will bring the experience to life for you :-)

Thursday, November 24, 2011

When Learning Comes To Life

Although I returned home from my Churchill experience almost a week ago, the adventure continues on a daily basis. I'm stopped several times a day by friends, family, teachers and students to share stories about my short stay along the shores of Hudson Bay.

Every time I tell a story about being aboard Buggy One, sleeping on Tundra Buggy Lodge or gazing into the eye of a polar bear, it takes me right back there. I've visited several classrooms, both physically and virtually to share my learning firsthand. I love these opportunities and am so grateful that several educators have invited me to share ideas and information with their students in this way.

I love the fact that I've been asked to directly share my learning with classrooms within my school division, throughout my city, around my province and across my country. I look forward to connecting with many more teachers and many more students around the world.

But there's one thing that makes me even happier than sharing my learning with teachers and students. It's having students share their learning with me. When I meet and talk to groups of students who have been inspired to take action on behalf of the polar bear, I think about those polar bears who I met face to face and think about how happy they would be...

That's what 'Chilling with Nanuq' will become in the days, weeks and months ahead. A space where I can share success stories from teachers and students just like you who learning about how we can help sustain our existing polar bear populations.

I love the messages that Ms. Thio's Grade 3/4 class in Winnipeg, Manitoba wrote to speak up for the polar bears - thanks for sharing :-)

Friday, November 18, 2011

Save Our Home

The experiences I've had this past week in Churchill have been unbelievable. All of the many people that I've worked so closely with are amazing individuals and every single one of them has left a deep impression on me.

I plan to continue to use Chilling With Nanuq as a means of sharing my stories. But I really want to use this space to help share your stories...

How are you and your students demonstrating your learning about polar bears and the impact of global climate change on their existence? I really love the way Mrs. McKiel's Grade 1/2 Class in Winnipeg, Manitoba decorated their classroom bulletin board this week - thanks for sharing :-)

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Rocking Buggy One

My official 'work' up here in Churchill ended today with the final 2011 Tundra Connections webcast that was powered by Edmodo. Facilitating webcasts with an audience of this magnitude has been a completely new experience for me. The feedback that I've gotten from friends & colleagues was been overwhelmingly positive, so I guess I did alright in this capacity.

In thinking about the scope and magnitude of what we've been doing aboard Buggy One this week, I'm amazed by the reach of the Tundra Connections program. While the audiences this week haven't been record-setting for Polar Bears International, they have been by far the biggest audiences for the Tundra Connections program this year.

The ability that technology affords us to connect and collaborate with different people in different places is really exemplified by this experience. We're in one of the harshest, most isolated environments the world has to offer, and the technology aboard Buggy One gives us opportunities that could not have existed a mere decade ago.

Hundreds of classrooms connected to our webcasts each day. In all likelihood, each of these three webcasts were viewed live by approximately 10,000 students from around the world. Not only did these classrooms connect with us, they also connected with each other through the Edmodo PBI Community by asking questions and sharing their experiences with other participants. And the best part is that these webcasts have all been archived, so that they can be continue to support learning in classrooms around the globe.

It's hard to know what's happening on the other end of the camera when you're streaming content out over the web. But what really hit home for me was some of the immediate feedback from teachers that were watching these webcasts and sharing the learning that was taking place within their own classrooms in real-time. Like Leslie Dent-Scarcello, who teaches a Grade 5 class in Bird's Hill, Manitoba. Within minutes of today's 'Polar Detectives' webcast wrapping up, Leslie shared this example of the authentic learning that was taking place in her classroom during the 'Polar Detectives' webcast - AWESOME!

Thanks, Brooke, for sharing your work with us :-)

You can find archives of all three webcasts from this week on the 'Video' page of this blog. And just because my adventure in Churchill is almost over, doesn't mean this blog has to come to an end. I still have so many more photos to share, stories to tell & messages to convey from my week spent rocking Buggy One along with all the other panelists.

If you've been following along with my big adventure this week, how has this experience translated into deeper learning for you and your students?

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

If Polar Bears Could Talk

As I sat down this morning in Tundra Buggy Lodge over a bowl of oatmeal, I looked out the window and saw a polar bear casually strolling toward the window. She looked at me and I looked at her and the moment our eyes met, I felt as though she was pleading with me to help her. If polar bears could talk, what would they say?

But then I got distracted by movement over her shoulder and I saw another polar bear ambling along in the snow. Then another bear, and another. Within five minutes I counted seven polar bears! Not a bad way to enjoy a bowl of outmeal. I could have sat watching the bears from the comfort of Tundra Buggy Lodge all day, if it weren't for the five connections with the outside world that Buggy One was committed to delivering throughout the day :-)

I sat on a panel that conducted a video conference with a school in North Carolina and had a great time fielding questions from a large group of Grade 3/4 students. My favourite question was "Have you seen any tracks from the 'abdominal snowman'?". Just for the record, no, we have not...

Today's Tundra Connections webcast was focused on "Nanuq: The Great White Bear" and it was great. The many questions that were submitted by teachers and students made for a rich conversation and it was very comforting for me, as the facilitator, to see several familiar names and faces (okay, profile pics...) dropping questions within the Edmodo PBI Community.

I got to sit back and watch the two afternoon webcasts - one with University of Chapel Hill and a webcast on marine biology that attracted over 100 participants and covered some critical issues related to global climate change. There sure is a lot less pressure when you're off camera for these conversations!

Before heading back to Tundra Buggy Lodge at dusk (4:00pm), Buggy One had to connect with The Weather Channel for an interview spot. Kassie Siegel (Centre for Biological Diversity) went on camera to talk about the impact climate change is having on the polar bear population in this region. Cool to see these kinds of things play out before your eyes. There are so many steps that we can all take to educate the general public about the dire reality our planet is currently facing. Loved the parting words from The Weather Channel - "I hope the lake freezes soon" ;-)

With all the activity aboard Buggy One today, we sure didn't have much time for bear watching, so I'll share a few more pics from yesterday.

So, if polar bears could talk, what would they say? Think about it.
But we all know that polar bears can't talk, so we need to speak and act on their behalf.
What will you do or say to help the polar bears?

Monday, November 14, 2011

Inside & Outside Buggy One

What an incredible day aboard Buggy One! We hosted a video conference with about 100 students from York University (Toronto) and the first Polar Bears International Tundra Connections webcast that was 'powered by Edmodo' which saw participation from over 600 classrooms around the world.

When you consider the fact that each one of these 600 'connections' had an average of 20 viewers, we likely had over 10,ooo participants in today's webcast - wow!!! I just hope that most of the teachers and students who participated in this webcast left feeling inspired to do something about reducing their carbon footprint and protect this amazing ecosystem :-)

Prior to the connections we made around the world today, we had some amazing bear viewing right outside the windows of Buggy One. Here are just a few of the photos that I captured this morning... enjoy :-)

The Terrific Tundra

Just to give you a better sense of where we are, check out the image below. If you click on this image, you'll link to a Google Map showing our current location. After exploring our surroundings, you may want to find your way from where we are to where you are :-)