May 13th:Today was a big day, graduation.  Took this opportunity of having the community all gathered to present this Virtual Museum.  Students opted for me, the teacher/facilitator to introduce this museum since,  as one student stated, “you motivated us with the idea.”  Toward the end of commencement 5 students and myself gathered around the podium.  I explained the purposes of the museum and that the final result will be published on the Alaska Native Knowledge Network through UAF.  The ANKN and its purpose, to preseve and make available Alaska Native Knowledge, was explained.  The students’ achievement was applauded.  Each student then explained the various sections/exhibits: writings. old writings, photos, and film.  Lastly one student told the audience that they could go view this museum in “Mr. Tubb’s” classroom.  A junior student took the intiative to set up lap top computers in this room so families could come see the work of their student.  It may have been the moment, but the presenting students seemed very proud.

May 5th:Some time has past since the start and finish of the Virtual Museum project.  Finished my portion of it, an Educator Guide.  Returning to Kalskag from presenting this masters project at the University in Fairbanks; I found an afterschool program had sprouted making web pages.  Some of these pages profile elders in the community. Others feature the three schools here.  Even though spring has sprung and the sun is bright and warm, students write fervently for the museum.  Period 5 is just finishing up pieces on what is special about Kalskag.  

This may be the last entry in this educators journal.  The narrative that precedes this message, academic background, and films of the classroom are meant as a guide, inspiration, and examples (of what to do and not to do) for teachers desiring to educate and cultivate leadership through placed based education and technology.  A portion of this projects success will be evident in if, and how well, Virtual Museum continues.  Please check it out and see how it’s doing.

April 12th:  Because of testing in the building (again) had students all morning.  It was productive.  Students came with papers written on their topic of research and typed them.  Took turns getting on the computer and putting their papers into pages.  Students who collected photos wrote introductions and refined captions.  After all my freaking out about getting the info about pictures, turns out all right.  This instance is symbolic of the lesson(s) I’ve learned during this project.  While it is necessary to have a vision of what the end product will look like, don’t let it override students creativity, ways of knowing and doing, and most of all, ownership.  Of all the projects I’ve done with students here, in Kalskag, I can honestly say that this one feels the best.  While there is still a certain amount of teacher nagging involved in getting things done, they do get done, and it seems they get done well.  There has been very little complaining when it comes to doing the work for this museum.  If I were to do it, or a similar project, again, I would create more definitive timelines for when work should be done.  On the flip side, I would focus less on how to accomplish or do the work.  I’ve been reminded that my students have different ways of gathering and processing information.  

April 6th:  A day suffering from the stomach flu while administering a HSQE  (high school graduation qualifying exam) had a silver lining at the end.  While my students continue not to collect information about photos other than general names, which I’ve resolved to just let go of for now, they did collect a wonderful collection.  More, two of the girls came for the digital video camera to film an interview.  Can’t wait for them to begin plugging their images and perspectives into web pages.  Only hurdle, the awesome tech guy has gone and my computer is the only one with the software.  Oh well, we shall over come, it just might take a little longer. 

April 5th: Students were on a mission to collect images, mainly photos, at the Upper TC today.  Gave specific instructions on how to organize scanned photos and about recording information to go with the photos.  Their assignment over this week is to complete the two expository writings an a interview on the topic they chose  for this Virtual museum project.  What I heard from Margaret, who accompanied them, is they didn’t do much.  Tomorrow they are going to Lower TC.  I arranged with the principal for them to have Thursday out side of school to complete interviews and what not.  Wondering if I gave too much, should have made criteria for this “free” day – like having their papers done and typed, which I fear they will not by Friday. Also, that they get information to go with photos.  Oh well, live and learn.  They did come back with some excellent photos from JR’s grandma, Dunia Holmberg.  Guess we’ll see what they come back with tomorrow.

April 2nd:  A Sunday, spent the day, weekend in fact, at the school, hosting a fundraising basketball tournament with my homeroom students.  We had fun – a lot of close games.  Better yet, I spent some time, finally, publishing this site to Podcast and helping a student post his writing on a web page.  On a Sunday.  

March 30th: Showed students how to create a web page using iWeb.   Technical difficulties, as usual, couldn’t get the LCD projector to work, so we just gathered around the computer.  Know that they won’t remember everything that I showed, but they’ll get it when they actually get on and play around.  Still waiting for the tech guy to get back on site.  He’ll put the iWeb software on computers for the students.  The day was productive in that students got their writings posted on a Blog page.  Students printed up flyers to post promoting photo/information collecting at the Tribal Councils.  Students also started announcing these events on the VHF.

March 28th:  Tuesday.  The girls are spent, having just returned from the state basketball games; they took fourth.  We sat and assessed how the project is going.  One student responded “bad”.  I asked what problems there are.  No one really said, but there was a suggestion that those people who don’t want to do the project do something else.  Then I told them the idea of going to the TC’s and the tasks.  JR immediately volunteered.  Nicolette set to creating a flyer.  Nicolai and JR went and called the TC’s.  We outlined the different jobs to be done. and talked about the specific duties of each.  Think I will make up a more formal job description since I won’t be there.  Since Margaret will be there and knows the community and their background well she might be able to assist students in interviews and finding out information. 

March 27th:  Heard about this mural in Tuluksak, a village down river, where a professional photographer came, took pictures and collected old photos by scanning.  Then he created an enormous mural in the new school with the images.  Guess this photographer went house to house.  This got me thinking, maybe we should do some sort of mass collection of images.  Don’t think it is realistic to organize a house-to-house expedition (with a scanner and computer?).  But we could get with the Tribal Councils (Upper and Lower) and see about using their buildings and have a specific time when people could bring their old photos and come for interviews.  The question now, is when.

Racking my brain, I have been having the most difficult time trying to negotiate when my classes could do this mass collection of images at the Tribal Councils.  Our school schedule is so mixed up with state testing and other events.  Mondays are half days and independent work time, so this could be a good time.  But many of the students also have class over the video conferencing during the day.  It wouldn’t be fair to them to pull them out for this project. Then, it all came together.  High school qualifying exams are coming up the first week in April.  Most of the students who have completed these tests are in my Language Arts class.  Talked about it in the staff meeting today and all agreed to my idea of sending these students to the TC’s to collect photos and conduct interviews. 

Because I have to stay at school to administer the state high school graduation qualifying test, Margaret, a Yupik culture teacher, will chaperone the students.  This could work out very well.  Now I just need to get the students geared up for their mission and to promote it. Here is the plan:

1.  Have students call and arrange times for photo collection/interviews with Upper and Lower Tribal Councils.

2.  Students type up and post flyers promoting times.  

3.  Students call individuals to encourage them to come and bring old photos/artifacts.

4.  Students take on specific task/station.  For example one student will work the scanner, while another types up details about the photos (names of people in it, dates, who it came from, etc.).  Others might be recording footage/interviews with Elders.  Another will make sure release forms are explained and signed.

March 22nd: While walking out in the woods I thought about how this project is going.  What could be better?  I’m not fully satisfied with the amount of photos and film collected.  The initial letter to the community didn’t really garner support and involvement from people.   So I think we need a new plan.  Maybe the class should put up flyers at the post offices asking people to call/contact us if they have old photos they are willing to share.

March 16th: Students spent the hour typing up and revising versions of their in-class writings. Told them we would post them on the Internet, but if they rather not to tell me.  No one said anything.   Two students did an interview over the phone in the office.  Students were supposed to have one interview complete by today, few do.  A student took the camera with the new microphone for an interview. 

March 13th: Went over expository writing today – real brief.  Three forms telling or explaining through facts, example or definition.  A writing could have any combination of these, is what we found after the students did a writing.  Most of Period 3 wrote about death, how death is dealt with in Upper and Lower Kalskag.  Period 5 wrote about a variety of topics:  steaming, fishing, and Eskimo ice cream.

March 9th:  Today there were three students in Period 3 since there’s a big basketball game and most everyone is gone.  The two boys took the camera and went to interview JR’s uppa, Fred Holmberg.  The one student left and I started talking about this book we are reading.  It is about the history of the female body in America.  She told me some of the things girls can and cannot do around the time they become a woman.  It was fascinating; I told her she write this stuff down. This gave me the idea that we should write about his stuff in class.

March 8th:  Methods of investigation today.  It went well for a “lecture day”.  Students took notes, got familiar with cameras and were anxious to pick their topic.  Talked about three types of investigation:  

•	Oral - interviews will be done.   Therefore we talked about giving credit, ways of documenting (film, taking notes) and questioning.  

•	Text - encompasses books and the Internet. Didn’t talk too much about this since most research will be done orally and the students just did research papers.

•	Visual – pictures, film and images are important for this project so took the time to explain elements of composition in images and how to get quality film footage.  Impressed the need to get good sound.  Realized that the school lacks a camera microphone, so got Principal approval to purchase one.  

Also talked about scanning old photos, getting as much information as possible, and the need to document.  The students seemed to have sense of the magnitude of this project.  They were excited to choose a topic.  Some chose two.  Most are working in pairs; doing their own set of expository papers. 

After the going over methods of investigation and picking topics students sat in their pairs to make and initial investigation plans.  Their task, to list people to interview and questions to ask.  Completed this by the end of the hour.

March 3rd: Moving forward, finally.  Today we sat in period 3 and looked over surveys collected.  Talked about whether or not this way of assessing the community needs was successful or not.  Most felt not, discussed why.  People “didn’t understand it.” 

I admitted to them that may be the best thing to do was just brainstorm with them, but at least now they have more informed or defined ideas.  Angelina led the class in brainstorming and writing ideas on the chalkboard.  They filled it.  Several of the ideas on the board reflect suggestions on surveys.  

Took remaining class time to pull out the school video/camera equipment and show students how things work.  Immediately students were using the cameras.  We then went on to further define topics (ex: native foods: akutaq, fry bread).  Thursday, the next time we meet, we will continue to define topics and assign their investigation.

Methods of investigation will be shown.

February 28th:  Things have been stalled.  After students wrote their letter they were excited to pass it out at the basketball games that weekend.  One student even suggested getting  up during half time and explaining the survey.  But the idea dissipated with the realization that no one would be heard over the roar of the village without a microphone (which the school lacks).  So they said they would pass them out.  No one did, they were all too busy watching the games.  

Thought when  I returned from a week away from classes and students that the assignment of collecting six surveys would be fulfilled.  I was wrong.  The response and reprimand to the class was a stern lecture about doing this work and how this is community service.  

Realize now that somewhere the process went wrong.  Students were enthused with this project, brimming with ideas.  instead of telling them to look at them selves I told them to look to others.  Perhaps by examining what they know they will be compelled to look deeper and discover more.  What needs to be done is they need to collect their knowledge to present to elders and the community.  Then this community-as-text can form to clarify and fill in the gaps of knowledge.  

What needs to be done is the students need to be surveyed, brainstorm their ideas and then look to the community to decide what is important.  

I stifled them.  There may be no way to go back.  If that is the case then we will go forward.  They will have overcome the most difficult part, collecting initial data.  From there and those ideas they will brainstorm more informed ideas and topics.

February 8th: Today in Period 3 the writing prompt, “What do you think a museum is?”  was given.  Students wrote quietly.  Then we had a class discussion.  Most all students shared a piece of what they wrote.  A museum, according to them:
displays old valuable merchandise
•	tells about history
•	displays old things
•	keeps and takes care of things
•	shows tools and bones
•	teaches
•	We discussed these traits of a museum as a class and defined the purpose of this web museum.  The students determined the purpose of this museum is to research, explore, discover, display, give/share information, and preserve (wisdom of elders, traditions, native foods, land and language). At this point the overall plan/steps to do this project were shared by the teacher:
•	needs assessment
•	topics (individual)
•	research/investigations
•	gather info
•	organize into web page/”exhibit”
•	link all pages to form web museum

Ownership and copyrights of this web site were discussed in relation to the students and tribal councils.  Students expressed a desire to copyright the entire museum as a class.
Immediate objectives for this project were given by the teacher, to create an informative letter to the community explaining the project and performing a “needs assessment” or survey to find out what the community would like to be in a museum and who is willing to help.  Secondly, students were explained that we would have to go through what standards/writing assignments will fit with this project.  They were given a choice of what to do first, they chose to compose the letter.  Students then moved their seats close together, one student acted as a scribe/recorder.  One student drove/led the writing of the letter.  Another contributed by giving suggestions for better word choice.  At one point he went and got the thesaurus.  Teacher gave some guidance of what to include (section for people to list what they want in a museum, and space for people to agree to be interviewed).  The scribe (Angelina) stayed into lunch to type the letter, she was then shown how to email as an attachment to the teacher.

January 27th:  Began talking to Julia today about the Virtual Museum. She responded by telling me that she (as head of the Upper Tribal Council) too was thinking that a museum should be installed in the historic (first ever on the Kuskokwim) old Upper School.  That it could have artifacts and be run by a person.  There might even be computers for people to use.  I asked if she and Margaret (her sister and an aide in the building) might have some time when we could all sit and they could share what they think is important to have in a museum.  Julia then began to tell me that I should “get Willy Pitka…you will have to tell him exactly what you want him to talk about…because he will just go on…about respect…and its stuff the kids have heard over and over”.  She then went on to tell me that Willy Pitka should show how to make snowshoes, because he knows how.  She said to have him make the kind from taro or birch, not the emergency ones from willows.  Julia also told me that Elias (Alexie) is working on learning about old and current hunting spots that people use in the Yupik Culture class she teaches.

January 24th: Told my students today about it (the Virtual Museum project) and they were really excited.  More so than I had anticipated.  I’ve gotten so used to them bemoaning mundane work, not connected to the lives’ they lead.  There’s nothing on TV that looks like them; resembles their day-to-day existence.  I shared the idea of telling about Kalskag: who lives here, what here is.  They were piqued.  Hope they remain so.

Teachers Log: Year 2006