WASHINGTON — Blind mountain climber, adventurer and author Erik Weihenmayer teamed with actor-director Eric Close of the CBS series “Without A Trace” on Tuesday (June 30) to demonstrate how bringing a sense of adventure to the classroom can inspire and engage students to reach their full potential.
Titled “Inspiring the Inner Explorer: Creating a Spirit of Adventure in the Classroom,” the session at the 2009 National Educational Computing Conference at the Walter E. Washington Convention Center here was hosted by the Verizon Foundation.
Weihenmayer, a former teacher, and Close appeared together for the first time in this new initiative, which pairs principles of adventure sports with practical tools like Verizon’s Thinkfinity.org, to help teachers move beyond the textbook when teaching. Weihenmayer put that concept into action by inviting Close and several teachers from the audience to take part in a rope team exercise to demonstrate the importance of teamwork on the mountain and in the classroom.
“I would not have reached any of those summits without the right tools or the right team,” Weihenmayer told the teachers. “In this time, when you as teachers are expected to do more with less, and the mandate for student achievement is greater than ever, I hope you will leverage Thinkfinity.org as one of the tools that can help you reach the summit in your classroom.”
Thinkfinity.org is the Verizon Foundation’s free, comprehensive Web site that contains thousands of educational resources including K-12 lesson plans, online educational activities, videos and other materials to enhance teacher effectiveness and improve student achievement.
In addition to the demonstration, the Verizon Foundation unveiled a new feature on Thinkfinity.org that includes a collection of free educational resources designed to inspire adventure and curiosity in the classroom.
Among the resources included in the Thinkfinity.org adventure feature are:
· Blind Mountain Climber on Summiting Everest — In the fifty years since Sir Edmund Hillary and Tenzig Norgay first saw the view from the top of Mount Everest, thousands have tried to reach that lofty vantage point. In this question-and-answer session with Weihenmayer, the only blind person to ever stand on Everest’s peak, National Geographic offers a first-hand account of the brutal cold, savage winds and crushing fatigue at 29,000 feet (8,840 meters). http://news.nationalgeographic.com/news/2003/07/0730_030730_everest.html
· Blast Off to Learn New Words — This lesson plan from the National Council of Teachers of English and the International Reading Association’s Readwritethink.org, will take students on a virtual trip to the moon to help children become excited about reading and develop new vocabulary skills. For grades K-2. http://www.readwritethink.org/beyondtheclassroom/summer/gradesK_2/NewWords/