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Children’s Tip by Linda Cowan
Have you ever asked your class a question to check for understanding, only to get blank looks and silence in return? I have … but I have also learned that silence teaches me a great deal about my students. Silence indicates that either I have not been explicit enough in my teaching, or that my students do not feel comfortable or confident enough with their new found skills/information to share in front of their peers.
Now, we teach a sport, which means we should be moving, sliding, gliding and riding … not standing around all day talking … but, there are times when I need to know what my students are thinking. Knowing what they think, and how they perceive the information I am conveying to them helps guide my teaching, and planning for my next steps. But, how can I get them to share when I’m met with silence? My remedy: “Turn and Talk.”
I often choose to ask questions at the bottom of a run after new learning has taken place, to get an indication of their understanding of what I’ve just asked them to do. When we are standing together and I get blank stares, I choose to follow the strategy of “Turn and Talk.” There are a couple of ways to incorporate this strategy. One option is to ask them to pair up, ride the chair together and have a conversation about my question on the ride up, but both partners are asked to be prepared to share their insights when we group up at the top. Another option is to simply have students turn to a neighbor right where we are and talk through their thoughts with another student.
“Turn and Talk” has multiple benefits. First, it gets the students talking about what they are learning. If they are shy, they can listen to their partner talk first, and gain more insight before they share. Second, sharing to one other person is much less threatening and intimidating than to a whole group, especially if no one knows anybody. Third, if I ask everyone to turn and talk as a group, I can listen in on a few comments and get a quick assessment of their understanding without even having to ask anyone to share out back to the group.
I need to know what my students are thinking in order to make responsible decisions but at the same time I do not want to take away valuable practice and adventure time. “Turn and Talk” is a quick strategy that gets everyone participating and beginning to take ownership for their new learning while also helping inform my teaching of what to do next and why.[connections_list id=5 template_name=”div_staff_bio”]
Alpine Tip by Andy Collin
I’m not talking about the easiest way down from the top of the lift, but another kind of cat track. While I would love to take credit for this tip, I learned it from Rick Lyons. When I shared the magic with Tyler Barnes, he said he thought he remembered passing this disappearing act along to Rick. I’m sure that they would both agree that this great nugget of tribal knowledge belongs to us all. This little trick won’t make you a better skier but it can make your day on the mountain a bit more comfortable, will allow you to get a bit more mileage out of those expensive ski boots and potentially keep you safer when walking on slippery surfaces.
Keeping one’s gear in good working order is of paramount importance and making certain your boots are in “class A” condition should be high on everyone’s list. “Cat Tracks” and / or “YakTrax” (available in your most current accessories catalog from PSIA), a wonderfully clever and ridiculously simple accessory, are more important than most of the stuff we cram into our pockets or packs while on snow. Keeping your boot bottoms flat and appropriately thick will insure safe and secure binding contact and assist in one’s ability to stand on a flat ski – two critically important aspects of what we do as skiers.
The benefits of boot bottom protection are undeniable and when skiing at Timberline in the summer, protecting this surface can be as valuable as a dependable edge. Walking to and from the chair lift will destroy your boots in short order. Winter skiers who gear up in the parking lot or who spend time on harsh surfaces like concrete and even carpeted surfaces in the lodge should also make this comparably small investment. Spending $12-$17 Cat Tracks / $15 YakTrax will, without question, add life to your boots and aid in keeping precision in your turns.
But what the heck do you do with these things while skiing? And then when you are ready to use them the twisted rubbery mass threatens to dump everything else in one’s pockets out onto the snow when it’s time to walk the grit and concrete. Three simple steps, that should be stated on the packaging (but are not), allow you to discretely carry and store these devices hassle free. You won’t even know that you have them with you.
This is such a cool tip you can easily share it with your lesson clients too! You’re welcome! And make sure, when you next see Rick or Tyler that you give them some credit for this little gem, too.
Andy Collin is a Training Director for Timberline Lodge Ski and Snowboard School, is PSIA Alpine Level III certified and teaches at both Timberline and Mt. Hood Meadows Ski Resort on Mt. Hood, Oregon. Email him at firstname.lastname@example.org
Alpine Tip by Dave Lucas
There you are dropping through the trees; taking face shot after face shot. Or maybe you just finished a great bump run. In either case you’re now at the bottom of the area looking at some flats before you get to the lift for another epic run. Don’t waste it.
Flat terrain presents a great opportunity to train and to test your skills. I think that I learn more about edging when I’m skiing on a flat ski than I do skiing on a high edge angle. I never miss the opportunity to practice my wedge christies and pivot slips at the bottom of the run. Because it’s flat, likely there won’t be any bumps and that makes skiing on a flat ski easier. Now that pivot slips are a part of level II and level III exams, improving your rotary and edging (and de-edging!) movements will be important foci in your training.
As you practice these tasks, take your time to feel your femur turning in your hip socket rather than turning your hips and legs at the same time. Separation of upper and lower body function is very important to success in both of these turns. Ask a friend to watch you or video you and then give you feedback on your success. You will find that your rotary movements are integral to your edging movements.
You can also practice these movements at home in front of a mirror. Find a spot where you can see your hips in the mirror and where the friction under your feet is low enough that you can easily twist your feet. You might place a piece of paper under each foot or put on a pair socks to reduce the drag and make it easier. Watch your legs and hips to see how far you can turn your legs in the hip socket before your hips start to move, too. Start out with small movements and increase your range of motion as your skills improve. Visualize tightening your core abdominal muscles and pointing your knees to the left and the right without pointing your hips in the same direction.
As you get more and more comfortable with these turns on the snow, you can up the difficulty by slowing down your movements and your speed. In other words, if you think that you are doing well: try it slower. Practicing these movements and tasks every day will yield great results as you incorporate them into your everyday skiing.[connections_list id=10 template_name=”div_staff_bio”]