Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Willie the Wildcat is Officially Off to India!

As of yesterday afternoon, we received word that our fuzzy world traveler is officially off to India! In anticipation of Willie's arrival, please post a comment about at least one thing you think Willie is looking forward to seeing when he arrives in India.  Please include, with your comment your first name and last initial.

Willie will be traveling a distance of 7232.761 miles from Mequon, Wisconsin, USA where he was mailed to Chandigarh, India.  That's pretty far!

photo created by Addison E.

Monday, October 22, 2012

Meet Willie the Wildcat:

This is Willie the Wildcat, and this is me, Mr. Piper (I'm the human and Willie is the plush pal, just in case there was any confusion).  Willie the Wildcat is our school's mascot.  

Willie the Wildcat has enjoyed a wonderful life here at University School of Milwaukee.  He enjoys the smiles and laughter of the students, especially Mr. Piper's fifth graders, whom he sees every day.  He enjoys exploring Mrs. DeTorre's fish tank and gazing at the beautiful coral.  
Willie the Wildcat enjoys eating lunch in our dining room.  Apples are one of his favorite foods.

However, Willie the Wildcat longs to see more than just the friendly confines of University School.  He wants to travel the world.

Thanks to his ol' pal Mr. Piper and Mr. Piper's students, Willie the Wildcat hopes to travel to the same places Mr. Piper's students are studying about this year to learn more about his greater world.

First stop: India
Willie the Wildcat has always enjoyed learning about the beautiful nation of India.  He has enjoyed looking at books about India.

He has even dreamed of having his picture taken in front of the Taj Mahal.

With the help of Mr. Piper's student, Ritika, Willie the Wildcat will have a chance to travel to India and arrive in time to celebrate the biggest holiday of the year in India- Diwali, the festival of the lights.  Willie the Wildcat is looking forward to his travels, hopefully getting some new Indian clothing, and experiencing Diwali first hand with Ritika's aunt, Shakuntala, in Chandigarh, India.

A Crazy Idea...

My name is Will Piper and I am a fifth grade social studies teacher at the University School of Milwaukee, an independent school for students grades PK-12 located in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, USA.

The subject I teach in social studies is "world cultural geography."  Over the course of the school year, my students get a geographical survey of places around the world.  We start the year learning about Australia in August and September, then move on to India and South Asia in October and November, explore China in December, Japan and Southeast Asia in January, Africa (with a focus on Africa South of the Sahara Desert) in February and March, Europe in April and Mexico, Central and South America in May and June.  During each of these units, we explore our year long essential questions: "How does the physical geography of a place affect how people live in that place?" "How are cultures around the world similar and uniquely different?" and, "Why is understanding cultural diversity an important part of being a global citizen?"

Given the modern technology and wonderful global connections that we have with students that I teach this year, I had a crazy idea... what if we took a plush replica of our school's mascot, Willie the Wildcat, and literally sent him around the world to places at the same time we're studying them.  Students, teachers, and families alike could learn the wonderful value of cultural diversity by reading about Willie's travels and adventures on this blog.  Moreover, perhaps, if this project takes off, we could send other Willie dolls on trips around the world, or even have students take Willie with them on their travels.  Who knows where Willie could end up going.

As of now, however, here is our mission: Send Willie to travel and experience culture through people living in: India, China, Japan, West Africa, Germany, and Mexico, and have him end up back in Mr. Piper's classroom by the first part of June 2013.

Will Willie make it home?  We'll have to wait and see.  We hope that working with students' relatives, like-minded educators, and friends of the school that our dear pal Willie can enjoy his world travels and teach us about what culture is like in different places around the globe.

Follow this blog for pictures and updates of Willie's Travels.  This is "Where On Earth Is Willie!"