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On the Road with GRITZLEY, the GRITS Bear is an online collaborative project offered by the SouthEast Initiatives Regional Technology in Education Consortium (SEIR*TEC).

This section of the is your passport for participating in a collection of technology-enriched learning activities designed to stimulate interest, support state curriculum standards, and spark collaboration among schools in the southeast.  It offers classes opportunities to appropriately use many common technology applications available to schools.

Gritzley Bear is a member of a unique family of stuffed bears whose business is to help students use technology as a tool for enhancing learning. To succeed in his family business, Gritzley travels to schools throughout the southeast in a box full of learning activities.

The scope of each activity is broadly defined, yet each requires a specific product. This format will permit greater flexibility for teachers as they incorporate content objectives and instructional strategies, while it produces several consistent products among all participants. There is no defined sequence for doing the activities, but teachers need to adequately plan for them, as Gritzley only visits for four (4) weeks. Seven activities are offered, but only three (3) are required (see below *).

Procedures for Participation
  1. Read The Story of Gritzley, the GRITS Bear and preview Gritzleys Itinerary to insure the activities are appropriate for your grade level or classroom. There are seven activities in all, but only three (3) required. Note: A teacher may choose to do as many as he/she feels is appropriate beyond the three required.
  2. Gritzley Bear is available for school visits during the school year. So that we can accommodate as many schools as possible, Gritzley's visit cannot exceed three weeks.
  3. Classes wishing to participate must register. To register, send an e-mail to the Project Coordinator, Dan Shoemaker, . Please include the following information in your e-mail.
    • Teacher's name
    • School name
    • School address (Street, City, Zip)
    • Telephone number where the teacher can be reached (preferably at school)
    • Grade level of participating class
    • Date you would like Gritzley to arrive at your school
    • E-mail address (preferably the teacher's)
    • URL of your school's website (if applicable)
    • Geographical setting of your school (urban, rural, or suburban)
  1. Once registered, the teacher will receive a confirmation e-mail. The message will confirm Gritzleys estimated time of arrival.
  2. When Gritzley arrives at a participating school, he will be accompanied by a packet containing details of the activities in his Itinerary, instructions for his safe return, and other ancillary material.
  3. Once Gritzley is returned, products from his experiences will be incorporated into the GRITS web site. Each participating teacher will be notified when his/her class products are posted.

The Story of Gritzley, the GRITS Bear

One spring not long ago, a small, stuffed, black bear was born in the western Carolina mountains.

Every day as the morning light crept across his quilt-covered bed, the little bear would waken to the sweet smells and familiar sounds of his den&bacon frying&pancakes grilling&biscuits baking&birds chirping and gentle whispering of soft breezes through the branches of pine trees outside his window.

But try as he may, he could not stay asleep, for thoughts of his favorite food filled his head and made his stomach grumble. That food was grits.

Because of the little bears love of grits and in honor of a favorite relative from the Rocky Mountains, Uncle Grizzley, the little bears Mama and Papa named him Gritzley.

Each morning, as Gritzley lay snuggled beneath layers of warm blankets, he would watch the sunlight slowly illuminate the darkness of his bedroom. His bedroom was filled with all of his favorite things.

On the walls of Gritzleys room were maps and pictures of many interesting and beautiful places that he and his papa had clipped from newspapers and travel magazines. Gritzleys bookshelf was lined with even more books and brochures about the world beyond his forest.

On his dresser, there was an assortment of collectables his Papa had brought with him from his many business trips. Papa does a lot of traveling, and Gritzley loved to listen to his father tell stories of his journeys. Gritzley knew that one day he, too, would travel to many far-away, exciting places and add to his collection of collectables&and that day came sooner than Gritzley had imagined.

One special morning, Gritzley shuffled sleepily to the kitchen table where Mama had placed his breakfast. As he finished his third helping of grits, his mother sat down beside him with a twinkle of surprise in her eye and a big smile on her face.

Gritzley, she said eagerly. Today is a very special day for you. It is time that you learn about our family business.

Business? What business? thought Gritzley. He knew Papa traveled for business, but never really knew what he did.

His Mama explained, You see, Gritzley, all families of stuffed bears have a very special business&we are in the business of helping children everywhere. Some bears help by holding children tight and making them feel safe. Some help by listening to children read stories. There are really hundreds or thousands of ways we bears help children, and our family helps in its own special way.

Wow! responded Gritzley. Whats is our special way?

At this question, Gritzleys Mama became very solemn and replied, Gritzley, our family has a very serious and important, yet enjoyable business.  We help children learn&learn about themselves&learn about things they do in school&and learn about each other.

But how do we help them learn? inquired Gritzley.

Well, theres not one best way to help children learn, said Mama. You see, all children are different&some learn quickly, while others need more time&some learn things easily, while others have some difficulties.

But Mama&if theyre all so different, said Gritzley disappointedly, how can we help them all? Were only a small family of bears, and there are so many children!

Yes, that is true, replied Mama. But we help as many as we can and, as I said, we help in a special way. You see, Gritzley, one of the best ways to learn is to teach. So its our business to travel to schools and let the children teach us about themselves and other things that are important to them and their teachers.

I cant wait, said Gritzley excitedly. When do I start?

As soon as a school requests a visit&and after you help wash the dishes!"

Gritzleys Itinerary

  1. Southern LiterBEARY Portraits (*Required)

    The Southeast is the native or adopted home to many of Americas most gifted and talented literary figures.  Their works span time, geographic and cultural barriers to capture diverse interests and ignite the imaginations of readers around the world.  In this activity, students will lead GRITS favorite cub reporter on an investigation into the lives and works of at least one famous literBEARY figure from their state.  These biographical sketches will include student-generated text and digital pictures about each figure, and will be included in the Southern Portraits section of GRITS. To see example products from this activity, click here.

    Grade Level: K 12

    State and Local History, American History, Social Studies, Language Arts, and Technology

  2. Where in the Southeast is the GRITS Bear? (*Required)

    Overview: The Southeast is rich in culture and history, as well as a range of climatic and geographical features.   This activity requires students to research selected topics and collect data related to their local area.  This information will be used to build a database of information for use in an ongoing weekly online Question & Answer activity.  This activity will become a tool for encouraging participants to revisit GRITS on a regular basis.  The collected data will be included in the Southern Trails section of GRITS. To see example products from this activity, click here.

    Grade Level: Grades K 12

    State and Local History, American History, Social Studies, Language Arts, Mathematics, Science, Technology

    • GRITS Bears Scrapbook and Souvenirs (*Required)

      No trip is complete without pictures and souvenirs.  In this activity, students are asked to take digital pictures of Gritzley as he visits local venues and/or experiences local culture.  Along his journey, an inexpensive souvenir (i.e. postcard, etc.) representative of the visit will also be obtained.   Students will be asked to word process journal entries (written from Gritzleys point-of-view) describing the highlights of his adventures.  The pictures and journal produced in this activity will be posted on the web site and become another tool for encouraging participants to revisit GRITS on a regular basis. To see Gritzley's Scrapbook, click here.

      Grade Level: K 12

      Subjects: State and Local History, American History, Social Studies, Language Arts, and Technology

    • Digital Quilting with Gritzley

      Overview: Quilts have symbolized American culture for over two centuries.  They represent a diversity of people, places, ideas, and events from every area of the country.  This activity provides students the opportunity to expand their awareness of the diversity reflected within their own community by researching its unique characteristics.  Students will share these characteristics through the creation of a digital quilt patch  (a digital picture) and an accompanying narrative.  The diversity of all participating communities will by celebrated by the creation of an online digital community quilt.

      Grade Level: K 12

      Subjects:  Community History, American History, Social Studies, Language Arts, and Technology

    • News Across the Southeast

      Overview:  Even with the increasing popularity of the Internet, local and national newspapers remain a primary source of news for most people.  National newspapers occasionally carry unique stories of local interest, but their topics are usually limited to those of national or international significance.  This activity leverages the power of the Internet to provide students the opportunity to share stories of local interest and/or significance with a global audience.  Students will capture stories from the headlines of their local newspapers and write brief news summaries for publication in an online GRITS newspaper.

      Grade Level: K 12

        Social Studies, Language Arts, and Technology

    • Settlers of the Southeast

      The current inhabitants of the Southeast reflect diverse ethnic populations and nationalities, all whom have immigrated from other parts the country and around the world at some point in time.   This activity provides students with an opportunity to research and publish reports on the people who have settled in their state or local area.  These reports will include student-generated text and digital pictures about the settlers, and will be included in the Southern Trails section of GRITS.

      Grade Level: K 12

      Subjects: State and Local History, American History, Social Studies, Language Arts, Technology

  3. Plants and Animals of the Southeast

    Overview: The southeast is a collection of varied ecosystems, each home to many different plants and animals.  In this activity, students will introduce Gritzley to the numerous plants and animals found in their immediate environment.  Students will research and report on any number of plants and animals; each report will include text and student-generated digital images.  These reports will be published in the Southernscapes section of GRITS.

    Grade Level: K 8

    Subjects: Science, Language Arts, and Technology

Updated 2/24/03