Educaching Review

9/22/2009
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Most people have heard of Geocaching - a recreational treasure hunt using GPS. Imagine building on that by bringing the GPS in the classroom and you have a new and innovative way to look at educating - Educaching! First of all, what is GPS (Global Positioning System) and how does it work? I watched this quick video by "How Stuff Works" to find out:
And if you don't know about Geocaching, I will tell you more! Geo= earth cache = something that is hidden It is basically high tech hide and seek! Different types of caches include:
  • virtual caches - historical markers
  • earth caches geologically interesting spots
  • puzzle caches - crack the code
  • multi-caches problem solving involved
You can learn more about geocaching at www.geocaching.com. Educaching uses GPS in the classroom to incorporate technology and provide engaging curricula that is not only motivating, but "takes students beyond the the walls of traditional classroom." GPS has several applications that can be utilized in this curriculum:
  • pinpoint exact location on planet
  • maps/routes
  • calculator
  • stopwatch
  • distance
  • speed
  • interface (connect with pc or mac)
Benefits of Educaching with GPS:
  • Vital skills in a unique learning environment that is challenging integrative and exploratory
  • captures the thrill of the hunt for learning
  • teamwork, problem-solving, decision making, critical thinking easily addressed
  • promotes spatial awareness and learning
  • provides visualizations which are a powerful way to understand problems,identify solutions and discover the unexpected
  • innovative way to place technology in students' hands
  • augments student communication locally and globally
Educaching targets 4th through 8th grade, is written for a general education teacher and can be adapted in any learning situation - homeschool, scouting troupes, youth groups, etc. The manual contains 5 sections:
  1. Teacher training - equipment needed how to hide caches, manga activities, starter activities
  2. Lesson plans - 20 useful lessons beg to advance aligns with national teaching standard - math and science but also integrates other core areas
  3. Field sheets - CD to print and customize field sheets
  4. Acquiring GPS- sharing, writing grants
  5. Beyond the basics - pod caching...
I admit, despite all the information I read on how a GPS works, I was still a little intimidated by this curriculum. However, the manual does a great job of walking you through the program step by step:
1. Preliminary mapping:
  • determine a good hiding area
  • draw a sketched map of the area of use google eath/google maps
  • save waypoints of each cache
  • mark general hiding spot on your map
2. Setting up the hunt
  • begin with any lesson plan or use one from the book - math problesn, science experimetn, story elements for creative wiritng, historical site
  • create some clues
  • acquire containers for your clues and hide them
3. Prepare the students:
  • explain the concept
  • GPS tutorial
  • 3 R's of GPS etiquette - respect, responsibility replace (anything in nature)
  • group students into cooperative teams
  • distribute tools, receivers, clipboards, field sheets, cameras
  • set boundaries for the hunt
4. The hunt is on:
  • release students for the hunt
  • return to the classroom for debriefing
  • communicate any challenges and discuss solutions
  • research findings
  • prepare presentations
In order to wrap my brain around this curriculum and to be able to utilize it more effectively, I opted to print the 128 page manual. For security reasons, you do have to enter a password each and every time you open the PDF document, so printing was my user-friendly option all around (I did keep a Stickie Note on my desktop for easy access to the password, but you would for sure need a safe place to keep it if you opted not to print it). The first section is a training section and includes lessons on familiarizing you and your students with the GPS and starter activities. The first one looks like this: Day 1: You explain GPS to your students. You could really tie this nicely in with your geography lessons by incorporating longitude and latitude, maps and globes, etc. Really a lot of potential here! Day 2: You obtain a small container (such as a 35 mm film containter) and write a note on it saying "Congratulations! You found your first Educache" or something similar. Then you hide the container, mark the waypoints (a set of coordinates). You give these coordinates to your student and then they go edu-hunting. Day 3 and beyond: Activities are included to reinforce or expand on the concept of Educaching. Fun activities are given, such as: The School Yard Stash, Tennis Ball Madness, Grab It and Go, etc. In The School Yard Stash, you are teaching your students that not all Educache containters look alike and you hide math problems or fun trivia problems in the containers for them to find. Then in Section 2, 20 lesson plans are given in the subjects of math and science: Beginner Lessons:
  1. On Average
  2. Show Me the Money!
  3. Seek the Problem, Find the Solution
  4. Grand Slam
  5. What Should I Wear to the Mall?
  6. Finding Perimeter
  7. Cause and Effect
  8. Which Tree is Which?
  9. Chemical or Physical Change?
  10. Design a Solution
  11. Dino Discovery!
  12. Send in the Probes
Intermediate Lessons:
  1. Rain Birds
  2. Seek the Problem, Find the Solution Multi-Educache
  3. The Estimation Olympics
  4. Light and Sound Race
  5. Sweet Swymbiosis
  6. Scientific Career Hunt
Advanced Lessons:
  1. Search and Rescue
  2. Discovering the Ancient Pyramids
"On Average" is a lesson that has students find objects that they must measure and record and find the average length, height, and diameter of the objects. Suggested items are given (such as a pencil and you hide pencils of varying lengths). You can also do GPS geometry and create a virtual geometric playground! View a sample of the Rain Birds Lesson here! What I like about it: You can be very creative with the lessons. There seem to be an endless possibilities of what you can do! I think it is truly an innovative way to bring technology into the classroom. What I did not like about it: The preparation and training involved - if you already have experience with a GPS unit, then this won't be an issue! But there is a lot of teacher set up/preparation involved. I think this curriculum would be very ideal in a homeschool co-op setting. Price: The Print and Electronic version are both $32, with an additional $6.95 shipping for the print version. I think this is worth it if you already own a GPS. The initial investment of purchasing a GPS can be costly, so we opted to borrow one for this review. However, you can buy refurbished GPS receivers here. If you are looking to bring technology into the classroom, this just may be the way to go!
See what other crew member think by clicking here or on the banner below!

3 comments:

Andi said...

Wow! Great Review! We have done the "geo" form - ever since Dallas wanted to be a treasure hunters....glad she grew out of that....but what fun!

Rebecca said...

My kids are young, but this sounds fun for the future!

Susana said...

OK, this is interesting. I've never heard of anything like this.

You get some really neat products to review.

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