Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Educaching: TOS Review

Treasure hunts, technology, and the great outdoors...put them all together, and what do you get? Educaching.

Have you heard of geocaching? It's basically the use of a handheld GPS (Global Positioning System) to search for hidden caches containing a logbook and small trinkets. There are more than 800,000 caches around the world hidden by geocaching enthusiasts. Educaching takes the idea of geocaching a step further by creating scavenger hunts that are centered around a student's learning.

Educaching is a curriculum written by Jason Hubbard, a fifth grade teacher, who came up with the idea of educational, GPS scavenger hunts after going on his first geocaching outing.

The manual contains five sections:

•Teacher Training - familiarizes the teacher with equipment needed, how to hide caches, and provides activities to orient teacher and student with GPS use. *This section was especially helpful to me in becoming even more familiar with our GPS device.

•Lesson Plans - Contains twenty lessons from beginner to advanced levels focusing on math and science while integrating other core subjects.

•Worksheets - Reproducible forms for students to record their information on while out in the field. (Also, a CD is included with the manual that allows you to edit and print these worksheets as needed.)

•Cost-effective ways to acquire a GPS - Grant-writing techniques and other ideas are included.

•Beyond the Basics - Other ways to use GPS devices

The curriculum was designed for 4th through 8th grade but could be adapted to the needs of other ages and grade levels.

A Sample Lesson
Several money riddles are hidden in caches (containers) around your yard (or a large, open space). The students must use the GPS to find the caches. They then read the riddle, solve it, place the correct amount of money inside the container, and return it to the teacher. Once all of the caches are found and all of the riddles are solved, students return to the classroom where they complete extension activities based on the money riddles.

My Thoughts
Please keep in mind that my oldest child is in second grade, so I did not attempt any of the lesson plans with my children; however, I think that these lessons will be great for us a few years down the road, especially since we have dabbled in some geocaching and have really enjoyed it.

The lessons are a bit wordy at times, mainly because they are written with whole classes of students in mind. (Ex. "Remind students of group expectations and appropriate outdoor behavior.") A lot of outdoor preparation (without the student) is involved, which might not always be easy for a homeschooling Mom. (Maybe Dad could be in charge of preparing and hiding the caches?) Also, some of the lessons require a group of students in order to be completed. However, many of these lessons could be adapted for family or individual use, and I think that they provide a unique way to practice math, science, and a myriad of other skills. On top of all that, you're getting outdoors with your kids, and that's always a plus.

The author states in his introductory letter to teachers that his desire is for this curriculum to serve as a springboard to help educators get started in educaching. Even though these particular lessons are too advanced for us right now, Mr. Hubbard has inspired me to come up with some simpler educaching lessons, as we continue to become more adept with our GPS device.

The Educaching manual retails for $32.00 and can be purchased at the Educaching website. (This price includes the CD-ROM of field worksheets.)

To see what other Crew Members thought about this product, visit the Crew Blog.

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