Three HOT G’s are on my mind…Geocaching, GPS, and Google Earth!
Fourteen years ago I became very intrigued by "adventure learning." In fact, it was Will Steger’s Polar Expedition and his engaging World School for Adventure Learning (see Story 10)that changed my entire view of the future of education. Even though my colleague, Mary Baumann – 6th grade language arts educator and I, were connecting with educators from around the world (Japan, Denmark, Germany, France, and all over the US) through a painfully slow 1200 baud modem using gopher (a pretty ugly GUI), our perception of the world changed forever. All of a sudden we were able to explore the Arctic, make new friends around the globe, learn about other cultures and places, take our students along, and do all of this from the convenience of West Salem Middle School.
Today’s students and teachers can experience a new twist on adventure learning through three G’s that have become hot new tools for today’s 21st century learner. Geocaching, Google Earth and GPS all have huge potential in helping us open the doors to global & geographical awareness, appreciation for our beautiful Wisconsin environment, physical fitness, and finding new learning treasures and friends. And are any of you NOT life-long learners? (Geez, I hope no one answered yes!)
DEN Member, Dan King , Onalaska Middle School science teacher and instructional technologist, and I have been tossing around the possibility of a summer 2006 adventure learning symposium focused on the effective integration of each of these tools in the classroom. The symposium would be offered for graduate level credit (if desired) and would provide the opportunity to learn first hand how to work with GPS units, participate in geocaching (basically a fun treasure hunt), use of Google Earth, tagged digital camera images, and unitedstreaming video clips into a unique lesson plan. We may also experiment with GPS visualizer which is a free tool that creates maps and profiles from GPS data. What other tools would you like to master relating to this adventure?
If you are game for a new learning adventure experience or have ideas for designing this evolving symposium, post your input (using the comments form below). Wisconsin is a great state for geocaching and your content area or grade level really doesn’t matter- there are so many interdisciplinary connections! There were 10 caches and 10 travel bugs already logged on the January on-line log so we know folks geocache even in the dead of winter here in Wisconsin.
Check out Ron Schott’s Geology Home Companion blog and podcasts about integrating Google Earth! We could have a ton of fun "Googling" the adventures of our own unique Wisconsin travel bugs!
Be creative and help us design our "G3 Adventure!" All DEN members are welcome to help us design a great G3 Adventure! I hear some Kansas and Missouri educators are game for a cross country G3 Adventure!