Does this look like fun? What a fun Friday 14 teachers, 9 Digital Aces, 1 DEN STAR + Instructional Coach had teaching and learning all about educational uses of geocaching. Tailored to cover all the subjects the participating educators teach, the experience was delightfully different professional development, with students helping teachers learn.
|14 teachers + 1 DEN STAR (well, 2 actually)|
Nothing like hitching yourself to a DEN STAR’s event planning for lively learning, and that’s just what happened this afternoon. And it was fun/ny. I am clueless when it comes to directions, so I am out there big time taking risks. If this GPS doesn’t tell me turn right, turn around, or something else, I am in serious trouble. Our afternoon began with Jennifer Brinson‘s brief overview of geocaching, with some good old-fashioned hands-on show-and-tell about the kinds of caches and what you might find and some specialty items you might find.
|A Digital Ace teacher|
So, what is geocaching? A high tech treasure hunt. Caches planted are good for a lifetime, so you can geocache all over the world. We are working with highly accurate Garmin eTrexs, which means they will get us to within 2-5 feet of the cache. These devices can be synced to MacCaching and work on our CFF laptops. In order to cache, we need 3/24 global satellites. If you go to geocaching.com, you can find all the global caches that are planted.
|Aces, STARS, Teachers +1 Administrator|
Normally, when you find a cache, there is an embedded log that you sign with your geocaching name; today we didn’t. Rule of thumb: take 1, leave 1. And there could be trackables—geocoins or travel bugs, but not today. There’s a geocaching lingo, and Brinson reminds us that if we cache in “real life” (rather than a training session), take a geocaching kit. And your geosense. And there is an athletic piece to caching, so dress appropriately, especially with footwear and take the right gear. A great place to visit for the serious-minded is Shop Groundspeak, a store whose mission is “to support and inspire the global Geocaching community with everything you need to enjoy the game.”
|6 of 10 Digital Aces|
If you find a cache in real-world caching, you track and report your find, especially if it is a travel bug. You replant it.
Educational uses abound. Do check Brinson’s PowerPoint for examples of how you can implement geocaching in your discipline. Once you develop a comfort zone for working with GPS/caching, your imagination is really your only limit.
|At 1′ and searching; it was hidden in plain view|
Returning after the PM experience, I can tell you that geocaching promotes engagement, collaboration, creativity, thinking outside the box, and definitely requires stamina. With a challenge at every waypoint, ten disciplines were used as exemplars for academic use. Real world treasure hunt, real world application, and in the end, a large amount of real fun and learning.
What made the program special was the help from the Digital Aces, a group of tech savvy students trained to assist teachers with technology integration. A two-year-old program, it continues to grow and expand, and the students truly are wonderful teachers. If you have an interest in creating a Digital Aces program in your school, you can request it via our district‘s main page feedback. We have been very fortunate in our district that despite difficult times, our administrators have discovered creative ways to give us the gift of time to train with talent and move forward with educational innovations. And our community of learners benefits. For more information, check out Brinson’s resources.