Educaching – Taking Math Outdoors
This is an article from Homeschool.com’s newest e-magazine. The magazine is chocked full of great information-perfect for teaching preschool math–calculus.
Alone in the woods with only my handheld GPS device and millions of dollars’ worth of satellites to help me navigate, I was looking for a small container hidden off the beaten path. Elated with joy, I finally found my tiny canister containing a clue that would prompt me to solve a simple math problem. As I excitedly fumbled with my pen and a scrap of paper to evaluate a numerical expression, I double checked my calculations and was on my way to find the final hidden prize! For those of you who have no idea what I am talking about, Geocaching is an outdoor adventure that utilizes GPS technology to take people on high-tech scavenger hunts for hidden caches. Now, imagine using this concept to take students beyond the four walls of the traditional classroom on engaging hunts centered on their learning and you’ve got what I call Educaching!
I realized that a unique hook for learning could be found in Educaching. So I set out to write a teacher’s manual (titled Educaching: GPS Based Curriculum for Teachers) to help myself and others who wanted to implement this strategy from the ground up. My students were the guinea pigs to pilot test the program and see if it had worth.
The first year, I started a GPS-based after school club with 5th graders. To my surprise, half of the 5th grade showed up and I found myself in charge of 43 students (and quickly scrambling for parent volunteers!). The students simply wanted to use the technology to search for things I had hidden on the school campus. They enjoyed the thrill of seeking for something hidden. Imagine…students being thrilled to learn and wishing they could stay at school longer in order to do so…this is what happens through the vehicle of Educaching.
The concept is simple and can be done in groups or individually. Students are equipped with a handheld GPS device and taken outdoors where pre-arranged clues have been placed in hidden containers. The individuals, or groups, begin searching for an assigned container which holds a math problem, for example. If the problem is solved correctly the answer tells them which numbered container to find next and they’re off running to the next location using their GPS device. If they answer incorrectly, they clamor to correct their work in order to find the right solution. Another type of learning in this context can be pictured in a lesson I call “Grand Slam.” In this lesson, students are teamed up and take turns kicking a kickball from home base. The total distance of each kick is measured by the students with the GPS device. They then calculate the mean, median, mode, and range of their personal kicks and compare with kicks of their classmates. It ends up being an exciting lesson that allows them to directly participate in their learning with their own data. When doing these kinds of Educaching lessons, the students don’t even realize that they are using problem-solving skills, team collaboration, science, mathematics, language arts, and good communication all wrapped up into one exciting experience.
Following the success of the after-school GPS Club and after using this curriculum periodically throughout the school years with my students to engage them in lessons, I also studied Educaching in my graduate research concerning the effects on motivation of today’s learners by using GPS in education. The results of the research are undeniable…providing students with this technology, cultivating outdoor learning environments, and providing a framework similar to “The Great Race” is a formula for success when it comes to engaging children.
Let the hunt for learning begin!
About the Curriculum: Educaching has 20 S.T.E.M. lessons that vary in degree of difficulty from “Beginner” to “Advanced”. The objectives of each lesson are identified along with any other materials that may be required to complete the activity. The GPS curriculum blends technology with science, math, and physical activity creating an innovative teaching tool that satisfies all curricular objectives at multiple grade levels. It was designed to help educators of all types utilize this amazing technology to teach lessons through fun, outdoor activities. In 2014 it was awarded the Mind Spring Award from Academics Choice.
It is written for the larger, national audience yet it is compatible with Christian beliefs. The material focuses purely on academic topics (averages, cause and effect, chemical changes, birds, estimation, etc.). The Educaching curriculum is ideal for families, co-ops, and children ages 8 and up. The cost of the curriculum is $32 plus applicable shipping and taxes.
About the Author: Jason Hubbard is a Christian teacher who instructs S.T.E.M. in Perrysburg schools and is also a homeschool parent. He works together with a team of Christian men and women, called SDG Creations. They created the Educaching curriculum. All profits from the small business are sent to Christian charities local and around the world.