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Educaching

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As a part of TOS Homeschool Crew, I received a copy of Educaching:  GPS Based Curriculum for Teachers by Jason Hubbard and the Staff of SDG Creations, Ltd.  This 128-page curriculum is divided into five sections:

  • Teachers Training
  • Lesson Plans
  • Field Sheets
  • Acquiring GPS
  • Beyond the Basics

This curriculum is written by a fifth grade teacher who obviously has a good deal of knowledge about GPS units and the concept of geocaching, which he tweaks in this curriculum to make it more “educational.”  Plenty of introductory information about GPS units is provided so that even a novice (like me!) should be able to read the first section of the manual and have a pretty good idea about how to proceed.  The lesson plans are written for general classroom use in grades 4-8, and some of them are basically a technological version of a scavenger hunt.  For example, the curriculum suggests that a very basic “mathematical” educache is one in which math problems are hidden and then found via the GPS unit, solved in the field, and then brought back to the classroom for discussion.  However, some of the lesson plans actually integrate the subject matter and the technology so that the students are actually using the GPS unit as a part of the lesson, not just a fancy toy to get them out of the classroom.  One such lesson plan involves a class game of modified kickball in which the students each kick a ball as far as possible three times, input the location at which the ball lands as a waypoint in the GPS unit, and then return to the classroom and use the data for all sorts of mathematical calculations.  Although this curriculum is heavy on the science and math connection for obvious reasons, efforts are made to integrate all areas of the curriculum and make it a multifaceted approach.  Field sheets for recording data are included for each lesson.  A section for classroom teachers about how to acquire funds for classroom sets of GPS units are included.  The curriculum ends with several pages of ideas of how to take educaching beyond just the lesson plans provided.   

Although my children are young, I was excited to have a chance to review this curriculum because Steady Eddie has participated in geocaching himself and has used it in this job as a science educator and has talked enough about it for me to know it’s something I would enjoy.  However, I did not factor into the equation of receiving this curriculum that we would have the rainiest fall in memory.  We finally had enough of a break in the weather (and enough sense to plan to do it when we had a clear day!) earlier this week.  Because my girls are only 5 and 3, Steady Eddie set us up with a modified version of one of the lesson plans.  He marked four waypoints at various places around our neighborhood block, each one of which was near a tree or bush.  The original idea was to have the students identify the trees and plants.  Instead, Steady Eddie provided us with clues (typewritten AND in rhyme, no less), and I just intructed my girls to gather a leaf from each tree or bush we located.  (It would’ve actually been much harder to get them to NOT collect leaves–Louise, especially, excels at collecting nature specimens, and we have an overflowing nature shelf to prove it.)  I carried the GPS unit and did all of the navigating, but I did show it to the girls, and they were somewhat interested in it.  I am pleased to report that we properly identified three of the four plants.  (The one we missed had more to do with miscommunication between Steady Eddie and me than anything.  Keep in mind that he gave me my little GPS inservice/lesson preparation session just after 6:00 that morning before he left for work!)  The girls definitely enjoyed this activity, although I think it had more to do with the fact that daddy left us a scavenger hunt than the fact that we were “educaching.”  Obviously, my girls are still a little young for this.

Educaching is a neat idea, and I do think this curriculum covers the basics of using a GPS unit in an accessible way.  Although the lessons are geared toward classroom use, most of them are adaptible for homeschool use with fewer students.  However, I’m not sure that every single lesson would have enough educational value to warrant doing it for one or two students.  (Sometimes it’s just easier to solve the math problems and then go outside and enjoy a walk in nature sans technology, in my opinion.)  Educaching would be fun, though, for use in a co-op or some other group setting.  The curriculum itself is well written and it is obvious that a lot of thought, planning, and passion went into its design. 
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Educaching is available for a cost of $32 plus shipping, handling and applicable taxes, or to avoid shipping costs, it can also be purchased in electronic format for $32 plus any sales tax.  You can also download sample lesson plans to see if Educaching might be a good fit for your homeschool or your homeschool group.  You can read more Homeschool Crew reviews here.

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This curriculum was sent to me free of charge for review purposes.

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