For those in the know, you might have heard of this news already. For everyone else, this is kind of cool for me. This coming weekend, I will be attending a state conference for math and science teachers in Missouri. Not only am I attending, but I’ll be running a 3-hour session. My session: Enhancing Mathematics and Science using GPS.
Two years ago, I wrote a grant to get GPSr’s for my classroom. I won part of the initial request and was able to purchase six Garmin eTrex H’s (Yellow eTrex), along with batteries and a few other supplies. Now I get to try and teacher other teachers the value of using GPS technology in the classroom.
I’m a firm believer that just about any topic can be made exciting to kids. Sometimes, that is much harder than it sounds. With the way today’s education system is trending in this country, it is becoming harder and harder to explore in the classroom. A classroom that is increasingly regimented to teach material so that schools can score well on tests. A by-product of Bush’s “No Child Left Behind” (NCLB) law. While a hypothetically good plan, it has been poorly executed and seems to be guided on the idea that ALL kids can perform at 100% capability, 100% of the time, or at least that is the goal. Any teacher can tell you that expecting 100% effort, 100% of the time, from 100% of students is impossible. You’d have better luck teaching a monkey how to fly to the moon in an aluminum foil rocket ship powered by the monkey engorging itself on beans.
Okay, maybe the aluminum foil will need to be reinforced a bit first. Anyone got some cardboard to spare?
Technology is one way to get today’s students interested, and with the increase in GPS technology in our day to day lives, it seems a logical tool for students to learn about. Geocaching has helped to encourage better critical thinking skills, teamwork, and improved navigational sense in myself. So why not put that to use in the classroom? Plus, with the increase in automotive accidents, or automotive idiocy, due to people blindly trusting the GPS or trying to interact with their GPSr while driving, learning how it works and how to use one now can potentially reduce problems when those same students get behind the wheel…we hope.
I’ll eventually put the presentation up on this site for others to see, but the presentation is split up into several parts.
- What is GPS?
- How can GPS aid classroom learning?
- How to design a lesson using GPS.
- What limitations does it present to teachers.
- Hands-on activities
That last one will involve taking teachers outside and running them through two lessons, including one centered around Geocaching. What I refer to as the Review Game.
A fellow teacher is helping present. One that just got to experience Geocaching for the first time this past weekend. We are both excited about this as we can see the benefits for teachers and students. We may not get a big crowd as early registration numbers are lower this year. As of a week ago, we only had six people signed up. But six people can still learn, take this information back, and spread it further. With late and on-site registrations, we are hoping for 12 by the time our session roles around next Monday morning.
So wish us good luck. I’ll provide a report next week, along with the opportunity for you to view the final presentation.