What do pirates, 2nd graders, gps units, and math all have in common? Pirate geocaching, of course!
This summer, I had the opportunity to work with a great bunch of 2nd graders during summer school. This group loved technology, and so I decided to organize a Math review using our GPS units. Since it was summer time, and we were reading stories about pirates and the ocean, the theme naturally lent itself to pirates! Plus pirates are really fun!!
So, here’s how it all went down:
1) I organized the caches the students needed to find around the pirate theme. At each cache, students needed to solve a 2nd grade math problem to know what to bring back to the “Captain.” A big thanks to Joani Sotherden, Kathy Smith and Diane Rose for this part of the project! They helped me come up with the problems for each cache.
Here are pictures of the caches and their contents:
Next, Meg Swecker joined me one afternoon to help find great hiding spots for the six caches around South Salem Elementary. We programed in each location on six gps units.
Judy Fisher (the other second grade teacher) and I rounded up some adults to help lead each group. We also organized our two 2nd grade classes into six different teams of four students each. Then morning before the event, we hid the caches in their spots. A clipboard was made for each team that consisted of:
a ziplock baggie (for the loot)
a list of caches to find (in a different order for each team)
the rules and tips and tricks and job responsibilities
Right before we went out to do the activity, we gave the students pirate hats (free from Long John Silvers), set up the scenario, gave some basic rules, and assigned teams.
Each team was given their clipboard. The adults quickly showed their group of students how to use the gps units, and they were off!
It was so much fun! Everyone had a blast, and I was amazed to see students who struggled to complete work at their desks take lead rolls as they trekked around the schoolyard solving math problems.
A big thanks to all those people who showed up to learn about geocaching or to lend a hand, including…
Co-Teacher: Judy Fisher (she also supplied the awesome pirate hats)
Group Leaders: Judy’s son–“Mr. Fisher,” Hunter Routt, Sherri Tompkins, Debbie Stanley
Photographer : Diane Rose
Math Problems: Joani Sotherden, Kathy Smith and Diane Rose
Partner-in-Crime: Meg Swecker (who’s always up for an adventure, pirate or otherwise)
Franklin County is offering summer Technology training again, but a little differently this time. Instead of offering it all during one week of the summer, they’ve spread sessions out across the summer. It’s an excellent way of gaining some new technology skills, and for free. To learn more about these sessions, please visit their site: Franklin County Teacher Training
For Salem Employees, you can earn five re-certification points for any full day workshop and five points for two half-day workshops.
Have you seen the Nicoles’ new Carver library webpage? Or Victoria Salvat’s Kindergarten page? If not, check them out! You will notice they are using a really cool service called Glogster. Glogster allows you to make interactive poster-like creatives that include links, pictures, and videos all with a really slick looking design. You can allow these posters to stand alone as wepbages, or embed them in webpage, wiki, or blog. It works especially well for the homepage of a website. This is what Victoria and Nicole did to add that extra touch to their websites. Pam and I also used this for the Trek2India wiki!
So, want to make interactive posters with your kids? Here’s a tutorial that shows you how!
Always remember to stay on the educational gloster site (http://www.glogster.com/edu) with your students. Otherwise, they may access inappropriate material on the regular Glogster site.
This article is mainly for teachers at East Salem Elementary, and any new teachers at G.W. Carver. It will give you suggested resources for setting up a web presence for your classroom. Once you set-up your site, please let me know the address so I can link it to our schools’ homepage!
Options Tried by Other Elementary Teachers in Salem
Setup a Webpage
See me for software and initial setup. Most of our staff in Salem is using this type of web presence. It’s really not hard, and it looks very professional!
Sending the Big Lick Geobug on its way…. on PhotoPeach (Pictures by Meg Swecker)
Basically, the idea is that our Big Lick Geobug will travel from cache to cache with geocachers…all the way to Canada. It will be a slow process, possibly, since some caches aren’t found for weeks at a time….but hopefully some geocachers can take it long distances. Meanwhile, classes in Salem and Roanoke County (with Meg Swecker) will track it’s movements!
Ms. Deyenberg is doing the same thing too. Her 5th Grade class is sending Flop the Other Dorothy Dalgliesh Dolphin to us! You can read about the geobugs below (and follow them too)!
It’s a long way to Alberta, Canada, so they might not make it, but we are keeping our fingers crossed!! Following the geobugs as they travel will help our students practice map skills….and Math (as they calculate how far each bug has traveled). Here’s a map with their starting and ending points:
These bugs have the summer to travel, and hopefully will have moved some by the time we come back in the Fall. If you would like to follow along next year, let me know. I can come show your class how to geocache (even tie it with a topic you are teaching), and make sure you receive updates anytime one of the geobugs moves! I think we have some 2nd grade teachers already who will be following along!
Want to connect for free (or cheaply) with people all over the world? Want to make video phone calls? Skpye is a free way to do that! All you need is your computer, a web cam (and East and GWC each have one you can borrow), and a free download!
How do you use this in the classroom, you ask? Lots of ways!
call another class in a different area of the world to find out about their home
call an “expert” on a topic you are studying
have someone dress up as a famous person or book character and call your class
play a game with another classroom at a different school
write riddles for other classes to guess
Can you think of other ways?
A few of our classes have been using Skype to connect with classrooms in different areas. Mrs. Barnett’s Fourth Grade at East talked with students in Virginia Beach to learn more about the Tidewater Region of VA.
search for caches in a specific area (there are 4 at Greenhill park and many more in the area)
find the coordinates for them and read the descriptions of them (you may also want to look at the hints).
program the coordinates into your gps
go hunting. You will probably want to take a pen/pencil with you.
If you find a cache, there are a few rules.
If there are items in the cache, you can only take one if you leave a different one. No food of course.
Always hide the cache back where you find it. Make sure you hide it so that it is just a difficult (or more difficult) than it was when you found it.
Sign and date the log book. (you’ll probably want to log the find on the geocaching site too).
So, what does this have to do with the TEACHING with Technology blog? Well, kids love treasure hunts!! And what better way to get them outside and moving than a treasure hunt! So here’s how you’d do it in the classroom.
Figure out a topic (I’ll list some ideas in a minute).
Hide caches (with puzzles or clues or questions) around the school yard.
Use the gps systems to make the location of the caches.
Send kids (groups of 4 would work) to go find the caches and solve the problems.
I had the opportunity to observe a group of third grades geocaching last Friday. The teacher, Meggen Devlin, developed a Science Lesson that incorporated the gps systems. She had students find hidden caches full of pictures different types of “trash.” Students retrieved the pictures, and then based on what they had learned from a previous part of the lesson, used the pictures to make predictions about the rate in which the different items they found (all types of materials) decompose. The gps section of the lesson was just a part of a bigger lesson, but it sure got the kids excited and active, and make them think!
I’ve also had the opportunity to talk with fellow ITRT, and expert geocacher, Debbie Newman. Debbie has created geocaching units to help students review for SOL tests. You can view some of her resources here.
Finally, our very own Victoria Salvat tried geocaching with Kindergartners! She had parents help with the activity. She hid Easter eggs full of sight words, and had students use the gps units to find them, and then read the words to the parent. Here’s a video from her blog!
Have students create shapes by marking waypoints for each corner. Create a grid map showing the shapes and waypoints.
Hide caches with coins or other math items. Have students solve math problems and bring back the correct answer.
Have students measure objects at each cache (pencils or some other object). Have them find the average length.
Each cache has a clue to answer an ultimate problem.
Waypoint the corners of a space and then find the perimeter of it.
Have them find a type of triange at each cache. When they are finished, have them sort by properties.
Some other ideas:
Have students find certain trees in the school yard. Have the decide if it is deciduous or coniferous.
Hide objects dealing with a famous person. Have the decide which person. (ex. peanut for G.W. Carver, baseball for Jackie Robinson, and so on.
Geo-Bingo! Have students match pictures of items at their caches with a bingo card they carry. I think we are going to do something like this with careers…matching careers with tools…in a Guidance class.
If you get fancy, you may want to place a travel coin or a geobug in a cache, and track it with your students! Or create your own cache, and track who visits, and where they are from!
We have a classroom set of GPS units that you can use in the classroom! Just let your librarian or I know, and well be glad to make sure the set is delivered to you. I would love to help you set up and run the activity as well.
Does anyone have anymore great ideas? If so, please post below!