"The Instructional Technology Department of Richmond County Schools in Hamlet, NC has really gotten excited about taking the fast growing hobby of Geocaching and using it as a tool for enhancing instruction. About this time last year, two of my instructional technology facilitators and I attended a workshop on Geocaching. Were we ever excited about the possibilities for our school system!
"When we returned home, we started planning our staff development sessions for educators in Richmond County. We purchased 15 Garmin eTrex Legend GPS units, rechargeable batteries, and battery chargers. Then we scheduled classes. We were determined to use this exciting new tool to enhance the teaching of required curriculum areas as well as introduce the use of the GPS. Participants in our class were introduced to the sport of Geocaching, given background information about how the GPS works, and instructed about the operation and various components of our units. Then they had to locate a number of caches that had been hidden on the school grounds and reflect on their experience. Their next task was to use their creative talents and design caches for their fellow classmates to discover. Finally, they were to create a Geocaching lesson that they could use with their students. Wouldn’t you know that all our extensive, meticulous planning for this wonderful outdoor activity occurred on a day that was gloomy with torrential rains!!! But I told them, “Our GPS units are waterproof!” Even though the participants informed me that they were not waterproof, they put on their parkas and raincoats, grabbed their umbrellas, and off they went searching for treasure. Even with the deluge of rain I had teachers telling me that this was the “best workshop” they had ever attended!
"Our educational Geocaching differs from the sport of Geocaching in that all of the cache finds are directly related to what the teachers are required to teach. For example, in one cache which was located in a tree farm were leaves from different trees that they were to identify. Another cache contained a plastic gray squirrel, a box turtle, a pine needle, a picture of a dogwood blossom, and a picture of the cardinal – they were identifying the state symbols of North Carolina. A third cache was hidden at the base of the school mascot – a great big tiger! In the cache were a tape measure and worksheet and the participants had to measure the tiger’s right paw, his smile, and his right foot. Then they had to measure the same things on each of the team members. Upon returning to class they were to enter the measurements into a spreadsheet and create a graph showing the proportion of the team’s measurements with those of the tiger. These were simple activities, but through the excitement of geocaching, ones that will reinforce learning for our students.
"I’ll be sharing more of our adventures later. I also hope to share with you some of the preparation activities that go into creating a successful professional development activity."
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