Thursday, December 23, 2010

Rainy Day Blues? Try Terra Clues!

So you've planned this great caching lesson with your students only to find the weather not cooperating! If inclement weather is stopping you in your tracks, there are many indoor options from which to choose. Of course, GPS is not able to be used indoors without some pretty sophisticated (and expensive) equipment. If the computer lab is open, try Terra Clues for Schools: a free google maps-integrated scavenger hunt. Log in for a free teacher's account and you can create your own online hunts or use already-made hunts. You can assign a class username and password for your students to log in with and can even track their progress by their individual sign-in name. I found that some of my students enjoyed this so much that several of them created their own! Try this Tutorial Hunt to see how it works. Then, check out some hunts I stored in my classroom page for my students to have access to. The username is: educaching and the password is woodland. Many of these hunts are educational like exploring continents and oceans or studying Native Americans, but some are just for fun like finding locations from the Harry Potter series or searching for famous baseball stadiums. The idea here is that students are searching and digging for knowledge using Google as a search engine, as well as searching spatially with layers of mapping. Try it out and let me know what you think!

Stay tuned for more rainy day ideas!

Thursday, December 9, 2010

Money, Money, Money...

How can money be scrounged up for all those GPS units for your class or school? There are plenty of resources out there. If you're new to the process, you're probably wondering about how many to buy or what type is the best. I am hoping to answer questions like this in subsequent posts, but for now, do some research and try a few of the websites listed in the document below. Also, keep your eye on Apisphere's Geomate, Jr.. For districts who want the most bang for the buck, this little GPS packs a mean punch. For around $70 per receiver, you get a user-friendly, mac/pc compatible, geocaching-ready device. The best part is, Apisphere has a custom cache page where you can create and save your own teacher-made caches on your school campus and easily download the waypoints to your geomate receivers.

There are many options out there and many questions you'll want to research like features, brands, other field tools to purchase, etc. Do not be discouraged by a lack of money in your district. If you believe that using GPS with your students can be a great motivational and educational tool to help your students succeed, like I do, then put in the time to make it happen! Check some of the resources below and let me know others you find so they can be shared.

Happy hunting!