Thursday, October 22, 2009

TOS Review -- Educaching

We attempted geocaching once. Well, twice, because my memory got fuzzy after about six months and I again found myself swept away with the notion of search and discovery. Both times we spent a lot of time walking, a lot of time hunting, and the ride home wondering what we did wrong.

Well, my memory got fuzzy again, because now a couple years have lapsed, so when I had an opportunity to review a product that combined geocaching with education, I couldn’t resist. And, as Kate Zieglar says in the forward, “We all know that U.S. children have become more sedentary. Educaching gets students out of their seats building, exploring, and cooperatively learning.” How could I argue with that?

As I started to read the manual my excitement began to build. The uses for this method of teaching are endless! I couldn’t wait to begin.

Product: Educaching GPS Based Curriculum for Teachers
Details: 128 pages that take you from a novice GPS user to an informed teacher able to incorporate a geocaching type activity into an engaging lesson plan
Cost:$32.00 plus $6.95 S&H (ebook version is same cost, but with no shipping)

In a nutshell, you hide various activity centers in containers around the "school grounds" (aka, your yard -- but feel free to do this at a park or other location as well). The students then seek them out and perform or discuss the items in the containers. At the end you discuss the activity and what you learned or complete a project building on what you learned together.

Many of the topics cover multiple subject areas – math, history, art, science, and English all in one lesson! These lessons create the perfect learning environment for every learning style. This is not intended to be used every day, probably not even every week, but as an occasional activity to help draw the students into a topic of study in a unique format.

What we loved . . .
- It takes you out of doors!
- Requires kids to work together
- Puts learning in an unconventional format
- Everyone got involved
- We learned about so much through this study -- how GPS systems work, how to use a GPS to get where you want to go, and how much fun geocaching can be
- I didn't have to figure out what to hide on my own. The book provides you with 20 ready made lesson plans on a wide variety of topics and I easily found one that was age appropriate and sounded interesting to learn about. This book makes it VERY easy.

What we tweaked . . .
  • This manual and methodology is geared more toward a traditional classroom setting with a larger group of children. Some tweaking in the execution is necessary to make it work in a homeschool setting.
  • The mention of an hour of prep per lesson turned me off a bit. If I spent an hour prepping every lesson I had to teach everyday, I would not be able to sleep, or cook, or clean, or eat. This is obviously not a realistic part of the regular school day. I don’t think I even have an extra hour some weeks! But, for a once in a while, change of pace, it is well worth the extra effort.
  • With all the work going in to it, I wanted more than just my few kids to benefit from it. So, we planned this for a homeschooling activity with a group of about 25 people (including adults). It worked quite well both for those that had experience geocaching and those that had never heard of it before.
All in all, a fun and purposeful product. If you continue to seek out ways to teach your kinesthetic learner, or want to explore a teaching method that thinks outside the box, you will enjoy browsing the Educaching website and considering their product.

For more TOS Crew reviews on this product, check out the TOS Crew blog.

Disclaimer: This ebook was provided to me free of charge from Educaching as part of my participation in The Old Schoolhouse Homeschool Crew. I received no additional compensation and the opinions expressed here come from my personal experiences and sincere thoughts.


Z if for Ramble said...

wow, what a neat tool...goodness, has homeschooling changed since the days i spent with my rod and staff books...humm, can you tell me, are the lessons 20 that they have prepared for the instructor Biblically based lessons or are they secular? What are the ages of your children who did this activity? I appologize, I havent read your blog before so I dont know.

Thank you!

5intow said...

Zealia, good questions.

Homeschooling changes by the moment! With a larger audience the products continue to expand as well. We do still love our Rod and Staff Grammar books though. :-)

The Educator's manual is prefaced with an acknowledgment of God and the authors' Savior Jesus Christ, and there is nothing contrary to Scripture in the lessons that I recall. With that said, the lessons are not laced with Scripture or focused around Biblical concepts.

He clearly wants to attract a broader audience and references National Teaching Standards as well. So, while I go out of my way to shout about curriculums that keep the Bible as their foundation, this one is acceptable as it is easily compatible with Scripture, and most of the topics are focused on purely academic topics (averages, cause and effect, chemical changes, birds, estimation, etc.)

Of the 20 lessons, 12 are geared toward beginners (I would say 7-10 yr olds), 6 toward intermediate learners (8-12) and 2 are advanced (10 and up). Each category gets a little more complex in the use of the GPS as well.

We chose one from the beginner category for our mixed age group and it worked well. My own kids range from 4-12, but the core of the group that day were 8-10.

Hope that helps. Thanks for stopping by, and seeking more information.