Finding Our Own Way: Using GPS Units to Learn Geography
My students need Celestron - reTrace Lite Personal GPS devices for geography, math, science, and language arts integrated lessons.
Geocaching has been around for twelve years, but I just discovered it in the summer of 2012 when a friend took me. Right away, I saw the potential to teach my fifth graders hands-on lessons to learn longitude and latitude. Then my brain started buzzing with other subjects that could be integrated.
I teach two sessions of Language Arts, Social Studies, and Technology.
My fifth graders come from varied backgrounds and sometimes it's very apparent who the "haves" and "have nots" are. Living in the Pacific Northwest has limited some of their travels because our states are so big in this corner. For those who can't physically travel across the United States that we are studying this year, I need to find ways to make history and geography come alive for them.
Using my professional staff development money, I purchased one GPS unit that we share as a class to learn about geography concepts such as direction, longitude, and latitude. Having six more units will allow my students to work in groups of four to do field studies in our own playground or on walking field trips. I can send them on scavenger hunts by giving them the coordinates and they have to report back what they found.I can have them send me coordinates of assigned "landforms" to find. I can send them to multiple locations having them solve math riddles first to get the next coordinates. The educational activities are endless and I've joined a great forum for more ideas.
With the strong emphasis on reading, writing, math and science in my state,the time for teaching social studies has dwindled.
Students need an understanding of the geography, history, economy, and culture of the United States and the World. Using GPS units will allow me to catch their interest from the get-go and perhaps inspire them to discover more about the world around them. And, frankly there are adults who still don't understand how to use coordinates! My fifth graders can teach them.
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