Tuesday, December 20, 2016

Mobile Treasure Hunting: Connecting to Authentic Contexts

Recently I came across some apps that allow educators and parents to connect student learning to authentic contexts by participating in mobile treasure and scavenger hunts. The more that we can connect learning to authentic contexts (situated learning), the more that students can see the "why" of what they are doing in school. Mobile apps that allow teachers to design treasure hunts for students to do in their local community, can help them make these important connections. A few examples of tools that help create treasure or scavenger hunts include GeoHunt, Huntzz, Klikaklu, and GooseChase. All of them allow teachers (or students) to create their own scavenger hunts where students can participate and document their experiences (via image, geolocation, text or video). Most of them allow archiving of all the data collected. Some ways that these tools can be used are shared below.

Connect Learning Over School Breaks
Mobile scavenger hunting is a wonderful way to keep students focused on learning goals over the many school breaks. In addition, it would be a great summer stretch activity for students who are moving into a new grade, they could collect authentic data that they will be using in the Fall with their new teacher(s). For example, students going into 6th grade may collect lots of different images of local bugs, and document where they were found. Then when they do their 6th grade science unit on bugs in the Spring, they can pull up the authentic images of the bugs found from the previous summer to compare what they found. 

Social Studies
There are so many applications to social studies learning, in particular gathering data on local history, and local geography.  They can use the video submission to interview museum docents and curators, as well as collect historical interviews from citizens who participated in prominent historical events.  Finally, because the teachers can send videos with the missions, they can also help to guide and scaffold students learning by giving them hints and tips on how to interview or do historical inquiry at the museum. 

There is so much science in the local community, this is a wonderful way to collect images data and video data to use in the science classroom.  Such as students going to a local bog/lake and taking videos of the species, flora and fauna that they find.  Doing environmental experiments on water PH levels right at the local source (video submission) or interviewing local scientists and possibly even observing their work (again a great video submission).  In addition, teachers can ask partner schools in other states to also participate in the same hunt, looking for local scientific phenomena and sharing it.  This would allow for some authentic comparing and contrasting of data.

English Language Arts
Scavenger hunts and journalism can work nicely together.  Being able to go on an i-search to learn about local events, history, personal stories...etc.  Collect evidence for the story in forms of media and text, and then writing or blogging about the story.  In addition, students can conduct mini interviews and even write articles on the go through the apps.

What better way to do math than to be in the authentic world!  Measuring local structures by calculating area, perimeter, circumference...etc.  Doing engineering and figuring out the best location for a stop light and why.  Documenting the different times you are using math in your everyday lives and submitting it!

Work Langage

Students can participate in treasure hunts where they translate language in their community, or have conversations with native speakers.

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