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Constructivist Learning: A Workshop for Teachers
This workshop has three overarching goals: (1) learn how to use GPS receivers, (2) learn to geocache, gather real-world data, and problem-solve authentic and personally meaningful challenges or inconsistencies, and (3) explore new ideas in any curricular area relevant to professional development or K-12 education.
Participating in a geocache activity helps learners understand the features and capability of GPS receivers. Through a hands-on workshop, teachers learn how to use GPS units, digital data, and online resources that support these technologies. By gathering and using authentic data, workshop participants (1) engage in the scientific process, (2) problem solve as needed to explore the options on their GPS units and find their geocaches, (3) collaborate with other learners to explore and explain the world around them, and (4) exhibit how these new technologies can be used effectively in their own classrooms. Finally, learners explore a new knowledge realm relevant to their own professional development or their K-12 curriculum. All workshops use a learn-by-doing, constructivist approach to ensure that participants are actively engaged, challenged to learn and integrate new concepts, working collaboratively with other participants, learning from their mistakes, and applying their new understandings/skills to their own teaching/learning situations.
Purpose and Goals
Upon completion of GPS/Geocaching Workshop, participants will be able to:
Three hours: one 3-hour session, or two 1.5-hour sessions
The workshop leader provides the following materials:
No external, multiple-choice test is needed to assess student success. Instead, evidence of student success comes through observation. The workshop leader continually monitors whether students are learning new concepts and skills based upon participants’ behaviors using the GPS units while searching for geocaches. The workshop leader adjusts her instructional techniques, pace of instruction, and need for individualized instruction based on these observations. Further evidence of student success will be participants’ level of interest in using GPS units and geocaching in their own classrooms, their professional development, and their personal lives at the conclusion of the workshop.
During this session, participants will work in teams to complete an engaging and interactive geocaching activity in an outdoor location. They will use GPS units to locate hidden caches that provide clues to the central principles of constructivist learning. After discussing what they have learned from this problem-based activity, they will discuss ways that constructivist learning environments can help create active, reflective, student-centered learning that is socially relevant and personally meaningful to learners. This workshop is extended by the facilitator’s Web site.
Description of Geocache Contents
Roles for Team Members
Team Member A - Recorder - Records search process and discussion
Topics for Discussion
Since the role of the teacher in constructivist learning environments is that of coach or facilitator, it is important that the teacher engage in extensive planning of this hands-on learning activity. Gathering meaningful and representative items to serve as “clues” that will stimulate thinking and discussion among students is vitally important to the success of this workshop. Two idea webs, Web 1 and Web 2, created with Inspiration™ 8.0, show what the students found in each cache (circled in red) and ideas students generated about constructivist learning after discussing each of the “clues” found in the twelve geocaches.
Another group of participants created an idea web (also created with Inspiration™ 8.0), entitled What We Learned About GPSs and Geocaching.Iinterestingly, it does not comment on any specifics of using GPS technology; instead, it focused on the learning process, zeroing in on five areas participants found most important: collaboration, sense of excitement and engagement, mistakes, discovery learning, and teacher considerations.