Geocaching in the classroom : Minds on the Move Team France
Project Summary We are 7 partner schools from 7 different countries: Italy, France, Greece, Lithuania, Poland, Portugal and Spain. Some of us deal with general education, others with vocational course. We have different stories and individualities but we are all highly committed in finding ways to keep our teaching methods up with life’s challenges.
We work with students aged 14-17, some of them are brilliant and very motivated, but a big number seem to have lost interest in school and academic subjects; they may certainly be as brilliant as their peers, but we need to trigger some reaction in order to activate their learning potential. In our schools we also have relevant percentages of students with special needs, of any kind, and difficult social background. There are students from different ethnic groups, some of them still having problems with our countries’ main language; others come from poor communities and they have financial difficulties. In order to cope with this situation teachers are already using new teaching methods with a cross curricular approach: team/group work, class projects, peer to peer activities, new forms of learning outside the school e.g. museums, labs, theatre, educational trips and workshops, practical activities to develop soft skills, vocational course, work placements, cooperation with the local institutions or business enterprises, participation to international projects. All these initiatives also involve our disadvantaged students. Geocaching is not very much used in school these days, and actually still a small number of people seem to know it, yet for us it can turn into a powerful way to arouse our students curiosity and put their minds on the move. The basic idea is quite simple: Geocaching is a treasure hunting game that exploits the use of a Global Positioning System (GPS) as well as other navigation tools to hide and seek a logbook, or objects, information, directions…, things which geocachers call “caches”. So, basically, Geocaching is an entertaining way to explore unknown places, usually a valid alternative to other more common free time activities, but we envision we can exploit its potentials to produce flexible, creative, innovative teaching/learning units and modules. Using the same approach and tools, and sharing our good practices, we want to create some Geocaching Trails in order to offer our students a first-hand-experience on some key areas: Tourism & Geography, Art, Food & Sports, and Science; each set of trails will include INclusive prototypes which will allow any person, no matter their impairment to perform it. At first teachers will learn how to devise effective Trails exploiting each partner’s expertise and background, and students will try, test and validate the trails. In a second phase of the project, students will learn how to produce geocaching experiences by themselves and they thus will be involved in peer-to-peer activities, inside their schools, but also for the sake of their local communities and, during some Blended Mobilities, their international friends. The creation of Geocaching Trails will also require the use of competences acquired with other key subjects like Maths, Information Technology, Physics, and Foreign Languages. These subjects are often perceived as difficult and boring, but presenting them as necessary to accomplish tasks relevant to the results of the project will change perspectives and improve students’ performances. At the end of the two years the partnerships will have produced and shared a series of Geocaching Trails that will be added to the school syllabuses and enrich the students’ curriculum. In addition, the learning-by-doing process will enable students to acquire soft (transversal) skills that will be extremely useful in their future lives: team work, critical observation, cooperation, negotiation, problem solving, resilience, creative thinking. To run the project, each partner school will appoint a National Team/Club that will coordinate, promote and manage all the activities. There will also be expert classes engaged in the validation process and all the school communities will be able to participate to the school dissemination and training events. Once outcomes are ready, there will be public dissemination events to foster the use of the Trails produced. Local Education and Tourist Boards will be involved and will sustain the project by making results available through their platforms. Local media will be invited to official events in order to understand the potential of the project and advertise it. Thanks to a Project Website all the Trails will be made available to a wider number of users, for an unlimited period of time. Our common goal is to teach in a positive environment, to students who are happy to attend school, and we strongly believe Geocaching will give our bows some extra arrows to shoot. The aim is to make them ready to meet the world challenges with a stronger sense of who they are, what they know and their potential.