As an Outdoor enthusiast I have always enjoyed the challenge of getting outside and exploring the natural environment. This enjoyment is what made me seek a career within the Physical and Outdoor Education fields. Flash forward to today’s students and there is sadly an ever growing mix of kids who simply do not leave their house during the course of the day.
Technology is often mentioned as one of the biggest distractions when it comes to today’s kids and their ability to get active. However technology can and should be used in a way that not only brings new possibilities but actively encourages kids to get off the couch and into the outdoors. Here are a few tools and activities that utilise Global Positioning Systems (GPS) that seek to do exactly that.
Geocaching which is actually pronounced geo-cashing, is a worldwide game of hiding and seeking treasure. A geocacher can place a geocache anywhere in the world, pinpoint its location using GPS technology and then share the geocache’s existence and location online. Anyone with a GPS device can then try to locate the geocache. Check out the introductory video below.
A typical cache is a small waterproof container containing a logbook. Larger containers such as plastic storage containers (Tupperware or similar) or ammo boxes can also contain items for trading, usually toys or trinkets of little value.
Geocaches are currently placed in over 100 countries around the world and on all seven continents, including Antarctica After 10 years of activity there are over 1.1 million active Geocaches published on various websites devoted to the activity such as www.geocaching.com
How to use in your Physical Education/Outdoor Ed classroom?
- Have your students race to find a series of Geocaches around your town that require them to work as a team to solve puzzles in order to receive the next geocache co-ordinate.
- Complete an active revision session for an exam by hiding questions at geocaches around your school. Students then have to track them down and answer to move to the next cache. This is a really engaging and active way to revise, that gets your students out of the classroom. (for more information see my blog post at here)
- Use Geocaching as a way to explore interesting natural environments in your local area. Simply setup geocaches at a point of interest and include a series of questions or discussion prompts for the location. This forces students to think that little bit deeper about the place they are visiting.
- Use a series of geocaches on the school oval or local park to teach anatomical concepts. Basically each geocache would represent a piece of the human anatomy and students would walk around discovering the caches in a sequential order. For example a teacher could set up a chain of caches that took students through a simulation of how the blood or oxygen flows through the body. This would allow kinesthetic learning minded students the opportunity to cement their understanding.
To get started with Geocaching head over to www.geocaching.com and purchase a GPS handheld
With my recent fixation on mobile applications, I thought it would be worthwhile refocusing some attention to sharing the web2.0 tools I have used in classes recently. Here is my 20/20 presentation. 20 tools, 20 slides, 20 seconds a slide – no script. This could get messy….
So what are you favourite tools?
In recent months, this blog has been captivated by mobile applications, however its impossible not to be given the mind blowing capacity they are delivering to the classroom.
The Vital Signs App by Phillips (only for iPad), allows for remote heart and breathing rate analysis. Simply place an iPad 2 on a table in a well lit room , place your face inside the box on screen and the app will go to work to determine your heart rate and breathing rate.
How is this possible you might ask, well heart rate is actually completed quite easily by comparing the tiny changes in colour of your face which occurs as a result of capillary refill. The measurement of breathing rates occur via simply counting the rise and fall of the users chest. Check out the video below
So how accurate is it? Well to be honest the results from my tests in comparison with a Polar Heart Rate monitor were excellent, the app usually placed me within one or two heart beats. However the problem with measuring breathing rate is that reactivity is likely to occur, in that users will begin breathing less naturally, the more they think about it, ultimately effecting their result. However this is only usually a small impact and more noticeable during complete rest.
Use in the classroom?
- Incorporate the iPad into a station during circuit training and have students assess their cardiorespiratory response
- Discuss the acute responses to exercise in a class
- Fix the iPad to a wall during practical sessions for students to check their associated work rates
- Contrast two students to determine the effect training has on their results
Although no one sets out writing a blog for personal gain or recognition, I think it is important to highlight the amazing work done by educators in the world of blogging. Find my 2011 Edublog award nominations below.
Best Individual Tweeter – Alec Couros
Not a day goes by where Alec isn’t sharing gems of useful, thought provoking ideas. With over 15,000 followers he is an edtech rockstar.
Best Twitter Hashtag – #pegeeks
Started by benpaddlejones over a year ago and grown from strength to strength in 2011. The best place for PE Teachers from around the world to connect and share ideas and best practice.
Best Class Blog – 2kmand2kj @Leopold Primary School
Look no further than this blog for proof that blogging can become a teaching focus in any classroom. I would really love to have been in this class when I was younger
Best Blog - The Clever Sheep
For years this has been the number one blog inside of my RSS reader. After being lucky enough to meet Rodd earlier this year, I find myself reading his posts with an increased level of interest. Always thought provoking and meaningful.
For further information on the awards, or to nominate your own blogs, check out the following link
Earlier this year an app came out called ‘SprintTimer’ and it dramatically improved the recording of sprint times to near olympic level accuracy, allowing anyone to produce an accurate photo finish.
Given the enormous impact this app had, I was excited to be able to preview and test a new app by the same developer. The new app, called ‘fitnessMeter’ is simply amazing. Not only does it improve the accuracy of non laboratory testing, but it redefines the methods in which they are recorded. Bringing you a simple, yet truly powerful tool for the PE classroom. A serious must have…
Check out the video of the app in action below or grab it here
As my students are busy studying for their final examination, I was fortunate enough to be able to complete a brief interview with Exercise Physiologist Dr Grant Abt. In the interview I sought clarification for my students about how creatine supplementation can enhance performance.
Now, given that my students are actually no longer at school, (currently studying for exams), I decided to send the MP3 file in an MMS message to the students mobile phones ensuring that they could listen to it wherever they were. To make this possible I used the excellent www.smsglobal.com.au
Although the conversation was short, it proved to be highly valuable and emphasised the breaking down of barriers that have held back learning for years. Experts are just a mouse click away.