One thing that teachers love more than anything besides chocolate and Starbucks coffee, is learning new things. This weekend I attended a technology conference sponsored by KernCUE. I came home feeling energized and a bit overwhelmed, but full new ideas.
Last year I contacted the Pacific Crest Trail Association to get lesson plans for teaching a unit on the PCT to middle schoolers. I was super pumped when they offered their assistance with an actual class visit, trail maintenance training, stickers, and brochures, but they had no formal curriculum to share. While on the trail this summer I had fun dreaming of what an opportunity this would be not only for the kids, the thru-hiking community, and the PCTA, but mostly for myself. How cool would it be to share what I love most to students while integrating science, math, technology, nutrition, reading, writing, and physical fitness? I have since struggled with how to plan, deliver, organize, and share the finished product. This conference gave me tangible and free ideas to make this happen and more importantly the motivation to get started. Yay.
Which brings me to my latest application for one of my favorite i Phone apps Everytrail. I have used the tracking and sharing app for a couple of years and have posted many a map from their site on this blog. Last week I led a short fall field trip for young kids. To prepare for the hike I walked the route a couple of days prior to scope out foliage, geography, and fall changes. This is a routine I have done for years before planned field trips, but this time I used EveryTrail’s GPS app during the pre-hike. EveryTrail tracked the route, distance, total elevation gain and loss, and time hiked. Periodically during the pre-hike I used the camera feature within the app to take photos for a visual reminder of what and where I wanted to stop and share with the kids. I even used some of the photos to identify plants when I got home.
EveryTrail takes the guess-work out of planning ahead for group trips with answers to how far, how hard, and how long. After using the app I realized how useful this tool would be for any leader planning a trip for a group, whether on trail, in the city, or at a museum. Users should be aware that while the phone app is running, it is using battery and is best used for day trips only.
So this got me thinking about the amazing hidden values i Phone apps may have that are not being used. Readers, do you have cool uses for apps that are helping you get outside? Please share.