Follow Up: My Wonderful World Donors Choose Challenge

Those of you who have been following our campaign for a
while probably remember the My
Wonderful World Challenge
we created last fall. Basically, we selected a
series of geographic proposals submitted by teachers on the Donors Choose
, and asked readers to help out with donations. We raised $1000 dollars
to help fund ten proposals in total. Louise Monroe, a fourth and fifth grade
teacher at Frazier Elementary School in Greensboro, North Carolina, submitted a
project entitled “Geocaching: Geo-Spatial Technology,” which called for  GIS equipment to explore the exciting world of
geocaching. “Geocaching” is a type of modern-day treasure hunt that requires
mathematical and geospatial knowledge to uncover clues and find hidden

One of the best parts about the Donors Choose program is
that they provide donors with substantive feedback from the teachers and
students whose specific projects they helped fund. Recently, we received a
package from Ms. Monroe’s class. For us, this was the most valuable part of the
whole experience! We were thrilled to hear how students were using geocaching
to develop a broad range of practical skills and learn about their surrounding
community. As one student said, geocaching not only helped expand her
geographical understandings, but also helped her to learn “the benefits of
geocaching and the beauty and the mysteries of the outdoors.” And if that’s not
enough, she went on to explain that “Many of us also get a good P.E. workout.”
How about that: a workout that is fun AND educational!

We were especially happy to hear that word of our donation
spread to a group of geocaching hobbyists, and eventually spurred another
individual to get involved by providing additional GIS units and hands-on
guidance to the students. This got me to thinking about the importance of
dialogue between those inside and outside the world of education. Perhaps a
significant obstacle to improving the way students learn is simply a lack of such
dialogue. Like all issues, it seems that it is when people from different walks
of life, be those differences of culture, profession, gender, etc., begin to truly
listen to each other, that real change comes about.

What do you think? Do you agree or disagree with my
observation? Why or why not?

Now try this: Think of a hobby or talent that you are
passionate about. Then, imagine how you can use the knowledge or understandings
required to do that activity to speak to students to help them learn or
experience something new about the world. Maybe you’re into baking or cooking
for example, a skill that requires knowledge of math, science, GEOGRAPHY
(“Where did that pasta come from?”), history, etc…the list goes on. Just
remember that this should be a dialogue. Students are in no way simple blank
slates waiting to be filled with knowledge. They have thoughts, ideas and
imaginations of their own, and it is this creativity that can become a valuable
asset to your own interests or fields.

Thought of yours yet? Great! Now let us all know what it is,
and how students could benefit from it, by posting your response as a comment to
this blog.

Jeremy for My
Wonderful World

P.S. Be sure to stop by our blog tomorrow to catch Part II
of our guest blogger Silvia Tolisano’s coverage of the “Teddy Bears Around the
World” project. (Read Part I here).

2 thoughts on “Follow Up: My Wonderful World Donors Choose Challenge

  1. Hi Kelly,
    Thanks for letting us know about your proposal, which seems to have similarities to the travel bear project described by guest blogger Silvia Tolisano. Perhaps you might even collaborate with Silvia to exchange your travel buddies between Florida and North Carolina? MWW supports all educators who are working to bring geography into the classroom. READERS: Please consider donating to Kelly’s project–it’s a perfect opportunity to give kids the power of global knowledge!
    Sarah Jane

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