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Middle School Librarian Brenda Stephens Organizes 5th & 6th Grade Goose Chase

by Jamie Bryant, Director of Strategic Marketing & Communications
 
The last thing you want to do is send your kids off to school and have them embark on a wild goose chase.  Or, is it?
 
GooseChase, the new and exciting app that gets people moving around and collaborating, has received lots of attention from conferences, team building activities, college campuses, and more.  Lake Conestee Nature Park is even holding it’s first-ever GooseChase Home Edition so families can learn all about the environment around us.  In education, the application can leverage technology for an experiential, self-directed learning experience.  Which is exactly how Brenda Stephens applied it.
 
Lydia Pettigrew divided fifth and sixth graders into teams of just three or four students, and the game was limited to 15 minutes in order to stay within COVID safety guidelines.  Using Chromebooks loaded with the GooseChase app, the hunt took place on Friday during CavTime.  When designing a hunt, a variety of “missions” can be used to deliver the best event.  The app was pre-loaded with questions and exciting challenges related to the Civil Rights Movement, created by Ms. Stephens. 
 
Melanie Gordon [Diversity and Inclusion Director] inspired me to think beyond just a book display for the Civil Rights Movement unit and the focus that we’re having on Black History month,” said Ms. Stephens.  “I had used the app before, and thought it would be an appropriate activity for the way Middle School students learn and think.” 
 
The “missions” required students to do various things, from locating different artifacts, snapping a photo, or submitting a video to receive points.  Missions included everything from locating a picture of journalist Jose Antonio Vargas and taking a picture with your team to creating a video stating six words to describe Melanie Campbell.  They could even strike a pose by locating a library book with a group of civil rights leaders and posing their group as the individuals on the cover of the chosen book.  Groups could track progress against competitors to see where they stood.  “My main goal,” Ms. Stephens said, “was to get them to look at some civil rights leaders that they haven’t looked at before.”  One of the stations was to look at the March on Washington in 1963 and write two facts that their team did not already know about the event. 
 
The goal was not necessarily to complete every station, but to be selective in the challenges you choose and maximize your points.  Completing the mission correctly also mattered.  Submissions that did not accurately address the mission were deleted by Ms. Stephens, teaching students that their hard work and attention to detail matters— not only with this game, but in life.  “The best part,” Ms. Stephens said, “was coming back together in advisory groups to see what everyone discovered, watch everyone’s videos, and listen to them share facts that they didn’t previously know.”
 
As it turns out, a wild Goose Chase was a great way to end the week.  Ms. Stephens says she looks forward to using the application with seventh and eighth graders this spring during their civil rights unit.
 
“If you feel the urge, don’t be afraid to go on a wild goose chase. What do you think wild geese are for anyway?”
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