Monday, November 25, 2013

Where in the world is Mr. Day? - by Rob McClure

Donna Morton’s fourth grade class at Windham’s Manchester School is studying geography while looking for Mr. Day. It’s similar to the game “Where in the World Is Carmen Sandiego?” only Carmen is a stuffed moose from Maine named Marco who gets to travel around the world on UPS jet flown by Windham’s Kevin Day aka Mr. Day, who is also the parent of one of Mrs. Morton’s students, Audrey Day. 

When Mr. Day’s job takes him across the globe, he brings Marco along and challenges the kids to find him. The clues, sent by Mr. Day are posted on a website run by Morton. As soon as the clues are posted, the kids set out to locate Mr. Day and Marco using whatever resources they can. Some of the kids use EarthView, some use Google Earth, and others use the atlas. Whatever they decide works best for them is ok with Morton, who reminds them “As in life, there is rarely only one way to do something.” 
Mr. Day came up with the idea for "Where in the World is Mr. Day?" when his son was in the fourth grade. He would correct his GROW (Geographic review of our world) homework and thought he could help make learning about geography more fun and more personal. “When I was a kid the world seemed like such a huge place, and to me countries where just names on a map. Because of the nature of my job the world has gotten a lot smaller and I've learned a lot about many different cultures. I hope that through this game I can pass on some of my experience to the kids,” Mr. Day said. 
“My favorite part of this game is engaging with the kids,” he said. “I've learned so much with my job and love the opportunity to share it. Knowing that I can add to what Mrs. Morton is teaching is rewarding.” 

Since every child has access to an Apple laptop, they can access technology such as Google’s Street View and virtually do things such as walk across the Golden Gate Bridge as they did when they narrowed in their search to San Francisco. They also learned about the Gold Rush and Alcatraz at that time. “It has really has evolved into a dynamic learning experience,” said Morton, who also doubles as the school’s technology coordinator. 

“Every year I try to do something new and exciting for the kids. I get excited when the kids get excited,” said Morton, who has been teaching for 37 years. She speaks in terms of adoration when referring to her students. She keeps photo albums of all her classes going back to 1976. “I’m now teaching my former students children. It’s like I am their grandmother and I love it,” said Morton. 

Morton wanted to acknowledge her fourth grade students who are participating in this project: Sam Baker, Colby Connolly, Audrey Day, Emma Debrosse, Lauren Deluca, Marshall Dillon, Mercedes Dyer, Wyatt Flibbert, Juliane Fuller, Xander Greslick, Gianna Howie, Kylee Keene, Alexa Lachance, Preston Linscott, Tayshawn Lindsay, Alexis Livingston, Dylan Mathieson, Xander Paradis, Norberto Ramos, Tyler Reynolds, Tanner Simagna and Kiara Stuart.
Together, Morton and Mr. Day have created a very special way for the students to learn not only geography, but also a broader awareness of the world including other cultures and religions. The kids were especially excited when they discovered the iconic McDonalds golden arches in China, only the letters were in Chinese, not English. “It’s really about solving a mystery, and who doesn’t love a mystery?” asked Morton as she pointed out exotic places where Mr. Day and Marco had been previously, places such as Dubai and South Korea.

“It has also been a fun for the parents, who can access the site with their kids at home. I try to encourage those parent/child conversations,” said Mr. Day. The website is accessible for anyone who would like to see the clues on the webpage and are welcome to guess along. 

The website address is:

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