Seattle teacher using zombies to teach geography

KING 5's Meg Coyle reports

SEATTLE -- A Seattle teacher may have found the key to successfully teaching middle school kids. It takes patience, creativity, and plenty of zombies.

David Hunter was a geography teacher with a problem. His students just weren't connecting with things like archipelagos, plateaus and tributaries. The learning landscape was pretty barren.

"I knew there were much more exciting ways to talk about geography," Hunter said.

So he looked for inspiration in the monster of the moment and mapped out a curriculum that involves surviving an undead apocalypse. It's called zombie-based learning.

In order to survive, you've got to know zombies and you've got to know maps.

"Knowing where to go and what resources to look for, how to get there, where people are moving and where people are located would really help you," said Hunter.

Shana Brown's 6th grade geography class is one of more than 1,300 classrooms using Hunter's curriculum.

"When you ask students at the end of class, What's today's takeaway?' They all get it. There's just not a lot of re-teaching needed," said Brown.

That's because, when you speak zombie, you speak like a middle school student.

"Kids can talk about something that they think a lot about but still be doing their school work," said 6th grader Cooper Mahlin.

David Hunter says zombie-based learning is less about gore and more about tapping into your inner-zombie to grasp maps and other concepts.

"What you really see is students planning what they would do. A lot of the outbreak is in your imagination, so you're presented with these ideas and problems you have to solve but the students take it with their imagination from there," said Hunter.

The textbook is a comic book that Hunter describes as part graphic novel, part apocalypse survival tutorial. He's working on a second volume now and he's looking at ways to apply zombies to other subjects in school.


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