Virtual Field Trips

Virtual Field Trips Part 2 – Making the Learning Stick

Make the Learning Stick

 

On a traditional field trip, teachers or venues often provided scavenger hunts, worksheets, group projects, or memory pages for students to bring home a bit of the experience and solidify what they learned.  Virtual field trips take it a step further by often connecting you to social media groups that extend the experience, games, quizzes, and follow-up projects.

It has never been easier to give your students the world, and have them remember where they went.  When students are engaged, their potential soars.

Be Prepared

While virtual field trips take a lot of the prep work off of the teacher by providing links and apps for further learning, there is still preparations that must be made before embarking on an adventure. One of the chief tenets of teaching, like the Boy Scouts, is “always be prepared.”

  1. Check that all audio-visual equipment and available technology works properly and can sync together to provide a total experience. Flying over the Savanna is amazing but sound would definitely improve the journey.
  2. Click on every link and make sure that it is active and accurate. The Internet is always changing.  The “trip” you want to take may have been created four years ago, which is like ions in the digital world.  It may still be a worthwhile venture, but you want to be aware of what aspects work and what doesn’t.
  3. Make sure all content is appropriate for your study and students. Just as there are always changes, there are pitfalls on the Internet, namely seemingly innocent links that take you to malicious downloads or sites.  Ensure that your trip will be a safe one for your technology and students by previewing all the links and content before introducing them.
  4. Create a list of recommended reading and “surfing” for after the field trip. Make up a follow up activity list with books available from your school or local library, websites with additional information, and/or apps the correlate to the subject matter presented.
  5. Set the stage and the schedule before you depart. Even though there is no physical traveling involved, virtual field trips still need an itinerary and time allotment. Is there a way to clear the whole afternoon for your class?  Do you only have students for 40 minutes? How many class periods will it take to complete the entire field trip and follow up activities?  Are there any supplies, such as colored pencils or astronaut ice cream that would enrich the experience?  Make sure that you treat this trip as you would one that requires permission slips and plan well.

 

Optional Extras

 

If you have the time and resources, there are some fun extras that could really make a virtual field trip come to life.

 

  1. Have a picnic lunch. Ask your class to brown bag it on field trip day and set up a picnic area inside your classroom or on the school grounds.
  2. Add the local flavor and music. Are you going to a foreign land or region of the good old US of A?  Consider having a potluck of local fare.  Hand out recipe options a couple weeks before.  (Please, take into consideration allergies and have all food labelled) While you dine, listen to some regional or cultural music via an mp3 player, computer, or phone.
  3. Set up shop! What is a highlight of every trip?  The gift shop, of course.  Sell pencils and erasers that match the theme of the trip.  Print out bookmarks or activity packets.  Use as a class fundraiser or have students cash in points earned during the regular school year.

 

Can’t Find What You Want? Create Your Own!

 

“Pre-packaged” jaunts are great resources but no one says they are the only way to go.  Create your own tailored to your needs and curriculum. With a little bit of effort and a few clicks of the mouse, you can create memories to last a lifetime.

  1. Consult Pinterest for activities and photos.
  2. Find a relevant video on Please, remember to pre-screen entire video AND the suggestions that pop up at the end. Certain surprises are never welcome.
  3. See if there are any related organizations, tourist bureaus, or foundations with informative sites. These may also be able to provide you with additional literature or free items for your gift shop.

 

Where would you take your students if even the sky weren’t the limit? Have you taken a virtual field trip?  How did it go?

Consider bringing your class or going on our global voyage this October!

Education Across Borders

Education Across Borders

Education is the key to breaking free from poverty. It provides the means necessary to rise above circumstances and make a better start for the future.  Knowledge is power and millions of children are left powerless through a lack of educational opportunities.

 

At the same time, where education abounds, it is important to remember to educate the entire person.  Memorizing facts alone is not what helps to create leaders and innovators.  Children need inspiration. They need to move outside their comfort zone and be able to work on a team.  However, the greatest skill that children must learn, if we want a brighter tomorrow, is compassion.

 

Education Across Borders (EAB) serves some of the poorest people of the world.  Centered in the coffee farming region of the Dominican Republic, EAB is working to change the lives of those who so desperately need hope for the future. Their greatest asset, though, is that they teach the lessons of empathy, multiculturalism, and hard work to American students and adults in the process of improving lives in Dominican Republic.

 

EAB’s primary focus is education and community building.  Through projects that provide sanitation, scholarships and greater access to education, and adequate housing, EAB has been serving the areas of Batey Libertad and Franco Bido for 20 years.

 

In the Dominican Republic, 42% of the population lives in poverty and only 10% of children graduate from high school. Yet, it is an area ripe for the best educational experience for groups of young people.  Through the Immersion Program, groups of teens and young adults perform short term service projects that have lasting results.

 

The Pentecost Project immerses participants in the realities of poverty and teaches them how to work together with community members to fill dire needs.  The futures of both residents and immersion volunteers are forever changed as the projects provide housing, sanitation, and health care.  The greater gift is “the hope of conscientization: developing the critical consciousness (of self, and of local and global communities) to understand the roots of injustice and oppression, in all forms, as well as the ability to convert compassion into action for the common good.”

 

EAB is not only building bridges between American teens and Dominican residents in the communities they visit.  A flip side of the education is the Community Exchange program that brings scholarship winners from both Batey Libertad and Franco Bido together to experience each other’s towns.  Though these two towns are not geographically distant, this trip is far reaching in scope.

 

Scholarship winners have the opportunity to integrate, understand each other, and bridge gaps between the poor coffee farmers and the children of Haitian workers seeking a better life.  The barriers of misunderstanding and marginalization are being toppled as the rising leaders of these regions learn to overcome discrimination.

Education Across Borders is at the head of the class for mitigating positive change in the world.  There is much to be learned from their models and practices that teach best through working hands and open hearts.  The epitomy of “One People, One Planet.”

 

Have you ever worked beyond your comfort zone to help in a culture much different than your own?  How did this experience better prepare you for your future?

Dad

My Dad Helped Me Build my Future

Thanks Dad.

It’s Father’s Day in the United States. For some this is a good day to Bar-B-Que or go out to dinner. For others, it is just another day or even a source of pain. For me, I can’t help but look back on my childhood and give thanks for the father that I had (and still have).

In no way am I claiming a perfect childhood. I have no rose colored glasses, I assure you. However, I do have a dad with an adventurous spirit and a love of education (and by default, educating). Together, with my mother, Dad created an educational whirlwind of a childhood and opened doors and opportunities that still help me today. So instead of talking about an article or some crazy technology innovation today, I’m going to share some memories and with them ideas that can help you build your child’s future.

Adventure.

It was not uncommon for my weekend to involve finishing Church services and my dad announcing when we hopped into the van that everyone needed to get inside, get changed and load up the car with beach chairs and towels. I’m sure a lot of kids in South Florida experienced that. Fewer experienced the three hour drive as we would go discover some new beach and the ham radio that we all had to be quiet so Dad could be on. My teenage self was not pleased with these Sundays because they prevented me from spending time with friends and watching TV. Looking back, I became an excellent navigator thanks to the multiple times we got lost in the pre GPS days. It’s a tool that I still use today. We also discovered isolated, beautiful beaches and had the chance to really explore them since they were not crawling with other families. So, pack a bag and take your kids on a local adventure today!

Interact.

Sometimes, instead of the ham radio in the car we would listen to him as he was sitting at his desk and talking to people around the world. He would often run mini contests when we had friends over, just to see how many contacts in how many countries we could make. When the twin towers were attacked, I didn’t need an explanation of where Afghanistan was and it wasn’t the first time I had heard about the Taliban. You see, one evening we were running a contest a few years earlier and we got to speak with a ham operating his illegal station from inside Afghanistan. I remember looking up the country and then the Taliban so I could understand why he couldn’t chat long. Had my father not been willing to interact with me or encourage me to do so with others, I never would have taken that time to learn.

Encourage.

There was never a dream that I had that my father didn’t say was possible. I went through a phase of wanting to be Scully from the X Files, and my dad told me I could absolutely do that. Even though that is nothing close to the career I have found myself in, I never doubted that I was capable. Encouragement to explore and discover who I am and where my interests were was a huge part of me being who I am today. There is no fear when I consider what I want to do in the future. Even now, when I tell my father I want to take on a new endeavor he talks me through the logistics and encourages me.

Educate.

I’m sure most of us have heard that we, as parents, are our children’s first teachers. A more accurate statement would be we are our children’s longest teachers. I’m still learning from my parents in my thirties and I can’t be the only one. I came close to a perfect score on the Vocabulary portion of the SAT. I’m sure part of the reason is that I have always been a voracious reader. However, a stronger part is likely my father. We would sit around the dinner table most evenings and enjoy a meal together as family. During that time there were many common topics and some not so common ones. Whatever the conversation landed on, we were each able to participate. Often, one of us would use a word that my father thought was inaccurate. At that point, we would be challenged to provide the definition of the word and if we did not know it, we would be required to get the dictionary and read the definition out loud. I love my expansive vocabulary and the only people who have offered a challenge in Scrabble in the past 15 years are my siblings.

 

We don’t have to do things the same way my father did, but we do need to consciously create and make available opportunities that encourage a love of learning. My father still does this with my children. While other kids are told to stop asking “Why?”, Dad is actively asking, “Do you know why?” It might drive you nuts but he is taking advantage of the sponges that children are. They absorb knowledge from all around them. So, today, go ask a child if they know why something happens. Listen to their answer and then help them discover what an adventure learning really is.

Happy Father’s Day to all of the dads out there and if you are an educational adventurer give yourself a pat on the back. You are a likely a big reason why your child LOVES to learn.

 

This post is dedicated to my father, a life long learner and adventurous educator. Happy Father’s Day. I love you.

Virtual Field Trips

Virtual Field Trips Part 1

Learning by Doing

 

There is a special kind of learning that occurs when children get to experience a topic rather than just study it. Their eyes light up, their minds engage, and their spirits soar. Using multiple senses make lasting impressions and pique curiosity.  If you want to keep learning fresh, you need to change up how it is done from time to time. The age old concept of field trips meets the new virtual world to create a learning platform like never before.

 

The Field Trip that Comes to You

 

Think back to third grade.  Whether it was five years or thirty-five years ago, you probably remember your annual field trip.  It was the pinnacle of excitement for the year.

With rising costs, budget cuts, and greater demands on classroom time, fitting in a field trip has become more difficult over the years. The sheer price of transportation is often more than can be reasonably met by the school and individual students.

What if you are studying the far away lands of Africa or Australia from your Illinois classroom?  Sure it would be great to experience these lands first hand, but what principal is going to approve that trip? Could you even imagine the fundraising it would require? How does that permission slip work?

Virtual field trips open doors to every teacher in every location!  Now, students in Paris can visit the Smithsonian in an afternoon.  A fourth grade class in Massachusetts can sail around the world and still make it to baseball practice and dinner.  The experience comes right to your locations with the touch of a fingertip!

Come back next week as we explain how to conduct a Virtual Field Trip!

 

For your consideration – If you could take a field trip anywhere, where would you go? Why?

Hovercraft and Education

Hovercraft and Education

I was recently on Twitter and came across videos of science classes that were racing hovercrafts as part of their lessons. It reminded me of my daughter’s third grade class. Students were divided into small groups and taught how to design a robot. They then got to build the robot and the student groups raced them the last week of school. This was genius! Not only did the children learn about robotics but they had to work as a team and build something.

 

After seeing the Twitter post, I went and looked up more information about students building hovercrafts. I came across a short article in Popular Mechanics.  It is great that a well-known magazine would talk about something (like teaching technology students how to build hovercraft) and a few years later schools from all over are replicating it. Sometimes, we learn better by doing.

 

In some parts of world action is still how students learn the majority of their knowledge. In industrial countries that call to action in the classroom is a key to innovation. Rather than learn about coding software through a book or someone yelling to a student, students get on a computer and code. The difference between these two methods is the first is teacher-centered learning and the second is student-centered. This visual by Paul Curtis offers a better explanation.

 

Who knows if by participating in this learning activity, a future designer for Toyota, Ford or Mercedes is created? Who knows if participating in designing or building a hovercraft or robot is going to spark excitement that lasts a student’s lifetime? Who knows if by participating in this learning activity, a future designer for Toyota, Ford or Mercedes? Previous Global Learn Day presenter, Dr. Terrence R. Redding, shared his thoughts about this when talking about “The First Moment of Lasting Excitement”. You can learn more about that here!

 

This is more of what Global Learn Day celebrates! Education opens doors, it excites us and helps us learn who we are and where we belong. Education builds a bridge to a better future. Across the globe, we are a learning people. We share our previous experiences and hopefully, we learn from them. Education, and our thirst for knowledge, is what helps us to unite and become “One People, One Planet”.

What excites you about learning? What incites you to learn more?

Assistive Technology – Building a Bridge

Assistive Technology – Building a Bridge

 

In the US and many industrialized countries, a parent has a child and begins to dream of his or her future. That might include what primary or secondary school the child will attend or if and where a child may obtain a higher education. The fear of parents with children born with special needs is that their children will not have the same opportunities as main stream kids. The questions begin with a diagnosis… Will my child need to be in a special school? Will there be a special classroom? Are there colleges that will accept and facilitate my child’s learning? This is a global challenge.

 

Assistive Technology has the ability to bridge the gap in Special Education and help students work towards an even brighter future than might previously have been imagined.  It is even being used in higher education, in schools such as Barnard and the University of New Hampshire. At these universities, K-12 schools and other institutions of learning, TECHNOLOGY is helping students with all kinds of special needs to learn. They can use iPads, text to speech, even a device that will highlight words on the screen as they are spoken out loud. This article talks about Assistive Technology with a little more depth, even highlighting one state that is working hard to make it possible to students.

 

Global Learn Day is a celebration of learning. We believe that education is a basic human right and should be accessible by every person on the planet. It is through education that mankind builds a bridge to a better future, a better tomorrow. In the case of students with special needs, using Assistive Technology allows the world to open up. It recognizes that any person can learn with the right tools. That is the beauty of education, with the right tools, it is available to each of us. We salute those schools and educators that embrace Assistive Technology and aide all to learn as much as possible around the globe.

 

What tools help you to learn? Do you know of someone who is innovating education, creating new ways to help his or her students learn? Let us know!

We are all Life Long Educators

Think back to your education experience. Was there a teacher who inspired you? What were the qualities about this individual that caused inspiration? Likely, this educator’s love of learning and knowledge engaged you in ways that you had previously not been engaged and you were excited to learn more. You became a sponge for what this person was teaching. This is because our excitement sparks excitement in others. Our excitement about learning is a bridge to others’ excitement.

 

Why do our children often enjoy similar hobbies, music, books and other interests as we do? It is often because we are excited to share them. For instance, my daughter loves to watch documentaries. A large reason behind this is that when she was younger we would watch them together rather than other shows. How many 6 year-olds can identify the species of snake and inform you that it is not real because those are not “native to North America” when a prank was played? Her excitement about documentaries has continued and my son was thus engaged. Unless you want to be around for a while, please do not talk about Titanaboa. His interest, sparked by a documentary, has continued by reading everything available about this extinct apex predator.

 

In going about my daily life, I educate others and so do you. We are all Life Long Educators, because that is part of our shared human experience. We educate, we share our passions and from this we spark excitement in people around us. Who knows if the spark you ignite will be that individual’s “First Moment of Lasting Excitement”, a phrase coined by Dr. Terrence R. Redding, GLD Crew Member and President/CEO of OnLine Training Institute. I would suggest that we become purposeful about this part of ourselves.

 

Healther Wolpert-Gawron says in an Edutopia article that, “a good teacher continues to be a student.” As we teach those around us, knowingly or unknowingly, we should continue to be learning ourselves. We should encourage each other to soak up additional knowledge because it is only through each of our shared experiences that we can Build a Bridge to the Future via education.

 

Follow up… What are you most inspired to learn about today? Do you share your knowledge in an intentional way, or by happenstance? Who has inspired your educational journey?

 

Please consider inviting your inspirations to join us on Facebook and here for our Global Learn Day voyage!

 

We love to be shared!