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.
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.”
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
If you have the time and resources, there are some fun extras that could really make a virtual field trip come to life.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- Consult Pinterest for activities and photos.
- 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.
- 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!