Friday, September 30, 2016

Breaking Down the Classroom Walls

If my lessons and activities only include the textbook and items within the four walls of the classroom, I have put my students at a disadvantage!  Thomas Friedman, author of The World is Flat, provides a great description for moving beyond the textbook and classroom.

We want our students to be the ones doing the innovative ideas. We want our students to be the ones doing the creative thinking.

In order for this to happen, we have to go beyond the classroom walls and textbooks. By going beyond, you are exposing your students to the world around them. They are able to gain a global perspective of their environment and how our actions can effect others.

Going beyond the classroom walls can seem overwhelming, but with the right tools and knowing where to look, you can start toward that path!

One great way to go beyond the classroom is with virtual field trips.  Now, before you dive into a virtual field trip with your students, think about the following:

(1) Have you explored the site?
(2) Do you have a "path" prepared?
(3) What will the students discuss along the way?

Don't start a virtual field trip without exploring it yourself! Make sure you have an end goal in mind. What do you want the students to walk away from this virtual field trip with?

Virtual Field Trip Idea #1
Smithsonian National Museum of Natural History -- cost is free

Students can explore the museum through a self-guided tour using panoramic and up-close images. You can easily get lost in this museum! This resource could be used in multiple subject areas and throughout all times during a lesson. Science is of course the obvious choice, but think about ELA and descriptive writing as well. 

Virtual Field Trip Idea #2
Museo Galileo -- cost is free

This museum is located in Florence, Italy! Students can explore the virtual museum through videos and images. The rooms include the Science of Warfare and Galileo's New World. Of course, this museum has science and history written all over it! You can also explore the library collection as well.

Virtual Field Trip Idea #3
National Parks -- cost is free

In a 2008 blog post, Richard Byrne talks about creating a National Parks virtual tour. Although it would be great if we could actually take our students to National Parks, it is not always an option. You can also watch this 12 minute video on how to create tours on Google Maps.

Google Maps has so many great uses in the classroom! Students can plan out trips, explore areas all over the world, and see what it looks like beyond their city limits.

Virtual Field Trip Idea #4
The National World War II Museum -- cost $100 per video conference

This is a real-time video conference on a selected topic from the museum. Although this does have a cost, I have heard from middle school teachers this is worth it!

Virtual Field Trip Idea #5
The Rosa Parks Museum -- cost is free

This is a 360 degree view of the Rosa Parks Museum in Montgomery, AL. This tour provide students with a view of the different areas in the museum.

This virtual tour is part of Alabama360.  You can also find virtual tour of Helen Keller's birthplace and the USS Alabama.

Do you have a favorite virtual field trip resource? Share it with us!


Janet Parker said...

Smithsonian's National Zoo Panda webcam. First graders observed the pandas, commenting on what they saw and asking wonder questions. Then moved to nonfiction book about pandas using index to find answers to questions.

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