As summer is upon us, thoughts turn to taking an exotic class trip. But who will be willing to fund our wanderlust? Rather than dealing with passports, travel expenses, and lost luggage, why not take a virtual field trip?
New Jersey Kindergarten teacher, Karen Marinoff, has just taken her students on a virtual field trip to Costa Rica this past April. The children flew on a virtual airplane, ate native Costa Rican dishes, studied the rain forest, grew exotic plants, learned about volcanoes, and became experts on animals that are native to this region. Ms. Marinoff has been planning these trips for years. The countries that she and her students have visited include China, Hawaii, Africa, Mexico, France, and many more countries far from the US’s mid-Atlantic region. Children learn as much as they can about a country (of their choice) all year long, learn words and phrases from the region, keep a journal of what they’ve learned, and create presentations using digital media.
The class’s itinerary once they landed in Costa Rica included visiting a butterfly farm, a coffee plantation, a pineapple farm, a zip lining spot, and the rain forest—all with curricular ties to math, art, music, science, and social studies. (See kidssavingtherainforest.org, for example.)
Sometimes you just need a mini-field trip as well. So, children and their families met for dinner at nearby restaurant where they enjoyed dishes such as fried yucca, empanades, and Tres Leches cakes. I would like to think that the children even had a chance to try out their Spanish when ordering...
So, TechnoTeachers, what about doing a mini-version of field trip this spring, and then start the year off with a more ambitious version next fall? Think about the digital resources students can use to learn about the culture of the country. Talk with your colleagues about how you could adapt this project for students in upper elementary and middle grades. This could be your TechnoTeaching 'Mission' (for more details please see the book).
Oh, and my own grandson, Martin, “traveled” to Africa when he was in Ms. Marinoff’s class—an experience that made a deep impression on him. As his teacher said, studying other countries helps children understand “. . . how they fit the world.”
Or, like Nic have you visited afar? As you know the location is only the start of the learning process. She took a group of A Level students from (Reading in) the UK to Los Angeles for a film trip (mainly paid by car washing and part-time jobs). It was organised via email and the students created a documentary video, that was screened at their mini-Oscars back at home, following exams.
Have you ever tried anything like this? What other ideas or top tips can you share when it comes to school trips? Or what advice would you give others?
(Taken from a report by L Haber, The Haddonfield Sun, April 29-May 6, 2014.)
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