By Teachers, For Teachers
Virtual field trips are emerging as a powerful classroom activities that many teachers are utilizing with their students. Teachers are finding that this tech tool helps students learn what’s beyond textbooks, and make connections to real-world concepts. Virtual field trips can ensure a deeper level of learning for students, because they are exciting, which helps to sustain interest. If students are learning about space in the classroom, a virtual field trip can move beyond what the book says and provide students with a hands-on learning experience. With just a click, students can see and speak with an astronaut from NASA. While virtual trips can be a knowledgeable and exciting experience for students, the time after the field trip is crucial, when you discuss the meaning of what you’ve just witnessed. It’s important to discuss the field trip immediately afterward, when the information is still fresh in their minds. Here are a few follow-up extension classroom activities that will help engage students in classroom discussions, and really cement the information that was learned.
In order for the information learned in the virtual field trip to adhere to your students’ minds, the first thing that you should have them do is make a connection from what they know, to what they just learned. You can do this by giving students an opportunity to think about and share what they have experienced with a partner. Help students make these connections by presenting them with a few real-world implications and questions on the front board. Then send them off to discuss these concepts with their peers.
Teachers can help their students gain a new perspective about what they learned in their virtual field trip by connecting with other students via technology. Using social media platforms like Facebook and Twitter, or Skyping with other students from across the globe, is a great way for students to extend their learning on the topic at hand. This sharing of knowledge can help students gain more knowledge on the topic by learning from different perspectives. Try encouraging students to share their experience with their fellow students on a school Twitter or Facebook page. Or, connect students via Skype with others who are knowledgeable on the topic.
Many classroom teachers have students do book reports after they have read a book. Unfortunately, a report for this type of activity would be quite boring and not applicable. A great follow-up activity for a virtual field trip is a creative presentation. For example, if students were learning about space, then they can create a presentation from the perspective of an astronaut. Students can perform a skit, make an iMovie, make a diorama, or even create a PowerPoint Presentation. This type of extension activity will help ensure that students will better process the information learned.
Just as it’s important for students to gain a new perspective on what they learned during their virtual field trip, making a real-world connection to the concept is also important. For example, if students were on a field trip about space, then you can challenge them to further research about global warming or solar energy. To even further their knowledge on the topic, you can invite experts in space and global warming into the classroom or Skype with them: Anything that will help your students connect the dots with what they learned to a real world issue.
While a virtual field trip is just a mouse click away, don’t forget to plan a follow-up activity to further extend your students learning. Be sure to help students make connections to what they have just learned, learn new perspectives about the topic, as well as make real world connections. Where are you going to take your students on your next virtual field trip?
Do you have any different extension classroom activities that you like to do after a virtual field trip? Please share your ideas in the comment section below, we would love to hear what you like to do in your classroom.
Janelle Cox is an education writer who uses her experience and knowledge to provide creative and original writing in the field of education. Janelle holds Masters of Science in Education from the State University of New York College at Buffalo. She is a contributing writer to TeachHUB.com, TeachHUB Magazine, and Hey Teach. She was also the Elementary Education Expert for About.com for five years. You can follow her on Twitter @Empoweringk6ed, on Facebook at Empowering K6 Educators, or contact her at Janellecox78@yahoo.com.