What if you could go on a field trip without losing class time, coming up with funding, or having to carry anyone’s jacket? Virtual fieldtrips give you that option.
What’s a virtual field trip? It’s a visit to an interesting place via the world wide web. Here are a few of the ways to arrange a virtual field trip:
- Go to the websites of museums, zoos, and other attractions. Many have extensive resources for teachers, and some are set up to serve as virtual fieldtrips.
- Use Google Earth Tours. That link takes you to the Showcase, but there are plenty of tours in the Gallery and on websites all over the world. With Google Earth Tours, you can take trips to Ancient Rome, the moon, and other places it’s hard for schoolbuses to reach.
- Join FreshPlans on some virtual fieldtrips:
We have short videos for you to share with your class, plus teaching ideas. We’ll be adding more in the future.
Here are some tips to make your virtual field trips rewarding:
- Plan ahead, just as you would for a physical field trip. Watch the video, check out the website, download the lessons, or otherwise get ready.
- Chaperone your students just as you would on a physical world field trip.
- Physical field trips have a natural organization because you have to travel through space. Sights and sounds unfold before your students’ eyes as they go along. Try to accomplish the same thing with your virtual field trip. Begin with some background information, a KWL chart, or exploration of a research question. Allow students to experience a slideshow, video, or other introductory experience. Give students a goal for their small group exploration or lead the class through the experience. Then get everyone back together for a wrap-up discussion and lesson.
- Follow up with a writing assignment, or prepare your own virtual field trip for a pen pal classroom using Google Earth or video.
New Virtual Field Trips by Gail Cooper and Gary Cooper is an extensive annotated list of websites that lend themselves to use as virtual field trips.