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Use Virtual Adventures

clipart of plane ticket to AfricaThe use of traveling is to regulate imagination by reality, and instead of thinking how things may be, to see them as they are.

Students need guidance when exploring new places. Background information, guiding questions, and points of focus can all be helpful in seeing a place from a particular point of view.

Purpose of Virtual Field Trip

Take only memories. Leave nothing but footprints.

Before jumping into a virtual field trip, consider the purpose. How will this activity address critical and creative thinking skills, information and technology skills, as well as content-area standards?

Developing respect for other cultures, people, and places are all part of the goal of exploration. Whether it's visiting another country or learning about nature, developing a virtual field trip can help develop and change attitudes and values. Until children have seen both a polluted river and a healthy river full of life, they can't fully understand the impact of pollution on nature.

Students must use a wide range of critical and creative thinking skills, as well as information skills to use a virtual field trip effectively. Consider the following areas:

  • Consider point-of-view and perspectives of trip author
  • Judge authenticity of information
  • Weigh evidence and make decisions
  • Compare ideas and views
  • Synthesize ideas from varied trips

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Classroom Management

Textbooks provide factual information about various locations. However they don't allow a first-person, multi-sensory experience. A virtual field trip is the "next best thing" to being there. In many cases it's actually better because the real place may be too expensive or dangerous to explore live.

Once you've found a field trip that meetings your needs, you're ready to integrate it into your classroom activities. To avoid your own trip to the "funny farm," carefully consider the following ten questions.

  1. What curriculum standards does this field trip address? How does this approach help me differentiate learning, provide a different perspective for comparison, or challenge learners?
  2. Where will this resource be used in my lesson: as a springboard activity, information exploration, practice, or closure?
  3. How would you introduce this project?
  4. What guidance will students need in using this resource (i.e., guiding questions, handouts, worksheets)?
  5. How would you manage the time spent on the virtual adventure? Are there areas when students might get bogged down or confused? Would you print some aspects of the website?
  6. What are the logistics of the technology? Would you use the trip as a whole class experience? Would you use it as part of a learning station? Would you be using wireless computers or the computer lab? Would these need to be scheduled?
  7. Do you envision individuals working through the field trip or small groups working as a team? Could different groups explore different areas and come together or jigsaw their findings?
  8. Will you have a thematic field trip headquarters? It's fun to decorate the classroom for the theme including banners, bulletin boards, screen savers, notebooks, clipboards, books, displays, and other resources.
  9. Will any of my students have difficulty using the resource because of their special needs (i.e., visual disabilities, reading level)?
  10. What tools will be used to assess student performance?

Developed by Annette Lamb, 5/04. Updated 6/04.

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