The day has arrived! Equipment is setup and ready for implementation. This day would not be possible without the support of Calexico Unified School District. I would like to thank everyone who has pitched in to make this a dream come true. Many late nights researching the best equipment and apps occurred to implement this project.
I am very excited and nervous to implement this project. In order to test the effectiveness of this intervention, I will be observed during the first lesson by my mentor teacher Heidi De La Cruz. With her feedback I am hoping to improve this project so that students benefit the most from virtual field trips.
The lesson is simple and is commonly known as "centers or rotations." The classroom is set up in three long tables shaped by five desk facing each other. At the end of each table there is a single desk. This setup allows movement from one rotation to the next for all 33 students. Music plays softly in the background. When the music stops all students move to the next rotation. Groups are established before so students know which group they belong to. At the beginning of the lessons, I go over the menu or instructions. Students have written instructions on a small white board in short hand and assignment details in LMS. Rotation 2 which is the virtual field trip simple states Miss V. In the other two rotations students are completing a web quest about the Pyramids of Giza. In another rotation, students are exploring a site to find clues about Ancient Egypt. Lastly, all students would go on a virtual field trip to the Pyramids of Giza with their teacher.
As I write this I realized how I forgot about the most important factor, curiosity. After implementing, the lesson I realized that it was unreal for me to expect all students to work independently or in groups as they usually do when there is a new, shiny thing in the classroom. I saw there faces light up when they got ready for their turn to go on the field trip. There were so excited to share what they saw. They made comparisons to the web quest they were doing. Others couldn't wait to share with their friends. Some students asked me how the pictures could be real. They had so many questions. I couldn't believe the engagement during the lesson.
In conclusion, virtual field trips provide a unique experience for students. The visual content available allows for them to connect to language. Many of my students are English Language Learners and with the field trips they are able to create a connection with difficult or new words. Additionally, many of students are learning about other places in the world through these field trips. Many students compared the geography from the Pyramids of Giza to the geography of our community. Other students became interested in finding our water sources. Others wanted to know more about the structural framework of the pyramids. Overall, virtual field trips do impact learning and I am hoping to continue my research to see how I can combine writing and reading strategies to promote language acquisition.
Michelle Villasenor is an elementary teacher that focuses on educational technology and student-centered learning to promote love for learning.