Category: Geography

vocabulary

5 Field Trips Free to Students

Kids love field trips. They’re out of the classroom, get to travel by bus with lots of kids and not enough adults. What’s not to like?

A few items come to mind: Cost, staffing, potential for disaster. And that’s just off the top of my head. There’s a way to provide the field trip experience with few of the risks, no cost, and a fraction of the time away from what is likely an overstuffed education day:

Virtual Field Trips, via the internet.

There are so many options  for real-time webcams, conversations with experts (via Skype and Google Hangout), and the opportunity to visit locations that are otherwise inaccessible that classes have embraced this new approach to seeing the world. This enthusiasm has encouraged a cottage industry that often is far from the exciting, realistic experience teachers want for their students. When I search the internet, it seems any site with a camcorder and multimedia resources calls itself a ‘virtual field trip’. Truthfully, many of them are a waste of time. Sure, I like the pictures and the movies, but I don’t feel like I’m there, immersed in history or geography, with a life-changing experience that will live in my memory for decades to come.

Intellectually, I know there are good ones out there. Finally, after wearing through my favorite virtual shoes, I have a list to recommend. These next nine virtual field trips cover topics from geology to history to the human experience. See what you think:

360 Cities

What’s not to love about a website that starts:

Welcome to Earth! It’s a planet having an iron core, with two-thirds of its surface covered by water. Earth orbits a local star called the Sun, the light of which generates the food supply for all the millions of species of life on earth. The dominant species on Earth is the human being, and you’re one of the six billion of them! Humans have iron in their blood, and their bodies are composed of two-thirds water, just like the planet they live on.

Enjoy your stay, and try to stay calm.

360 Cities contains the Internet’s largest collection of uploaded panoramic images. Let’s pause here for a moment. Panos–those wide pictures that cover up to 180 degrees left and right. Right?

360 Cities does panos differently. Let me show you. Here’s one from my iPad:

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149 Websites for K-8 Geography/Geology

geographyIf you’re studying geography in your classroom, you won’t want to miss these 149 great websites. I have them divided as:

  • General
  • Biomes
  • California regions (only because that’s where my teaching centers)
  • Global
  • Natural Disasters
  • Survival in the…
    • Jungle
    • Desert
    • Mountains
    • Prairie
    • Ocean
    • General survival websites
  • Virtual tours (some great sites here)

Enjoy!

BTW–Click here for updates to list.

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Tech Tip #65: Google Street View

As a working technology teacher, I get hundreds of questions from parents about their home computers, how to do stuff, how to solve problems. Each Tuesday, I’ll share one of those with you. They’re always brief and always focused. Enjoy!

Q: I can’t find enough detail about a particular area of the world that we’re studying in class. Any suggestions?

A: That’s a lot easier to do today than it used to be, thanks to Google Street View. Students love walking down the street that they just read about in a book or seeing their home on the internet. It’s also a valuable research tool for writing. What better way to add details to a setting than to go see it?
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tech q & a

Dear Otto: What About Carmen San Diego?

tech questions

Dear Otto is an occasional column where I answer questions I get from readers about teaching tech. If you have a question, please complete the form below and I’ll answer it here. For your privacy, I use only first names.

Here’s a great question I got from Dawn:

We have upgraded our Computer Lab computers to Windows 7, some programs are now obsolete since they were DOS and will not run with 7. Carmen San Diego is one we used for Geography. Some teachers are sad we can’t use that anymore – the students did enjoy it. Do you know of anything our that can take its place? Thanks for your time!

I know what you mean. We tried to run it at my school–spent too much time tweaking everything–and never succeeded. I’ve had to toss it.

There are a few geography games you can look into:

They’re OK, but not as good as CSD. I’ll post your comment–see if anyone has any other ideas.

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digital whiteboard

Monday Freebies #40: Wonders of Google Earth

This year more than any before, classroom budgets have been cut making it more difficult than ever to equip the education of our children with quality teaching materials. I understand that. I teach K-8. Because of that, I’ve decided to give the lesson plans my publisher sells in the Technology Toolkit (110 Lesson Plans that I use in my classroom to integrate technology into core units of inquiry while insuring a fun, age-appropriate, developmentally-appropriate experience for students) for FREE. To be sure you don’t miss any of these:

…and start the week off with a fully-adaptable K-8 lesson that includes step-by-step directions as well as relevant ISTE national standards, tie-ins, extensions, troubleshooting and more. Eventually, you’ll get the entire Technology Toolkit book.

I love giving my material away for free. Thankfully, I have a publisher who supports that. If everyone did, we would reach true equity in international education.

Explore the Wonders of Google Earth

Students create their own tour on Google Earth using locations selected by the classroom teacher. They add the locations to Google Earth, add a fact about it and turn it into a tour.

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white house

Tech Tip #65: Google Street View

As a working technology teacher, I get hundreds of questions from parents about their home computers, how to do stuff, how to solve problems. Each Tuesday, I’ll share one of those with you. They’re always brief and always focused. Enjoy!

Q: I can’t find enough detail about a particular area of the world that we’re studying in class. Any suggestions?

A: That’s a lot easier to do today than it used to be, thanks to Google Street View. Students love walking down the street that they just read about in a book or seeing their home on the internet. It’s also a valuable research tool for writing. What better way to add details to a setting than to go see it?
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Weekend Website #68: Live Like Bear Grylls

tornado and cityscape

Every Friday I’ll send you a wonderful website that my classes and my parents love. I think you’ll find they’ll be a favorite of your students as they are of mine.

Age:

3rd-5th

Topic:

Landforms

Review:

If you want to spice up a unit on landforms, have students look into surviving these unique natural habitats. To get out with their lives, they’ll have to understand the flora and fauna, dangers and helpers. Here are some websites they can visit to improve their survival toolkit:

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