Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Virtual Field Trips: A Match Made in Blogging Heaven

Blogs can be used to expand students' horizons in many ways.  They can be used to take virtual field trips.  What is a virtual field trip?  A virtual field trip is a guided exploration through the world wide web that organizes a collection of pre-screened, thematically based web pages into a structured online learning experience (Foley, 2003).

Here are some well-structured virtual field trips found on Power to Learn's website:

  • Tramline
  • Surfaquarium
  • A Virtual Geological Field Trip to Iceland
  • The Mysterious Mayas
  • Tibet: A Virtual Field Trip
  • Pompeii: A Virtual Field Trip
  • Digital Learning Events from the Apple Learning Interchange

  • The field trips can be posted on a blog and viewed from anywhere: home, school, a library, or even on a long car ride.  Not only can students have access to these virtual field trips, but they can also discuss the experience with other students after the teacher posts a discussion question.
    A great aspect of taking virtual field trips is that it allows students to go places that they otherwise could not go.  This is especially beneficial for children who come from families who may not take vacations or have experiences outside of their neighborhood.  Maybe students can go to Japan, Mexico, or on a European Vacation. 

    Preparing a virtual field trip can take almost as much preparation as an actual field trip.  The teacher needs to develop a purpose, have a path to guide the students through the trip, make sure students have proper background knowledge, and then have a driving question that the students will ultimately answer in the blog.  The students should know this question before departing for their journey.
    When done correctly, a virtual field trip can be a very meaninful experience.  When you add the blogging experience to a virtual field trip, it's a match made in heaven!

    Foley, K. (2003). The Big Pocket Guide to Using & Creating Virtual Field Trips (3rd ed.). Tramline.

    Tuesday, February 7, 2012

    Blogging In Education

    There are many ways that I can use blogging in the classroom.  As a first grade teacher, sometimes it is more difficult to integrate technology in a way that is developmentally appropriate for my 6-7 year olds.  Regardless, I realize that blogging is not only beneficial for students, but also for parents.  I loved this video from Edublog, which provides 10 great ways to use blogs in education.  This makes me realize that blogs can be used for students, teachers, and other educators too.

    Something that is very important to me is parent involvement.  As a first grade teacher, it might be challenging to have my first graders blogging, but I can create a discussion board that parents can assist their chidlren with.  I could give homework assignments which involve posting to the blog.  (I could do the same with a wiki.)  For parents, I can post newsletters and important information.  For educators, I can post lesson plans and teaching ideas.

    Here is a blog aboug blogging in education that I found interesting and beneficial:

    Here are articles about blogging in the classroom: Using Blogs to Integrate Technology in the Classroom and Using Blogs to Promote Authentic Learning in the Classroom

    Ready To Go!

    I am ready to go with my very first blog!

    This has been my first experience setting up and having a blog.  I've read blogs before, but never allowed myself to become too familiar with them.  My good friends moved to New Zealand shortly after getting married and set up a blog to keep their United States friends updated on their adventures.  I also had a parent of a student with autism who set up a blog to keep friends updated on the family's celebrations.  I enjoyed reading both of these blogs, but never allowed myself to dive in and have the full blogging experience.

    I have to say that the blog was relatively easy to set up and edit.  I've spent a lot of time "playing around" with the layout and design.  I'm having fun with it.  The most challenging part so far was setting up the RSS feed.  It is a great thing to have because it is easy to access my group members' blogs as well as the class blog.  I know that my blog still needs a lot of work, but I feel confident wtih my progress so far.  I'm so excited about the future of my blogging experience!

    Monday, January 30, 2012

    Welcome To My Blog!

    Welcome to my blog.  I'm excited to start blogging!  I've followed a blog that my friends in New Zealand created and now I'm thrilled to create my own.