Planning A Virtual Fieldtrip

Just as with any lesson  or real field trip you plan, there are many things
to think about before you teach your students.  V-trips require a lot
of thought and commitment of time, but it is worth it!
A well-planned trip is a successful trip!
Here are some things to consider when planning your V-trip.



1.  What is the theme or topic of your trip?
I suggest you use a topic that you are very familiar with to go on your first trip.  Use a theme that you already have all the resources for, such as your books, posters, hands-on manipulatives etc..  Think of your V-trip as another way to enhance an already existing unit of study.   Tell your students how this trip connects with the unit/theme they are studying. Explain what they will get out going on this special V-trip.

2.  What is the purpose of your trip?
Is your trip planned as a special project? Are you taking one to increase community/cultural awareness? What are the curriculum objectives you want to meet?

3.  What objectives does your trip meet?  Think of your school's benchmarks in all curriculum areas, including technology (ISTE Technology Standards).  Use phrases such as "Upon returning from out V-trip, students will be able to..."

4.  Search the Web for sites that relate to your topic.  This can take time, so ask colleagues for sources to check out, look in website referral books, check out all related links on pages you find.  Keep track of all the sites you are interested in.  You can bookmark them in Netscape or add them to your favorites folders in Internet Explorer.   Once you have collected several possibilities, EVALUATE each site for its age appropriateness, content, ease of use, quality, current facts, and how it meets your objectives.  Take notes on what you liked and didn't like about each site. Note things such as fees, the time it takes to complete the tour, how fast the site loads, any roadblocks your students might face, etc... 

5.  Fees-Some trips have a fee that you need to pay in order to participate. Don't let this stop you! Email the site's organizer and see if they have a free preview day or any special discounts you may qualify for. Ask local businesses or your parent-teacher organizations for support.

6. Now, choose the best site for your class to visit.  Have a backup site (or 2 or 3) in case you experience difficulties with the first site in the day of travel.

7.  Decide how you are going to implement your V-trip into your lesson. Do you want to go to special place to spark your students interests before a unit of study begins?  Do your students need to have prior knowledge before visiting the site? If so, what do you need to provide them with- handouts, books, other web resources...? Will you go on a V-Trip during a unit of study to gather more information on that topic? Will the V-trip serve as a culminating activity

8. How will you present your V-trip? Small groups, whole class, individually? Using a large screen, SmartBoard or TV monitor will  help all children view the site. Keep in mind that many school TV monitors do not have high resolution. If there is a lot of text to read, it may be difficult to present your trip as a whole class this way.

8.  Inform and Involve Parents- send home a note to families describing your upcoming trip.  Ask for volunteers to share their expertise on the topic or to help with the trip itself.  

9.  Additional Resources:  What do your students need to know before and during the trip?  Do you need to provide any reading material, maps,  or notebooks? Do you need any additional technology equipment? Are there real life models that you can let your children explore as they visit the online component? Do you need to enlist volunteers (parents or older students) to assist your students? If you have volunteers, make sure they are given time to prepare themselves and become familiar with your plans and expectations. Make sure your students know how to behave while on-line.  Let hem know the consequences if they fail to follow the rules.  

10.  Create activities to enhance and support your trip before, during and afterwards. Ideas: collecting maps, researching the climate, estimating the cost if you were really going to travel there, research travel modes (car, bus, plane...), recording the trips events in a travel log, creating travel brochures or posters, typing a review of the trip, send e-mail messages to the V-trip site, write articles for the class or school newsletter, prepare a broadcast of the highlights of your trip, posting items on the Internet or classroom WebPages, older students can prepare a multimedia presentation about their trip or creating a meal common for the place you visited to celebrate your learning.  

Having a large wall map is a great way to keep track of the places you are visiting.

Click here for more ideas!

A few final tips... If you are visiting a site that has live webcams, remember they may not always have action at the time you visit.  You may have to visit several times to catch the animal/people/butterflies in action! It's worth the trip(s)!

Excellent Web Cam sites:

New England Aquarium-
Monterey Bay Aquarium-scroll down and choose live web cams
Live Butterfly Cam-

One last suggestion.-.  Go on the trip from beginning to end BEFORE you take your students on it. This allows you to see how exactly how long the trip will take.  You can also see where your students may need extra help and make plans to assist them.  Having solutions ahead of time can save you and your students a lot of time and frustration later

Printable V-trip Planning Sheet




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