Friday, December 4, 2015

Around the World And To The Moon and Back

Virtual Field Trip with Google Expeditions 

Yesterday I took my class on a virtual field trip around the world and to the moon and back- FREE!

Last summer, I just happened to see a tweet from @MsMagiera about her kids participating in the Google Expedition beta program. I was so excited about the possibility of taking my kids on a virtual field trip that I hurried to look up the information. Unfortunately, they had no plans to come to Utah. It was a huge disappointment, but not a surprise. I decided to request a visit anyway. It never hurts to ask. And then, about two weeks ago, I received an email telling me that they'd be in the area for a few weeks. I was soooo excited! I quickly scheduled a date and sent in the information. I didn't know how the Google cardboard viewers worked, but just went with my gut feeling that it was going to be awesome.

My colleagues deserve a huge shout out. We had to scramble at the last minute and switch a lot of schedules. No one complained. They trusted that I was bringing an amazing opportunity to our kids. They weren't disappointed! Many stepped way out of their comfort zones and risked using technology for a lesson. For some, it was the first time to take this step. I couldn't be prouder!

The first kids to try them out were a lot of my kids from last year. I knew that they would be good "guinea pigs" and would help with any trouble shooting. I can't even express how much it made me smile to hear so many oohs and ahhs. They were so excited and engaged in their learning! Each class that came was filled with the same excitement and energy. The teachers responded to their enthusiasm. It was a huge confidence builder for them!

Finally, at the end of the day, I was able to take my class. We traveled around the United States to look at landmarks, monuments, battlefields, land forms, the Grand Canyon, etc. All of it tied into the curriculum. One of their favorite places was the ocean where there were all kinds of sharks. Then, because we could, I took them to see the 7 Wonders of the World so that they could see what they'd study in 6th grade. Our final destination was the moon and beyond. Wow! This was a field trip that they'll never forget. Google Cardboard became an instant Christmas list item.

I had so much fun watching my kids interact with the virtual reality environment. It energized me to see them so excited and engaged. The whole time I couldn't help but think that this is what learning is all about- FUN! I won't step on my soap box, but the whole day validated my beliefs about what school should provide our kids.

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