Featured Post

5 of the BEST Virtual Field Trips

Kelly Tenkely | TheApple.com (Posted at The Apple.com) Field trips can be amazing learning experiences.   They provide students with the opportunity to actively participate in education, offering learning possibilities that aren’t readily available in the classroom.  Unfortunately, it isn’t always practical or possible to take students on field trips.  Tight budgets, location, transportation, time, and resource restrictions can keep your students school-bound.  Virtual field trips can fill this void.  Virtual field trips have come a long way from the page of links they used to be.  Now students can explore the world with simulations that are so realistic, they will believe they have left the classroom.  Below are five of the best virtual field trips on the web: Virtual Field Trip #1: Smithsonian Museum Not all cities have access to an incredible natural history museum like the Smithsonian.  This virtual tour is the next best thing to taking an actual field trip to the Smithsonian. The Smithsonian Virtual Museum is truly remarkable.  Students can ‘step’ into the exhibits and take a tour through the entire museum in a 360 degree environment.  The virtual museum is made up of panoramic pictures of the actual exhibits inside the Smithsonian.  Using their mouse, students “walk” through the museum room by room. They can zoom in, look left and right, look up and down, and walk forward or backward.  Camera icons throughout the museum show students hot spots where they can get close to an exhibit panel.  As students explore the museum, they will see: the ocean hall, ancient seas, dinosaurs, early life, fossils, plants, mammals, African cultures, the Ice Age, Western cultures, reptiles, insects, butterflies, bones, geology, gems, and minerals. Students can explore the various exhibits on individual computers in a computer lab setting or life size with an interactive whiteboard or a projector.  Split your students into groups and assign them an exhibit to explore and take notes on.  After students have explored and become the ‘expert’ on their exhibit, project the Virtual Smithsonian Museum on an interactive whiteboard/screen.  Explore the museum as a class. As you enter an exhibit, invite the group who explored the exhibit to act as tour guides. Even if you have access to a natural history museum for field trips, the Smithsonian Virtual Museum is still incredibly useful.  Prepare for a field trip to your local history museum by visiting the virtual museum.  After the field trip, students can compare and contrast what they saw at the local museum with the Smithsonian. Virtual Field Trip #2: UPM Forest Life A field trip to a forest is a wonderful way to learn about tree species, ecosystems, habitats, and animals.   The UPM Forest Life virtual field trip will have your students believing that they are actually in a forest smelling pine trees. UPM Forest Life aims to teach about forest sustainability.  It does this by inviting students to take a virtual hike through a forest.  The forest is made up of panoramic pictures of an actual forest.  Students can zoom in, look up and down, left and right, and ‘walk’ through the forest with their mouse.  Students start their field trip with a virtual tour guide.  As students ‘hike’ through the forest, they will click on hot spots that reveal videos of forest life, pictures with information, and sounds.  Throughout the forest are opportunities for learning about forest planning, harvesting, regeneration, re-spacing, thinning, transport, recreation, training, berry picking, bird watching, hunting, fishing, natural forests, valuable habitats, deadwood, forest structure, water, native tree species, and the various animals that call a forest home.   This virtual field trip is impressive on individual computers and amazing when viewed as a whole class on an interactive whiteboard or with a projector.  Allow students to take turns acting as forest rangers. They can click on various videos, pictures, and information embedded in the forest.  Students can record their observations of the forest, trees, animals, and sounds they experience in an observation journal. Virtual Field Trip #3: Moon in Google Earth The moon is no longer off limits for field trips!  Students can visit the moon virtually using Moon view in Google Earth.  Google Earth makes for excellent virtual trips around the world; in Google Earth 5.0 you can also take your students to the moon. Moon in Google Earth makes it possible for students to take tours of Apollo missions to the moon, from takeoff to landing – all narrated by Apollo astronauts.  Students can explore 3-D models of landed spacecraft, zoom into 360-degree photos of astronaut footprints on the moon, watch rare TV footage of the Apollo missions, and, of course, explore the surface of the moon.   Take your virtual field trip to the moon as a class with an interactive whiteboard/projector, or send students on their own mission to the moon using student computers.  Assign groups of students to an Apollo mission to explore.  When the ‘astronauts’ return to earth, they can tell other students about their mission to the moon or write a newspaper article about their journey. Virtual Field Trip #4: Planet in Action Real field trips don’t allow for adventures like a helicopter ride above the Grand Canyon, an expedition to Mount St. Helens, or a helicopter tour of Manhattan or Disneyland Paris.  Planet in Action makes all of these possible with the help of Google Earth. Planet in Action is an outstanding way to bring learning to life.  Students can take a guided tour of the Grand Canyon, Mount St. Helens, Manhattan, or Disneyland Paris or take control and explore on their own.  These journeys are incredibly lifelike on an interactive whiteboard/projector.  Take your whole class on a virtual helicopter ride above famous landmarks that they are learning about in class.  First, watch the recorded tour and discuss the different landmarks as you see them.  Then ‘hire’ a student helicopter ‘pilot’ who can navigate a trip for the class.  On individual computers, students can create postcards of their virtual field trip or create their own virtual tour that can be saved and shared with others or with Planet in Action.  As students fly above the landmarks, a Google Map will show them exactly where they are in the virtual tour. Virtual Field Trip #5: AR Sights Most students probably won’t have the ability to travel to the pyramids or the Eiffel Tower for a field trip. Augmented Reality makes it possible to see these landmarks, and more, using Google Earth in 3-D. Augmented Reality requires a webcam, browser add-on, and a printout provided by the AR Sights website. After a simple graphic is printed out, it is held up to a webcam.  Students will see a landmark spring to life right before their eyes on the computer screen.  As the printout is tilted, twisted, and moved the landmark moves accordingly.  Students can view the famous landmark in 360-degrees, 3-D, and up close.  It is truly incredible! AR Sights makes it possible to view Google Earth right in a web browser and then zoom into places of interest, looking at them in 3-D with Augmented Reality.  Students can ‘fly’ around Google Earth, when they find a place of interest, they will hold the printout up to the camera and explore the landmark.  This is an amazing visual method for learning about geography and famous landmarks.  If you only have access to one webcam, use it with a computer connected to a projector or interactive whiteboard for whole class exploration. Geography, budget, and time are no longer field trip restrictions.  With virtual field trips, students can explore the universe using a computer.  These simulations are so realistic that your students will believe they have traveled the universe, actively participating in their learning.

Read More


Posted by admin | Posted in Fun & Games, History, Language Arts, Math, Middle/High School, Phonics, Primary Elementary, Science, Secondary Elementary, Social Studies, Teacher Resources, web tools, Websites | Posted on 23-03-2010

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,


Picture 2

What it is: Fotobabble seems to be everywhere I am lately, and now that I have had a minute to play with it, I can see why.  Just upload a photo, record your voice, and send or embed away.  It is very simple to use and has really fun results!  The only downside for use in education are: 1. on the home page of Fotobabble you can see other members creations, at the time of writing they are all clean but I would hate to send my kids here without knowing exactly what content they would run into; 2. To use Fotobabble as a student, you must first sign up. This requires an email address :( Which means that under the Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act, that children under the age of 13 cannot sign up for an account on the site for their own creations.  I would love to see Fotobabble create an education version that can be used by students under 13 if monitored and signed up by an adult, and without the other user generated content on the home page.  That being said, Fotobabble is a fantastic tool for the classroom.

How to integrate Fotobabble into the classroom: Fotobabble can be used in a variety of ways in the classroom.  For students over 13, it is a great creation tool.  Students could take pictures, or find creative commons images that illustrate vocabulary that they are learning and record themselves saying the definition and using the word in a sentence.  Students could collect and trade Fotobabble vocabulary with other students in the class and embed them in a blog or wiki to create their own visual talking dictionary.  If you teach students younger than 13, have teachers or parent helpers build audio visual dictionaries that can be added to throughout the year.  How neat would it be to have a talking, visual word wall?!  This would be helpful for math, science, social studies, history, and regular vocabulary words that students learn.  The format will be so valuable to your audio and visual learners.  Did you take pictures of that field trip? Upload them to Fotobabble and students can record thoughts, observations, and lessons they learned on the field trip.  Consider creating a class Fotobabble account that you (the teacher) are in charge of.  Upload student illustrations and record a story that they have written using their own voice.  This is the perfect type of project to share at parent teacher conference time.  Parents can get a good idea of their child’s writing, reading, and fine motor skills all in one spot.  If you complete a similar project several times through the year, both students and parents can see the growth and progress that has been made during the school year.  Fotobabbles are an outstanding way to send your young students on an Internet scavenger hunt.  Along the way, record directions with Fotobabble and embed on your class website, wiki, or blog.  Non-readers will be able to listen to, and follow directions for any assignment.   Upload a picture of a landmark or map and have students record fun facts that they have learned about the place.  Send special messages from your class home to parents in the weekly newsletter.  Take a picture of a project that the class has done, or of a fun activity from the week.  Students can record a message about upcoming events, fun highlights of the week in learning, and a list of helpers who have signed up for the week.  Parents will love hearing their kids give the news updates for the week!  Are you wracking your brain for a fun Mother’s/Father’s day activity?  Why not record the kids leaving a special message to their parent with a special picture made just for them? Now that is a keepsake!

Tips: Because younger students can’t sign up for their own Fotobabble account, consider creating a class account that you can be in control of.  For younger students, having a Fotobabble recording center set up on one of the classroom computers might be appropriate.  Since you will control the account, you will be in charge of what content is added by students.

Please leave a comment and share how you are using Fotobabble in your classroom.

Comments (10)

Hi Kelly,

My Grade 2s are working on a collaboration blog with a class in California. The blog is called Collaboration Corner http://collaboration-corner.blogspot.com/

Our first project we’re collaborating on is a lunch box project where we share what we have for lunch. We’ve been using Fotobabble a lot for the students to narrate a picture of what they have for lunch. It’s a great simple tool for younger students.

Thanks for another excellent review of a useful tool,

Kathleen McGeady

Your points are very valid. My students don’t have email addresses either. I will check and see if Fotobabble is blocked at school. Many times it takes a certain number of hits before it gets blocked. Thanks for sharing this.

I think it’s very easy to underemphasize the importance of speaking/listening in the face of the crucial importance of reading and writing to our students. Tools like Fotobabble and Blabberize provide such a fun way to redress the balance.

Thank you for the great post. We are very excited about the prospect of Fotobabble being used in education. We hope to have the opportunity to work closely with the educational community to address some of their specific needs and perhaps develop solutions specifically for teachers and students.

We do work hard to moderate the content on our site and keep out inappropriate content, but your concerns are heard loud and clear.

Please email all thoughts, ideas, suggestions to support@fotobabble.com so we can incorporate them into our planning.


Kamal Shah
CEO, Fotobabble

[…] This post was mentioned on Twitter by Shelly S Terrell, ktenkely, Sandra McCarron, Greg Bird (Birdy), michael chalk and others. michael chalk said: RT @ktenkely: Fotobabble: great uses in classroom, audio/visual wordwall, exciting newsletters, digital storytelling http://bit.ly/9jN97T […]

We look forward to hearing about education friendly updates!

I agree, we are often overlooking the importance of both speaking and listening in schools. Both are so important to growth and development!

What a neat project, thank you for sharing it Kathleen! It is fun to see what others are doing with these great tools.

I’ve played with this a couple of times, but have not used it in class yet. This post gave me some ideas for class. Maybe something with The Catcher in the Rye. Hmmmmmm. Thanks!

Using with Catcher in the Rye is a great idea, I look forward to seeing that!

Write a comment