Friday, February 28, 2014

Oh, the Places You'll Go...With Google Connected Classroom!

Today's blogger is Katie Hutchinson, eLearning Coach with Greater Clark County Schools.

As teachers, especially in certain areas, we struggle to build background knowledge for students who have not had many experiences outside their own neighborhoods. But field trips? They are expensive, time-consuming to plan, and take hours away from instructional time. Now, with Google Connected Classrooms, connecting outside the classroom and building an arsenal of experiences is easy, free and fun!

Google presents Google Connected Classrooms which allows students to experience field trips from the comfort, safety and convenience of their own classrooms.

Here's Google's launch video. Warning: The soundtrack is intensely heart-warming.

There are three ways to enjoy Google's field trips:

1. Sign up to watch live 
like these kindergarten students from Parkwood Elementary in Clarksville, Indiana did.  They visited Weather Underground in Ann Arbor, Michigan to watch a weather forecast for Christmas Eve and learn about maps, predictions and inferences.

Or these students from Charlestown Middle School in Charlestown, IN who went to the Minnesota Zoo and learned about animals from their Close Encounters program.
2. Sign up, watch live and participate

like these students form Jeffersonville, IN who visited Stanford's Particle Acceleration Lab to learn about... particles accelerating.

3. Browse the archives!
Want in on the action?  

1. Go to Google Connected Classroom and browse by clicking on the "See Past and Upcoming Field Trips" button (you have to scroll down a little).

2. Sign up for a Google Gmail account and activate your Google+ account. You can watch the directions here or read the directions here.

3. Join the community by Clicking Here.

If Google doesn't quite have what you are looking for, check out these other sites.  They aren't as interactive, but are still fun and educational:

10 of the Best Virtual Field Trips

20 Wonderful Online Museums and Sites for Virtual Field Trips to Use in Class

Want more? Check out Mystery Skype where students connect with other classrooms to learn about geography through inquiry.

Also check out Project Explorer.  It sorts by elementary, middle and high school and is a lot like online scavenger hunts.

With Google Hangouts (which is free to use and easy to add), you could connect with almost anyone.  Don't be afraid to ask and make connections!

Where do you think your students would like to "go"? Comment and share your ideas or how you're using virtual field trips.

"The best teachers are those who show you where to look, but don't tell you what to see" -Alexandra Trenfor

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