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Bilingual Elementary

Taking a Virtual Field Trip

By Maggie Manson

H ave you ever wanted to take your students on a field trip without leaving your classroom?  Well, now you can. 

One of the many interesting ideas a co-worker presented at a staff development workshop was to use a website called Track Star-Digital Vocabulary Field Trip.  After logging onto the website, viewers can become members for free and create track numbers so that all of the additional websites you add onto this site can be viewed immediately.  In order to create the virtual field trip, teachers select an area of study and find websites that pertain to the subject matter prior to exposing the site to students.  When the students are ready to go on their virtual field trip all of the information needed on site has previously been obtained.  The instructor’s job is to guide students through questions and websites to find out more about their topic for study, in this case, hurricanes.

Website #1http://www.weatherwizkids.com
This website uses simple definitions and pictures to help explain to children what is a hurricane, how they form, safety tips just in case you ever have one in your area, and a variety of games that relate to the subject area.  As one explores further, there are also realistic graphs, maps and photos of hurricanes.  Puzzles, mazes, word jumbles, crossword puzzles, word searches, and memory games are among the activities found on this site.    

Website #2http://www.eo.ucar.edu/webweather/hurricanehome.html
Weather for Kids provides activities for children.  The website includes non-fiction stories based on people’s personal experiences in battling actual hurricanes.  Students, with the assistance of the teacher, can read the story and discuss the many pictures provided on the site, as well as the map that shows the course of the hurricane.  Students could also review how to stay safe if a hurricane ever hits their hometowns.  The site provides a variety of activities children can easily complete to create a variety of weather related conditions.  One of the website selections is games: students can select from two interactive games.

Website #3http://www.nationalgeograpic.com/forcesofnature/interactive
This website presents the students with actual footage of a hurricane.  The students can view the development of a hurricane and observe as it is being tracked.  The site provides history pertaining to the subject matter, as well as bold face words that can be later used for a vocabulary lesson.  
Website #4http://nhc.noaa.gov
The National Hurricane Center tracks hurricanes as they are occurring.  There are a variety of graphics that show the potential formation of a hurricane, as well as in which direction the wind is blowing and the maximum wind speed probability.  Viewers can select from a variety of icons that will take them on individual tours.  This website is updated on a regular basis and situations change regularly.

The possibilities of taking virtual field trips are endless.  Instructors must remember that it is their responsibility to first select the websites so that students can later take their tours.  Where ever you may have planned to take a trip, now is the time to do it, virtually. The tour itself is as simple or as difficult as the instructor has decided to make it.  I can’t wait to have my next virtual trip!