1st grade is getting ready to go on a walking field trip. They have been learning about community helpers, so they will walk from our school to 5 Points to visit several businesses. I met with the team early in the year and we brainstormed how we might bring technology in to support the trip. I suggested having the students walk the actual trip in a Google Earth tour before they go. Of course, at the time, I had no idea how to even create a tour, but I knew it could be done. They were eager to try this, so I got to work.
I watched an online tutorial of how to make a tour. There were a couple of options, but I chose the one that was simple. You basically create a folder in your places on Google Earth, start searching for the places that you want to visit, add pins with any info you want to include at each place, and then you click the play button to start the tour. You save the tour as a kmz file that Google Earth can read.
I put our file on my website so that students could click the link and download the kmz file. To make the process even smoother, I used LanSchool, our monitoring software, to push the file out to computers. It created a folder on each student desktop. They opened the folder and clicked on the link. Google Earth automatically opened and they clicked play to begin. I showed students how they could pause the tour at any time and drag the little person out of the toolbar in order to switch to streetview. This was really helpful because students could actually see the place that they were about to visit. To continue the tour, students pressed play again and it went out of streetview and moved to the next location. Students had fun seeing familiar places and also took a few detours to look for their house or other Athens landmarks. I could tell they were engaged when they didn’t want to get up to checkout a book.
On the actual field trip, teachers are going to let the students tweet about their experiences. They will use the hashtag #barrowbuddies so that classrooms at school can follow along with the field trip, ask questions, and feel a part of the trip while here at school. We hope to do this on several of our trips this year.