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Take One of These ELA Virtual Field Trips

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As I sat in the warm theater watching my son’s sixth grade class recount their favorite memories of school last week, I couldn’t help but notice how many of them involved a field trip. Probably 95% of the kids’ recollections revolved around special, memorable events that didn’t happen every week – a trip to Austria, a trip to the river, a trip to a kitchen space where they learned to cook a lunch and then eat it following a project-based-learning unit on restaurant design. Keep reading for more ELA Virtual Field Trips.

I remember field trips from my school experience too – to learn about wolves at Minnesota’s Wolf Center in 5th grade, to hike through snowy fields and see the stars on a seventh grade overnight, to examine the inside of a mine on Minnesota’s Iron Range when I got older.

A field trip is a powerful thing, and it can come in so many forms. Today, I want to share some ideas for field trips you can take without a bus, and without a budget. I know both can be hard to come by. But that doesn’t mean you can’t set up some truly broadening experiences for your students from right within your classroom walls.

Let’s talk about virtual field trips, because there are a lot more options out there than you might think! Whether they’re already curated online, waiting for you to design a webquest around them, or even shared in person over Zoom by a museum curator or volunteer.

You can listen in to episode 198 below, click here to tune in on any podcast player, or read on for the full post.

The Holocaust Museum of L.A. Free Virtual Tours for Students

Screenshot from the Holocaust Museum Website

Part of the Los Angeles Holocaust Museum’s mission is to provide free tours to students. Maybe you’re studying The Diary of Anne Frank, Night, Refugee, Maus, or All The Light We Cannot See? Try pairing a virtual trip to the museum with your unit.

The tour includes an introduction to the holocaust, an introduction to the museum’s history, a tour of the collection and optionally a talk from a Holocaust survivor and/or a Q & A portion with a Holocaust survivor.

You could spend several days preparing for this virtual trip, then a highly impactful class period experiencing it.

Link: Holocaust Museum of LA Free Virtual Tours for Students

Contact: Claudia Marquez, Museum Tours Manager, at claudia@hmla.org

National Museum of the American Indian

ELA Virtual Field Trips

Screenshot from The National Museum of the American Indian Native Knowledge 360 Website

The National Museum of the American Indian in Washington D.C. is free to enter, but if you don’t happen to live in D.C. (like most of us), they have extensive online collections. They’re also working on a range of virtual field trip options which they’ll announce soon.

Maybe you’re studying The Marrow Thieves, Ceremony, The Birchbark House, Snake Falls to Earth, or poetry by Joy Harjo – it’s a perfect time to put together a webquest and dive into the online collection. Check out the Native Knowledge 360 Education Initiative website to learn all about the resources available (and find out about educator workshops too!).

Explore World-Renowned Art through Google’s Arts and Culture Site

Google’s Arts and Culture Site is almost absurdly extensive. You and your students can visit the Uffizi in Florence, The Van Gogh Museum in Amsterdam, The Getty in L.A., and a whole lot more. Last year I visited Austria’s National Library in Vienna in person, and on a whim, I searched it in Google’s Arts and Culture Site. Two minutes later, I was “walking” through it, seeing all the gorgeous books stacked sky high on either side of me and seeing close-ups of the art. Don’t be afraid to search for a niche museum!

ELA Virtual Field Trips

Screenshot from the Google Arts and Culture Site

If you’re studying any book or poetry with ties to art movements, historical periods, paintings, etc., or even if you just need a cool one-off day in between units, a trip to an Internationally Renowned museum could be a great way to spend the day!

Create a short series of questions/prompts to help guide students in their explorations, or ask them to explore as they wish and then report back on what they find through some fun medium, like a 5 slide deck of screenshots with explanations, an infographic about a collection, or a short audio tour of their favorite pieces.

Link: Google Arts and Culture

Link: State Hall Tour (for the Austrian National Library)

Visit the Civil Rights Trail

ELA Virtual Field Trips

Screenshot from the Civil Rights Trail website

The Civil Rights Trail has created an extensive interactive online tour including many videos to allow folks from around the world to see its most famous sites. Explore the website to create your own series of student experiences, or choose from their many curated virtual trips with themes like “Discover Civil Rights History,” “Risking it All and Riding for Freedom,” and “Sitting Down to Take a Stand.

You might pair this trip with texts like March, a study of Martin Luther King, or Claudette Colvin: Twice Towards Justice.

Visit the Globe Theater

Screenshot from the Globe Theater Virtual Tour Website

Diving into Shakespeare with your students? Why not check out The Globe? As kids explore this immersive site, they can click into various locations to see video, listen to audio, and explore pictures and explanations. They can “walk” all over the place, even looking up at the sky to see what’s above when watching a play at the Globe in London.

Link: Globe Virtual Tour

Try a National Geographic Field Trip

ELA Virtual Field Trips

National Geographic has an experiential learning section of their site, and extensive Youtube playlists. Explore to find something related to your unit of study. For example, in a quick browse through their options, I discovered four virtual field trips I’d be interested in exploring: Native America Stories, Black History Month Virtual Field Trip, Revisiting History, and Women Pushing Boundaries (in environmentalism).

General Link: Nat Geo Experiential Learning

Keep Exploring

Really, these six represent the tip of the iceberg! Whatever you’re reading, think about what museums or nonprofits might be doing related work in the world, and go hunting through their online offerings. Chances are they have a collection you can turn into a virtual field trip, someone who could talk to your class through Zoom, or even an officially curated virtual field trip.

There are so many possibilities!

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