Making One Student’s Vacation into a Class Field Trip
Oct 19, 2018
By Stephanie Lear
Every year I have one or two students who are given the opportunity to go on an amazing adventure with their family during the school year. As their teacher, I love the opportunities this gives students. I fully support any chance students have to see more of the world. However, I do not want to create busy work for them to do while they are gone. I want their time doing schoolwork to be as meaningful as their time in my classroom.
The vacation blog has become my go-to vacation assignment. Using Purple Mash’s 2Blog tool students create a blog during their vacation. In the classroom we spend a few minutes each morning reading and responding to the blog. This often leads to research about geography, distance, currency, habitats, and native animals. The blog itself drives these small research projects. The class becomes so invested in what they are learning that they cannot wait to read the blog and share their questions and new knowledge. Using Google Earth for exact addresses also adds to the real feel of the experience for everyone.
The blogs are in a closed site with a sharable link the teacher can use to allow outside members to read the blog. It works really well as it is a multimedia tool allowing students to share images, drawings, and videos created on Purple Mash or on other platforms.
This vacation blog assignment is a great example of innovation and creativity. The blog offers students the opportunity to share their new experiences and knowledge with their peers. Not only is it exciting for the student who is creating the blog, but it also offers a fascinating opportunity for the other students in the classroom. Each morning, these students look forward to exploring a new part of the world through the eyes of their peer. This, in turn, makes the learning process more tangible and interesting to the students still in the classroom. They have a greater desire to expand their knowledge and branch out into new topics of discussion such as language, culture, and cuisine.
While the written content provided by the student abroad is certainly beneficial, some of the students who participated in this type of assignment even created videos to share with their classmates. Watching videos of a peer experiencing something new is even more compelling than the written word. These stimulating videos enhance a student’s imagination and can help a student create a visual image of the places and concepts that they are learning about.
The opportunities available to students in this assignment are limitless. It seems that this assignment is beneficial for all parties involved and it is also enjoyable.
Stephanie Lear is a 3rd grade teacher at Brown Elementary School in St. Joseph, MI where she is part of the arts adoption team and implements blended learning and project-nased learning in her classroom. She received her BA and MA from the University of Iowa along with Reading Recovery training. Stephanie has presented at MACUL, CUE, TCEA, FETC, and NCCE conferences about coding and STEM in elementary classrooms. Her passion is blended learning throughout the curriculum. You can find her on twitter @StephanieLear3