“Technology is just a tool. In terms of getting the kids working together and motivating them, the teacher is most important.” —Bill Gates

Monday, October 19, 2015

iPods on a Field Trip

Hi! A couple of weeks ago, the grade 5 students set out to what promised to be an exciting field trip. Very nearby the school is a gorgeous canyon. With the guidance of an expert explorer and a young geologist, each of the grade 5 groups took turns to go deep into the canyon. I was lucky to be asked to accompany one of these groups and their teacher. So, here's my story.

It turns out that we were the first ones to take the trip. I had no idea of what to expect. I carried my water bottle, a light lunch, my iPhone, sunglasses, and a cap. So did the kids. They were so excited! The ride getting there was really fun, but what they were about to see I think blew everyone's mind even more.

Fifth graders had been studying the Changing Earth unit. They had learned about plate tectonics, erosion, deposition, earthquakes, etc. Imagine being able to witness the forces of nature first hand. Imagine being able to see where plates have collided; where layers of earth have emerged; how erosion and deposition have changed the land; or see and feel the land that used to be under water! Not only that, they even had a geologist offer them a scientific explanation and solve any questions they might have. It was around a 30 minute ride, but it really seemed like we had traveled back in time.

Hey! It wasn't all fun and adventure. The students had work to do too. In their backpacks they carried a worksheet and a pencil. As soon as they started to complete it,  they quickly make connections between what they were experiencing there and what they had learned in the classroom. They made drawings of course, but how would students be able to capture all this beauty? Yes, you guessed it, with iPods!

At school we have a cart with a class set of iPods. Not many teachers like to book them. You know, the screen is too small, they are getting old and they can't be updated anymore. However, this was the perfect opportunity to make purposeful use of such fine equipment. They're just the right size. They could be carried in each of the student's backpack, together with their notebook and supplies, and they could be held safely in their hands.

After a couple of hours, it was time to head back to school. It turned out to be a fascinating experience after all. I even learned a thing or two. Above all, I just love how the students were able to embed technology into their learning and make the most out of this amazing trip into nature!


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