As we enter the final weeks of the school year, I am starting to reflect on where we have gone since purchasing our Google Expeditions equipment. We have traveled to places such as China, Brazil, Washington DC, space, the rainforest, and many more! The students and teachers of Summit Cove have been around the world and back without ever leaving the classroom. "Field trips" have been redefined as a daily occurrence, not just a special event. Content has become meaningful, relevant, and accessible to students no matter their background. We have made the world our classroom, rather than the classroom our world!
Google Expeditions has a profound impact on the students at my school and on my teaching. Students used to create visualizations in their head or create meaning from a 2-D picture. With Google Expeditions, these images now come to life right in front of them. The "ooo" and "ahhs" I hear when students first look into the viewers never gets old. I watch as students eagerly want to apply their learning to what is in front of them. The energy is contagious! As a teacher, Google Expeditions has transformed my teaching. Lessons that used to be sub par, because I couldn't figure out an amazing way to present it, all of a sudden have new life. Some topics I used to dread teaching have become some of my favorite and those of my students too! (they obviously know when you aren't into something). I used to babble on and on about something from my own experience and how it related to what we were learning. Now the tables have turned! Conversation centers around what they are seeing right in front of them. They are truly driving their own learning!
So where do we go next? That is always the question. In terms of moving forward with Google Expeditions personally, this summer (who says teachers have summers off?) I am going to work on aligning Google Expeditions with our PYP Units of Inquiry with the hope that all students will have the opportunity to use it next year. I am also looking how to broaden my current scope of Expeditions with other geo tools that Google has to offer and integrating it into other content areas, specifically math. I've been working with other teachers around our district, educating them about the potential Google Expeditions has in their class with the hope more teachers will utilize this amazing tool. Our district is working on a purchasing a set to be checked out as needed by teachers in our district. Hopefully this will eliminate the lack of resources teachers struggle with when it comes to implementation.
The places we have traveled over the past 6 months are unreal! I can only imagine the resources, time, and cost to actually physically go on these "field trips" with our students. Ultimately, it is unrealistic that we would have ever been able to visit such places with our students. Doors have been opened that were out of reach! So whether you have one device or a set of devices that you can use with Google Expeditions... DO IT! I'll leave you with this.. if a picture is said to be worth a 1,000 words, then what is an experience worth?