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Showcasing Sue Bailey and "Virtual Class Trip"


"Every class that has participated in Virtual DC -- and this is our third year -- has seemed to really enjoy it, as have I," reported Sue Bailey. "The students love compiling their photo album and presenting a slideshow of their trip, and I am always surprised by how creative the students can be."

Bailey is a computer teacher who also teaches music and physical education classes at the small St. Barbara School in Brookfield, Illinois. Finding it difficult to impart new concepts to eighth graders at the end of their last semester -- a time when their minds are clouded with high school entrance exams, class parties, graduation, and so on -- Bailey sought a solution.

"I decided I needed a project that would allow the eighth graders to review as many computer skills as possible and still hold their attention," she told Education World. "Because we're not able to take a real trip to Washington, D.C., I decided to create a virtual class trip for my students."

The class begins the project by setting up a spreadsheet to keep track of its $1,000 "budget." Students choose arrival and departure dates, and then go online to find transportation and hotel information. They budget food expenses based on sample menus. The class also looks into typical springtime weather in Washington, D.C. to prepare a list of what they will need to "pack" for their journey.

Eighth graders at St. Barbara School tour Washington, D.C. via the Internet.

"In the meantime, I set up a Web site where students sign in when they come to class each day to see what we'll be doing in Washington that day," Bailey explained. "In addition to the activities they must complete about each monument or government building they "visit," students must compile a photo album of their trip, including at least one nice photo from each attraction."

Students also create a database of helpful Web sites, and participate in designing a class map of Washington, D.C., including tourist sites of special interest to them. All class members may visit one point of interest of their choosing that is highlighted in Washington, D.C. - Tourist Information page. Bailey uses e-mail to convey "news" about each day of the trip, inventing ways in which the travelers might lose or acquire money, so adjustments are made to the budget spreadsheets.

St. Barbara's 2004 "Virtual DC" logo.

One of the last tasks students complete is creating an original graphic design about the trip; the design is printed on transfer paper and ironed onto T-shirts as souvenirs of the virtual trip. When time allows, students use photo software to superimpose a class photo on an image of the city to complete the illusion of travel.

"I have been very pleased to see how responsible the students are about completing their work and how well they remain on task," said Bailey. "I make sure that there is plenty for the students to do. On a real class trip to Washington, teachers try to pack as much as possible into the time they have. I think of this project in the same way. The more worthwhile things there are for the students to do, the less likely they are to find other ways to occupy their time."

Images courtesy of Sue Bailey.

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If you're a teacher who has completed an interesting or unusual activity with your class -- or if you know of a teacher who has -- please let us know about it. E-mail a brief description of the activity, along with your contact information, to [email protected]

Article by Cara Bafile
Education World®
Copyright © 2004 Education World

 

04/19/2004