Virtual Electronic Field Trips
by National Hall of Fame teacher Alan Haskvitz

Thing back to your school days and the chances are that besides a lost love it was a field trip that you recall vividly. Whether that class visit was to a museum, park, or historical place the learning and enjoyment standout. Today, with modern electronics, budgeting concerns, lawsuit avoidance, curriculum standards, and high value testing results, field trips are a rarity, if not extinct.

Sad, yes, but what is even more disheartening is the fact that students won’t have the opportunity to go somewhere that they could later in life share with their family. Even when a grant has been secured to help pay for the transportation and entrance costs you need to impose on other teachers to have that student miss their class. A small favor to ask, but nonetheless a day of learning missed for that subject area.

There is also the time consuming of tasks of trolling for parents to supervise, arranging the time for buses to arrive, medications, making sure no child is without an emergency number, and that the students understand the time schedule. There may be need for substitute plans and it is recommended that you take a picture of the group on the day of the trip so that if one is missing he or she is easier to identify by officials. This is a lot to ask from a teacher and certainly not a requirement for their position.

But all the above are practical matters. What is missing is the spontaneous learning opportunity across curriculum areas and the diversity of learning opportunities. For example, before the students get on the bus they must calculate the mileage, make an estimate of the miles per hour, study a map to see what other significant places are along the road, and study a layout of the facility noting where they are to report, restrooms, and other places they need to know. The combines both geography and math and map reading. Add to that mix the directions the bus will travel and estimated time of arrival and you have a great learning experience before the trip begins. Having the students make their own note taking book using inexpensive note pads and self-made marbled paper using printers ink and library or book binding tape and you have an art lesson. Using technology, students can even use global positioning information to track the trip and note the various streets taken to make them more aware of the importance of knowing where they are when traveling.

There is always the value of debriefing once the trip is finished and having the students share a study guide for the trip about such items as types of occupations noted, most unusual fact, names of docents, and a list of items observed and the addresses of those who need thank you notes and, perhaps, art work.

The learning that can be linked to a field trip makes if memorable, but just as importantly, enables them to learn on their own, something that electronic field trips to do not currently offer. It is not that electronic field trips are bad, far from it, what better way to visit places far behind the immediate area. What they lack is the spirit of adventure, the learning with friends on their own, to learn from others and, above all, the excitement to actually tell their family about and share the learning and motivate a future excursion.

Fortunately, when I was attending school legal matters were not the main concern. Learning was. We stood in the back of a truck on the way to a historical park, walked miles across town to visit a museum, went to a zoo and were simply told to report back at a certain time, not to mention trips to airfields, ships, museums, and significant buildings. The fact that I can recall these and don’ t remember the teacher’s name is not an indictment of the school system, but a reflection that perhaps we need to rethink what I call “seated learning” as the only way to inculcate facts.

Due to legal and financial constraints perhaps it is time to take a longer look at electronic or Internet field trips.

First, to make this lesson as real life as possible it would be good to have a map of the location, and, if it is a building or park, a map of that as well. In this way the student has a sense of where the images are coming from. Furthermore, if it is a location, such as a museum, the students can be given math problems on time and distance to help them understand the expenses of such travel. This also ties in with Common Core questions as well.

Before the trip is taken the students should read about the place, be prepared to compare it to others, and be given time to write what they might learn or would like to learn. These can be used at the end of the lesson as the bases for a compare and contrast essay. Obviously, the lesson also ties in with technology and science lessons as well.

The students need to take notes on the field trip including the webpage and what was shown. I would recommend that the trip take place during class time to keep the group on task and eliminate students going off-topic.

The teacher needs to review the site first, make an agenda of what is going to be shown and in what order, and create a list of questions for the students to answer as the lesson progresses.

It should be remembered that field trips may not be the same as once thought. There are now field trips that show how to make bread, ride a horse, and more. So be selective and make sure they meet your objectives.

Virtual Field Trips
Ten of the Best Virtual Field Trips

Huge List of Electronic Field Trips

Apps for field trips from Edutopia
Rather limited, but varied.

Holiday Lessons
by Hall of Fame Educator Alan Haskvitz

It is difficult at best to keep students on task with the weather, holiday expectations, and even family trips diluting their concentration. As such, it is probably best to use teachable moments to help take those interests and prepare lessons that enable them to relate it to the Common Core expectations. It is also a great time of year to stress cultural differences and to use art and music to add depth to lessons.

A very important message that needs to be respected and that is the fact that public schools must be aware that celebrating a holiday MUST follow certain rules. The very best site for this is

A nice sampling of lessons that cover a variety of subject areas and are of high interest
This includes having students taking part in giving activities, too.

A huge collection of lessons for all holidays and special days. Well worth checking.

ESL holiday lessons

Physical Education Lessons based on holidays

December lessons
Covers major holidays.

Free printables for most holidays

Lesson plans for major December holidays.

Lesson plans by month and it includes weather related links

Cultural awareness lesson plans
For older students

Christmas Around the World
Easy to follow and enables students to get a look at how this holiday is celebrated in various countries. A great art lesson can be developed from these lessons.

Holiday songs
Fun and the students could even be encouraged to make their own

Songs for teaching the holidays
You don’t have to buy the songs, the lyrics are listed.

The story of Saint Nicholas
A high interest, easy to read story that includes links to related sources. Great for Common Core practice. This site has excellent, high interest stories that can motivate students.

Learning styles and Differentiated Assignments
by Hall of Fame teacher Alan Haskvitz

There is no shortage of research on how people learn. Indeed, people have become rich just developing theories about this important element of learning. However, in a classroom packed with students it is often difficult to provide enough alternative types of assignments to reach everyone. Thus this feature is best used to help educate the students to learn about themselves and how they learn. An excellent feature to use at the beginning of a learning term. Be advised that some of this material is complex and so a critical eye is needed when selecting that information most appropriate for various grade levels. Of note, the greater use of technology can make it much easier to adjust assignments accordingly.

Once you have reviewed the various aspects of differentiated learning you may want to sample Awesome Stories where can find a variety of ways to teach a lesson using the resources there. For example, take a look at the variety listed here: These ideas can be used to reach every level of student and motivate them while meeting Common Core goals.

Printout identifying eight learning styles
This could be printed out and placed in the classroom to help students learn how to learn.

Howard Gardner’s Types of Intelligences
Gives examples of how to relate to different styles of learning

This site is designed for students to explore their own learning style

Sideshow providing information on how to apply differentiated learning and various styles

Learning Styles, Multiple Intelligences, and Differentiated Instruction
Links to these topics and self-tests.

Homework tips for different learning styles
The information is at the bottom of this site.

Knowledge of Student Characteristics
The first part of this article provides information that provides some interesting data that can help teachers with assignments including what time of day and right and left brain differences.
Using Felder’s Index of Learning Styles
A sideshow explaining this theory. An excellent overview that provides teachers with insights into various methods to reach students.

A Moodle about Moodle
This is a tool that teachers can use to individualize lessons and provide more direct feedback. It fits into the various types of learning styles feature by making it easier for teachers to provide differentiated learning opportunities.

by National Hall of Fame teacher Alan Haskvitz

Flipping a classroom has come to mean a method in which a teacher assigns technology related assignments for homework so that more depth can be added to the lesson when the student returns to the classroom. This can be done in several ways, but the most common appears to be an online video. In that way less classroom time is taken with lecture and more with using the data to extend learning opportunities. It is also called blended learning and reverse instruction. I have used a version of this since the late 1990s using bookmark sites. Indeed, one of my lessons revolved around having the students created their own lessons using videos for other students to use in a structured format.

It has proven to be of value, but many problems must be solved first such as what to do with students without access to technology, students who don’t do the work and students who have done the homework, but did not take adequate notes. The sites below can provide good examples of how it is done and the good and needs improvement of the method.

I also strongly recommend Awesome Stories as it provides exceptional lesson plans, videos, and stories that students can use at home. The material is high interest. It is your best bet when starting to use a flipped format.

A variety of links are provided.

An excellent visual presentation from a teacher about the benefits.

A professional learning community for teachers using screencasting in education.

Pros and Cons

A series of videos of classrooms using the flipped method

Flipping must be done right
Some warnings and suggestions

An article dealing with the use of the flipped classroom methods.
Provides some insights into some techniques that can be done with the videos.

Click to access ednext_20121_BTucker.pdf

A visual explanation of what the flipped classroom is about
Some statistics are provided on its value, but no source is given as well as the level of students involved. This resource is best used as an easy to follow example of how to set one up.

You Tube Videos about Flipped Classrooms

Math Games and Math Apps
by National Hall of Fame Teacher Alan Haskvitz
Math is difficult for many students and thus the need for games to help learn the subject can be of great benefit and provide needed remediation and practice. I have also listed some sites that offer apps that may be of value. However, there may be a small charge for a few of them.

One of the very best sites.
It also includes a Common Core Navigation. Best on the web.

Math Playground
A diverse selection of interactive games mainly at the elementary level.
Cool Math
Includes pre-Algebra games.

A large link site
A wide variety of games for all grade levels

A Plus Math
Flash care maker and homework helper sections.

Lots of graph makers and more. For all grade levels.

Listing of math games by age levels

Hot math
For older students. Includes algebra
Consider not downloading the sound feature.

Elementary and middle school
Many variations, but most are best related to remedial work and practice. Includes converting to metric and fractions.

Math iPad Apps
Most are free

Common Core math apps

Android math apps
Mainly for younger students

Android algebra app

21 Common Core-Aligned Math Apps For High School Students
Check for pricing. Some are free.