It might seem mind-boggling how teens can spend hours on their screens outside of class, but it's a struggle to engage with content during school hours. I know there's such thing as screen-fatigue, and with remote learning you might be looking for some ways to capture your students' attention during your social studies lessons. Interactive notebooks might be out the window, and your students surely don't want to sit through a long lecture over the screen. To foster engagement, our students need a good balance of teacher-led instruction and independent learning time. That's where virtual field trips come in. I've found that sending students on a virtual tour is a great way to gain student attention and motivation during social studies lessons.
If you're gearing up for your unit on ancient Greece, the first thing you might cover is the geography. It's important for students to have some spatial reasoning before jumping into the history. Many middle school social studies standards expect students to have an understanding of the following: Mount Olympus, the Mediterranean Sea, the Peloponnesian Peninsula, Sparta, Macedonia, and Athens. It can be tempting to have students read a passage about each of these places, but there's a more engaging way to cover this content thanks to the advances in technology. 🙌 💻
I've created a Google Slides interactive activity that has students "travel" to each of the geographic locations I've listed above. Students explore the area using the features and tools of Google Earth, and answer observation-based questions about each of the stops on their tour. Through mapping skills, video, informational text, visuals, and satellite images, students are able to experience the geography of ancient Greece up close and personal.
One of the important achievements to cover is the Acropolis of Athens. Again, we could just read about this, but why not send students on a virtual field trip instead? This activity is set up in Google Slides and includes various stops within the Acropolis. With maps included, informational text, and visuals, students get a good grasp of where they are, what they are learning, and why they are learning it.
Teachers share with me that virtual field trips are making a big difference in their social studies classes during remote learning. Educators are finding that virtual field trips are a different way to learn online, and provide students with ownership of their learning. Students can work at their own pace and take time exploring on their own. Even if you chose to do this as a teacher-led lesson, it's still much more engaging than a PowerPoint lecture or a reading passage. And the best part is that these virtual field trips are already set up in Google Slides and ready to go! Save time, and get this in the hands of your students this week. The hard work is done. Woohoo!
Here are the links to check out these ancient Greece digital activities for your upcoming unit: