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.