There are so many amazing ways that we can integrate technology in the classroom to spark curiosity and bring history to life. I recently finished a virtual field trip to the Panama Canal. This digital activity focuses on the history, geography, and significance of the Panama Canal from various perspectives.
If you are looking for a way to have your students lead their own learning, a virtual field trip is a great learning option. This trip to the Panama Canal is structured and is meant to guide students through the trip as they answer critical thinking questions, but there's also plenty of opportunities for students to take ownership in their learning.
This digital activity incorporates Google Earth™ 360° views which provide time for students to "look around" and explore on their own. This technology brings history up-close and allows students the chance to investigate and make observations.
This virtual activity focuses not only on the function of the Panama Canal, but also looks at the history of construction, the many setbacks, the discrimination among those working on the canal, and the poor working conditions. As well, this trip narrows in on the impact of U.S. military bases and the signing of the Torrijos-Carter Treaty.
Students gain an understanding of how the lock system works, as well as recent expansions. It's important for students to analyze different perspectives and weigh the costs and benefits of the Panama Canal. This trip provides a look at the economic impact and global trade, water and deforestation, marine habitat changes, and resiliency efforts.
While this virtual tour is a great crosswalk activity, this digital activity integrates critical thinking questions rather than reading comprehension questions about the informational text. It is so important that our students use historical thinking skills, are able to make connections to what they learn, and can find value in their learning. That's one of the reasons why this trip includes a grading rubric that assesses the accuracy, thoroughness, and validity of student responses.
This virtual field trip is set up in Google Slides and can be easily assigned to each student in Google Classroom (or another LMS). This activity could also be conducted as a teacher-led activity instead. This blended learning social studies lesson works well with remote, hybrid, or in-person teaching.
Let's set the textbooks aside! Teachers share with me that the Google Earth™ exploration component of virtual field trips engages students, sparks interest, and leads to meaningful discussion. Woohoo!
I know that keeping digital activities SIMPLE is key. That's why everything in this activity is found in one place. All of the direct links, informational text, and questions are set up in Google Slides and ready to go. If your school uses a different LMS like Canvas, Schoology, or Seesaw, don't worry. Check out this blog post which answers some of my most frequently asked tech questions about virtual field trips.
This tech-integrated activity is comprehensive, but is ready to go to save you so much time. You can find all the details of what's included by clicking this link: Panama Canal Virtual Field Trip