The technology coach/teacher relationship takes many different shapes throughout the year. This post serves to demonstrate one such example of the collaborative efforts of a team of 3rd grade teachers at B.J. Hooper Elementary and the district technology coach (me).

Historical Photo of Pleviak ElementaryAn Idea is Born

This case study starts with a representative from the 3rd grade team at Hooper informing me that their grade level would like to incorporate a technology resource into their Community History project.  They’d like to do some sort of virtual field trip, and would like to hear my thoughts on how to best go about doing it.

I agree that a virtual field trip would be an excellent way to integrate technology into the classroom – especially for this unit.  I tell them that I have a few ideas as to how we could do that, and we set up a time to meet to discuss things further.

We Meet

At our meeting, the 3rd grade teachers show me some of the resources that they have used in the past – excellent primary source documents consisting mostly of historical photos.  I present the idea of virtually embedding those documents in the locations where they were actually taken via Google Earth.  I demonstrate an example, and the 3rd grade teachers agree to move in this direction.

The Leg Work

Since the virtual field trip idea is still just an idea at this stage, we have some work to do.  The 3rd grade team gathers their primary source images, scans them, and sends them my way for minor graphical adjustments and for embedding into Google Earth.  Upon completion of this step, I send the file back over to Hooper for review.

At this stage we have a working virtual field trip in that the user can ‘travel’ from placemarker to placemarker and click on the embedded photos, but the project still lacks a direct tie-in to the curriculum.

3rd Grade to the Rescue

Technology for the sake of technology doesn’t justify the time and effort it takes to implement it in the classroom.  The implementation must add value to the learning experience.  At this point, the third grade teachers start adding that value by restructuring all of the content knowledge from their old resources into the new one, and they hone their Google Earth user skills in preparation to present to their students.

Presentation Day

On presentation day, I arrive prior to the lesson to make sure that the software is working as it’s supposed to, which it is.  The teachers begin to present the virtual field trip, the students are engrossed, and I walk between the two rooms only chiming in to offer a hint or two (usually to address a quark of the software).

The content knowledge that the teachers have added connects directly with the pictures that they’ve selected and the software utility ties it all together.

Professional Learning Community

After all their hard work, the 3rd grade team shares their virtual field trip with the rest of the district demonstrating exactly what it means to be a part of a community of professional learners in the 21st century.

If you’d like to download this project you may do so here: Lake Villa – Virtual Field Trip.

*download requires that you have Google Earth installed on your computer.

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