This is a guest blogpost from ‘Education Through Creation’ where she shares some tips on how to structure a virtual school tour for your class!
I am a primary school teacher and I run the Instagram page ‘Education Through Creation’. Teaching is most definitely not just a job but a huge passion of mine. I can imagine if you are reading this, you are hugely passionate about teaching too!
As June is fast approaching, I find myself daydreaming about what is, in my opinion, the best month of the school year. I feel sorry for the NQT’s who haven’t had the chance to experience it. It is SUPER busy, the children are excited, you are excited and there is a general buzz in the school! There are a number of factors for this. For starters, everyone knows their class inside out. The curriculum has generally been taught and we are on to revision of topics. The standardised testing is usually over, and reports are written. The weather is brighter and the days are longer so you feel like you can get so much more done! The pressure is less on both teachers and students. There are sports days, fun runs, nature walks and of course the highly coveted, school tour! Ah, June!
I would have absolutely loved to bring my class on their school tour this year, and when scrolling Instagram I came across a post by Múinteoir Na Gaeilge on Instagram about taking her class to Sandiego Zoo as they have live camera feeds to the animals. The idea of this absolutely amazed me! She has a great PDF (suitable if you use zoom with your class) to guide you through the tour if you DM her on Instagram. I then saw a fantastic blogpost on Ms. Forde’s Classroom about different ideas for the virtual school tour, I was so inspired! I then saw another fantastic website for ideas shared by Teacher Julianne on Instagram which contains places all over Ireland and the world to inspire you to take your class. For the purpose of this blogpost, I’m going to go to Houston Zoo as that’s where I’ll be taking my own class!
First Step: Inform the parents and class about the tour. This can be done a few days before. I decided to go very official for this, so the boys would get excited! I wrote a note similar to one I would write if I was in school, on my school’s headed paper. I even wrote a permission slip (I stressed that this was just for aesthetics and did not need to be filled in). I must stress at this point, that I teach three boys who have autism, I will be making very clear to these boys that it is only a pretend trip and we will be using our imagination and we are not actually going anywhere. This is really important for children who are or may be on the autistic spectrum so they don’t get their hopes up or feel disappointed. The last thing I would want is to upset my students or their parents. I will explain to them via a voice note on Seesaw and make a quick social story if needed.
Second step: Remind the class the night before to pack their lunch. For me as a child, school tour lunches were the single best lunches of the school year! I can see since I started teaching that this hasn’t changed. There is no reason that they can’t still have a yummy lunch while on their virtual tour! I will show them a picture of my healthy lunch with one or two treats.
Third step: You can’t get far without a boarding pass! Just to add to the realism, I made this little boarding pass for the trip and which you can download free of charge here. I left out the personal details relating to my class. I will send this on Seesaw on the morning of the trip. The excitement!
Fourth step: I will link the children to an airplane takeoff video. I found this one the most suitable from Youtube Kids. I honestly can imagine my class being SO excited watching this! YouTube
Fifth step: I’m going to tell the boys to imagine they are now off the plane and we are getting a bus to the zoo in Houston, Texas. What is the weather like? How do you feel after coming off the plane? I will ask them to send me a voice note back and let me know!
Sixth step: We’re at the zoo! I’m going to screen record some of the live videos. This will take a little effort but I think if I was to trust the live webcams it could be a flop. Animals may be feeding and with the six hour time zone difference it may not work. I’m going to post some of the screen recorded videos on Seesaw at this step! I’ll choose a selection of animals to post. I’ll ask them questions such as ‘what is that animal eating?’, ‘Do you think it’s coat is soft or rough?’, ‘How many ___ are there?’, ‘What colour is that animal?’, ‘Do you think it hibernates?’ and so on!
Seventh step: As the webcams are silent, I thought this would be another excellent video to share with them. A lot of my class have never been to the zoo and may never have heard certain animals make a noise! YouTube
Final step: Lunchtime! I’ll encourage the children to eat their yummy packed lunch whilst watching this video. It will again reiterate some of the newer animals that they wouldn’t be used to. YouTube
The following day: I will do a follow up activity. There are so many lovely templates for this that your children could fill in. Search for these on the free section of TPT. I will simply be asking them, what was your favourite animal that you saw in Houston Zoo? Why? They can write it or voice note me, then draw a picture!
I’m then going to send them this certificate I made for the occasion, they LOVE a good certificate in my class! Happy to send this to anyone, just DM me on Instagram.
I hope you enjoyed reading this and got some ideas for structuring a virtual school tour for your own class. As I teach first class, this is geared at the younger classes however the structure would be similar if I was teaching an older class, I would just change some of the video content. Thank you to Niamh for kindly allowing me to write this guest blogpost. I am happy to chat to you about ideas or answer any questions over on my page. Thank you for reading!
Check out Education Through Creation for lots of fantastic posts, ideas and resources