Are money and resources for field trips hard to come by at your school? We all know that field trips can boost recall, help develop historical empathy, promote critical thinking, and cultivate an interest in art and the humanities. Yet, it is more and more difficult to take field trips these days. Well, here is a solution! Take your students on a virtual field trip using Google Arts & Culture and Google My Maps. With Arts & Culture, students can experience art museums, historical exhibits, and World Heritage Sites from over 1,000 museums and 70 countries. With My Maps, students and teachers can create their own custom maps. Check out these introductory videos on Google Arts & Culture and Google My Maps to get started.
Google Arts & Culture
Built with Google’s Street View technology, Google Arts and Culture is easy to search by using the navigation panel on the left hand side of its home page. Search for a particular artist, museum, medium, or place. Depending on your search, results can be organized by popularity, time period, or even color. If you are teaching about a certain location in the world, you can do a Partner search by map to find out what is available in your chosen spot. Give yourself some time to explore the Projects section of Google Arts and Culture too. This section highlights a variety of bold initiatives such as 360 degree virtual experiences in Carnegie Hall or visit the favelas of Rio through a totally immersive experience, Rio: Beyond the Map. Don’t miss the Experiments on the menu either! These visual collections of 1,000s of pieces of art are on the cutting edge of technology coding, math, and visual arts. Be careful! You can get lost in the eye candy this virtual experience.
Once you find an artwork, location, historical site, or exhibit that you want to explore, you have many options to peruse. Try zooming in on individual pieces. Many pieces of artwork are photographed using gigapixel technology. Because of the super high resolution of these images, you can zoom in to see brush strokes and details down to cracks in the canvas. What if you find a perfect artifact or artwork for a lesson? Select the heart icon to favorite items and then find them easily under favorites in your menu. You can even use your favorite items to create a collection. With pegman, you can explore virtual exhibits. Try navigating down halls, through city streets or stand in front of sites like the pyramids at Giza. You never know what gem you will find in Google Arts and Culture.
Mash it up with Google My Maps
Google My Maps allows users to create custom maps. With My Maps, one can add markers, lines and shapes to a map. Every item that you add to a map includes a description box which will let you add text, hyperlinks, images and videos. For a final product, students could create a map and include pertinent links from Google Arts and Culture. There are many different ways that this could be applied in the classroom. For example, students could create a map of another country for a World Language class, map landforms in Science class or they could map an ancient civilization or the battles of a war in Social Studies. Students could even create a Lit Trip chronicling the travels of a character in a novel for Language Arts. My Maps and Arts & Culture go hand in hand!
Tell me more! Here are a few application ideas that could work at multiple grade levels:
Scavenger hunt: While virtually exploring a historical site such as Ford’s Theater or the Maggie L Walker house, have your students search for specific items and create a collection of artifacts using the “favorite” feature in Google Arts and Culture. See this example.
Lesson Hook: Introduce a lesson with a piece of artwork that fits your curriculum. Use a Thomas Cole landscape to talk about manifest destiny or a dramatic painting such as this one to illustrate the dangers of the Underground Railroad. The ability to zoom in on individual characters can help your lessons come to life. Start your lesson by zooming in as far as you can and then pan out to reveal the whole scene and discuss how one’s interpretation changes when they are presented with more information.
Detective Work: Pull up a artifact like this note from Angelica Schuyler Church to her father about Alexander Hamilton’s duel with Aaron burr. Can students decipher the handwriting? Can they see the value of this primary source document?
Plan a trip– Have students use Google My Maps to plan a trip to another country. Drop markers at the locations they would like to visit. Use Driving Directions to make sure that their travel itinerary is realistic. Then, use Google Arts and Culture to add links on the map for the places they want to visit. Click here for an example.
Where in the World? Game- Pull up a location, have students use clues from their virtual environment to determine their location. Try GeoGuessr for a pre-made “where in the world” experience. Want to make your own GeoGuessr game, try GeoSettr!
Teaching symbolism? Using a painting filled with symbolism such as Hans Holbein’s The Ambassadors or Edvard Munch’s The Scream to find examples of symbolism. Clues that the artist may be using in color, texture, lines, or images.
Writing Prompt- Art is a great tool to work on sentence style and variety. Instead of rote grammar lessons, we can use art as an inspiration piece and write sentences based on the work of art. Set your students free in a gallery like the Amon Carter Museum of American Art to find a piece of art that inspires a haiku.
20 Questions- Pull up an artifact from Google Arts and Culture. Have students play a 20 question type game to determine its significance or debate the object’s origin. What moment in history does the artifact capture/reflect? Take it to the next level by creating a class map with Google My Maps and have each student place a marker at the origin of their artifact. Include the artifact link in the description box.
Student Docents- Have students create personal collections from an exhibit in Google Arts and Culture to share with the class. They will then be the docent for their collection as they share out expert information to the class. Here is an example of a collection from the Maggie L. Walker House exhibit.
With Google Art & Culture, you literally have the world’s cultural resources at your fingertips. With Google My Maps, you have a way to visually present these resources in a real-world context.
So, where do you want to take your students on a field trip?
Cat Tompkins is an Instructional Technology Integrator for Chesterfield County schools. Her daily goal is to help teachers with their productivity and creativity as they blend learning in their classrooms. When she is not spreading her love for technology, she is totally unplugged on her mini-farm in Powhatan, Virginia taking care of a large assortment of chickens, riding a tractor, or walking trails with her two Portuguese Water dogs. You can follow her on Twitter: @cattompkins.
Matt Fuquay is an Instructional Technology Integrator with Chesterfield County Public Schools. He has been with CCPS for 15 years, 10 as a Social Studies teacher and 5 as an Instructional Technology Integrator. He is a Google Certified Trainer, a National Board Certified Teacher and has had the opportunity to present at many regional, state and national conferences (EdTech RVA, VSTE, ISTE & CoSN). In his free time, he enjoys running, watching football and spending time with his wife and two daughters. You can follow him on Twitter: @mattfuquay.