To help educators save time, we’ve put together a quick recap on how to prepare for your next virtual field trip (VFT) and five of the best VFT’s based on their relevancy, quality of resources, and potential for student excitement. Student engagement starts with excitement, so get planning!

Prepare: Like any lesson plan, consider how you can prepare your students. First, don’t forget the standards, curriculum, and content you are helping your students uncover. By connecting these virtual field trip experiences to content that you want students to learn, you can ensure students come to the event ready to participate. Also look for pre-event activities your students can participate in. Not only do these activities promote student thinking about what might happen during the virtual field trip, they also allow you to create connections to the specific content you wish to cover.

Engage and connect: During the event, make sure that you take advantage of any virtual connections that are possible, such as submitting questions for panelists before or during the event, or participating in Twitter backchannel conversations as the VFT unfolds. Your participation helps guide live panelists and provides your students the opportunity to be recognized. There’s not too much more exciting then hearing your class’s name and question read aloud during a live virtual field trip.

Model: Don’t forget to model your learning for your students. Take pictures of what is happening in the classroom and document everything going on. In order to maximize virtual field trips, integrate teaching strategies with the content that is shared. You might consider the A-E-I-O-U strategy during the event; showing students how to capture what they learned. (A- an adjective or two that describes what they learned, E – emotion describing how it made them feel, I – something they found interesting, O – something that made them say “Oh!”, U – write a question that you want to learn more about). For more examples of free strategies to use with digital media, take a look here.

Reflect: During the event, identify the talking points and imagery that provides the most direct launching point into your curriculum. Plan to revisit these segments in the future. Consider what resonated with your students. How can you make this more than an isolated lesson? Often, these events pique students’ interest and spark many questions. Use this opportunity to have students record their thinking. Don’t expect to provide answers. Rather, put the learning opportunity back on your students to discover their answers as you work together towards mastering your unit of instruction.

Next page: 5 of the best trips to consider