Friday, January 31, 2014

Symptom: Can't afford a field trip

Budgets are tight these days, especially in the education world. However, as school librarians and classroom teachers we want to continue to provide multiple opportunities for our students to learn. One way to do this is through field trips, because there's nothing like a little adventure to really send home the message of the lesson you've been teaching. So what do you do if there's no money or you can't schedule the field trip when you need it to correspond with your lessons?

Try the app Sphere. It's free and available for iOS and Android products. Yes, everything! For FREE!

Basically, you can search locations around the world, or right in your own hometown. If there is a red sphere symbol, you can click on it and be taken to photos or videos that have been uploaded. There are also collections that you can view (such as National Parks) and even follow people to view their latest uploads.

I've used this in my school library to give 5th grade students a tour of the Marietta National Cemetery when they were studying the Civil War and for Veteran's Day. This app could also be used to take virtual field trips to learn about settings in books or even an author's hometown. Sphere could be used when a new student arrives - search their former hometown and open up a conversation about the similarities and differences between our city and the city where they used to live. 

Sphere can be used in so many ways, and I have to admit I've used it to visit places I haven't travelled to yet - Paris, Scotland, Africa, and the list goes on! 

One note of caution before you use Sphere with students: Preview the images just as you would preview a book, video or website. Since the majority of uploads are by regular folks, there may be images that would not be deemed appropriate for your students.

Diagnosis: Happy librarians, happy teachers and happy students without spending money or having to eat sack lunches!

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