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Social Studies and Writing - Virtual Tour

Page history last edited by Chrissy Menard 8 years, 7 months ago

Social Studies and Writing-Virtual Tour and “Tour Box”



Things to Consider:


How can you make the seemingly impossible become possible for your students?

How far can you travel with your students?

What is the added value of the virtual tour to the lesson plan, classroom, and students?

What standards can you accomplish with incorporating the virtual tour into your lesson plan?




The Virtual Tour provides the capability to take children on a tour as a group to places which would otherwise be considered impossible to take a class due to distance, cost or complexity.






Range of Experiences



This technology can be used in a variety of ways.  

It is a valuable option to exposing students to various places and subjects that they may not otherwise have access to because of travel expenses, distance or other logistics.  

Showcase a location that is inaccessible for various reasons and then utilize the information as part of a lesson by having the students create their own “Tour Box” to enhance the lesson using many different learning styles.  For example, the students could be provided with opportunity to learn in a visual, verbal, physical, logical, and social learning style.





Some Virtual Tour Examples:

There are many virtual tours available on the internet, some are just a collection of snapshots of a particular location and some are interactive experiences making the students feel as though they are right there.


Smithsonian National Museum of Natural History

Lincoln Memorial

University of Northern Colorado
Dinosaur National Monument



Navigating Within the Tour


 As an example, we explored the Lincoln Memorial panoramic photo Virtual Tour. The website takes you to the Lincoln Memorial, allowing you to navigate by clicking through the memorial, the surrounding grounds and steps, and the lower level of the Memorial via arrows or the map. This particular Virtual Tour is in photo form with a few arrows to follow and the option to zoom in on such etchings as the "Gettysburg Address". You can also zoom in on the face of Lincoln's Statue.





The Smithsonian National Museum of Natural History Virtual Tour allows you to navigate by clicking the toggle tool through out the museum with the ability to look up and down and side-to-side in each room. You can walk down hallways and into other rooms as though you were there moving around in real time. This can emulate the feeling of "taking someone" where they've never been before or cannot go today. In this tour, you can click on cameras to get an up close look at what is on display. Clicking on the icon to show Hot Spots makes your directional arrows appear or disappear. Use the stop button to check out a display and use the + and - symbols to get a closer look. A map displays three floors of the Smithsonian in which you can explore. Simply click a bullet on a map and you are instantly taken to the area of your interest.





Resources for teachers:


Colorado History Lesson Plans-Elementary

Virtual Tours that are “closer to home” (for Colorado):

Telecommunications Virtual Museum
Denver Art Museum Textile Art
Mesa Verde National Park
Raton Pass
Bent’s Old Fort National Historic Site

Enhance What You Find Online

Students can explore the location and experience the surroundings, allowing for group discussion, individual exploration, decision making (deciding a location to explore and then where to move around in that location), the idea of visiting a faraway place without leaving the classroom can add value to a project where students can create their own “tour” of a place with historical value or even a fictional place to bring life to it. The added value also takes pictures and read descriptions by turning them into a 360 degree experience, this is something students can also create whether it be on the computer or into the third dimensional spectrum. (We have provided an example of the 3rd dimensional spectrum.)

By letting students explore a virtual tour they can get a feel of what it’s like to walk around a location they, or their peers, have never been to. The virtual tour can be used simply as an experience to inspire students to create their own experiences for others. By creating their own tour, they can introduce their peers to a new place. In the example of creating a “Tour Box” students can discover the results of each group by physically picking up the box and starting at the front door, then moving around the box in the order they choose, just as they would at the real location. The Boxes can also be used create a map of Colorado (or state of choice) and “pin” their location on the map by physically placing the box on the map to see where they are in relation to others. The Boxes can also be used to create a real timeline of when the locations were started or completed.  


Applications to Social Studies and Writing Lessons

Virtual tours can be used in various ways in Social Studies and Writing.

Our “Tour Box” makes the concept more personal for the students and a project they can successfully complete.



Creating Your Own Tour


By dividing a class into groups, multiple locations can be introduced to the entire class by their peers. The students become experts about their location and share it with the rest of the class. We suggest the idea of the “Tour Box” - a six sided blank box given to or constructed by students in which they fulfill the rubric of the assignment by filling each side with information about their chosen location. Students are instructed to meet minimal requirements and highly encouraged to be creative. The “Tour Box” contains six sides meeting the following topics (this is a brief description, the detailed rubric is below):

  • Entrance - an actual doorway that represents the location, including the name of the "museum/tour". 
  • Directory - map and description of the location.  
  • Who? - A representation of the people who influenced and changed the location.
  • When? - An illustration and description of what time was like when the location came to be, why was it created, and how did it help the community and people?
  • Where? - A physical representation and description of where the location is.
  • Expressive Exit - A creative representation of how the students (and others) see the location (how it has made an impact).

Details For Creating Your Own Tour Box:


The Box is made from a 20 X 30 foam poster board. One poster board of this size evenly makes six 10 X 10 pieces that can be formed into the cube. Each side contains the following requirements for each side:

·      Create a door!
·      Give your museum a title. (Name of Landmark)
·      Include pictures of what we will see.

WHAT? – DIRECTORY OF YOUR MUSEUM (map and paragraph)
·      Map of your museum.
·      Introduction/summary of your landmark.

WHO? - INFLUENTIAL PEOPLE (photos/illustrations and paragraph)
·      Who influenced the creation of the landmark?
·      Who changed the landmark over time?

WHEN? - TIME PERIOD (photos/illustrations and paragraph)
·      What was life like back then?
·      Why was the landmark created?
·      How did the landmark help the community/people?

WHERE? – LOCATION (photos/illustrations and paragraph)
·      Where in Colorado is this place?
·      Give a GPS location.
·      How do we get there?
·      What did the site look like then?
·      What does it look like today?
·      Why was this location chosen?

·      Use examples of art, music, creative writing, poetry, etc. to illustrate the landmark from     
       past or current time periods.
·      How do you see this landmark?
·      What stood out to you in your research?
·      How have other interpreted this landmark through art, music, writing?





Added Value of the Tour Box Activity


Mapmaking skills
Architectural organization
Museum curating
Creating a visual representation
Report writing by experience




Curriculum Standards

Virtual tours assist teachers in meeting NETS.T standards 2a.  Design or adapt relevant learning experiences that incorporate digital tools and resources to promote student learning and creativity.  


Colorado State Standards: 4th Grade Social Studies
Colorado State Standards: 4th Grade Writing
National Standards: 4th Grade
The following sites offer a list of National Standards met by interactive media.

Links, References and Additional Resources

Smithsonian Institute
University of Northern Colorado
Lincoln Memorial
Dinosaur National Monument
Telecommunications Virtual Museum
Denver Art Museum Textile Art
Mesa Verde National Park
Raton Pass
Bent’s Old Fort National Historic Site
MyPbworks  Wiki
Colorado History Lesson Plans-Elementary

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