I recently had the opportunity to lead a group of students on a trip to Gettysburg. The original plan was to take the Seniors and visit Little Round Top and Devil’s Den. My role was to talk to the students about the fighting at Devils Den and another teacher would talk about Little Round Top.
Leading up to the event, I met with the students and had them download some maps, Google Earth images and original photos to their iPads. I had prepped and was ready to present to the students about the battle. This was truly a culmination of my doctoral research all those years ago. This was finally my opportunity to lead a group of students to Gettysburg and to use technology to teach them about the battle.
Then, as we were about to leave, I learned two things. First, the other teacher was ill and not going to make it and second, the junior class was coming along on the trip. So, I was now faced with talking to twice as many students about LRT and Devil’s Den.
Arriving at Gettysburg on LRT we embarked on our tour. I started with a general overview leading up to July 1863. From there I discussed events of July 2nd and using maps and photos for reference, I lead the kids along the path. Students were looking at photos, making notes and taking notes. It was very cool.
From there we walked down to Devil’s Den. While the kids ate lunch, I went exploring and found the location of the “All Over Now” image in the Slaughter Pen area. After lunch, we met under the witness tree and again discussed events that happened in that part of the field. Because the students had preloaded everything on their iPads, it made discussions, analysis and conversation much easier.
The students were then tasked with using their iPads to create a short video of something they learned. I look forward to seeing their finished products. While I could have used paper maps and images, the iPads allowed me get kids to interact with the images.
What a great day. I have been teaching and presenting about using technology in this way since 2006. I have talked about using these images in the classroom and using digital maps to teach Gettysburg. But this was the first time I actually got to lead students using technology during a tour. I can’t wait till next year.
Check out the story one student wrote about the trip in Cougar News