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Slow Travel in the Classroom

Leslie from Australia (Leslie)

Slow Travel is not just for the grown ups!!

As a teacher, I use a "Smartboard" to access the Internet in my classroom to teach many of my lessons. The Smartboard is an interactive whiteboard. You can touch it to make it work and to move objects around. You write on it, draw on it, and insert pictures and text from the Internet. It turns handwriting into text. It's the size of a projector screen.

Last year we followed the travels of Nat and Chris from Canberra as they cycled across Asia. This year I discovered that class reading aloud can be very enjoyable if you use Slow Travel trip reports.

Leslie at the Smartboard

Leslie at the Smartboard

We are currently studying film techniques such as settings, sound effects and camera angles using the DVD production of "The Famous Five". The children from the series often take their bicycles and go camping on a moor to have their adventures. My students were interested in following up this type of activity so I introduced them to the trip report on Cycling in Belgium and The Netherlands (Trip Report 1004 by Linda Hagstrom from PA).

One child typed slowtrav.com into the browser, and then a second child clicked on trip reports and scrolled down until she found Linda's report. My Year 3 class is made of eight and nine year olds and they know to take turns on the Smartboard. All the class read sentences and photo captions aloud and they took turns opening a new page.

When they finished reading aloud, they got out their exercise books and wrote a recount of Linda's story as a writing exercise. Most children did two paragraphs and they all included a drawing. A few children drew the barge Linda stayed on at night, but most drew the windmill on the last page. We put some of the new vocabulary, such as windmill, canal, lock, and barge, into their personal dictionaries.

As a follow up we had a class discussion on canals and locks. We did an advanced search on Google and found a site which allows students to click on and manipulate the explanation of how a canal lock works (How Canal Locks Work).

The best part of the whole activity was when the principal came into the room to show a prospective parent how my class is taught using the Internet with the Smartboard. The children quickly brought up the Slow Travel site from where they had bookmarked it, showed the trip report and the picture of the windmill, and then went back to the second site illustrating how a canal lock works.

I heard afterwards from the principal that the parent had been intending to enroll his child in a private school. He decided to enroll her at our school as he was so impressed with the high quality of the education in all the classes he had visited that afternoon.

Kudos must go to the Slow Travel site; not just a source of information for world travelers, but a great learning resource for children in schools around the world.

Leslie is a Year 3 teacher in Canberra, Australia.

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