|A Plethora of Resources from Colonial Williamsburg|
|posted by: Melissa | July 11, 2012, 12:54 PM|
I recently was able to meet with Dale Van Eck from Colonial Williamsburg where he talked about the wide variety of resources that Colonial Williamsburg offers to teachers. I knew that I was going to hear about their Electronic Field Trip program and discovered that they have much more than that to offer.
Dale Van Eck works with the Electronic Field Trip program that surprised me with its depth and complexity. Schools that sign up for this program have several opportunities a year where they can show a live broadcast to their students. These broadcasts not only teach about American History, but also integrate language arts, science, math and other topics. Each school year, Colonial Williamsburg showcases a new season of programs, and when the school year is over, these programs are never shown again.
The broadcasts, which cover a wide variety of topics and formats, come with lessons, standards correlations, and additional activities for students to explore. This page offers samples from the very first broadcast this upcoming season and begins to show some of the versatility of this program. Purchasing a license also allows schools to record, save, and play back any broadcast from that season so that they can integrate it into future lesson plans.
The only problem with recording for future use is that students miss out on what I feel is the strongest selling point of the whole program. Each program has an interactive portion where students get to ask questions to and get responses from historical figures and characters! Is there a better way to make history come alive than to actually ask, for example, Thomas Jefferson a question about the constitution and get a response? While only the best questions make it on the air (which is a motivation to get students to learn good questioning skills), students can also email their questions in and get emails back from the same characters that were on the air.
Besides the electronic field trips, Colonial Williamsburg offers many free resources that can be taken advantage of. There is the teacher community, where teachers can access lesson plans, podcasts, teacher forums, and archives from their Teacher Gazette newsletter. The Idea of America website is aimed at high school students and focuses on civics education, which studies show is lacking in many schools. Finally, for all those history teachers out there that can't resist a good primary source document, their publications site, digital library, and American Revolution site are wonderful places to explore.
A year's subscription to the electronic field trip program is $500, which is, coincidentally, the same as what AAE offers through our classroom grant program.