CULLMAN CITY SCHOOLS
CULLMAN, Ala. – Field trips have largely gone by the wayside this year due to safety precautions around the COVID-19 pandemic, but that doesn’t mean students won’t be visiting a few of the elementary hallmarks this school year in a different way.
Instead of going there, the field trips have had to come to them.
With East Elementary School fourth graders unable to physically visit the USS Alabama Museum in Mobile due to the pandemic, the classes instead had the opportunity to check out an online tour as part of a virtual, 360-degree experience online. The tour fits into the Alabama history curriculum that teaches students about historical events and how they affected Alabamians, spanning from the prehistoric era through the World Wars.
“We love being able to take local field trips that allow kids to experience history, but with COVID restrictions this year, we had to be creative and look for ways to bring the amazing sites around our state into our classroom,” East Elementary fourth grade teacher Lindsey Howard said. “Thankfully, many places offer videos, photos and descriptions on their websites, but the 360-degree virtual experiences are what our kids became most excited about. Those are really hard to find.”
Every fourth grade class participated in the field trip at different times, getting a first-hand look and walk through of the historic, retired battleship that has served as a popular museum destination since the 1960s.
“During the virtual field trip, my teacher-heart was just enjoying the moment, but I managed to get a few seconds of their reaction on video,” Howard said. “They were excited to share with their peers what they had found, and one of my students gave me a hug and told me ‘thank you.’ That’s a moment you work hard for!”
Though they weren’t able to tour in person, Howard said the virtual tour was still a great way for students to make a tangible connection to what a real battleship looks like, how it works and the role it played in the state’s history.
“The goal was for them to be able to make connections to the text they were reading. Our article stated that at one point during World War II, Alabama was building one naval ship each week,” Howard explained. “I am not an expert on naval ship-building, but I believe that is an extraordinary task. So we wanted our students to see the intricate details of a naval ship, and be proud of our state’s accomplishment.”
Cullman City Schools has more than 3,000 students and encompasses Cullman High School (Grades 9-12), Cullman Middle School (Grades 7-8), East Elementary School (Grades 2-6), West Elementary School (Grades 2-6) and Cullman City Primary School (Grades K-1). Cullman City Schools also hosts the Cullman City Head Start Program. Cullman City Schools consistently ranks as one of the top school systems in College ACT scores in the state of Alabama.
Students explore the USS Alabama museum virtually as part of an online field trip local fourth graders participated in earlier this month.