Do you have students who take family vacations or have special opportunities to travel during the school year? What sort of assignments do you require them to do while away? Do they journal their adventures and gather brochures to report back to the class? If so, you’ll be very interested to read how today’s guest writer, Mary Rizzo, a Technology Assistant and Webmaster at Parsley Elementary in Wilmington, North Carolina shares with you her travel buddy project ideas. I was thrilled she contacted me and I hope you’re inspired about this twist to the travel buddy project. Thanks Mary for sharing your story at Making Teachers Nerdy. Hopefully, many schools will be inspired to duplicate the idea and start their own traveling mascot program.
Parsley Elementary (www.nhcs.net/parsley), a K-5 school in Wilmington, NC, is home to the Patriot Kids travel buddy mascots named Liberty, Justice, and Freedom. These school mascots have been active members of the school family for 6 years and had some amazing adventures. Among other 21st Century integration skills, the Patriot Kids have recently added blogging to their bag of tricks.
For three years now, the Patriot Kids have joined Parsley students and staff when going on a family vacation or classroom field trip. These characters have been printed on banner material allowing for ease of travel and durability.
When students want to book a vacation with one of the Patriot Kids, they download, complete and submit a vacation contract. Upon receipt, the vacation is booked (dates are blocked on a calendar on the school website). When the student returns to school he/she emails the school a trip story along with photos. Until recently, the trip story was published on a webpage on the school website. Beginning at the end of March, we began posting the stories on a blog: http://parsleypatriotkids.blogspot.com/.
The original idea for this project was to integrate geography and writing with technology. Each story is linked to a location on a map of the world, United States, or North Carolina. Links to more information about the location are made available for the students to learn more about the area visited.
Publishing the trip stories on a blog now allows visitors the opportunity to make comments or ask questions. As this is a new venture for us, we have only just received our first comment. If questions are received, they will be forwarded to the student to answer.
Another recent addition to our program is the creation of a business card for the students to take on the trip. From personal experience, it is not uncommon for someone to come up to you while having your picture taken with one of the Patriot Kids and ask what you are doing. The business cards will help the students introduce the program to inquisitive folks they encounter on their trip.
Sending the Patriot Kids with our students on an adventure has been very successful. We encourage students to also consider taking one of the kids on a trip around our hometown, even for a trip to the dentist, the park, or a local museum. The purpose of the program is for students to share their adventures with fellow Parsley Patriots and hopefully teach us something new about the world around us.
For more information about traveling with the Patriot Kids, visit http://www.nhcs.net/parsley/PatriotKids/PatriotKidsVacations.htm