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"And the Streets Are Paved With Gold:
Using Virtual Fieldtrips in the Classroom"

Brenda A. Dyck

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Selected Images of Ellis Island and Immigration, ca. 1880-1920
From the Collections of the Library of Congress


"When we reached the dock we were glad we were off the boat! We were smelly and we needed a bath. We had to be examined and my children were taken away from me. When they checked my eyes, I didn't want to cry, but there were tears in them. I was wondering if I would get into America. When they told me I could enter I went looking for my children. Then I saw my husband and went running towards him. I was crying and when I reached him I saw my children were with him. We were so happy to see each other and we cried together."

"I remember waiting for my dad at the "Kissing Post". I remember seeing my dad coming down those stairs and I was filled with emotion! When I saw him, I ran towards him. I felt so relieved that he made it. I thought he wouldn't make it!"

Witnessing the level of engagement demonstrated the students, sold me on the value of using virtual fieldtrips. Our classroom discussion went beyond just knowledge-based conversation onto questions about why there was an absence of certain nationalities at Ellis Island, why the rich underwent a more private form of medical examination than the poor and the exaggerated hopes that these people entered America with.

The History Channel provided my students with the sites and sounds of Ellis Island at the turn of the century. Listening to the testimonials and viewing the tours of the buildings allowed them to feel like they had "been there". These emotional connections translated into meaningful written expressions of what they understood and felt. By the end of the project I felt these young people had truly had taken a journey and they wouldn't ever forget what they had learned along the way.




About the Author:

Brenda Dyck teaches at ABC Charter Public School, a school for gifted and talented children, in Calgary, Alberta, Canada. In addition to teaching sixth-grade math, Brenda is also the school's technology integration specialist. She writes regularly for Education World, co-authors a bimonthly column for Microsoft's Classroom Teacher Network, and is a teacher-editor for MidLink Magazine.



Selected Images of Ellis Island and Immigration, ca. 1880-1920
From the Collections of the Library of Congress


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Meridian: A Middle School Computer Technologies Journal
a service of NC State University, Raleigh, NC
Volume 8, Issue 1, Winter 2005
ISSN 1097 9778
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