May 12, 2022

Black History Month Activities: Virtual Reality Activities for Students

Kai XR

Looking for immersive Black History Month activities for your students? Celebrate Black joy and Black excellence by exploring monuments, museums, art, and historical sites in virtual reality. These virtual field trips help kids and students increase engagement by giving them the opportunity to not just watch, but also interact with their environment.


Digital learning experiences let your students connect with important places and influential figures in Black history by engaging them in experiential learning. Kai XR’s field trips are powered by 360˚ technology that can be easily viewed in virtual reality or VR, an emerging tool with incredible learning and social-emotional benefits for kids.


VR refers to a fully computer-based recreation or simulation that immerses you in the subject. It’s typically viewed through a headset that creates a 3D digital world that simulates reality, and where you can explore so you feel you are really there. VR engages both your mind and your body, giving you the sensation of being immersed in an all-digital environment.


Virtual reality supports deeper learning. In fact, one study found that students who engaged with classroom content in VR were over twice as likely to pass a related test. The deep level of learning virtual reality helps students achieve also makes it uniquely well-suited to help them learn about history.


When students experience history in VR, it gives them a personal perspective on history and current events that a textbook could never impart. Students get a taste of exactly what it’s like in the world outside of the classroom.


VR field trips also leverage the benefit of using technology in the classroom, while simultaneously providing much-needed relief from “Zoom fatigue” and other digital learning woes. Kai XR is committed to making cutting-edge learning accessible to kids everywhere. Our virtual field trips are web-based and can be run on any device, including:


  1. Smartphones
  2. Tablets
  3. Laptop computers
  4. Desktop computers
  5. VR headsets


Our virtual field trips are educator-designed and have kid-approved content.


Each lesson comes with its own plan and discussion guide designed by educators for students, providing teachers with the assurance that all content offered through our interactive platform is engaging, educational, and age-appropriate for their students.


Kid holding tablet with Kai XR virtual field trips
Source: KaiXR.com


Technology and Learning in the 21st-Century Classroom

From smartphones to tablets, kids love technology. Incorporating tech into the classroom can support students and teachers in many ways.


Teaching with technology can both expand access for all students and make it easier for educators to differentiate content for the diverse needs of their students. It can help save precious classroom and planning time by increasing productivity. Educational technology can also allow teachers to demonstrate concepts with interactive digital tools, making their instruction more effective than ever.


Classroom tech doesn’t just make teaching more effective. It makes learning easier for students too. Technology heightens student engagement, which leads to better learning outcomes.


Today’s global society demands tech skills and higher levels of educational achievement. They need to learn for the future of work. To do so, many educators are exploring the use of tech like virtual reality and augmented reality to increase effectiveness of teaching and learning.


Using technology in the classroom helps students acquire other key 21st-century skills like:


  1. Encouraging digital literacy when students need to troubleshoot
  2. Fostering collaboration with multi-user experiences
  3. Utilizing critical thinking when applying what they have learned
  4. Practicing problem solving and decision-making in response to information
  5. Building social and self-awareness skills
  6. Increasing their curiosity, creativity, and independence at a young age
  7. Creating cross-cultural awareness


Technology helps students develop core competencies and improves their learning outcomes. Virtual reality takes these benefits to a new level, heightening student engagement and learning alike.

Black History Month Activities: Explore History with VR

Virtual reality can immerse students in learning, allowing them to have completely new experiences without leaving the classroom. The VR classroom offers novel learning experiences for students and yields many benefits, including:


  • Better information retention in students
  • Easily customizable lessons to meet diverse learning needs 
  • Multisensory experiences to drive learning


One of the most revolutionary ways to use VR technology is in teaching history. Virtual reality can make history less abstract, allowing students to experience significant moments, meet renowned figures who changed the world, and watch history unfold before them.


VR also enables various learning modalities, including virtual field trips. Field trips have long been known to enrich classroom teaching by providing a way for students to authentically engage with content, but they aren’t always feasible. 


Cost constraints, transportation difficulties, and availability of relevant resources in the community are huge barriers to traditional field trips. With virtual reality, teachers can directly bring field trips into the classroom.


Accessibility

  • Traditional Field Trips: Financial difficulties prevent many students from going on field trips. Others may have health concerns or mobility difficulties that make field trips inaccessible.
  • Kai XR’s Virtual Field Trips: Virtual field trips help make experiential learning equitable, since they are accessible from any device and any location. 


Availability

  • Traditional Field Trips: Traditional field trips are limited by the locations and resources that exist in a student’s nearby community. Many are canceled due to the potential COVID-19 risks.
  • Kai XR’s Virtual Field Trips: Over 100 virtual field trips are available through Kai XR. Students can explore places around the world from the safety and comfort of their home or classroom.


Logistics:

  • Traditional Field Trips: It can be challenging for chaperones to monitor a large group of students, while also managing scheduling, student medications, allergies, emergency contact forms, etc.
  • Kai XR’s Virtual Field Trips: A virtual field trip can fit into any available classroom time using any devices already on hand.


Black History Month Activities: Accessible, High-Impact, High-Tech Learning

VR field trips allow students to personally experience history from the classroom, making them ideal online activities for kids. Kai XR offers more than 100 lessons that combine the learning benefits of field trips and technological integration simultaneously.


These virtual field trips make experiential learning available to more students than ever. Kai XR is striving to break down educational barriers that keep students from equitable access to high-quality learning content. One of our goals is to build resources and tech that can empower educators in their mission to inspire our world’s next generation of innovators and creators.


We believe that intellectual curiosity is the foundation of a successful education, and that experiential learning like field trips can stimulate this curiosity. Our platform is web-based, meaning it can be accessed from any device. It meets the developmental and learning needs of students of all ages, and is guided by educators with student voice at the core of the design. 


These resources can be used to supplement any unit or lesson, including Black History Month projects.


Kai XR’s virtual field trips are each paired with a viewing guide to help educators utilize these activities without adding to the burden of lesson planning. VR field trips can fit into any lesson or unit by:


  1. Introducing a new topic
  2. Piquing student curiosity and interest
  3. Fostering inquiry
  4. Supporting content with experiential learning
  5. Reviewing for tests
  6. Inspiring discussions


The flexibility of Kai XR’s virtual field trips comes in part from their ability to support a multitude of student needs and learning styles.


  • Learning Styles: Virtual field trips simultaneously address visual, auditory, and kinesthetic learning styles as the immersive experience responds to student inputs.
  • Language Acquisition: Exploring these experiences can help foster language acquisition by exposing learners to new vocabulary, making them excellent ESL Black History Month activities.
  • Growth and Development: VR field trips support the concrete learning needs of young children by creating interactive environments for them to explore. At the same time, they can challenge older students to reason abstractly by encouraging investigation, inquiry, and analysis in an authentic experience.

Teaching Black History Month With Kai XR’s Virtual Field Trips


Here’s a comprehensive list of Kai XR’s virtual reality field trips that your students can experience on Black History Month and throughout the year:

  1. Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial Virtual Field Trip
  2. Ruby Bridges Virtual Field Trip
  3. Official Obama Portraits Virtual Field Trip
  4. The Obama White House Virtual Field Trip


Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial Virtual Field Trip 

For Elementary School Students

Dr. King’s achievements are a cornerstone of Black History Month curricula in many elementary school classrooms. We study his life to see the lasting effects that one person with a dream can bring about. 


Exploring the Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial is a memorable Black History Month activity for children to help them understand the impact of his life.  


Incorporate this virtual field trip into a character study of Dr. King. Elementary school students may enjoy completing a literary analysis of his “I Have a Dream” speech, or using it to create blackout poetry. They may enjoy listening to his speech while drawing a picture of the meaning they believe it holds.


Encourage your students to collaboratively create and add to working definitions of terms like “civic responsibility”, “perseverance”, and “leadership”. Look for examples of these traits in Dr. King’s life while reading his writings, speeches, or a biography about him.


Then, when exploring the monument, remind your students of the character traits they know that Dr. King possessed. Have them look for ways that his character is represented in his monument. End the field trip with a class discussion of why we memorialized Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., and why we still celebrate his work today.


For Middle School Students

To make this field trip a high-impact Black History Month activity for middle schoolers, have them work collaboratively to generate key themes about Dr. King’s life. They may identify these while reading biographies, speeches, and newspaper articles, and may notice more while exploring the memorial. 


Encourage your students to think about the themes that the monument conveys. How does it show this theme? Then, as an assessment, have each student select a theme pertaining to Dr. King’s life to focus on. 


Each student can then use multimedia presentation software to create a digital collage of images to represent that theme as part of Dr. King’s life. They may use specific sights they noticed from the memorial, pictures of Dr. King, or images of symbolic places and objects.


Your students may also want to revisit the memorial while working on these project-based assessments. This allows the virtual field trip to further serve as visual support while they demonstrate their learning.


For High School Students

Incorporate a virtual field trip to the Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial into your Black History Month lesson plans for high school students by using it to spark inquiry and discussion. Your students are likely already familiar with Dr. King’s life and work. Invoke their prior knowledge to launch a lesson or unit on civil rights leaders.


As your students explore the memorial in virtual reality, encourage them to write down observations and questions. They may also wish to write down connections between what they notice in the memorial and what they know about Martin Luther King Jr.’s life.


After allowing them time to explore, come back together as a class to share and discuss their observations. Additionally, use this discussion time to reflect on what they already know. Then, create a list of the inquiries they generated.


Use their list of questions as prompts for an independent research project, tying this immersive activity into a Black History Month writing activity.


Ruby Bridges Virtual Field Trip

For Elementary School Students

Kai XR’s Ruby Bridges virtual field trip can help your elementary school students experience what Ruby and her family went through – their courage, perseverance, and resilience to see Ruby and future Black kids succeed. Students can see how segregation can impact even kids their age. Use this virtual field trip to open a lesson or unit during Black History Month.


Encourage your students to make observations about Ruby Bridges’ experiences at school and in her town. What do they notice about them that is different from our world today? Ask your students to discuss how schools and towns have changed since Ruby Bridges was a child.

For Middle School Students

During Black History Month, ask your students to independently select biographic texts or summaries of different civil rights leaders to complete book studies of. After they have read their books, have your students explore the Ruby Bridges virtual field trip.


While they do so, ask them to think about how Ruby Bridges’ story is similar to and different from the civil rights leader they read about. Consider what character traits, experiences, and values different civil rights leaders have.


Comparing the subject of their book study to Ruby Bridges will help your students think analytically about each person. Encourage your student to use their observations and connections from the field trip to help them plan an essay about their chosen civil rights leader. 


For High School Students

Use Kai XR’s Ruby Bridges virtual field trip to conclude a unit or lesson on Black History Month and civil rights leaders. Before they begin exploring, pose them a simple question: Why do we celebrate Black History Month?


After the virtual field trip, allow students to discuss their responses to this question and to share their ideas about the importance of studying the difficult parts of our history. Then, engage your students in an arts-integrated, project-based assessment.


Challenge them to use digital resources to propose a monument to Ruby Bridges. They should include an explanation of the themes they chose to represent in their monument, and a discussion of how and why it honors Ruby Bridges.


This project will allow your high school students to show their understanding of Ruby Bridges’ experience and impact, but also of the significance of Black history as a whole.

Official Obama Portraits Virtual Field Trip

Visiting the Official Obama Portraits gallery in virtual reality is both a cultural and historical learning experience for elementary students. Incorporate this virtual field trip into the end of a lesson or unit during Black History Month to prepare students for an artistic activity to show their learning.


For Elementary School Students

While your students view the portraits, encourage them to talk with a partner and make observations. Provide them with discussion topics, including why these people had their portraits painted, how their portraits look, and what they notice about the portraits.


After this activity, have your students use what they noticed about the portraits of the Obama family to draw a portrait of a civil rights icon of their choosing. Then, encourage them to write a grade-appropriate response to tell about the person in their portrait.


For Middle School Students

Appeal to the curiosity of your middle school students by using this virtual field trip to open a lesson or unit during Black History Month. Begin by looking at other presidential portraits, then have your students explore the Obama portrait gallery in virtual reality.


Have your students write observations and questions during the virtual field trip. Afterwards, talk to your students about the significance of these portraits. How are they different from every previous presidential portrait? How are they different from the presidential portraits that came after?


Use this as an introduction to help your students connect to the importance of Black History Month and the civil rights movement today. This virtual field trip will help illustrate how much the world has changed over time, and how we are still working towards improvements today.


For High School Students

This virtual field trip to visit the Official Obama Portraits is a thought-provoking Black History Month online activity to use with high school students. Use this to support and develop a lesson or unit on the progression of civil rights to demonstrate how achieving equity for all is still a work in progress today.


Have your students explore the portrait gallery, and use it to spark discussion. Talk about what they think a presidential portrait gallery would have looked like 20, 50, and 100 years ago.


Then, encourage your students to think about what a presidential portrait gallery might look like in the future. Have your students create multimedia vision boards of what they think the future of civil rights will hold. Then, have them share these boards round-robin style in a small group of their peers.


To deepen their thinking even further, your students may enjoy listening to Kai XR’s talk on futuristic Black History for inspiration while working on their vision boards.



Immerse Your Students in Black History with Kai XR’s Virtual Field Trips

Educational technology is constantly creating new possibilities for educators. Innovations like virtual reality change the way we teach and the way kids learn. It can:


  • Help students develop critical thinking
  • Improve student technological literacy
  • Form lasting memories of what students learn
  • Break accessibility barriers to field trips
  • Accommodate multiple learning styles and needs


VR gives our students new ways to connect with what we teach, making technology an especially powerful tool for teaching about history. 


Empower your students to break barriers in the classroom and beyond this Black History Month with Kai XR. Get started today by signing up for Kai XR. Have questions? Email us at explore@kaixr.com. We’re happy to help!

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