Hi there, Courtney,
If you are wanting all of your kids to contribute to a single project, then you'll want to create a photosynth, but in order to have the necessary overlap for the photos to link to each other will either require the kids to have a brief introduction of how to shoot a photosynth or for you to do a little personal learning and shoot the 'trellis' that their photos can then latch onto.
I wrote up a few pages on getting started with shooting photosynths here, which will hopefully not be overload for you, as you are a teacher: http://bit.ly/sinkorsynth
Now, panoramas may be a bit easier for the kids to wrap their heads around, but there won't be any way to combine their individual panoramas into a whole (if I'm correctly understanding what you have in mind). This may change later in the year, but for the moment each panorama is an isolated island.