I feel safe in saying that most people remember attending and loving field trips. My teachers took us on numerous and I still remember the excitement on the day we went. However, I don’t remember much afterwards. The excitement fizzled out and we moved on quickly. When I plan a field study, I want the experience to last longer than the few hours we’re there. The purpose is to expand their knowledge and engage just like experts in the field would. But, how do you get students to not only be excited about going somewhere, but also ready to critically think and ask questions? Here are a few important steps I take so students engage with the experience.
1. Plan Ahead - I do my best to sift through all of the field study opportunities for one that fits best with what students are studying. I look for an opportunity for students to become involved and do more than just look around at things. I want them to be fully engaged and ask an expert questions. So, I have to do my research ahead of time.
2. Create the Hype - Now the fun part starts because I get to share the news with students and families. Students prepare for the field study by learning as much as they can beforehand. When students are knowledgeable about the subject matter, they’re able to ask and answer questions before, during, and after our field study experience.
3. Journal your Learning - There is so much excitement going on the day of the field study; I need to make sure students are prepared to capture as much new learning as possible. Students use a note-catcher to record new learning, make connections to prior learning, and draw/write down anything cool and exciting. Students also take pictures using our classroom iPads.
4. Reflect and Share - Now the field study has ended. Students come back to school and share what they have learned with their crew. We continue to make connections to our field study and use the note-catchers in daily lessons. This past field study, students took photographs and used them to inspire their personal narratives.
When all four steps have been taken, students are getting the most learning out of the experience. Field studies are about so much more than getting out of the classroom for the day. They have potential and hold so much value but students must be engaged and teachers must remember that the experience doesn’t begin and end of the day of the trip.