This month, as part of the Education Week series on the importance of field trips, principal Anne Jenks reflects on how to make field trip experiences enriching, interactive opportunities, including virtual field trips!
Response From Anne Jenks
Anne Jenks is the principal of the McKinna Elementary School in Oxnard, Calif. She is a Leading Edge Certified Teacher and the 2015 CUE Site Leader of the Year:
Field trips are a wonderful way to provide enrichment, frontload content and expose students to learning opportunities that they might not otherwise experience. They offer students a chance to connect to real life examples of concepts they are studying and concretize ideas that may be abstract. In order to optimize the learning that field trips provide, it’s important to plan carefully and include activities that make students interactive learners.
When you are planning a field trip, be sure to find out if exhibits or other information currently being presented connect directly to subject matter that you are studying. Do some work ahead of time and prepare a scavenger hunt for things that you want to insure students will see during the trip. If students have access to a camera or device with a camera, have them take pictures of these things to be shared later during class, with parents and on your website or blog. Also, be sure to include a journal writing exercise where students can answer specific questions that you provide and also reflect on their thoughts as they go through the museum. These can be used to form the basis for a presentation that they will do in class.
Don’t have the money to take a field trip? Virtual field trips can be very powerful learning tools and many are free. They provide opportunities to travel to places and experience things that would have been impossible before the Internet. Many museums, libraries, state park systems, and other places of interest are available if you have a computer or iPad. A great way to find out about these opportunities is through Skype in the Classroom. The Skype field trips connect students with experts all over the world. PORTS (Parks Online Resources for Teachers and Students) is a great resource from the California State Parks system that allows students to visit state parks and interact with park rangers who collaborate with teachers to create lessons. Just searching for “Virtual Field Trips” in Google will reveal a host of possibilities from museum trips to a self-guided tour of the White House. The ability to search for trips outside of their geographic area, allows teachers to provide exciting experiences that target specific curricular needs.
Whether you choose traditional or virtual field trips, planning ahead will make the experience more meaningful and increase the learning potential for all students.
From Education Week, Leveraging Field Trips to ‘Deepen Learning,’ by Larry Ferlazzo on December 12, 2016.