Field trips are a great way to kick off a new unit of study. Abby Schneiderjohn, this month’s expert from the Education Week field trip series of articles, talks about the benefit of incorporating field trips into your next Project Based Learning unit.
Response From Abby Schneiderjohn
Abby Schneiderjohn is an elementary school teacher in San Jose, CA. She is beginning her seventh year of teaching and implementing Project Based Learning this year. She is also a Buck Institute for Education National Faculty member:
When some hear the words “field trip,” they probably imagine uncomfortable bus rides, semi-organized chaos, frustrated chaperones, and logistical nightmares. When planned intentionally, a field trip becomes an authentic and rich learning experience for all students, and not just a reason to get out of the classroom for the day.
An engaging entry event is an integral part of planning a Project Based Learning unit. It hooks the learners, sparks curiosity, and launches inquiry. When using a field trip as an entry event, it provides the real life context needed for students to make connections from their work in the classroom to its implications in the real world.
Katherine Smith Elementary School second graders launched their “Kid Inventors” project with a trip to The Tech Museum of Innovation in San Jose, Calif. They participated in a science lab, Physics of Roller Coasters, which had them test different laws of physics using an engineering design process. When students returned to the classroom, their Need to Know questions were rich with vocabulary that they learned during the field trip. The field trip gave them essential background knowledge and language that helped them access the PBL curriculum. Bringing the learning to life is especially important for our English Learners, as it gives students another opportunity to use academic vocabulary in context.
When planning an engaging field trip, there are some additions you can include to increase the rigor of the trip! One addition can be a note taking guide or scavenger hunt. This will help you as the teacher direct your students to look for certain things during the field trip. If possible, use technology such as iPads or tablets to have students take pictures and/or record their experience. You can even make it public by having students blog about the experience afterward!
When you hear the words “field trip” again, I hope you think of the rich, authentic learning experiences they can truly provide for our students!
From Education Week, “Leveraging Field Trips to Deepen Learning,” by Larry Ferlazzo on December 12, 2016.