School is back in session! As you get to know your students and put the finishing touches on your curriculum, the beginning of the year is also a great time to think about planning for field trips. Teachers know that field trips are a great way to enrich classroom instruction with valuable, interactive learning experiences. But with tight budgets and packed curriculums, field trips need to give you a lot of bang for their buck—literally and figuratively! Here are some tips to plan trips that will kick your curriculum up a notch.
Identify concrete learning outcomes.
Field trips should be fun, of course, but at the end of the day, students must return to the classroom with a deeper understanding of the content and skills they are expected to master this year.
Start by looking over your curriculum to identify areas that naturally lend themselves to experiential learning opportunities. For example, are you covering energy in your science curriculum? Find out if you can visit a local power company so students can connect the classroom concepts to the real world.
Illinois teachers: Check out Field Trip Factory’s field trips to ComEd’s Discovery Lab in Rockford.
Once you identify some good matches between field trip opportunities and your curriculum, get specific. How will students achieve the desired learning outcomes?
- Reach out to the site coordinator and discuss your expectations.
- Share your learning outcomes and work together to tailor the field trip to your classroom’s needs.
- Develop activities and assessments that will help you gauge students’ progress toward the learning outcomes after the field trip.
Start the field trip before you even get on the bus.
Now that you know what you want students to get out of the field trip, build the concepts into your lesson plans leading up to the trip.
- Activate prior knowledge by discussing what students already know.
- Create a formative assessment to identify gaps in knowledge.
- Build background knowledge with related reading material, vocabulary, and videos.
- Invite students to brainstorm questions they have and what they hope to get out of the trip.
By integrating the concepts into your lessons before the trip, students will have a foundation on which to build their understanding. Check out the pre-trip activities on the Field Trip Factory website under the Resources tab for each field trip program.
Make it last.
Continue the learning even after the trip is over.
- Ask students to write reflectively about their experience. Ask, “What was your favorite part of the field trip, and why?”, “How would you sum up the trip for someone who didn’t go?”, or “What did you learn that you didn’t know before?”
- Field trips often spur new questions that can lead to authentic, inquiry-based learning experiences. Invite students to use questions inspired by the trip as a basis for a research project.
- Tie examples from the field trip into your lesson plans throughout the rest of the unit, and connect concepts across curriculums. For instance, a field trip to the grocery store can yield learning opportunities in math (eg, percents, cost per unit, budgets), science (eg, life cycle of plants, conservation, nutrition), and reading (eg, critical thinking, comprehension of informational texts).
Post-trip ideas and activities to extend and assess learning after Field Trip Factory trips can be found on our website under the Resources tab for each field trip program.
With over 2,000 locations across the United States, the Field Trip Factory can help find the right field trip for your classroom. Check out the Field Trip Ideas tab for suggestions.