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Field Trips: To Go or Not To Go

By July 29, 2013

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Field trips can be a double-edged sword. They provide students with many opportunities that they cannot get in the classroom. They can also provide students and teachers a break for the day-to-day classroom environment. At the same time, however, they can require a lot of work and coordination on the part of the teacher. They can also bring their own set of headaches when dealing with student behavior and the coordination of activities.  Nonetheless, to many teachers, myself included, field trips are worth the trouble. The secret to their success is in the planning. With this in mind, I've written an article that looks at the best way to create effective field trips.

Comments

August 6, 2013 at 10:07 am
(1) Sue Long says:

Your tips are exactly what I always used for my trips. As the principal for an alternative program for at-risk students, I believed field trips were the best methods for teaching them appropriate behavior as well as exposing them to places most would never get to experience. (In taking students to St. Louis — about a 2 1/2 hour drive — one student was thrilled since she had never been out of state!!)
We used the ratio of 1 staff member to every 4 students with my being available if any of the students who chose to behavior inappropriately. RARELY did I have anyone in my group.
Scavenger Hunts were imperative — with clipboards so they would not use walls, windows, exhibits, or buddies’ backs. It was the best way to insure the students actually looked at exhibits, etc. Many of the places we visited asked for copies of our hunts and posted them on their websites for other schools to use.
Students would often refer to items they had seen or experiences they had on the trips to make their points in the classrooms.

August 6, 2013 at 10:22 am
(2) Sue Long says:

Field trips were a mainstay for my classrooms. As the principal of an alternative school for at-risk students in grades 6-12, they were imperative to teaching our students about appropriate behavior.
We used all the ideas suggested in the article. We use a ratio of 1 staff member to every 4 students. As the principal, my group was comprised of young people who forgot appropriate behavior while on the trip. Rarely did I have a student join my group – except for those who thought they would have more fun with me than with their chaperone!!
Scavenger Hunts were a must. They were used not only to assist the students in capturing the purpose of the trip, but to also assure they actually looked at the exhibits rather than to simply run past them. Each student had his own form to complete and was given a clipboard with pencil to do so – no writing on the walls, buddies’ backs, or exhibit windows. Tour sites – once it was discovered what the students were doing – often asked for copies of hunts and posted them on their websites for other teachers to use.
Field trips provided our students with experiences they might otherwise not have. Our purpose often was to give them a “taste” of what was out there in hopes of encouraging them to want more out of themselves and for their lives. On a trip to St. Louis (about 2 ˝ hours away), one young lady was thrilled because she had never been out of state (we’re from Illinois)! Other students almost tipped over the bus as they rushed to one side to look out the windows when I had the driver take us down Lake Shore Drive in Chicago. In spite of all the maps of the United States I’d had them draw, they still thought Lake Michigan was an ocean and wondered which one it was. They now have that picture to help them remember.
Field trips? Oh, yeah!!!

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