Planning for field trips can seem like a daunting task, so many educators do not add field trips to their academic year. Students benefit in numerous ways from attending field trips. Socially and emotionally children grow when attending field trips. Trips provide students with a sense of independence and developing maturity. Not to be cliché, but memories from school field trips truly last a lifetime.
Outings that are clearly connected to in-class learning have additional benefits for students. Developing the real-world link between the classroom and activities outside the classroom will enhance student engagement at all grade levels. From this association, teachers have the opportunity to expand students’ critical thinking skills. All of these steps weave together providing greater academic growth for all students.
Developing a template designed to demonstrate that connection between a field trip and your curriculum will make planning your field trips more streamlined. Determining an objective for your field trip will ensure that it is not just for the photo opportunities or Tweets that can be posted. A clear purpose for the trip will also garner the support you need so that your trip is approved.
Field Trip Information
In this section of your template, you will need the details of the trip itself. Specifics about the trip to consider including are –
- Name of the teacher supporting the trip
- City and state where destination is located
- Name of the location or program
- Description of the trip
- Length of the excursion
- Transportation required
- Food considerations
- Class or grade level that will be attending
- Estimated number of students participating
- Dates being considered
Purpose for the Field Trip
In this section you need to develop the Whys of the trip. Detail how this trip will support the curriculum. Look beyond your classroom’s curriculum. Consider your school and district’s goals related to student growth and connections to parents and caregivers. Utilize your school and district’s methods of setting goals. A common goal framing statement is – Students will be able to -. Employ this strategy to develop your goal statement or statements for the trip. Alter the framing statement to include, By participating in this field trip, students will be able to -.
Checklist for Curricular Links
In this section of your template, detail what you and other teachers will be doing to ensure students will achieve your stated objective(s).
Before students attend the trip, consider what background knowledge would be important for them to possess. These steps might include –
- Research about the facility
- Find the location on maps
- Map the route to the location
- Explore the history of the location
- Learn about people associated with the facility
- Create a WebQuest to develop knowledge related to the trip
During trip, you need to decide beforehand if student will take notes while on the trip. If so, picture the coordination of papers, pens, and/or electronics for notetaking. Develop a means for students to easily carry the materials they will need. Before determining what students are to accomplish while on the trip, you need to have completed the post-trip assignment(s). You do not want students to return to school with insufficient information to complete their work after the trip.
Some ideas to gather information while on the trip are –
- Make a scavenger hunt to ensure students explore all parts of the facility.
- Have students use their Smartphones to take pictures at certain locations. Then they can take notes to remind themselves why these pictures were important to take.
- Will there be speakers? If so, prepare the students beforehand. Provide enough background so they are interested. If students should take notes, framed notes or graphic organizers would assist students in gathering pertinent information. This system also allows students to focus more on the presentation.
- Are there interactive activities? Consider assigning groups of students to each activity. Pictures of student participation should be taken. These can be visual reminders of the activity.
Use your goal statement in which you developed student learning objectives to plan tasks for after the trip. Decide if students will work on their own or in groups. Ideas for after the field trip will ideally extend student learning beyond the trip.
Questions to consider and learning to demonstrate –
- Task should show learning occurred on the trip.
- Learning from the trip should be extended to real world issues.
- Align assessment with content standards.
- Work should demonstrate critical thinking.
- Activities students completed on the trip should be part of final project.
Students do enjoy and learn on field trips.
Once you have completed your template, you are ready to proceed to the approval process. Follow the steps detailed in your district.
After obtaining approval in your district, seek input from parents. Having parental support, especially depending upon the fees, is important. Once you have parent support, you need to have permission slips completed by parents and guardians.
After Approvals are Received
In addition to parental permission slips, you also need a means to collect any fees associated with the trip. Determine a means to support any families who are not able to pay. You do not want any students unable to participate.
On the parent permission slip, emergency contact information should be included.
Also needed from either parents, guardians, or your school nurse’s office is information on student allergies and medications.
Some field trip locations have a required chaperone to student ratio. Be sure to check before asking for chaperones. Follow your school policies on asking other teachers and/or parents and guardians to assist in chaperoning students on the trip.
Students with special needs must be planned for. This can include busing, access to the facility, and participating in any activities.
Logistics for Day of Trip
Planning for the actual day of the trip also can and should be thought through ahead of time. Here are some reminders of what should be on your template for any trip.
- The nurse’s office should have first aid supplies packed for you.
- In addition, from the nurse’s office, you need to obtain any medicines, inhalers, etc.
- Student and chaperone groups need to be created.
- Each student should have another student with whom they are ‘buddied.’
- All chaperones should have –
- Each other’s cell phone numbers
- Phone number of the school
- Name and phone number of contact person at destination
- Lists of each student group
- Detailed schedule for the day including meals.
- Determine a ‘meet-up’ location if anyone gets separated from their group.
While the trip is still fresh in your mind, it is important to review all steps of the field trip. From the planning through the work students complete until all students are on their way home.
Answer the following questions –
- What did students enjoy the most?
- Which parts engaged students?
- Were there segments of the day during which students were not engaged?
- What if any parts of the day should be done differently?
Students do enjoy and learn on field trips. While it might seem they care more about who is bringing what candy on the bus, learning and growing do occur. Using these ideas to develop a template will streamline your planning process. There is so much to see and do near every school, go explore.
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An important question is: what is the goal of the field trip? In this case it was to examine native plant diversity which could be done best in a large protected area.
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