Monday, February 21, 2011

Field Trips Without Disruptions

Field trips are a great way to provide learning experiences for students outside of the classroom.  But field trips come with a variety of baggage, finding chaperones, planning transportation and cost to the students.  However, for most high schools, field trips also pose the problems of students missing other classes and prepping sub work for classes missed by the teacher. School administrations will admit the importance of having students engage in experiential education through field trips but worry about how students and the other teachers are affected by the missed class time.

With a little research and planning it is possible to provide tremendous learning experiences with mini field trips involving sites close to the school.  The school I teach at has a three period block schedule with ninety-five minute classes.  The middle period of the day is sandwiched between a twenty minute break and a thirty-five minute lunch.  This provides a two and a half hour block for mini field trips. 

I take students on field trips almost every semester in Anatomy, Biology and Environmental Science utilizing sites within a half hour of the school and organizing ninety minute visits that provide students with experiential learning outside of the classroom.

Students in my anatomy courses have experienced the cadaver labs at local chiropractic schools, to bring to life (no pun intended) to hands on anatomical study.   They have also visited the Body Worlds exhibit each time it has been at the local Science Museum. Biology students have trained for their field study projects by visiting the local canyon near the school and practicing observation techniques. Environmental Science students have visited the John T. Lyle Center at Cal Poly Pomona to tour the Environmental Graduate Center and view graduate projects in sustainability.  They have also toured local LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) buildings to understand the guidelines and possibilities for green building under LEED specifications.  

All of these field trips take place within the two and a half hour time frame of the middle block of the day.  Students do not miss any class time, and I do not have to miss my other classes.  These local field trips are brief but provide great experiential learning for the students without disrupting the educational process of other classes, teachers and students at the school. 

This semester we are planning a field trip to spend two hours cleaning up the local river beds after the spring rains in the Arroyo Seco.   

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