Taking a group of students on a field trip can be a daunting task. As a result, planning to create an effective lesson revolved around the learning experience is often pushed aside. It is hard enough as it is to keep track of a group of middle years students outside of the school, and when you place other responsibilities on top of that, something has to give. I find that teachers have so much to do as it is. Taking the students on a field trip can be a way for the students to still be “learning” something but it gives the teacher a bit of a break from having to teach the students directly. When I reflect back on how my field trip experiences went, they went exactly as they did for the first half of time at the Royal Saskatchewan Museum. We were given a paper and told to go through the exhibits, find the answers to the questions, and try to be the first to finish. I don’t remember one thing that I learnt while I was at those places while doing that. However, I do remember the things that I stopped to look at because they interested me.
As a result, I think that we need to create an educational experience that is student interest oriented. This means the students become the curators as it is mentioned in “8 Ways to Liven Up the Museum Field Trip.” I think that it would be a lot more effective if students found a display that they connected with, learnt about it, put together the information, and created class presentations. This transfers the student’s task from finding an answer to learning what the answer is and what it actually means. When students construct their own learning and meanings there is a far better chance that the students are going to actually remember it. Students remember meaningful things. I saw this in my pre-internship for example. I did a science lesson three weeks ago where students had a hands-on experience with adaptations. Three weeks and a number of science lessons later, the teacher asked the students what they learnt last class. They answered by explaining the experience I had provided them with, not the lessons that had been since then. This shows that when students are submersed in the learning material they are more likely to learn and retain that learned information because it is on a much more personal level.
Another way, similar to what the Rebecca Morris article outlines, is to create meaningful open ended questions. This gets the students to think more critically about the information and images that are being placed on them during the field trip. Through this learners can seek deeper understandings and strive for stronger connections. If we, as educators, provide a method and expect only correct or incorrect answers, then we are not giving meaning to the material we are teaching. It only shows that the students can follow a step-by-step process. The perfect example of this would be the typical museum scavenger hunt. When we were doing this, we did it to get it done not to find meaning in what we were looking at or reading. As soon as we start asking questions, for example, like “why,” “what is it really saying,” or “what is happening,” then a much broader picture can be drawn and a much more profound understanding can be created. As teachers, I feel it is important to provide a strong base of education for our learners – for what is a tower without a sturdy base?
Now that I have considered all of this, I would like to take it to the field and actually try it. I think that it would be interesting to see how the students handle having to actually participate in an engaging, meaningful educational experience while outside of the school walls. Up to this point, I had never really considered taking a class on a field trip because I have been focusing on trying to create good lessons for in the classroom. Now that that I have thought about this a little more, I can’t wait to take a group of students on an experience like this.