How to Prepare Your Students for a Field Trip
Field Trips Should Relate To the Curriculum
Most of us remember a field trip or two during our school days. A field trip is a welcome break from the regular routine, and can provide a learning experience that goes beyond the traditional pen and paper lesson. As a teacher with ten years experience, I will share some ideas with you for helping your students be more prepared for the trip that they are going to take.
Learning from field trips does not have to be limited only to the day of the trip. By planning some preparation activities and assignments, an instructor can help the students attain more learning from their special day. Before even planning a trip, the teacher should be sure to choose a destination that can be somehow tied in with the curriculum they are studying in class. This is important for a couple of reasons. First of all, the field trip can then be a way to confirm and expand on what is covered in class.
There is a pragmatic reason, as well. Field trips cost money and take up valuable instructional time. Therefore, administrators need to see how the trip will benefit the students and how the excursion will help students to reach their educational objectives.
This article deals with developing some prequel lesson plans for before your field trip. Check out my other article if you are interested in the logistics of planning a field trip.
Build Excitement For the Trip!
Prepare Your Students For the Field Trip
Going somewhere new can be very exciting for students, and there will be a lot for them to take in. Therefore, it is an excellent idea to provide some background knowledge for them in the days leading up the trip. In fact, the more you can tie in your planned destination to the unit you are doing, the better.
Here are some ideas for curriculum tie-ins to do before the trip. Try to build some excitement about where you are going. You will have to send out permission forms a couple of weeks before you go, in order to ensure you get the forms back.
A week or so before the trip, start prepping the students by studying the place you will be visiting. In some cases, the field trip will fit seamlessly into your unit plan.
For this trip, you should have specific curriculum objectives (what material or skills you are learning from the curriculum) and affective goals (what you would like them to get out of this personally.) Plan your trip around these objectives.
- Study the history of the place you are going to. Obtain some material about the place and go through it with your students, with questions. You could also have them study this history online, doing a scavenger hunt to look for certain answers in groups. The first group gets a prize or privilege.
- Use the site's educational materials. Check their website, which would usually have any of their materials. Look it over and see how it would work with your class. Modify it if you need to.
- Look at key personalities. Look for figures that are associated with your field trip destination. For example, if it's a planetarium, look at the lives of some famous astronomers. If it's historical, look at personalities and relationships, not just dates.This makes it interesting for the kids.
- Do a Quiz on the material. Giving a quiz gives the message that you are serious about this being a learning experience. Another sneaky teacher trick: assessment leads to learning! In other words, when you give them a test, they are learning by having to think about the answers and reflect on what they have learned.
- Explain the purpose of your trip. Tell the students why you decided to go on this trip, and what the educational value is to them. Then, they might be less likely to simply think of it as a chance to goof off, but they will see that you have included this trip as part of their learning.
- Prepare Them For What They Will Be Doing. A day or two before the field trip, go over the sequence of events for the day of the trip. Before you go, it would be a good idea to either visit there yourself or call a staff member for some detailed information. Letting the students know what is going to happen will help to keep them calm. Go over the consequences for misbehaviour at this time, too.
- Watch a short movie. If you can find a movie, or movie clip that relates to the site, then use it as part of your lesson. The visual will get their attention and help to ignite their imaginations for their trip. The clip could be humorous or simply informative, but let it relate in some way to what you are going to be learning about.
- Show the students the site's web page. Give them some simple questions to answer, as an assignment. Students are used to looking for information online, and this will help to prepare them for the trip. Allow them to "wander" a bit, too, when doing this assignment, as long as they don't leave the website. Another alternative is to show the website on the projector to the class.