Nothing can raise the level of excitement in students quite like the mention of a field trip. The opportunity to take a break from the regular school-day routine and embark on an adventure can be very engaging. A lot of time and effort goes into planning these learning adventures for students, and it’s important for teachers to make sure that those efforts result in a meaningful and educational trip. By taking some time to focus on the 3Cs for a Great Field Trip, teachers can take some of the guesswork out of whether or not a positive educational experience will ensue.
Connectivity — Yes, field trips can be fun, but they should also be easily connected back to the curriculum. A field trip is rarely a spur of the moment event and locations should be selected based on their connectivity, not just availability. Making connections should be the top pre-planning priority. Helping students find these connections is important before, during, and after the trip. Preparing a huge packet for completion isn’t the answer, but preparing students with the necessary background information and scaffolding concepts for getting the most out of the experience is. Don’t let pencil and paper activities during the trip take over a student’s ability to embrace the moment. Let the field trip be an extension of the learning that has been taking place in the classroom environment. When the field trip destination becomes an extension of the learning zone at school, a meaningful and memorable trip has been planned.
Captivating — A great field trip is one that should leave students eager to relive all the details. Trips where students can participate in hands-on activities, observe topics of study in a natural setting, view performances, explore ideas from the classroom in a new environment, etc. make for a captivating extension of what’s already occurring in the classroom. The educational component of the trip is key, but it needs to be present in a capacity that offers a lasting impact. The field trip should be an opportunity for students to encounter something they won’t find in the regular classroom. If there isn’t a captivating element to the trip, the time and funding may be better served in bringing engaging elements into the classroom. A virtual adventure may be a better fit if a captivating trip isn’t available.
Cost — Many field trips have fallen to the wayside because they are cost prohibitive. Many districts have taken to having students contribute to the costs in order to make a trip happen. Many families that don’t qualify for free or reduced programs at school still struggle to make ends meet. If families are being asked to provide funding for a child to participate in a field trip, teachers need to make sure that some form of payment assistance is available. This could be done by pre-planning and setting up payment increments leading up to the trip, giving other families an option of making a contribution to help with the costs, setting up a fundraiser to offset some or all of the costs. A great field trip is one that shouldn’t be missed by any student. If the costs are financially prohibitive for one, the trip should not be attended by any. Don’t let how much money is being spent overshadow a student’s ability to enjoy and find meaning within the experience.
Field trips are a great way to engage students in learning. Ensuring that the time and energy it takes to plan a field trip comes to fruition in a positive educational experience can be achieved by enlisting the 3Cs. By focusing on Connectivity, Captivation, and Cost-effectiveness, teachers will be well on their way to planning a trip that plays an integral role in a student’s educational journey.
If you enjoyed the thoughts and ideas shared here, check out the trainings and tools (for teachers and for families) that we offer.