FIELD TRIPS July 16, 2012Posted by ferval in Academic, Outcomes, Teaching.
The following post was written by Eye On Education Editor, Lauren Beebe.
As a student of a small, quirky private school in southern California, I took it for granted that I was able to go on regular class or whole-school field trips. I have fond memories of visiting the local history museum, going to the beach to learn about conserving native plant and animal species, and touring historic missions. Once we even visited a wastewater treatment plant.
However, as many educators know, it is often difficult for public schools to find the time and resources for field trips.
No Child Left Behind was blamed for declining numbers of field trips in the last decade. The American Association of Museumsbelieved that out-of-class excursions—along with art, science, and social studies classes—were being squeezed out by added emphasis to math and literacy instruction and standardized tests. In 2008, NPR reported that some museums, fearing declines in student attendance, were making an extra effort to design more curriculum-tailored exhibits. However, in today’s world of budget cuts, field trips are still on the downswing.
Although they disrupt regular class time, field trips are still valuable for students of all ages. Other than giving them a chance to stretch their legs, there are many reasons why field trips still deserve a place in education today:
- They give students a chance to connect classroom lessons to real-life experiences and tangible artifacts.
- They give students access to culture, history, and art that may be left out of the regular curriculum.
- The sensory, physical, and social aspects of field trips enrich learning experiences.
- Different environments allow teachers to design new and real-world challenges.
- They can help students prepare for life after graduation and future careers.
- They’re fun!
Responding to the logistical challenges of conducting field trips, Eye On Education author Larry Ferlazzo offers several resources for virtual field trips: “thanks to Web 2.0 technology, you can now have students create their own virtual field trips. There are many free websites that will let users easily create virtual field trips. Students can use these applications to visit places online, describe them, and show them to their classmates.”
Eye On Education author Rebekah Stathakis explains how students in her Spanish class use virtual tools to tour foreign countries, plan their own vacations, and act out interactions between tourists and travel agents.