Taking A Field Trip

Lesson: Taking a Field Trip

Grades: 6-12

Subject: Adaptable to All Subjects

Estimated Time of Completion: a minimum of three 50-minute class sessions

I. Summary

Extending your lesson beyond the classroom through field trips can offer opportunities to students that they may never otherwise have. Students can utilize techniques of the investigator, historian, archaeologist, architect, geographer or environmentalist. It is an opportunity to teach students about environmental responsibility or to enrich the subject area you are teaching in. Creating a field trip that will benefit your students' lives, enhance their skill and knowledge, and ensuring that they are safe will require preparation and organization. This lesson will guide you through the organization process to provide structure, safety and success for your class field trip. It will be necessary for a teacher to somewhat adapt the offered guidance to a specific subject area, field trip situation, and the individuality of a specific class.

II. Objectives

  • Students will draw conclusions, make predictions and practice making environmentally responsible decisions.
  • Students will acquire knowledge, clarify thinking, synthesize information and enhance historical thinking.

III. Materials Needed

  • Optional: Computer with Internet access with a presentation device or available computers for groups of students and Internet access to the History Detectives site.
  • Permission forms, chaperone guides, any forms for activities, evaluations, etc. 

IV. Procedure

A. First Session - Planning the trip and preparing your students

A1. A field trip should be an extension to subject matter taught in the classroom. Would your class benefit from a particular location, a special exhibit, or a unique demonstration? A planetarium might be more suitable to a science class while a museum might be appropriate for your history class. A walking tour at times might be preferable to a long drive to another location. Consider the purpose to arrive at a field trip that enhances classroom work. Consider the purpose of the trip and how best to meet the classroom goals. Consider available dates, transportation, and times before finalizing a field trip. As with anything, you will have to be conscious of cost and funding. The field trip may require a fund-raiser. Use the form to organize your field trip thoughts.

A2. Research the location of the planned field trip. If possible, check out Web sites, call for information and ask about assistance in planning the field trip. Correlate dates to the purpose of the field trip. Continue to organize your trip by recording your research on the organizational form.

A3. Work out procedures for lunch. Ordinarily on a field trip, lunch is done one of the following ways:

    a. Either school cafeteria packs the students' lunches or students bring their own. Considerations for sack lunches: you will need a place to eat, room to transport them, ice chests to cool them, and identification on them. You will need a procedure for handing out lunches, and you will need an alternate plan in case of rain - you might have to eat on bus.

    b. Eating in a restaurant or food court might be easier but consider that extra money for lunch may pose a financial burden on some. Students will have to keep up with their own money; there will be wait time, (unless you can make a reservation with food preordered).

    c. Food may be provided as part of the field trip.

*In any case, be alert to food allergies, diabetics, or students that take any medicine - have a plan in place for emergency sicknesses. This information should be on permission slips or manifests. The safest of all the lunch choices may be to allow students to bring their own lunch since they will be aware of what they can or cannot eat.

B. The day before the field trip

B1. Cover the background subject matter. If you can excite and engage students, they will get more from the trip. Share as much as possible about the trip to enlighten the students. Consider giving students an itinerary. Consider challenging students with a research log to record findings, a journal to record reactions, questions, or a scavenger hunt project. Field trips can offer students a chance to experience the classroom curriculum themes.

B2. Have students participate in the link off of the History Detectives site in the Lesson Plans - Unit 1, Before We Travel, We Research.

B3. Review expectations and behaviors for the trip. This will differ for different types of trips. If the trip is one outdoors or involving historical artifacts, review environmentally responsible behavior (form - Environmentally Behavior).

B4. The day before the trip, check the list. Ensure that lunch, transportation, and any reservations have been confirmed.

B5. The day before the trip, provide chaperones with any necessary procedures and rules. (Suggestions are found on the chaperone form).

B6. Have information on all students collected and recorded. (See permission slips).

B7. Remind students of proper dress. If weather is cooler, the students may need a coat or sweater. If it is warm, students may need sunglasses or sunscreen. Remind students of lunches if they are responsible for their lunch. Remind students to bring any money that they might need.

B8. Have students leave valuables at home. Encourage students to keep up with items that they bring. (Be aware of limited space, theft, and misplaced items)

B9. Teach students about environmental responsibility. Discuss with students why it is important to leave nature the way you found it. Discuss the importance of preservation of documents and artifacts.

C. Field trip day

C1. Be prompt. Allow time for locating the place of the field trip if you have never been there. Allow time for parking. Locate the rest rooms.

C2. Double check if lunches or medicines are to be loaded on the bus.

C3. Have materials needed for field trip. This could be as simple as a student laptop, or journal, or student research log. It could be as complicated as gardening tools and extra clothing for students.

C4. Instruct students of any notes, journal writing, or authoring that they will need to do. For ideas, look at the History Detective site sections: At the Site, A Scavenger Hunt. Also, check out Writing a Historical Poem.

C4. Ensure safety. Try to be prepared for what might happen. Have a plan for taking care of sick students. Have a first aid kit for small injuries. Bring important phone numbers for contacting school officials and/or parents. Some schools have nurses that actually attend the field trip with the class.

C5. Consider taking: first aid kit, cell phone, walkie-talkies, important phone numbers, paper and pencil, watches for time, laptops, paper and pencil, glasses, winter clothing, umbrella, magnifying glass, map, compass.

D. Returning to school

D1. Have students write a letter of appreciation when the trip is completed.

D2. Have students discuss and ask questions about their field trip experience.

D3. Have students use their newly acquired knowledge and skills. Suggestions: write a poem, write in student journals, publish a class newspaper to inform others, create a Web site complete with pictures, further research on generated topics, oral reports, dramas, art projects, or classroom exhibits.

D4. Have students complete an evaluation form. You will have documentation about its success or failure. The students will have to think through the field trip experience.

V. Assessment of Field Trip Success

1. Ask students and chaperones to evaluate the field trip. What did they like best and least? Was it what they expected? Did they find the information useful? How could the trip have been better?

2. Teachers should ask:

    a. Were goals and objectives met?
    b. Did the trip reinforce, remediate, or enrich subject material?
    c. Was the field trip an extension of the classroom?
    d. Was it enjoyable for all concerned?
    e. How could the trip have been better?

3. If projects spring from the field trip, they will have their own assessment.

VI. Extensions and Adaptations

Encourage students to create some classroom virtual field trips.
Upon return, have students draw maps of their field trip.
Have students compose a bibliography of resources to complement this field trip.
Have students plan a field trip using a budget, drawing a map, writing the rules, composing a letter of appreciation, and devising a plan for assessing its success.

VII. Standards

From McREL
* Will vary with field trip taken, subject area inspiring the field trip, grade level, and any projects 

Download the Field Trip Manifesto here. 

Download the Chaperone Guide here. 

Download the Field Trip Permission here.

Download the Field Trip Organizer here.

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