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Monday, February 8, 2016

Making Field Trips More Meaningful

I'm both old and a not very visual person, so it's no wonder I haven't reflexively embraced Glogster, "a Web 2.0 tool that allows users to create virtual posters combining text, audio, video, images, and hyperlinks and to share them with others electronically."

Despite my natural resistance, I am intrigued by the idea of using Glogster to bring learning home from a museum field trip.

Glogster asks: "What if there was a way to get real results by letting learners do what they do best – exploring?" And it proposes that its a field trip template is designed to do just "exactly that, using their own curiosity as a guide" while also checking their understanding and creating "a lasting memento of a fun and fact-filled day out." 


What do you think makes a meaningful fieldtrip--and how can you make it more than a fun day away from school? Can Glogster help you fulfill your goals? 


The Smithsonian points to the following research-based best practices for a meaningful fieldtrip:
  • Clarifying the learning objectives of the visit.
  • Linking the visit to curriculum. If necessary, contact the museum’s education department for assistance.
  • Giving structure to the visit (with tours, writing activities, worksheets, etc.) while also allowing time for free exploration. At any age—but especially by middle school—students want time simply to observe and interact with an exhibition.
  • Building in opportunities for students to work together in groups.
  • Interacting with students during the visit. Pose open-ended questions, explain aspects of exhibitions, and get students talking about what they are seeing and experiencing.
  • Making the experience more memorable and personal by building on it when you return to the classroom.
The Glogster app is one tool to help implement some of these best practices. But there are others--several examples of which were featured on TeachingHistory.org.

First-grade teacher Jennifer Orr asks her students to take pictures on a field trip to Washington, DC, to create a class video on the monuments and memorials they see. Back in the classroom, the students help Orr organize the pictures and decide on and record the narration.


High School teacher James Percoco shares his strategies for creating "Individual Field Trips" which, he claims permit "students to encounter the past at historic sites and museums, all within the context of learning history based on state and national standards. They make outstanding summative assessment tools, while at the same time permitting students to have an enjoyable and fun experience while they learn." He also shares his techniques for "Crafiting Meaningful Field Trips for Students" by using student historians. 


Columbus, Montana, English teacher Casey Olsen is a master at making field trips meaningful. One of his tricks is to provide students time to write on site. 


We've been working hard to make our tours more interactive--which we hope will make them more meaningful.You can find out more about our tours here--and if you are bringing a class to Helena, I particularly encourage you to consider booking a tour at the Original Governor's Mansion. Our lead tour guide has recently created new interactive children’s tours of the mansion, which "highlight stories of the mischievous young Stewart girls, Emily, Marjorie, and Leah. Participants experience social and material culture from 100 years ago and become part of life at the mansion when they receive a role to play, crank up the Victrola, or place a call on a vintage phone."


If a standard tour won't do, we are happy to work with you to personalize your class's field trip to fit into your curriculum. And--as always, I'm interested in your best practices. What do you do to make field trips meaningful? Let me know, and I'll share out.

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