As the weather turns cooler and the fall semester shifts past the half-way benchmark and mid-point tests, some school districts break up the classroom rut by planning an experiential field trip. Long a tradition in the public education system, the term “field trip” often brings back memories of a day-trip to a local attraction such as the zoo or a local museum. After economic struggles a decade ago, more than 50 percent of schools decided to forgo field trips in their budgets, according to the American Association of School Administrators. Since the 2010-2011 school year, however, more school districts are bringing back the experiential learning moment in a new way to enrich classroom time.
Consider these three ways that trips away from the school campus helps students:
- Field trips broaden the educational experience. Rather than “fluff” or extracurricular jaunts to the nearby amusement park, teachers and school administrators are transforming their views of field trips by seeing them as an extension of the classroom. By taking students out of the “everyday” setting, teachers can break up the expected routine, immerse their students in sensory activities, and expand students’ awareness of their own community. The latest focus on project-based learning with an emphasis on real world problems and challenges makes this active learning opportunity a great possibility for collaboration and critical thinking.
- Topical trips make classroom subjects more relevant. Field trips provide “real world” experiences for classroom content, which helps students to better grasp and apply the concepts they’ve learned. When several subjects are imbued into the experience, the trip can be even richer for students and make sense from a budget standpoint. For example, during a trip to a historical museum for social studies-related content, teachers can also unpack math concepts and life skills such as time management and money management, or discuss brochures and signs to help improve English or foreign language concepts.
- These trips help test scores, drop-out rates and graduation rates. Studies show that cultural and historical trips help students develop better critical thinking skills, historical empathy and higher levels of tolerance, according to a survey by the American Association of School Administrators. In a “Day at the Museum” poll, the group found this was particularly true for students who attend rural schools, as well as those who attend high-poverty schools. Visiting a college or university campus can spark the dream of higher education. Seeing an active local business such as a construction site can start conversations about designing their own homes, running businesses, crafting architecture, and shaping landscape. From a geographic perspective, students in urban areas can learn about livestock and crops, and students in rural areas can learn about subway stops and bus fares — helping to bridge the learning gaps that state and national exams don’t consider.
Enriching the educational experience for students can go a long way towards helping them get the most out of their school years. And the first step in getting to and from school is a student’s ride on the school bus. To learn how SafeStop is enriching the school bus experience, visit us online or talk with one of our team members today.