Picking the right school trip
When considering senior class trips as an educator, look at whether there's scope to engage the learners themselves in a decision about where they go.
Visiting Washington DC or another big city?
Whether an American school looking to go to Washington DC and learn about big politics and governance, or a British school visiting the Houses of Parliament in London, then it's great to get ideas about what the objectives of the trip are. For example, school tours to Washington DC can become unfocused and unstructured unless there is a clear agenda and outcome. Identify landmarks and attractions that link in with the class's learning and which will bring history, geography, politics or social sciences to life.
Get a clear agenda in place to make the most of the day. Maybe the history group want to visit the memorial to Lincoln or the Vietnam Veterans. Perhaps the culture enthusiasts want to see the Smithsonian Museums and those intrigued by politics, Capitol Hill and the White House. The city offers a rich array of landmarks and visitor attractions and if it's possible to split groups according to interests, then why not do so and set each team a challenge. They could be tasked with finding a certain set of facts or preparing a presentation to bring back to the wider class for example. Grouping small teams by enthusiasm area means that you'll get much more from each presentation and really excite the learners. Smaller groups also mean greater interaction with each other and the teachers and the fresh environment allows new and more adult roles to be tested and tried on for size.
Often school tours become tired and regular, so why not allow them to participate in the planning stage? A good way to do this is to pre-agree a series of options for an educational trip with the decision-makers and then present the agreed options to the learners for them to review and pick from. This encourages real engagement and ownership with the trip and the learning objectives behind it, encouraging the learners to take responsibility and get involved in the trip, rather than engaging with it as a passive activity.
In conclusion, well organised class trips will provide memories, impact and learning outcomes alike - so don't be afraid to get your learners out of the classroom and into the big wide world.
by Samantha McDonagh