2003 Conference Proceedings

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Brenda Bender
Don Johnston Incorporated
26799 W Commerce Drive
Volo, IL 60073
Phone: 847-740-0749, ext 555
Fax: 847-740-7326
Email: bbender@donjohnston.com

Whether it is a trip to the zoo, the museum, a park or a hospital there is a wealth of learning that can happen on a class field trip-both expected and unexpected. Field trips are a part of every school year, but how do you effectively capture all the learning that happens? A whole day is many times dedicated to these learning experiences and it is important that the return (learning) exceeds the investment of time.

To most effectively set up the activity, make sure that all students in the class are prepared for the trip by setting expectations, discussing learning objectives and building background knowledge. Part of this process should include tapping into what students already know and building expectations of the learning objectives for the day. By using the KWL model, all students are involved in the process of contributing information, learning from others and setting learning objectives (what we already know and what we want to learn). This sets the stage for some preliminary research on the location so that students can go into the field trip as knowledgeable as possible, making the learning experience more powerful. Making technology a part of this process provides the opportunity to include all students in the process. From something as low-tech as watching a video to the higher-tech options of using the web and brainstorming and capturing information with organizational tools, like Draft:Builder(r) or Inspiration(r), these technology tools make information accessible to all students.

Once there has been adequate preparation and learning objectives are set, students have a solid base for a productive day. They are more able to stay on task and collect the appropriate information for a post-trip activity, which will demonstrate whether they have met the learning objectives. In order to collect the appropriate information, students need to have access to tools that match their learning style. Not all your students will have the capacity to remember all the details of the trip, or the ability to make paper and pencil notes. However, arm them with digital cameras, tape recorders and AlphaSmart(tm) 3000s and you've got a team of researchers ready to capture all the pertinent details.

As students return from the field trip, they can begin to synthesize the information they collected to meet learning objectives. First, all the electronic resources are collected and organized from all the participants. Second, students look back on their plan and decide how they will meet the learning objectives previously set. Finally, they can use organizational tools, word prediction and a talking word processor to pull together ideas for a final multimedia presentation. Technology makes authentic experiences come alive for all students. It provides students who might not normally excel or participate a way to be important contributors to the process. Students work collaboratively to maximize ideas and the electronic resources collected during the field trip.

Participants will see a group of students actually following this process and the final projects that result from a trip to the museum!

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