How to conduct field trips and maximize its usefulness to students.
One of the best ways to educate students is for them to experience first hand the topics discussed in class through field trips. Field trips present the students with actual situations that they can explore, understand and easily recall. What are written in the books are mainly from the authors' viewpoint of how things are or how these things relate with each other. Out in the field, the reality may be different. What students learned through lectures can be complemented by their experiences during field trips.
How to conduct field trips
So how should teachers conduct a field trip to make the most of this activity? Here is a list of things to do before, during, and after the field trip.
1. State the field trip rationale. State the objectives of the field trip. The students should be aware of the reasons for the field trip. Make clear that the trip, while enjoyable, is an opportunity to learn. The field trip as an approach to learning is made much more relevant if the purpose of the field trip is clearly stated.
2. Organize the field trip. Let the students organize or prepare for the field trip. Let the students identify the things that they need for the field trip. This trains them to be responsible individuals. Just guide them along the way.
3. Risks associated with field trips. There may be risks associated with field trips so it is important that students secure indemnity forms. Certain precautions must be observed, however, to ensure everybody's safety.
4. Secure permissions. Make sure that permission from proper authorities are secured. Inform concerned parties at least two weeks before the planned field trip depending on distance of destination. The farther the destination, the longer the time that should be devoted for preparations. Secure permission for specimen collections.
5. List things to bring. Make a list of things to bring in the field trip. Going out on a field trip without the necessary materials such as measuring scales, counters, cameras, first aid kit, collection bags, binoculars or other materials needed to meet the objectives of the field trip will cause undue delays and shortcomings in carrying out field activities.
6. Send a reconnaissance team. If possible, send a reconnaissance team to assess the situation in the target field trip area. This will input important tips for field trip planning. Let each one familiarize or figure out what's expected in the field trip site.
7. Agree on communication channels. Agree upon yourselves how to contact each other in case of emergencies. Make sure that you have with you communication devices to monitor the progress of the field trip. Charge all cellphones and bring emergency lights. Be ready for both daytime and nighttime situations.
8. Note important signs in the field trip area. Everybody should be aware of important signs or precautions to be observed while in the field. Mishaps can be prevented.
8. Health concerns. Verify the health condition of the students. Find out if any of the students have a medical condition that need to be attended to. Manage field activities bearing in mind individuals which may be exempted from actively participating such as strenuous hike, mountain climbing, and so on.
9. Monitor activities. Monitor the students during the field trip. One way to ensure that students are monitored closely is to assign leaders for clusters of 3 to 5 students. If instructions are needed, the leaders of each group can come and brief the others. Let each member be accountable to each other. Buddy system may be adopted.
10. Brief and summarize. Start the day with a briefing on what to do and meet briefly to summarize the experiences of the field trips at the end of the day. Let the students write down their experiences and exchange information with each other while their experiences are still fresh in their minds. Point out important points or complement the exchange.
After the field trip, let the students prepare a written report and presentation to strengthen what they have learned. Identify what has been missed out and if any thing should be done or rectified to make future field trips much more productive endeavors.