Monday, June 29, 2009

Looking back at the last weeks of term: School Excursion

Now that I'm finally on school holidays (two whole weeks here in Queensland) I finally have time to recap the events of the last couple of weeks of school. The best was our first class excursion.

Our excursions must meet a number of requirements, and this one was perfect. We are studying museums, so we took a trip to the state museum. This required us to take a train to Brisbane, and I was so impressed with the behaviour of the children on the train. They ended up making up their own little games, while another one hid his face in the train map following every step of the way.

At the museum, the students were also excellently behaved - but more importantly they were engaged in their work, and as I realised later, they learned an awful lot.

Why were they so engaged? I think it had a lot to do with the work they were provided with. Instead of a 'fill in the blanks' style worksheet, I visited the museum before the visit, and put together a booklet which encouraged them to find facts, to take in whole exhibits, but focus on particular parts of them. By doing this, there was some real in-depth learning going on. There were also sketching activities (for those visual kids), a writing activity to allow their imaginations to go wild, maps, pictures and information about the exhibits we were going in.

Meanwhile, I watched other school groups race from one display to another, finding one word answers and then racing on to the next one. I wonder how much they missed? Is that really teaching them about the wonders of museums? One of our groups found a drawer of different types of animal poop in the Inquiry Centre! Worksheet-groups would not be investigating enough to find that.

How successful it was came out on Friday the Principal asked one of the grade 5 students about the visit. He was able to knowledgeably tell her that he enjoyed the Museum Zoo and Endangered Animals exhibit the most, but wanted to know more about the Courage of Ordinary Men exhibit.

How do you make excursions (field trips) successful?

Photo from Qld Museum website


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