Thursday, April 22, 2010

The Future of School Field Trips

As an 8th grade American History teacher I am fortunate to take my students on two field trips. In the fall the entire 8th grade goes to Philadelphia and in the Spring our team goes to Gettysburg. Both trips are designed for students to "walk in the footsteps of history".

In Philadelphia the students tour the National Constitution Center to get a wonderful overview of the workings and history of our government, and then spend the remainder of the day in small groups visiting group selected historic sites in Olde City Philadelphia. The self guided tour is popular with the students because they have a say into which historic sites they visit and they can schedule some time at Starbucks. There is nothing like visiting the self proclaimed "most historic square mile" in our nation with students as they are learning about the foundations of our nation. This trip really brings the classroom to life!

When we visit Gettysburg, the students get to walk the same fields where thousands of Americans fought and died for what they believed America should represent. A lot can be learned about the Civil War in a regular classroom setting, but students will never get a true appreciation of the devastation of the Civil War without walking in the final footsteps where so many Americans walked in 1863. The connections from the field trip form a frame around which students can paint their own understanding and significance of the Civil War as they apply their field trip experience to what they learn in class.

So, how can technology enhance traditional field trip experiences? I am not thinking about virtual field trips. Virtual field trips are fine in their own way, but they do not enhance an actual trip. I have some ideas, but I would love to hear how others would use technology to enhance field trip experiences.

To get the ideas flowing view the following TEDTalk by Blaise Aguera y Arcas as he demonstrates augmented reality:


Anonymous said...

My name is Rachel; I’m in 8th grade in Wallingford, CT. I’m working on an immigration project in my social studies class and it would really help if you could fill out this survey for me. I’m looking to see if I am part of this “mutt” generation as some may call it. And as the generations go on, I’m looking to find a pattern to see if people will have more and more races in their backgrounds or less. Due to immigration I think that as people moved to America and more nationalities came and people met other people out of their race, I think that kids will have bigger ethnic backgrounds and eventually, being one race will be a thing of the past. I hope you can all help, thank you.

I would really appreciate it if you can forward this to anyone that would be interested in filling this out. That would be great if you could put this on any social networking site that you are on.

Here is a link to the survey:

Farrah said...

Hi! My name is Farrah. I'm currently in the process of getting a masters degree in secondary education (social studies) at University of Michigan. I stumbled across your blog and am really impressed by what you are doing.

You mention virtual field trips and this made me think about how gaming can be used in education. Have you ever thought about using a game engine that is already very realistic (such as Crytek from Crysis or Source from Half-Life 2) to create real locales (contemporary or historical) and put in place the inhabitants so that you can journey through and almost immerse yourself in such a place? This could be really useful for schools that cannot afford field trips and could also be very fun for students (who are often fairly well-versed in gaming. It's all very intuitive to a lot of them).

Mr. T said...

Farrah--Thanks for your suggestions about using gaming in class. This is an area I am interested in but have not really ventured to yet. I will certainly check out Crytek and Source. Any way to engage students and make it educationally and historically sound is what I'm all about.

Be sure to check out the American Civil War Augmented Reality Project as another way to engage students. Right now the project pertains to central PA, but the idea could be applied to any region.

Good luck with your grad work!