Thursday, April 13, 2017

Educational Field Trips by Mike Siekkinen

I love a good field trip! My students do also. The chance to leave school for the day and visit somewhere, anywhere, can be a really fun and educational time for students and teachers. I have been my school’s “field trip guy” for many years now. I take my classes (team) on field trips at least once a quarter. When I first started this many years ago, I was told this was difficult, dangerous and expensive. With proper planning and research, field trips are high points of the year for all of us.

First, choose a place that can relate to your curriculum. If you are a biology teacher this may be a national park, a zoo, or a museum. For history, look around your area for historical sites or perhaps even in your home town. Many of these sites can be free for educational groups or very reasonable. I use a local military base, local historical sites, state parks and also cultural celebrations in the local area. 

Most of my trips, I only have to pay for transportation. I fund my field trips (as my district has no funding for field trips) by student donations. I have also been blessed to receive the Target Field Trip Grant a number of years ($700 per year). My field trips are always linked to instruction. For instance, I visit Okefenokee State Wildlife refuge. I link this to standards we have to teach in science, history and we always include writing assignments and research before and after each field trip as well as we finds a way to work in mathematics. Most school systems have some procedure and required paperwork to do before going on a field trip. Ask your principal what the district’s policies are regarding trips. Mine is supportive though I have to find my own money. With good planning, field trips are a great way to get students and teachers out of the classroom to show students real life applications to what they learned at school!

Dr. Mike Siekkinen, a retired U.S. Navy submariner, became a teacher as a second career. He teaches history at St Marys Middle School as well as Adult and Career Education at Valdosta State in Georgia.