Before Christmas one of my teachers had an idea he wanted to run by me. He had been thinking about taking his 7th grade Science students on a field trip to a nature preserve 30 minutes away and asked for my input. I was a bit skeptical at first because field trips, in my opinion, seem to be dying off...especially for middle school students. Nonetheless, I heard him out, and he started working on getting it approved.
Fast forward to last week, that approval and bus request had been accepted and scheduled. For me, that's where the fun began. The teacher and I discussed his vision for the trip, specifically the learning objectives, and then (since he asked me) we talked about how we thought technology could facilitate deep learning. My mind immediately went to our curiosity and contextual learning technology strands. Here's a link to the planning document we created. This was shared with our Science curriculum experts, who helped us keep the standards in focus and make the experience even better.
In our district, we believe that teachers should provide academic experiences that foster curiosity; we also believe students learn in a meaningful, relevant, and real-world context. I'm thankful for this teacher who stepped out to take a chance on a new kind of learning experience for him and his kids. I think what made this so special is that this idea came to him because he wanted to share something he was passionate about with his students. I truly think he felt empowered to pursue this endeavor because it originated from his love of all things outdoors.
Yes, learning happened, and students met the objectives. But more importantly, I saw young teenagers unplug, explore, embrace a foreign environment and experience many new firsts. There's something about letting loose and letting kids be kids. If you haven't seen the video, check it out below. Here's the setup site and student work.
google expeditions app
A high school teacher I was working with last week asked students, "If you could go anywhere in the world, where would you go?" All students had an answer, but surprisingly the majority of them chose a place somewhere in North America.
The truth is our kids don't know how big to dream!
If our kids lack the curiosity and context to know where things are in the world, then why would they ever think they have the opportunity to go there and see it for themselves? When this teacher and I prepared a lesson we gave them 10 recommendations of Expeditions from all over the world that they could experience. To see high schoolers that excited about anything first thing in the morning was a welcome sight!
Over Spring Break I got to tour and photograph 19th century pioneer homes in our hometown. I've been pleased with how well this fits in with my Innovator Project. For the past couple of weeks (in between all of my actual job requirements) I've been writing the narrative that will tell the story of Pioneer Life on the Prairie. Now, I'm just 2 scenes away from being able to publish my own Expedition that I've been working so hard on.
There's a potential my Expedition could then be available to everyone in the world. It's entitled Pioneer Life on the Prairie, and I'm proud to say it's loaded with curriculum content and TEKS that are relevant to our students. The best thing about that is it gives students an idea of how their hometown fit into the story of history. We all live in cities rich with history, and it's up to us to learn and share that heritage.