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.