Field trips have been a vital part of education as long as humans have existed. Experiencing the “real world” allows students to connect to the ideas in the classroom and provides a new environment in which to process their own understanding. Now while field trips facilitate natural study and are super fun and effective, they can be overwhelming to coordinate. This is a mini-guide that is not meant to be a complete guide, but a snapshot of some things to consider when planning your trip with Coyote Trails!
Some Tips for Successful Pre-Planning:
- Identify and clearly state your learning targets. This will help you get comfortable with your own class’s needs and get you thinking about what background knowledge would be helpful to your students. Check out our resources for pre-planning here.
- Work with your contact at Coyote Trails and discuss possible pre-survey/pretest questions that will get students thinking about their own questions, wondering about the topic, and questioning their own understanding of the background knowledge.
- Consider having students draft 2-5 questions they already have about the topic before the day of the trip/visit. Challenge them to have the answers to all their questions before leaving the site.
- Discuss your expectations of behavior and learning before the trip. Consider having students come up with the conduct guidelines. If the trip will have a related project afterward, give the students the rubric before the trip to get them thinking.
- Remind students to wear appropriate clothing! Outdoor Education means outdoors. We will be out in the field rain, shine, or snow. Nature is great to experience when it’s sunny, but there is an incredible amount to learn from rainy and chilly weather too
- Also provide students with a packing list. Lunches, extra shoes, gift shop money, journal, pencils, and worksheets are all common things students could need and might forget.
- Prepare chaperones for their role. Chaperones, while they should engage in the activities, should be prepared to assist in transitioning students, helping facilitate restroom and lunch breaks, doing head counts, and being overall responsible for the wellbeing of their groups. Let them know your needs as a teacher for the trip. Check out our Chaperone-specific guide.
Be able to identify all of the following for yourself and to your administration:
- Learning outcomes for the trip
- Standards alignment
- Essential concepts underlying the content and structure of the trip
- Key vocabulary that will be a part of the trip
- Who are the chaperones?
- Cost of trip and how it is funded
Talking to your contact at Coyote Trails:
- Use vocabulary, terms, academic language, and ideas from your learning targets so that we can use them when talking with students. Mention them directly if they are essential.
- Make sure your contact knows that you are aiming to meet standards, and provide them early in the planning of your class.
- Ask your contact for alignment charts if it would be helpful in your class selection and planning. This can help when talking to your administration as well.
- Give and receive detailed time information: length of program, bus schedule, departure and arrival times, etc.
- Check in with bus drivers about departure and arrival and travel times. Double check directions.
- PARTICIPATE! Understanding the students’ experience will help you to create more effective post materials, debriefs, discussions, and follow-up questions.
- Students will remember how they felt more than anything; make it fun!
- Be available to help with “the container.” While our instructors are great at keeping big groups contained, it helps when someone who is familiar with the personalities and learning styles has an eye out for likely spin-off students.
- Have a way to transport all of the following. Do not leave it on the bus J
- oEmergency contact information for your school
- oChecklist of all students and chaperones
- oEmergency medical forms for all students and yourself
- oExtra cash for emergency situations
- oContact information for Coyote Trails: name, phone number, and office location
- oTrip itinerary
- oPaper to write down ideas and questions that occur to you as you go
- Have students leave headphones, MP3s, Ipods, phones, and game devices at home/at school/on bus. Students will not be engaged. Remind students that it is disrespectful to use such devices, including cell phones, during the trip.
- !SAFETY! Immediately cover safety precautions with students (covered first thing when you arrive by instructors):
- oWhat to do if someone gets lost or separated
- oBuddy system
- oWho to ask to use restroom or get water
- oWhat to do in case of a medical emergency or minor situation
- oRemind them to follow the rules spoken to by the instructors
- oStrangers in camp (CTNC and mountain campus are public areas)
- oInform instructors of any students with severe allergies or other medical conditions that are a potential hazard or need to be accommodated for.
- Consider checking our post-trip materials for ideas for post questions, surveys, tests, projects, and discussion questions. Also ask our contact about materials, resources, and further reading for students if you are interested.
- Consider doing a group debrief in which students have a space to share their experiences. Whether it be in a project or a group discussion.
- Do some written reflection for yourself about how the trip went.
- oWhere were the holes in your awareness?
- oWere there things you could have done to better prepare?
- oDid the instructors cover all the learning targets?
- oDo students have remaining questions?
- oWould you do the trip again?
- o What were the highlights?
- oWhat feedback would you give the instructors?
- oWere your expectations realistic?
- oWas this an overall effective trip? Why?
- Send feedback to our office so that we may gain a better understanding of how our work has impacted the community, your students, and schools. This feedback helps us improve and can help us receive funding in the future!
If you have any questions during the trip planning process, contact our office or your program planning contact through email.