Using Flextime for Extended Learning Field Trips
Field trips are an exciting, motivating, and valuable learning opportunity for students. If your school has an extended learning period built into the day, and a system which allows flexible placement of students each day, here is an amazing idea to connect kids with opportunities that will foster a love of learning.
A high school Physics teacher recently took a group of students to visit Fermilab, which is a premier particle physics research facility. As you may imagine, particle physics isn't a part of the typical high school curriculum, but a tour of such a facility is an amazing opportunity none-the-less. And since his high school uses the Edficiency scheduling system, he thought to himself "why don't I open this up to any kid who is interested?"
He made a school-wide announcement of the trip in October and invited interested students to sign up for an information session during his school's flexible period. More than twenty students came to the session. Some of the students were college bound seniors. Some were freshman. Some already knew that protons were made of quarks, and one came because he knew the Flash had gotten his powers from a particle accelerator. What each student had in common was interest and appreciation for the opportunity.
Over the following five months, the Physics teacher held bi-monthly sessions during the flexible period to give mini-lessons on particle physics. Students learned a bit about the work done at Fermilab and prepared questions to ask on the tour. They spent eight hours on a bus on tour day to spend four hours at a research facility, but in the end, everyone was happy they had.
When schools are flexible enough, amazing opportunities for learning are created. For five months, a group of students with shared interests got to learn about a subject that wasn't part of the regular curriculum and a teacher got to share his enthusiasm for real, hard science.
You've got ideas too. If your school has (or had) this kind of flexibility, where would you go and what would you share with your students? Comment below!