Last week we went on a field trip to the Royal Saskatchewan Museum, this was a very informative experience for me. Although we did not take any students with us. I came up with a “uh ah” moment when going through. This moment came as everyone was racing to fill out the worksheet that the museum provides. Students are like adults we RACE to fill out worksheets when the worksheet is like a scavenger hunt. Nothing is learned because you are looking for the answer to the questions and not taking the time to look at every artifact. I think that worksheets make the museum experience fun but that is not why we go to these places for field trips. We go to learn… Right?
I read a few articles on taking your students out on field trips. I do agree with Jay P. Greene, Brian Kisida and Daniel H. Bowen authors of The educational value of field trips: taking students to an art museum improves critical thinking skills, and more on the fact that museums have seen a decline in school trips. I feel that I was disappointed with my experience at Royal Saskatchewan museum, the last few times that I have went with my students as an educational assistant. The exhibits are out dated and not much details are provided with the artifacts. However, this being said I would take my students there as a teacher but with one key change I would make up my own worksheet that lead to inquiry project after the museum visit.
I have also read the article called Transforming a Field Trip Into an Expedition Supporting Active Research and Science Content Through a Museum Visit by Rebecca Morris. She states that she found the same thing happened with students that I have mentioned earlier. Since students are not in their usual routines during the field trip experience, many of them do not retain much information. However Rebecca has also come up in an great strategy for taking student on field trips. Make it an expedition instead (Oh here is the learning). Having students research at a museum is like an inquiry project outside of the classroom. Perfect! Students lead their own learning while looking into artifacts that they find interesting. This is such an amazing concept.
Well lets see if this will work going to the Royal Saskatchewan Museum (Note I’m using this museum since I was just there). To start we as a class would have a discussion on what being a critical thinker looks like. Thats way they know that there maybe biases in the museum and that it is ok to question these the bias. Next, I think I would make up a choice board so that the students know that there are some expectations on what they are to be doing. Now this is were the inquiry happens, instead of having the students race around the museum looking for answers to a worksheet, they have to find a topic that interests them. They have to seek out everything that the museum has to offer on the topic and fill out a worksheet that has open questions. This would lead to a research assignment when we got back to class. This assignment could be researching the different views of the topic or how the views of one source can be different then the views of another. My students will then make a social action plan that can better education themselves and the others in their class.
I would love to do this with a class now. It would be interesting to know what they take out of learning to be critical thinkers. This experience for me was definitely eye opening. My students may not like the fact that they will have to learn something when we go on field trips.