I have a love/hate relationship with field trips. On one hand I love the deep, experiential learning that takes place when we go out exploring. I love the change of pace and renewed energy that comes with stepping outside our classroom. I hate the stressful time leading up to the trip itself, especially in a day where the field trip paperwork takes longer than the trip itself.
But a field trip in a pandemic? Yes. I would venture that “field trips” are especially important in a pandemic. When we basically haven’t left home in months, the opportunity to “travel” is so enticing that my students & I can’t resist. And here’s the good news: some field trips that were previously out of reach are now totally accessible thanks to virtual options. Here are some to consider:
Be creative about what defines a “field trip”. For second quarter in my AP classes, students will choose one of five options to attend. They have a menu here and the followup is in the form of a Google form that asks them to note products, practices, perspectives, and comparisons with their home culture. One of the things that I’m most excited about is that some students have stepped forward to be the guest speakers for others. For example, a girl who recently had her quinceañera will present about the tradition and experience for her “field trip”. Other students can elect to attend her presentation to count as theirs.
Some other options from our Visita Virtual menu:
Peace Corps (see site here). The site has a ton of resources, but we hit the gold mine by collaborating with a returned Peace Corps volunteer in our area. She and I recorded a presentation about the highlights of her experience in Peru. Students watched the video in advance and took notes about the products, practices, and perspectives that they observed and learned a bit about what the Peace Corps does. They also prepared five questions each. Then our volunteer came to class via Google Meets and hosted a live Q&A session with our students. Our students LOVED it. It also gave us the opportunity to hear from different voices. Our volunteer is African American and served in a region of Peru that is primarily AfroPeruvian and shared a wealth of perspectives and experiences that I have not had and therefore cannot share with my students. We have turned that experience into extended discussions as well as the basis for two FRQ practice questions for the AP exam. We are currently working on scheduling our next speaker from another country, and I am hoping to offer this experience multiple times throughout the year with a variety of countries that I have not visited/lived in.
National Museum of Mexican Art in Chicago’s Pilsen neighborhood (site here) When I lived in Chicagoland we went here every year for the museum’s Día de los Muertos exhibits. Their exhibits and docents transform the experience into one that highlights the depths of the symbolism, culture, and history associated with this celebration that is too often addressed superficially. I moved to the east coast over 20 years ago and have been trying to figure out how to make it work to get my students here to go to the museum there. Enter this year’s virtual visits for the answer. I “took” a group of students on a live private tour with a docent and it was fantastic. The private tour cost $100, but was worth it every centavo. (I will request a reimbursement grant from our PTA.) If you teach La Calaca Alegre, las mariposas monarcas, and/or know Hector Duarte’s art, you will definitely want to check out his ofrenda installation in this year’s exhibit.
Local museums while visiting NMMA is super cool, be sure to check out what your local cultural institutions are offering. The art museum in our city is offering virtual mini tours focusing on three works of art in the collection. We worked together to choose the pieces, and they put together the lesson plan. Win, win, win!
Each of our trips so far has been well-received by students and are excited about the prospect of OPTIONS. They are tired of being cooped up in the same four walls and so are we. This style of field trip has many of the rewards of an in-person trip with a fraction of the headaches. It’s a nice change of pace for students AND for teachers, and reinforces the idea that there is so much to explore and learn beyond our classroom.
So… where will you go on your visita virtual? Let me know if I can help!