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Tuesday, March 10, 2015

Best Practice Book Study - Get Out of Town!

...Or at least out of the classroom. This is the theme Marcia Tate wants us to embrace here in Chapter 3. I'm excited to be linking up with the Best Practice Book Study, Mrs. Wills Kindergarten, and many other fabulous teachers to consider this idea. Like Ariana Grande, it's time for us to break free.

This is generally how I feel about field trips. Working in an urban school environment, with many kids with emotional and behavioral needs, it often feels like there are a myriad of excuses to avoid taking a field trip. Mostly when I hear the words 'field trip' I feel guilt, then fear, then guilt.  This year my team has tackled field trips as a goal - to have more of them and to make the ones we have meaningful and authentic for our kiddos. While we are still a work in progress, we are getting there. Rome wasn't built in a day, right? And if managing 100 first graders at the Museum of Science isn't as complicated as building Rome, I don't know what is.

In this chapter, Marcia reminds us that you don't have to go far to create an exciting learning experience. Furthermore, she validates that these 'trips' whether within your school environment, or virtual, have the same impact on a student's excitement for learning. I don't know about you, but I can always use a little validation when it comes to my teaching practice!

My favorite 'trip' of this kind goes with the incredible story, The Listening Walk, by Paul Showers.

The Listening Walk tells us the story of a girl who goes for walks with her dad, and their ridiculously cute dog (clearly I'm partial to read alouds that have a four-legged friend as one of the main characters). On these walks, there's no talking, only listening. Students are often enthralled in the book and love the amazing onomatopoeia found throughout. I use this story early in the year, during our science inquiry unit.  After reading the story, we go outside on our own listening walk, isolating only our sense of hearing. We then record our observations in our science notebooks. 

I've also found Google Maps to be a great source for a virtual field trip. When I first started teaching our unit on China, it quickly became apparent that looking on the globe just wasn't enough to get these kiddos excited to learn more about this country far, far away. Enter: technology. We all decided to go on an airplane ride. I had kiddos line up so I could collect their 'tickets', get into their seats and buckle up. A simple click onto satellite view and my kiddos felt like they were being transported to the other side of the world. 

So how am I going to adapt my best practice to support Marcia's teachings in this chapter? Well, more virtual field trips for sure (Have a great idea for one? Leave me a comment and let me know!). I'm also going to push myself to find spots close by (and I mean close - like within a 200 foot radius of the school building close).  Not only will this help engage my students in the community in which they live, we also won't have to set foot on a bus, which in my book, is a win for everyone. 

Thanks for stopping by!

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