6 Ways to Reflect and Respond to Field Trips

by EdCircuit Staff

by Monica Burns

Hear more from Monica Burns and other innovative analysts, thought leaders, and educators at the 2018 Future of Education Technology Conference (FETC), January 23-26 in Orlando, Florida. Learn more here.

We all know the power of field trips, to open up students to the world outside the classroom, to make connections to curriculum goals, and to spark students curiosity. As you bring learning goals to life for students through interactive experiences, there is room to be strategic, to make sure each excursion includes opportunities for responses and reflections. Although there is often time spent before a field trip to prepare students for a new experience, the days that follow a special event are ripe for responses and reflections.

Capture and curate special moments

Before students head out on a field trip prepare them for opportunities to capture special moments. You might have older students bring a cell phone with them on an excursion or students of any age use a school-issued mobile device in small groups. Sharing your end goal with students will help them capture picture-perfect moments so use in an eBook, slideshow, movie, or whichever type of product they will create.

You might decide to have students share these moments during the event using one of the strategies in this article by Ross Cooper and Laura Fleming, or have students focus on curation. Mobile device users of all ages are often guilty of the same thing –  snapping a much larger number of pictures than they eventually post on social media. As students snap lots of pictures you might also provide time for them to curate their best shots to focus on how they will tell the story of their learning.

Take action

After students participate in a field trip, have students use what they’ve learned to take action. For example, after students have visited a local aquarium they might identify an issue to research further like the impact of overfishing in marine ecosystems. With clear connections to persuasive writing and speaking and listening standards, students can create a call to action like a public service announcement to spread the word about an issue they explored on a field trip.

Share on social

As students reflect on an experience like a field trip, they can share their thinking with a larger community. I call this idea “giving eyes to the exit slip” since we normally think of this type of response or reflection simply staying on a sticky note or index card at the end of class. Students can use a graphic design tool like Spark Post to create a graphic for a class Twitter account, a school Facebook page, or to share on your school district’s Instagram. This gives an instant audience to student reflections after a special event.

Keep the conversation going

Sometimes a field trip feels like a one-time event in isolation from other special moments during the school year. You might decide to have students keep the conversation going throughout the year by continuing a dialogue with an organization or expert. If you’ve visited a museum you might have students share a quick thank you note sharing their reflections from the trip. Or if your class spent the day touring a local pizza shop to explore nutrition, they might continue the dialogue with a chef or small business owner to share the ways they’ve applied the learning that took place on the trip.

Connect with others

As a response to a field trip, your students can share what they’ve learned with a partner class or group of students who live far away. For example, if your school is only a few miles from Joshua Tree National Park, your students might share their trip meeting with a park ranger with students who live a few hundred miles away. This gives your students a clear angle as they are snapping pictures, recording notes, and documenting their reflections from the field trip.

Establishing a share plan like Skyping with another class to tell them what was learned during a field trip, can help set a purpose for students. In my book, Tasks Before Apps: Designing Rigorous Learning in a Tech-Rich Classroom, I dive deeper into this idea of establishing an audience for student creations. Students in one class can work together to present what they learned from a special event, while a partner class can prepare questions to pose to the group that attended a particular field trip.

Tell a story

Students can share what they’ve learned in a variety of ways. A narrated slideshow is one way for students to combine the images they’ve snapped with an overview of their experiences. You might have students use a tool like Book Creator to create a collaborative eBook with a collection of their favorites moments from an excursion.

In addition to written stories or ones that highlight images students captured, you may want to explore podcasting as a way for students to respond and reflect on their learning. Students might capture audio recordings by conducting interviews during their field trip or take notes to form talking points before they sit down to record. Tools like Soundtrap and GarageBand make it easy for students to record their voice, collaborate with their peers and produce a shareable podcast.

As you prepare for field trips this school year explore different ways for students to respond to each experience. There are lots of options for students to reflect on special moments. From a movie or a podcast, to a social media image and a thank you note, students can create shareable products that capture their learning.

Monica Burns will be presenting at the 2018 FETC conference





  1. edCircuit – 6 Fun Activities for Podcasting in the Classroom
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