Monday, October 31, 2011

Benefits of Fieldwork

As Rachel mentioned in the last blog, I was unable to attend the ISTA conference this year. I am sad that I missed the opportunity to listen to many great sessions from some seasoned teachers in the science field. Last year I enjoyed learning about new activities that could be used in the classroom from teachers who have tried the lessons themselves.

At ISTA the teachers are not afraid of tell you of the hardships they had with the lessons and possible places of editing. I really appreciated the honesty and helpfulness the teachers gave me as I looked into becoming a teacher.

This past weekend I was, again as Rachel said, on a field trip for my Sedimentology and Stratigraphy class. We drove to Southern Illinois and went to many outcrops, quarries and state parks looking at the sedimentary structures. The greatest thing about the trip was not only the bonding that occurred between us students, but the hands-on experience that came from being outside of the classroom.

Purple Fluorite I retrieved on my trip
Already as a 'pre-service' teacher I have learned the importance of interactive learning. Students are very different in their learning styles. For example, I am a very kinesthetic learner; I love hands on learning. That is part of the reason I am a science major. My friend, however, is a audio/visual learner. If you write notes on the board in class she jots every one down, along with what you are saying. She cannot understand lab science; she is an English/Social Science major.

To me one of the best ways to bring all types of learning together is through field work. Sure, it may have a lot of kinesthetics in it but if you have them work in groups and have them fill out field guides you can easily get all involved.

Some examples of interactive learning that has inspired me:

  • Workbooks with questions to ask people outside class
  • Field Trips (to a museum, geocaching, to the library, planetarium, IMax, Play... list goes on)
  • Songs (I learned the metric system through a song and remember it today)
  • Guest speakers
  • Movies (not too long, sleep is so nice at school)
  • Games

If you have any interactive tricks you have learned over the years, whether through teaching or being the student, please share them!

The key is for your students to have as much fun learning as you are teaching, and vice versa!


Note on Field Work: I understand that this may not work for every classroom. Sometimes there are limitations that the school gives and field work is also more age specific. It is harder to keep the attention and safety of younger children in check but using the outdoors and outside school tools for teaching are some of the best, most interactive forms of learning.

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