Why Take a Field Trip to a Bookstore?
My purpose is to build a sense of community between students centered on reading by creating a fun shared experience. We will walk to a local bookstore and students will learn to listen and follow directions to stay safe, act appropriately in a public place, see all the great books that are available to stimulate interest in reading.
The very first thing I did was call the book store and ask permission to bring my class of 28 4th and 5th graders to visit the children's section. Talking to the staff at the bookstore is important because it builds rapport and sets you up for success. Next, to let the school and parents know about our proposed field trip, I photocopied the walking field trip permission slip and our school's specific field trip form. I sent both of these home with the students 3-4 days before our trip. I labeled a folder "permission slips" and taped a class list to the front of the folder. This helps with management. In the morning when I check homework I also collect any returned permission slips and check the students' names off on the class list. It is also helpful to print out a class list with parent phone numbers in case you need to call a parent on the day of the field trip and get a verbal permission. On the day of the field trip, I tell those couple of students who have forgotten I will call home one time. But in the future I let them know if they do not bring back their permission slip they will have to stay at school in another classroom while we are gone.
My rationale for this "one time only grace policy" is usually the student who forgets it the kind of student who will especially benefit from a field trip. I want to give them a second chance. In my experience this works and the student sees that you are a fair, caring teacher. If you give them one warning and allow them to go they will be sure and bring their permission slip the next time. They understand you are teaching them to be responsible. This of course is up to you and your comfort level with a verbal permission. Usually the student who forgets is a student who you have already talked with the parent on the phone or met in person.
My student teacher and I both brought a clipboard to write down titles that the students found that they wanted to read.
Before leaving for the field trip to Barnes and Nobles, I sat the students on the rug and told them why we are going to take a field trip to B & N. "We are going on a field trip to build our classroom community and have a fun shared experience that will help us learn about lots a great books that are available for us to read. Does this sound like fun? Yes, I think so ,too. But to make sure it is fun and safe for everyone you need to follow some important rules."
I discussed appropriate behavior at the bookstore. I led a discussion about how to act in public and the importance of showing respect to adults, each other, and property. I also role played with them about how I would talk with them. First I acted like a loud disrespectful teacher and kind of barked orders and then I show them how I would get their attention by quietly saying students please gather around. We practiced this so that once we were there, I would be able to get them to quickly and quietly huddle up for instructions.
Our school is very close to a small shopping center, less than a 10 minute walk. I had the students walk with a partner in an array of 2 by 14. When we were about there, I stopped the group and reminded them that it is very important not to take anything without paying for it. Just to make sure that it is not O.K. to to that.
Once we got there, I waited for all students to enter the vestibule. Then we entered quietly as a group. We headed straight to the children's section.
Once we were actually in the store, the trip became magical. The students immediately began to explore the shelves and examine books. Soon they were coming up to me and showing me books and telling me that it was part of a series. I quickly started jotting down the titles on my clipboard and responding with enthusiasm to their joy of finding so many good books that they wanted to read.
This part of the lesson continued for about ten minutes. The students were very well behaved and handled the books carefully and put them back where they belonged once they were finished looking at them. There was a small area with several parents with preschoolers and the students were very careful not to disturb them.
After about 10 minutes I asked the students to gather in the read-aloud area. Kids sat down many with books in hand. Right at that point, it was an amazing opportunity to share a book with them. I shared Go Dog Go. I showed students how much a young child could learn by reading this book. I did an impromptu "Best Sellers" book talk. My emergent readers and second language learners seemed to really get the idea that we learn from books because of the simplicity of this book and because of the way I shared it with them.
Of course the enthusiasm for the books they had found was still very high- so I asked for volunteers to do a "Best Sellers" book talk, too. The hands flew up in the air.
I had three students share their book to our gathering in the reading area. Please see pictures and video clip. Then I released them for another 10 minutes of "shopping" of ideas of books they would love to read.
After we had gathered more titles on our clip board, we had another gathering in the read aloud area. Several more students shared the titles they were excited about. As I called on students I was careful to make sure many different genres were being highlighted. This helped keep all engaged and honor the students different preferences.
After this 2nd round of book talks, (students showed the titled and read the blurb, and said why they liked it), I prepared the students for our walk back to the school. During this 2nd round, the student teacher took the 4-5 students who had brought money to the counter in the front of the store to purchase their books. We met back at the front of the store for our walk back to school in time for lunch.
Next time, I would invite families to join us on our field trip. Involving the families in this activity would have strengthened our home to school connection.