Preparing Students: Prior to our trip I discussed that during this field, we would learn a new way of learning in a museum. I explained that they would need their iPad fuly charged, a clipboard and pencils. I told them that new learning about fossils and the changing Earth will be in recorded in their notes so they could create a time line on Haiku Deck. This will show their understanding. I explained that they would find out what groups they would be in after the orientation at the museum. We boarded the bus and headed to Kenosha Public Museum.
I provided each chaperone with a schedule of the morning/afternoon expectations that included the lesson, a scavenger hunt and time to spend in the Field Station. The scavenger hunt had been prepared by visiting the museum and designing it directly from the exhibits. This is a very worthwhile component to add into this learning experience, but will take extra time and effort on the part of the teacher outside of school. It has to be designed to fit the museum you would be visiting. The Kenosha Public Museum contains natural history on the first floor and art exhibits on the second floor with local artists.
I suggest a scavenger hunt that includes finding displays using photographs, wording that helps them to read and find facts and places to sketch.Build in time in your schedule to explore the museum first prior to the scavenger hunt to help them become familiar with the museum.
Preparing Parent Chaperones: Prior to the trip, I talked with parents about what was expected. I thanked them for being willing to help in facilitate the learning process and explained that this field trip would be challenging. I explained to them that the rigor was expected to help master standards both in science and Common Core. It indeed is a commitment to the group and a different experience for them. I reassured them that our team of teachers would be facilitating and answering questions. There would be times when they would struggle to find things and that they needed to ask.
With demands of NGSS & CCSS this lesson makes the most of a museum experience. In order for this experience to be its best, a parent chaperone was assigned to no more than 6 students. The teachers would be the facilitators and support throughout the field trip of those groups, keeping them on task. Our entire class was made up of 12 groups.
I prepared packets for each parent with their rotated schedules, materials and a list of the student names right on the packet. I also included a museum map. After the orientation by the museum staff, students got together with their parent chaperone. They were told to follow their schedules that rotated activities.
In each packet was a scavenger hunt paper and their You Are A Time Traveler sheet. Parent chaperones passed them out and students clipped them to their clipboards. I met them in the area where the Time Traveler activity began.
As they entered, I taught and gave examples of using strategies like circular reading to help them understand how to easily glean information. I told them to follow their eye and respond to what attracts them and then read around the picture, display or diorama. Otherwise the information would be too overwhelming.They used their iPads to take a photo of each period and the objects, fossils and displays around them. I encouraged them to take notes on their choice of information that attracted their eye with inclusion of facts they never knew before. I told them to take notes right on their iPad using their note taking app. Or, they could write their notes on the back of their You Are A Time Traveler sheet. I reminded them to look up, down and all around as they traveled through time.
This exhibit allowed them to feel as if they really were traveling forward in time from the beginning. Students were engaged, busy and collaborating. Parents were helping them read, take notes and choose when to take photos. Each group went through the exhibit, rotating from the scavenger hunt and from the field station. Where have all the fossils gone? Students read, took their time and worked hard to glean as much information about the changing Earth and gathering information for the time line. I coached my students and asked questions to help them think about what they thought was important and to help them understand how the land changed and learn more about how we know this occurred. They continued on through the Ice Age and read about glaciers covering Wisconsin. They began to see the mammoths ahead that would be the end of their time line and their note taking.
After we returned, students were assigned their Haiku Deck. I explained that they needed to go home and look at their photos. They needed to choose as many as they could that would tell the story of the beginning of the Silurian Period to the Ice Age. They would need to follow their Time Traveler Time Line Rubric in order to understand what I expected for excellence in their final assignment. We went over the rubric together. I would allow time in class to help them get started with their Haiku Deck presentation. But, they needed to go home and really review their notes and photos.