The field trip pilots also allowed for iteration. The Intersections team was able to test the tools they were developing, find out what was and was not working, and redesign them accordingly.
So what did the Intersections team learn? First, students do not need more worksheets, and teachers do not need more printed museum guides. Instead, teachers need support in thinking through their goals for a field trip: What do they want students to do as a result of their museum experience? Once that is clear, teachers can prepare students for the visit.
The students also seemed to get more out of the trip with the help of the materials developed through the Intersections partnerships. They discovered areas of interest, drew or wrote about what they learned, and asked questions for further research when they returned to school. Students also took photos. Back at school, students created presentations, movies, blog posts, and other writing to share with their classmates, other students, their families, and the public. Teachers reported that students were quite engaged in these projects. And the movies and blog posts they created served as powerful evidence of all they had learned.
The team also learned the value of partnerships across institutions. Without such a meeting of the minds, they discovered, shared misconceptions would have led them right back to worksheets. Before the collaboration, the museum educators had assumed teachers wanted guides and worksheets for their students with standards highlighted for each exhibit. Teachers, meanwhile, had assumed museum educators wanted them to use guides.
The new approach allowed teachers and museum curators to explore content and curricular goals together. And, most importantly, it created space for the two groups to talk about how to best support students. Museum educators learned about the barriers teachers experience in scheduling and planning field trips and the misconceptions and lack of information that keep teachers and their students away from museums. In the end, both sides realized that less is more. Just because you can get to all the exhibits at two museums in one day doesn’t mean that you should.
This one-pager offers advice for preparing students for a successful field trip before, during, and after the event.