Low Cost Ideas to Help Improve Teacher-Led Trips
Let’s face it, if budget was no issue then every school group would have a facilitator with them but budgets are tight across the board. Education departments often rely on a small team and may not be able to be present at every session. Schools are increasingly looking for free or reduced cost trips due to budget cuts and fear of putting financial pressure on parents.
To help everyone concerned with this tricky problem I have put together a few ideas as to how to help the teacher-led trip go more smoothly.
1. Hold a Teacher Tea Party! This idea is from the Turner Contemporary in Margate (https://www.turnercontemporary.org/). As well as having an excellent and informative website this gallery hosts tea parties for teachers to visit and check out the most recent installations. This is a lovely and sociable way of dealing with a constantly changing exhibition. The time and cost behind creating paper based resources to support each set of works could weigh an education department down. The benefits that come with face to face communication and demonstration are almost endless. Teachers can leave the session with a clear idea as to the resources available and how they can use them.
2. Create routes around the venue focusing on developing a specific skill. If you have the resources available this can be turned into an illustrated downloadable pdf for everyone to use. In the British Museum (http://www.britishmuseum.org/) these packs are often available to teachers under themes such as ‘Romans’ or ‘Greeks’. There is space here to get creative and challenge visitors to look at exhibits through new eyes. ‘Colour Theory’, ‘Construction Techniques’, ‘Rebellion’ are all examples of themes that could work across different media or artefacts. For each artefact or group of artefacts you could include some suggested activities or discussion points.
a. Make up a conversation between to people in the painting.
b. Hot-Spotting – individual pupils imagine they are a key figure and the rest of the group gives them questions to answer.
c. Sketch a specific detail.
d. Analyse/Evaluate the impact this invention would have had on society/working class/individuals.
e. Spot the difference/similarities.
f. Write a poem/story.
g. For more ideas check out my blog (5 tips to engage students on a school trip)
3. Put any of the resources that you have in hard-copy into an easily accessible location on the internet. On a trip I had organised I found a teacher on the train showing his group the artefacts that they were going to keep their eyes out for when they got there. The group was more engaged because they had a good sense of what they were trying to find. The journey to the trip was also more engaging and informative which meant that the pupils were ready to learn as soon as they got there. The teachers also did not have to be weighed down by piles of booklets and photocopying.
4. Space and suggestions for consolidation or collaboration at the end of the trip. A space large enough for a class to sit together and also move around. As with 2 you could provide themes or discussion questions to get the groups started. Download my Challenge Measure using the link below to check the questions you are asking are challenging enough.
5. Create a Class Box – include resources that might make the session run more smoothly such as clipboards, paper and pens. You could also include artefacts, or copies, for the pupils to experience first-hand. Costumes could also make the session more engaging. Blackburn Museum and Art Gallery offer these on loan for schools to use back in the classroom too! (http://blackburnmuseum.org.uk/learning/loan-boxes/)
6. Join my free online museum educators' support group on Facebook. https://www.facebook.com/groups/ExceptionalMuseumEducatorsClub/. This is a supportive community where I offer support and ideas for educators on a budget.