By Amanda Rogers February 28th, 2014 3:30 PM
“School is so boring.”
“I don’t want to be here…”
“Why do we have to do this?”
As a teacher, I’m sure you’ve heard at least one of these three comments from your time in teaching. If you are anything like me, those comments make your emotions bristle and your blood boil. You respond inside your head, “School isn’t boring! Of course you have to be here! And WHY are you learning this?” Hum, um, wait. That is actually a very good question.
Making sure that your students understand the “why” of what you teach is an essential part of learning. I have found that the best way to guide my students into understanding the “why” of what we are learning is by taking them on field trips. Thankfully, the list of resources that Washington DC has to offer (and most of them free of charge!) is staggering.
One of my favorite places to take my students is The Corcoran Gallery of Art. For my most recent trip, I worked with a docent at the museum to choose a tour that would align with what my students were learning in class. We settled on the “Five Senses” tour, which lets students look at and discuss art using their five senses. The tour started at a series of stations, one of which was in front of a gallery painting. At the station, students had the opportunity to touch and observe brushes, paints, and all of the materials used in making the piece. In addition to these art-related themes, the docent and I planned our own special twist to the content of the tour. We added information and interactions with a tour guide that centered on animal habitats, supporting what students were already learning about in their general education classes.
To say that the kids enjoyed the experience was an understatement. The students loved every minute of it, even the bus ride! I really enjoy watching my students in a setting outside of their regular school day, and this trip was no exception. I watched the way the students moved through the museum, soaking in all of the new sights and stimuli. I also noticed the way they interacted with the adult tour guide, expressing their interest in the art. I was proud of their questions, their ability to be independent, and their ability to connect the things we were learning inside our classroom walls to something in the real world.
This is just one example of the many, many field trips available to students and teachers in Washington D.C. As I mentioned before, many of the museums in Washington D.C. are free of charge. If you plan ahead, lots of them also offer complimentary bussing for your students. I encourage all teachers to plan a field trip. It exposes your students to things they might never see or experience. It connects your students to the world, and helps your students make connections to understand the “why” of what they are learning.
Please feel free to visit my blog for a recap of our trip to the Corcoran Museum.
Follow me on Twitter: @necityart
Plan your own field trips in Washington D.C here.
Amanda Rogers teaches visual arts at Langley Elementary School in Washington, D.C.