THIS BLOG WAS ORIGINALLY PUBLISHED IN AUGUST 2011, POSTS FROM THE FIRST 3 WEEKS WERE LOST AFTER THE BLOG WAS HACKED. POSTS FROM WEEK 4 ONWARD WERE RECOVERED AND ARE REPOSTED HERE IN THEIR ORIGINAL FORM....
The field trip - how it went
Below is the plan that was written up for the field trip. It describes step by step the way we organised things. Amazingly, we managed to stick to the timeframes proposed pretty well.
Time Activity frame
10am ‘Company’ has early morning tea Student Teachers arrive at HNS
Collect and box up equipment for field
10.30 Meet in L ynette’ s room
Introduction to format for trip Groupings formed - self-selected by interest
Move to front of school
student teachers as ‘taxi drivers’ 10.45 Gather at Balfour end of Hammond
Meet with Tim and Gerry
DLF: Stepping out of the company, imagine and place yourself as an existing user of the site. Spoken thoughts of what they think seeing company arrive...
11.00 Nominate safety warders - choose quiet children - give them flouro vests
Set time & place to reconvene (11.50) 11.10 Groups move off to their ‘test zone’ and
carry out tests / experiments 11.50 Reconvene.
Each group briefly summarize findings
12.00 Create new groups – mixing up the
numbers. Give 15 minutes to revisit the ‘test zones’ – each person shares back the findings from earlier group work.
Reform into research groups.
Hand out maps – Give 15 minutes. Each research group familiarizes themselves with their ‘design zone’ –
Key moments in my view were as follows:
Park in staff area
see equip lists
Remind – Tim and Gerry will be present.
Pack real and imagined equipment
Early arrivers – DFL: Frozen image of an imagined problem overcome by the company on the journey Silent. Individual (Purpose - settle students, invite reflection on multiple perspectives)
Flouro vests X6
Supervision and tasks as per attached
maps for zones X 6 . Cameras x 6 min
Back at the classroom, where I watched the 'company members' silently moving themselves into self selected groups for the testing. The list of task areas was shared with them and they were invited to select based on what sounded most interesting, but the problem of "what to do if groups get too big or too small" was left to them to solve.
This was done with absolutely no fuss, or even words. Impressive.
When we arrived at the site, many of the children introduced themselves and shook hands with the (real) council staff members who were going to work with us. Gerry and Tim were really great at offering real world experiences in soil testing and tree measuring. Perhaps even more importantly, they were capable of positioning the children as experienced experts... I heard them both using adult vocabulary and terminology. It makes the world of difference, I believe, for a child to be told "now this laser measure has a fairly complex operating system and to understand that I would need to forward you a copy of the manual, so for now perhaps I will set the co-ordinates for you" than to hear "this machine is too tricky for you kids, let me do it". Ka pai Tim and Gerry!
The groups elected a 'safety rep' (one of the children) who was given responsibility for briefing the team on safety implications to bear in mind. The safety rep was identified by a flouro jacket. Children appeared to take this task very seriously and the language register that was used was clearly elevated. I enjoyed the sense of trust and respect implied in this. I guess by leaving it to children to judge what was safe behaviour and manage themselves, we were telling them we thought they were capable of it. Management of the children was not an issue as there was a high level of engagement in the tasks. This is partly because the children had self selected their tasks, partly because they all had a wider purpose for undertaking the tasks. This was not a case of hearing teachers say 'We are learning to measure this site because it's useful to know about measurement and how to use click wheels' but rather, hearing the CHILDREN say 'we should probably measure the whole perimeter and then think about bits which are most suitable for the actual play area to go and focus on those'. The student teachers had planned tasks, but I also believe the children had a clear sense of what they wanted to know and why these activities were important to their wider objective of adventure playground design.
The drama for learning (DFL) in this example was minimal but quite important. Just briefly, on their way into the park, students carried out a conversation imagining an 'incident' they had overcome on the journey to the site - this was done to maintain awareness of the fictional expert frame they were operating in. Another DFL moment occurred when children were asked to put themselves in role as someone who uses the park every day. They took up a frozen shape showing what that person does to enjoy the site already (there were dog-walkers, frizbee players, tree climbers, river swimmers and so on). This task sowed the seed for a future tension.
For me, the highlight of the session was towards the end when the children feeding back to their peers as a representative of their research group. As every teacher knows, having to explain or teach another person is itself a really good way to consolidate the learning in one's own head. As Phil Race reminds us, it's also an excellent way to assess the learning that has happened. Assessment for learning within an authentic context using real world examples. Sounds good - no wonder it felt like a highlight!