Giving The Students Control

Today we went on our year-end trip to the African Lion Safari. One of the first questions that appears on a field trip form is what expectations will be met by this trip? Since field trips are supposed to be for educational purposes, I always try to have my students complete a follow-up activity after we come back from a trip. Usually the students write a journal entry or a blog post. Since our trip to the African Lion Safari was our final field trip for the year, and it was on a Friday too, I wasn’t sure what kind of follow-up activity to do, but I thought that I would come up with something on Monday.

Then today I was amazed! Just as we were boarding the bus this morning, one of my Grade 2 students said to me, “Miss Dunsiger, I’m so excited! I packed a notebook to bring with me on the trip. I’m going to write down everything that I learned today!” Wow! What a great idea! I figured that this student might record one or two points that he could share once we got back to school. On the bus ride home though, he showed me his notebook. He had 10 pages full of notes detailing what he learned today. I was amazed!

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Click on this photograph to take you to an online book of this student’s work. Please note that some pages may be difficult to read because of the glare.

I never asked any of my students to do this, but based on interest alone, this child created one of the best field trip activities ever! He made this day about learning, and it’s clear that he learned a lot. To me, this is a great example of why we have to give students control over their own learning, for often they will amaze us with what they can do.

On Monday, we’ll be reflecting on today’s trip. Thanks to this student, I’m not going to just give one follow-up activity, but instead I’m going to make some suggestions and see what the students do. I can’t wait to see what they share!


5 thoughts on “Giving The Students Control

  1. Amazing results. Isn’t it great, the buzz you get, when you see self directed learning. Imagine kids with an iPod in their pocket taking pics and adding audio on the go. The fact you didn’t instruct the students to take notes makes it a different ball game. Self directed learning is the most powerful of all learning. It’s my goal with students that they are self directed learners. Right from their first years at school.

    Imagine if you had directed them all to take notes on the excursion. Many would have shunned the idea. Thanks for the post love seeing examples of self directed learning.

    • Thanks Jenny! I love seeing self-directed learning too. I was thinking the same thing about the notes too. The funny thing is that my students really wanted to bring their Palm Treos or iPod Touches to take photographs, videos, and notes, but I thought that they might get lost or broken at the African Lion Safari. Now I wish that I did take them along. I wonder what other kinds of great learning would have been “recorded” today if we had these tools with us. I’ll have to remember this for another year!


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  3. Wow! I am very impressed with the results. I am educator in training and I can only imagine how excited you are about this opportunity for your students. Creating his own learning environment is very impressive. I really enjoyed your article and I also enjoyed reading his notes. Great job!

    I am sharing and commenting about it on my blog. I am taking a class at the University of South Alabama with Dr. Strange called EDM 310. We are learning to be technologically literate through these same ideas. If you have time, stop by sometimes and check out what we are learning in class. Here’s My Blog.

  4. Thanks for your comment! I was definitely excited about this opportunity for my students. Thanks for sharing your blog link too. I’ll definitely check it out.


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