Integrating and Exploring: Using Field Trips and Guest Lecturers as the Foundation for Building Community and Shared Understanding
While a great deal of learning takes place inside the classroom or studio, when it comes to integrating lessons and building a common understanding of our curricular themes and concepts, we have found that our various field trips over the course of a year or years, are the perfect place to tie things, people, and ideas together. Field trips offer a chance for all of the teachers to be involved in planning lessons and activities for the day. When planning we all come to a greater understanding of what each one of us is doing in the classroom with our students. What have we covered? What ideas have the students brought up? How do we want to reinforce our vision and learning outcomes?
Over the years we have routinely made use of field trips to the various museums around San Francisco, including but not limited to the Legion of Honor, the deYoung Museum, San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, the Asian Art Musuem, the Walt Disney Family Musuem, and the Contemporary Jewish Museum. Additionally our cycle of field trips has included trips to the San Francisco Film Society’s LucasArts Series, Film Festivals and Showings as well as attending series of plays in the days or evenings through the San Francisco Playhouse and SF Mime Troupe. Several of these organizations have also helped to bring artists, directors, playwrights, special effects artists, and other media professionals directly into our classrooms and auditoriums for direct presentations and Q&A time.
Given the shifting nature of Museums, Film Festivals, and Arts Programming we do not always visit the same places at the same time each year. Some museums and portions of their collections have served us well as regular stopping points to visit in the year to establish curricular themes and approaches. Other times, special exhibits or visitors align very well with our overall goals and approach and are then folded into the planning for the year. Trips to the deYoung have allowed us to examine the history of the United States, the Americas, Africa, and Polynesia. The Legion of Honor offers us a place to explore archetypes among the art of the Renaissance and the emergence of Modernism. Our visits to SFMOMA over the years have allowed us to move beyond Modernisim into Contemporary art and see the challenges of new mediums, ideas, and abstract conceptual thinking. Our visits to places like the Asian Art Museum and the Contemporary Jewish Museum have offered us historical, political, and cultural journeys and insights that were both ancient and modern.
One consistent field trip we have been making for years is our Senior Trip to the Redwoods. It is often our final moment together as a group after years of working together with one another, and on the trip we attempt to bring closure to our time and thinking together. We quietly enter the woods for a period of reflection, drawing, and writing. Asking ourselves and the students to ponder and observe and think about their place in the world, and the value of observation and creativity. As they prepare to leave high school and move forward in their lives we hope they continue to find meaning and purpose in being young adults prepared to make a difference in the world as well as fulfill their personal dreams and goals.
It is this fluid nature of our lives and experiences that help shape our approach in the classroom that is a very process oriented model of learning.
This gallery of images is composed of moments from many of these field trips, speakers, and activities.