Monday, June 12, 2017

The Value of Field Trips (aka the 'real-world') in Education

I have been working on some ideas and plans for our science group for the next academic year.  Our kiddos want to touch on a wide variety of topics (genetics, engineering, chemistry, geology, ecology, biochemistry, and the list goes on and on) and I have all sorts of ideas on how to broach some of the topics.  I want to do some rockhounding, visit some mines, and hike glades and prairies.  And I have a list of museums to go to.  Just thinking about all the adventures to be had made me think about the value of field trips in education and how it looks for homeschoolers.  So I have decided to write a small series of entries about those very subjects.  I intend on starting with exploring the value of field trips in education then moving on to how it might look for homeschoolers, including how it has looked for our family.  Finally, I hope to compile and share a list of possible field trips, particularly in my state of Missouri.

Just the thought of field trips conjures up memories of my school years.  I can vividly recall the excitement of a field trip day and the intense anticipation that would mount as I would board the school bus.  Part of that excitement was surely due to the field trip breaking up the monotony of the routine of school but also because, it seemed to me, that we were being allowed to have a peek into the broader world, the world we would one day enter fully after graduating from school.  I loved field trips - the different sights, sounds, smells and experiences seemed to fill me up in a way that was not typical while at school.  After graduating and entering that broader world I didn't give much thought to field trips until my older children entered elementary school and I began chaperoning their field trips.  I loved these moments watching my kids actively interact with the world.  I intuitively understood that all of these interactions, including those provided at home, aided them in relating to the knowledge they were being to exposed to in school, in their texts, and more readily allowed them to make connections.  I believed in the value of field trips and didn't give it more thought until I began homeschooling.  Although I intuitively knew that they were valuable and that I definitely wanted to include them in our educational journey, I was now faced with the reality of logging hours and being able to defend to the state why I logged what I logged in the event of an audit.  So I did what would become one of my favorite exercises in my early years of homeschooling - I looked at it through the lens of the traditional school.  I asked, and then researched, what is the educational philosophy behind the use of field trips.

Apparently field trips, as we know them in modern education, were introduced in 1827 by George Shillibeer at a Quaker School in London.  A field trip is defined as any teaching and learning excursion that is outside of the regular classroom.  It is oftentimes more experiential than what takes place in the classroom.  It is used to facilitate the learning of abstract concepts and seems to increase interest and curiosity.  Field trips deepen knowledge.  The literature repeatedly states that field trips provide students with real-world learning.  A fairly recent study showed that field trips increased retention of knowledge, increased critical thinking and historical empathy and tolerance.  Another study suggested that field trips may improve test scores and yet another study, referenced in this article, suggested that youth who take field trips have better grades, higher graduation rates from high school and college, and a greater income.  This article also shares a quote from Margy Natalie, acting onsite learning manager at the Smithsonian National Air and Space Museum.  She states, "Field trips give students the opportunity to learn in a natural environment and experience things first-hand and from primary resources, rather than texts; real objects rather than photos."  This article states, "As teachers, a field trip is one of the best tools that we can use to provide every student with real-world experiences.  Whether that's a trip to the local grocery store, waterfront park, a library, a museum, a theater, a community garden or a restaurant, each experience that a student participates in contributes to their understanding of the world.  When students leave the classroom, they see the connections between what is happening at school and in the 'real-world'.  They begin to see that what they learn within the walls of the classroom can help them solve the problems they see in the world around them and can have a direct impact on who they become as people."

The research that the traditional schools draw upon clearly supports field trips, or exposure to the 'real-world', as a valuable part of education with many benefits.  That research supports what I intuitively knew many, many years ago.  Quite frankly, most of that research just supports common sense, doesn't it?  The affirming thing about this is that homeschoolers naturally and routinely have their children interacting with the 'real-world' and more readily have the ability to get out from behind the desk to go on field trips.  Now, with a firm understanding of the educational philosophy, and the accompanying research, behind field trips, I could defend my use of them if that ever became necessary.  Next, and what I will elucidate in the next installment, I had to determine what constituted a field trip for us as homeschoolers and how would I log them.

Saturday, June 10, 2017

Lifestyle of Learning 2017 Edition: Volume Twenty-One

June 4 - 10

Maceo went to a dance recital.
Maceo had The Addams Family rehearsal (18 1/2 hours).
The production of TheAddams Family opened and Maceo has performed it three times.
Bishop went skateboarding.
Bishop watched Viceland.
Maceo watched Brain Games.
Bishop attended a pottery workshop with presentations by an artist out of Texas  (8 1/2 hours).
Bishop attended a hand-building pottery camp. (23 1/2)
On Tuesday he returned to the studio for another 1 1/2 hours of work.
Maceo had a massage and chiropractics.
Maceo and Bishop each spent the night with a friend.
Bishop worked on his food truck menu.
Bishop made pot pies and philly cheesesteaks and cheesesteak nachos.

Tuesday, June 6, 2017

Setting Myself Up for Success

At the beginning of each new year it is customary for me to set myself some goals.  For the year 2017 I am purposing to try something new or make progress in the following areas:  skill development, culinary, household, art or craft, and memory preservation.
You can read about my successes (well, mostly) for each month at the following links:
Over one-third of the year has come and gone and, overall, I am satisfied.  I have completed most of my goals.  April was the first month in which I did not accomplish all the goals that I had set for myself.  I did not accomplish anything in the area of organization, preservation or presentation of family memories.  I want to avoid that this month so I want to think ahead, do a little planning to set myself up for success.
So, here is what I hope to accomplish in the month of June

I have many household related goals for this month.  I hope to continue to make progress on my flower beds.  I need to finish sorting the boy's rooms and prep the attic bedroom for Christian's return.  I will finish sorting the boys clothing and, most importantly, I will remediate the basement.

In the area of art I will be taking a bracelet making class and, also, I will be making a different sort of bracelet with some of Bishop's glass beads.

In regards to organizing, preserving and presenting family memories my intent is to hnag Maceo's show posters and to begin sorting through my photo files and playbills.

I guess my new skill will be learning how to do the mold remediation in the basement.  I have ordered the supplies and now I must get the job done.  I also want to figure out how to mend the gutters.

And finally for the fun stuff...  I want to give these recipes a shot:  Roasted Lavender Honey Chicken , Slow Cooker Tomato, Kale and Quinoa Soup,  and Garlic Cheddar Chive Scones.  I have lavender, thyme, chives, oregano, basil and kale growing in the garden that I can use in these recipes.

It should be a good month!

Steps Towards Financial Fitness for the Past Week or Two

May 25 - June 6

Thursday:  We managed to get a payment off to our benefit plan - not cheap but will help us prepare for the future.
Herb made more creme brulee with what was on hand.  It seems like such a fancy, exotic dish but is really quite simple and really quite inexpensive, particularly if eggs remain so cheap.
I wasn't feeling well so I spent the majority of the day in bed.  I guess that is one way to save money - sleeping not spending.

Friday:  I made more progress on the flower bed that I have been working on.  I bought two items for it - one plant and some edging that was on clearance for three dollars.  Everything else that was used in the bed was free.  The bricks were previously used in my yard and were found next to the railroad tracks.  I planted some daffodils, irises, and sedum that were transplanted from other beds.  I planted pansies that were gifted to me by the boys.
I went to a local flower garden to take some photos.  The beds had just been weeded and several small plants that were in the walkway were given to me.
I made a necklace using one of Bishop's glass beads.  I purchased all of the findings at Hobby Lobby where they were on sale for 50% off.
Now that we know how to make the pendant necklaces we intend on selling them.
My sister and niece had dinner at the Panera down the block from where I live.  They invited me to join them.  I didn't eat dinner with them but I did use my rewards to get a free cookie to munch on while we visited.
I did the grocery shopping.  I bought quite a bit of meat for under $2 per pound.  I divided up the ground beef and the pork roast into meal-sized portions and put it in the freezer.  I also put the leftover beef stew in the freezer.  There was enough for two more meals.  Herb had made some more chicken broth and I got it into the freezer as well.

Saturday:  I got Herb up and out of the house for a nice walk by a lake.  It was beautiful and Herb appreciated it but he is so worn out now.
Herb made a simple but delicious pasta for our meals.  He used basil from the backyard.
I went back to Hobby Lobby and purchased more jewelry findings at 50% off.  I made more necklaces, a bookmark, and am contemplating making a bracelet from Bishop's glass beads.  I envision some of them being given as gifts and many of them for him to sell at craft shows next to his pottery; I mean, apart from the ones I am keeping for myself, of course.
I cut some thyme and sage to begin drying them.
Bishop went with a friend to see the musical Beehive.  HIs ticket was free and the company was fantastic.
I got some irises planted in the new flowerbed just before it began raining.
I ordered photos of Bishop's pottery for his artist notebook.  I used a coupon for 25% off and activated the swagbucks shop and earn.
We picked up a couple of used clothing items at a consignment shop.  We used a 20% off coupon and received a $10 off coupon to use in June.

Sunday:  I had a very busy day today and only spent $30 on some groceries.  I needed some fresh fruit and such for tomorrow's Memorial Day feast.
Herb made a pesto using some of the basil that I have growing in the backyard.
I got a lot of work done in the yard and I do mean A LOT.
I made significant progress reading some materials that I think I will be using next year for science group.
 It was a great day!

Monday:  Maceo began his job today.  It will be tremendously helpful for him to have earned some spending money.
Bishop and I went to a cemetery today to put flowers on the graves of soldier's.  An inexpensive tradition.
We made ribs that I got for under $2 per pound.  We served it with potato salad, grilled brussel sprouts and grilled pineapple.  It was an inexpensive but very delicious meal.
I did some yard work, including transplanting some delphiniums and wild flowers from the backyard into the new bed in the front yard.
I worked swagbucks today.  I left the video's running while I was preparing our special meal.

Tuesday:  I made a trip to Hobby Lobby in preparation of the upcoming baby shower.  I bought a really cute sparkly pink wood letter, the letter S just for little Susie, for wrapping the baby's gift   It was on sale at 50% off.  I paid $2.50 for it.  Otherwise, I will be wrapping the package in brown kraft paper and add a tag that I made a year ago.
While at Hobby Lobby I used a 40% off coupon for pink candy melts to make strawberries with.
Bishop put in five hours at the pottery studio, very productive.
I used leftover chicken breasts to make quesadillas and just worked around the house.

The next week:  Maceo worked again a couple of times and received his first paycheck.  Bishop also did a little work for his pottery instructor and got paid a little bit.
The chiropractor had a great deal, 2 services for $80, so I got Maceo a massage and scheduled him a chiropractic adjustment.
While he was getting his massage I sat in the massage chair and got a free little massage for myself.  They also give out snacks so we had a little treat.
I transplanted some items from the backyard to the front.
I bought a couple of plants on clearance, including a rose bush for $7.  I had been eyeing some roses online that were on clearance but were still about $25.  I resisted the temptation and ended up scoring a better deal.  Yay!
I needed some clothing items and had coupons at Koh's so I made those purchases.  I could have scored some better deals if I had been diligent and determined.  I failed in that regard but scored some great items and did alright with the deals.
I sorted through my homeschool supplies and picked a bunch to sell.  Now I need to register for the homeschool used curriculum sale!