I feel like I have been going nonstop these last couple of weeks—between wrapping up the state audit, all of my new responsibilities as union rep, and keeping my students busy and interested in learning this last month or so of school. To break up the weeks my students and I have gone on three fieldtrips in the last two weeks, and we still have one more coming up this week!
While taking a group of students with special needs on a field trip can be somewhat hectic, I know it is worthwhile because they get so much out of it. My students rarely leave the neighborhood that they live in, so any time they leave it’s like leaving the country for them.
The first field trip I planned was for all of the students that come to my resource room. Throughout the school year we have been writing letters to our “pen pals” in the 7th and 8th grade Cognitive Impaired (CI) classroom. We have also worked with the 3th and 4th grade CI on a fun math/literacy project. Additionally, we have cheered on all of the students in the CI classrooms as they practiced for the Special Olympics.
So when I was approached by the service learning coordinator to complete a service learning project, I knew that I wanted to take my students to be part of the cheering section at the opening ceremonies of the Special Olympics. We made huge cards for the CI classrooms signed by all 200 4th graders, and hand delivered them with high five decorated pencils for each athlete. We also spent a whole day making and coloring signs to take with us.
My students were so excited to go to the opening ceremonies and to cheer on our school. The opening ceremonies are held at Soldier Field. My students were also excited to be at the same place that the Chicago Bears play football! We watched and waited as all the teams came out. When it was finally time for our school to enter the field, we screamed, held our signs high, and waved our pom-poms. The athletes in return got excited when they saw us cheering for them! We were one of the only schools that brought their own cheering section; it really makes the athletes excited to know that we were there just to cheer for them. After all the schools were introduced, we listened to some speeches, a barbershop quartet, and a marching band; then came the time for the lighting of the torch. My students were amazed by how big the flame got.
The next fieldtrip that I planned was for the class that I co-teach in every day; we also included the 5th and 6th grade CI classroom. Since I am co-teaching science and social studies every day we went to a nature center. We were able to tie in both social studies and science in the interactive nature center. The students loved seeing all of the animals, and various displays about early settlers in Illinois. Students were shocked by the size of the original schoolhouse on site; they couldn’t believe that that is all the students that attended that building every day.
We also enjoyed a nice hike on their 1 2/3 mile trail. The students were pretty tired by the end, but for a lot of them it was their first time hiking! We wrapped up our visit to the nature center with a picnic outside. At first, many of the students were hesitant to eat outside on the ground, but they ended up enjoying the shade and getting a chance to relax after such a busy day.
I want to thank Richard for inspiring me to plan these fun fieldtrips in his February blog entry: Life Outside of Paperwork. My students and I really enjoyed our time learning outside of the classroom!