Pilot Program: Teach, Learn and Be Engaged
Many areas of education, from museums to classrooms, are undergoing major, and sometimes, expensive, renovations and construction. Not everyone knows how to take part in the planning process or how to allocate funds wisely. Often, it takes professional expertise to help organize committees or panels, but with education budgets under increasing pressure, it’s even more important to have student input on projects.
Optimizing Your Field Trip Fund
For the last several years, MindShift has provided school and community leaders with a practice space and a library system of innovative digital tools that get students thinking about how the digital world can enhance all aspects of their education, from the classroom to the field trip.
What Does This Mean?
Using these resources lets students and teachers visualize what it will take to field trip nationally. The workshop also allows community leaders to show how they can tap into emerging technology to better reach out to a variety of audiences, from students to their neighbors and community members.
Best of all, it is a simple way to use technology to bring the classroom and community together.
The main online tool, “Prescription4Schools,” is an open source project by The Economist. It includes a simple tool called Poirot, an interactive accounting app, a video tool called Chart, and a geographic mapping tool called Campus.
“Prescription4Schools was developed at the Institute for a High Level of Quality in Education (HLE) as a way to communicate complicated subjects such as critical thinking, entrepreneurship, and organizational creativity with students, teachers, and parents,” explains Elizabeth King, a contributing author and member of the field trip planning team at the New Jersey Institute of Technology.
“The complex data and abstract business sciences are broken down into elementary, middle and high school field trip plotters, which track budget spending, costs, projects, student demographics, field trip scheduling, and the like. These simple chart, drill, and analysis features also help teachers track how these multiple data sets break down at every level, as well as learning about how to use these cost-benefit metrics to improve learning by all participants.”
The results are very interesting to observe, and teachers don’t have to decide when to update the map. For example, total trip costs are displayed monthly with the typical breakdown of annual, seasonally, and special occasion fees.
Pilots Use MindShift
Several educators are already starting to use these resources as pilot projects. Dawn Strickler-Salerno, of South Orange H.S., learned about these resources through the research team at the institute at the New Jersey Institute of Technology.
“When the program was developed, my business design teacher was teaching curriculum development at the institute and brought us one of the magazine’s magazine articles,” explains Strickler-Salerno. “It laid out how our students could ‘use the real world, not just books’ to explore travel and entrepreneurial endeavors. From that article, we received an invitation to participate in the field trip planning workshop at the institute.
“Initially, I didn’t think they would know my math skills needed to work with a basic budget for a field trip,” Strickler-Salerno continues. “But my parents took my brother and me to [the field trip selection board] one year and we asked questions. We learned our way through it. It really helped us get to know each other better, since we got to focus on the management aspects of trips rather than all the ‘mad science’ questions of science.”
Their participation has made a big difference, since they had the family history to help with the math issues.
“For example, we saw first-hand how what we purchase at the store affects our bottom line, so we could apply it to the scientific process. After that experience, we’ve always purchased things in a more calculated and sustainable way.”