Travelling creates stronger teachers, and in turn stronger students. Studies continuously show how travel improves academic performance, and there are learning opportunities for students before, during, and after you return from your tour. For teachers, travel is professional development at the highest level. Travel brings lesson plans to life for classrooms, and the benefits are shared by the entire school community.
Learning about your destination
Before you travel, there are endless academic opportunities available for students to explore their destination. From key moments in history, to the music that found its beat there, each destination holds a vault of information. Humanities classrooms can explore the literature, sociology, and language of a destination. Science classrooms study weather patterns, with each student making their prediction of what the weather on tour will be like. Use your tour as the setting for your next great lesson.
Developing research skills
Research skills have become entirely digital for many of our students. Take the learning offline and have students prepare questions for your local guides before you travel. Your students will be collecting primary sources that will reinforce their research. Take it to the next level and have students interview a local while on-tour. Students will understand the value of “authentic resources” and how the secondary sources taken off the internet don’t always tell the full story. What will students research? Use the itinerary to create a list of research topics, or have your students strengthen their intellectual curiosity skills by creating their own thesis statement.
Strong writing takes practice
Writing by hand may seem tedious to some, but the slow process gives your brain time to process the information. Have your students write each day to recount the experience by hand. Each student will create a narrative that makes sense to them, instead of the verbatim note-taking habits they sometimes fall into. In doing so, you will be helping students increase both reading comprehension and literacy as the brain must actively engage with what they are writing. These small snapshots of their experience can roll into a longer writing assignment after their tour in the form of a short story, or simply will become your students most valued souvenir.
Civics in the digital age
Our students seem to know their way around a phone or a computer better than we do. Let them use those skills for good. By capturing video and photographs, students can bring their experience home and educate their peers and community. You can bring the Daintree Discovery Centre back to the classroom with student curated content. Give students a specific topic to capture, or collectively get behind a specific cause. Deepen the learning experience by limiting the time students have to capture this content at each destination. This keeps them off their phones the entire time, while still giving them space for at least one good selfie.
Lesson plans come to life
When teachers travel, it shows up in their lesson plans. The amount of information available can seem overwhelming at times, but allowing educators the time and opportunity to explore their passions further can only heighten the learning that takes place when they return. Teachers capture the information shared on tour in a number of ways, and use the experiences to create context for their instruction. By sharing experiences with students, you open the world to the entire classroom. Students may be unaware of how diverse and information-rich the world is, and first-hand experiences help broaden that perception. Primary sources, whether in the form of photos or video, motivate students to collect their own meaningful sources and seek out travel experiences of their own.
Regardless of what grade level or subject area you teach, your tour and classroom instruction can work hand in hand. You will be creating a unique learning experience for all your students; one that will stay with them for life.
This article has been written for WorldStrides by Walter Doyle, English teacher and co-founder of Kids N Culture, an academic enrichment program designed for high school students.
If broadening your students educational experience through travel sounds like something you’re interested in, contact our team of experts for a non-obligatory chat!