Collaborative Field Trips Unite Future Teachers with Local Students

UNC Charlotte Cato College of Education building
Wednesday, March 21, 2018

“Field trip”: the two words alone are enough to propel a classroom of elementary students into a frenzy. The trick for teachers is directing that energy into a meaningful learning experience. This year, instructors from a local school have some help from faculty and students at the Cato College of Education.

In an effort to provide UNC Charlotte pre-service teachers with experiences working with K-5 students and allow those same students to learn from the rich environments outside their classrooms, education professors Amy Good and Brian Kissel have designed a series of joint field trip experiences.  The trips integrate social studies and language arts and help future teachers and young students understand connections between the two subject areas.

Earlier this year, undergraduate students welcomed local third graders for activities throughout the UNC Charlotte campus. A group of 50 students from Community School of Davidson learned the history of various buildings and features. The students took a walking tour of the McMillian greenhouse, botanical garden, Bonnie Cone Memorial, Atkins Library and studied the Cato Mural outside the Cato College of Education.  Back at classrooms inside the building, the preservice teachers and third graders wrote stories about the experience together.

“It gives our students opportunities to see the connections between social studies pedagogy and writing pedagogy, said Dr. Good. “It allows them to practice conferring with young writers and allows our students to see how children develop as writers and future citizens.” 

In the weeks leading up to the visit, the 26 participating UNC Charlotte students learned about narrative writing, literary elements, and young children’s writing development in their course: Language Arts for the Elementary School Learner.

The program is funded by a Chancellor’s Diversity Grant and was developed by Dr. Kissel and Dr. Good along with Dr. Erik Byker and Dr. Erin Miller. The quartet developed integrated language arts and social studies curricula  to support several daylong classroom experiences that show the connections between the two subject areas. 

In addition to the experience at UNC Charlotte, the yearlong program of events will include:

  • A field trip to the Levine Museum and informational text writing experience
  • A field trip to an Elementary School and a persuasive writing experience
  • A day-long writer’s workshop with a well-known author and poetry writing experiences

In one reflection a UNC Charlotte student wrote: “My experience with working with the children was a good one. I had one student who really loved writing and was pouring out ideas as we walked.  I had another student who talked about how he was terrible at writing and said he ‘couldn’t do it’ on several occasions. I got to experience both ends of the spectrum of student writing which gave me an idea of what to expect when I am a teacher.”

by: Wills Citty