By Kyle Palmer
Field trips have always been a staple – some might say the best part of — school. But those trips are typically special occasions and happen only a few times a year, if budgets and schedules allow for them.
At the Urban School, an independent high school in San Francisco, off-site learning is going to be a core part of a few of the classes next year. For students who take statistics and elections the classes will incorporate a chunk of time spent at companies and organizations that are relevant to the class topic.
For example, in the statistics class, Urban School staff is looking to partner with companies and organizations that have data they’d be willing to open up to classes to analyze. For the elections class, students would ideally work in local field offices.
“With technology, we start with ‘yes’ and then put boundaries on it, instead of starting with ‘no’ and having censorship,”
Time spent in the field would be part of a broader, comprehensive curriculum that includes time spent in class, project work with other schools – perhaps even in other cities and countries that will eventually become part of a larger network, guest lectures and speakers, group work, and online work done at home.
Taken all together, it’s a combination of “flipped,” “blended,” “experiential,” “authentic,” and some of the other buzz words we hear in education circles. This experiment for Urban is what some educators envision would exemplify the future school day: learning that happens outside of fixed boundaries, in fluid environments, applying real-world applications to concepts and theories.
“Imagine a kid in a math class working on a project,” said David Bill, the Director of Educational Technology. “Several times a week, they don’t have to be in class, but they can go out and work with a company to get data sets for a unit. It’s a more real-world experience.”
IN THE DNA
This kind of experimentation is not unusual for a school like Urban, which has long had a forward- Continue reading