Alexander Academy – Field Trips
Written by Alexander Academy in Blog on December 21, 2021
Q: What do you think about field trips?
Field trips are an excellent opportunity for students to engage in experiential learning. Sure, it is always fun to get the students out from behind their desks; but, getting them to apply the things they’ve been learning outside school provides a sense of context.
Taking their head knowledge and giving them the chance to test out what they have learned in the real world. And this is what ‘experiential’ learning is all about.
The trying of new things, understanding limitations, and giving students the chance to form their own opinions about the past, the present, and the future through the experience of being a part of a much wider world.
Field trips also provide students with the opportunity to partake in place-based learning and facilitate connections between students and the community wherein the school is situated.
Each field trip is a unique opportunity to forge or augment students’ connections to local businesses and organizations, thus making students feel connected to the local community. Locality and a focus on place are also key to bringing the First Peoples’ Principles of Learning into practice.
Learning, according to the First Peoples’ Principles, is relational, that is, it is “focused on connectedness, on reciprocal relationships, and a sense of place.”
Field trips contribute to building connections between students and the school community as well as foster a sense of place in students, as they force students to leave school grounds and interact with the community and place wherein the school is situated as well as the people who live and work in that community.
In photos: Stacey Franklin, Jinbai Zhou, Ryan Spencer (L-R) / Photos by Ruby Zhang
Q: What are some examples of field trips Alexander students have been on?
This semester started with a trip to Grouse Mountain on which students had the opportunity to experience the mountains and rainforest that surround Vancouver as well as learn about local Indigenous culture, specifically that of the Squamish, from a Squamish elder. On our trip, students learned about and viewed local wildlife and plants, including bears and owls and species of pine and other coniferous trees.
The fitness club also took two trips to Function Health Club, a local gym that focusses on CrossFit-style training. At Function Health Club the students learned proper form for various lifts and exercises and partook in CrossFit-style workouts led by a professional fitness instructor. For many students, this was their first introduction to this style of workout, and they had a blast.
As well, the grade 10 and 11 English classes recently went on a trip to the Vancouver Public Library. At the library, the students explored the Zine section, as well as the library catalogue system, and the young adult and children’s sections. For many students, this was their first-time visiting the public library, and quite a few were entranced by the selection of materials, particularly the library’s collections of small- and micro-press texts and non-English materials.
This semester has been the first in a long while where Alexander Academy has had the opportunity to get back out into the local community as well as the larger Metro Vancouver area. In the first week back from summer break, students headed off to Grouse Mountain where they had the chance to take part in a variety of activities.
As Ms. Franklin mentioned, the kids were very receptive to the indigenous elder who told the story of first contact between Europeans and the Coast Salish peoples from the perspective of the Squamish. A few weeks later Mr. Lappan and Ms. Franklin took their classes to the Komagata Maru memorial while tasking the kids with taking pictures of all of the historical Harborfront exhibits along the way.
Students learned about the long and storied history of Vancouver’s Waterfront as well as some of the historic tensions between settlers and the Indigenous peoples in the region.
Photos by Ruby Zhang
Q: How does the school’s location downtown help facilitate field trips and opportunities for experiential learning?
Alexander benefits from being one of those fortuitously placed places that just so happens to be ten minutes from pretty much everything. Waterfront Station is one block south of us, giving our students access to the Seabus, Skytrain, and the Westcoast express.
Also, we are only a few blocks away from the Vancouver Seaplane launch as well. So, whether it is by bipedal locomotion, bus, train, plain, or boat, Alexander’s Hastings campus is ideally situated to get students up from behind their desks and heading off on an adventure.
Alexander Academy is only a short walk from many of Vancouver’s museums, galleries, theatres, concert halls, and other cultural hubs. The Vancouver Art Gallery is only a ten-minute walk from the school and hosts a wide variety of art exhibits and events.
The school is also a ten-minute walk from the Vancouver Symphony Orchestra and the central branch of the Vancouver Public Library. For students and classes interested in Vancouver’s cultural history, we are also situated only ten minutes by foot from Chinatown, Dr. Sun Yat-Sen Classical Chinese Garden; and for those interested in sports, we are only a fifteen-minute walk away from BC Place.
In fact, Mr. Lappan’s human geography class recently went on two field trips exploring the downtown area of Vancouver and using geographic thinking concepts to analyse the city.
Photos by Stacey Franklin
Q: What’s next for field trips at Alexander?
At present things are on hold when it comes to fieldtrips outside of the Metro Vancouver area, but just prior to the extreme weather that we’ve been having, Alexander students were set to head to Victoria for a day spent exploring BC’s capital, which would have included the likes of Butchart Gardens, Fisherman’s Warf, the Royal Museum, and tea at the Empress Hotel.
In January, our grade 10’s will be headed to the HR McMillian Space Center to explore the cosmos. Students from my ADST Entrepreneurship & Marketing class will be looking for business opportunities in space. After the winter break, students will be lacing up their skates at Troute Lake Recreation center, where we will be spending an afternoon introducing young people from all around the world to one of Canada’s most well-known winter pass times.
And I hear there is another school-wide field trip to kick of the second semester on the horizon.
As you may already be aware, due to the recent flood, we had to reschedule our field trip to Victoria, the province’s capital; however, we are not letting that defeat us and are looking forward to, hopefully, visiting Victoria this spring.
We also recently had to reschedule our trip to the Space Centre, so we have that to look forward to in January. Though the current pandemic and new variants are the cause of much uncertainty, Alexander Academy is planning ahead, and we are looking forward to taking many local field trips in the upcoming term.
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