Last month, all of my grade four classes went on a field trip to Roy Thompson Hall to see the Toronto Symphony Orchestra play their annual concert for students. I love going on this field trip. For most of my students, this is the first time that they have ever seen an orchestra live and for many of them it is a rare occasion that they visit downtown Toronto. They ooohhhed and aaahhhhed as we passed by the CN tower and marveled over the fancy seats at Roy Thompson Hall.
Before, during and after the field trip there were many details to organize to ensure a safe, fun learning experience for everyone involved.
Before the Trip
Logistical Planning (A couple of months before the trip)
- My first stop before planning the field trip was to ask my administrator for permission to go. I was asked to fill out some forms with information about costing, busing requirements and date of attendance. After my administrator gave the green light to plan, I made contact with the coordinator for student field trips and decided on a date.
- (Note: In my very first year of teaching I inadvertently booked my school on a field trip. I was calling two different locations and trying to enquire about dates for both. I had not booked or signed any contracts with either place but one of the locations turned around and sent me a bill for around $500 dollars for not showing up to the field trip day that we had spoken about on the phone months before. Through lengthy discussions with the location the situation was resolved. So learn from my errors and be VERY explicit when discussing dates with potential locations.)
- After the date was selected and my administration approved the forms I added the date to the master calendar of my school so that nothing else got booked on that day.
- Once I booked the trip, I approached my office staff for a cheque to pay the deposit.
- I followed my school’s protocol for ordering the buses and kept the confirmation in a safe place.
- The next step was to prepare a parent letter for field trip. (Here is the letter….Toronto Symphony letter 2016)
Logistics (The final couple of weeks leading up to the trip)
- I put a plan in place for students who did not be attend the field trip. For my school, this was all the grade 3 and 5 students in split classes. The teacher of the grade 4/5 class stayed back and taught all the grade 3 and 5 students during the day.
- Also, I ensured that there was a plan in place for students with special needs. I was the extra support person for the class that required assistance. I stayed with a group of high need students the whole trip.
- I spent a lot of time preparing students for the assignment that they were required to complete post field trip.
- In class we reviewed expectations on a field trip. I was very explicit. We all did role plays of good audience behaviour at the symphony. What would audience behaviour look like at a symphony versus a rock concert. It was a lot of fun.
- With so many details to remember, I sent an e-mail to my administration and all the teachers attending the field trip one week before the trip to review all of the information required for a successful day. Hopefully this list will help remind you of a few items for the day.
Here are some final pieces of information/reminders about our trip on Thursday and a schedule of the day.
- Our office staff has provided me with a master list of all emergency contacts for every student in grade four.
- Just a reminder that all grade four students will be having pizza day this Wednesday not Thursday.
- Remind your students to eat a big breakfast on Thursday. Lunch will be slightly later than normal on Thursday so remind them to fuel up before we leave. I have told your students not to bring their backpacks or lunch bags with them on the trip as their will be no space for them. However, I have told them a small purse or a small string bag would be fine.
- Remind students that there are no devices on this trip and students do not need to bring money.
- Remind students that there will be time to visit the bathroom before the concert and after the concert at Roy Thompson Hall. Please encourage them to use the bathrooms at those times so that they are making every effort to watch the one hour show.
- Please ensure that all students with medical needs bring their epi pens and puffers on the field trip.
- My cell phone number is ———-.
- This year the organization of the TSO student concerts have changed slightly. “Ushers will meet you at the main doors of Roy Thomson Hall to guide you and your class to your assigned seats. Please note: there are no hard tickets for this concert; ushers will be working from a seating plan. I have the busing and seating information package and will be bringing an extra copy for both buses on Thursday.
- I have attached the schedule for all students not attending the trip.
- Finally, remind your students to look awesome on Thursday as we are having a fancy dress up contest!”
During the Field Trip
Before we left I handed in the attendance of students on the trip, the bus number and an emergency number to the office staff. I then helped students find their seats on the bus and at Roy Thompson Hall. I was very careful about who my students were sitting beside and worked hard to ensure that the students were making good choices all day long.
After the Trip
Follow up activities
Besides having an amazing, awesome fun day with the students, all five of my grade four classes had an assignment to complete in the last hour of school when we returned from the trip. Leading up to the trip, I spent a lot of time prepping the students for what they were going to hear and see at the symphony. We spent a lot of time analyzing pieces of classical music and using word banks that they would be using for this assignment. In addition to analyzing music, I also showed the students the actual assignment and wrote examples of a level 4, 3, 2 and 1 answer. Every student also received a paper with a word bank that I have from Musicplay’s Listening Resources and a list of the songs played by the orchestra.
Here are the Anchor charts for grade 4 assignment and Grade 4 symphony assignment for your use. Hope you and your students have an amazing, wonderful, excellent, awesome time on your next field trip!!!