Hands-on learning enrichment: Top 10 facts about CCA field trips
CCA creates, schedules and plans about 12 social and educational field trips each month in our six regions throughout the state.
When I say “field trips,” what do you think of? Those childhood excursions that took you out of the classroom but didn’t have much to do with your lessons?
At Commonwealth Charter Academy, we’re on a mission to upend that old model, and there’s so much going on behind the scenes! I work with our six regional field trip coordinators to create, schedule and plan our fun, engaging field trips – about 12 per region each month that are either educational or purely social.
Take a few tips from our Top 10 facts about CCA field trips, and get involved!
1. Educational field trips line up with academics
So, your child was studying the planets, and there happened to be a field trip to a local planetarium that month. No, it wasn’t the stars aligning in cosmic coincidence. Our field trip coordinators strategize with teachers to create in-person learning experiences that align with academic standards. Trips even correspond with the arc of lesson plans so that learners might get an introduction at the beginning of the unit, reinforcement in the middle or hands-on application at the end.
2. New experiences every year
Naturally, we love to schedule such family favorites as the annual visit to the Pennsylvania Renaissance Faire, but we also freshen up each year’s calendar. Our middle and high school STEM workshops are so successful that kindergarteners through fifth-graders now have the chance for hands-on, custom-designed STEM workshops. And we are very excited for a CCA first in May 2017 – our junior-senior proms. Our families said their learners were missing that iconic rite of passage, and we listened!
3. Now available: Grade-level trips for K-5
Until the 2015-16 school year, field trips were arranged only by grade groupings. They’re still available, but we wanted each grade to share unique memories and bonding experiences. Our grade-level trips now convene learners from across the state to meet their classmates and teachers.
4. Teachers are flesh-and-blood people
I know. It’s a shocker, but there are real people on the other end of that computer connection. Our K-5 teacher-student days let learners meet their teachers, socialize, have fun and engage in educational and team-building exercises.
5. The suggestion box is open
If you have an idea for a CCA field trip, we’re all ears! You know what suits the unique needs of the CCA community. One family recently told their regional coordinator about a beautiful horse farm, and now, students will get the chance to learn about caring for, training and riding horses.
6. Your business is our playground
Many CCA families own businesses and are so eager to help that they offer their own spaces for events, such as dances. We’re happy to coordinate!
7. Explore the Keystone State
Our field trips are organized by region and county, but CCA families can attend the field trips – age-appropriate for their learners – anywhere in the state. We’re lucky to be living in a state rich with opportunities, so when the timing is right, pack up the minivan and hit the road! And remember – families can attend an unlimited number of free field trips, but each learner can only attend one paid field trip a month.
8. Registration is easy – and we take PayPal
We let families know the dates when upcoming trips will be posted, so you’re not constantly checking message boards for updates. When the list is posted, just click on a field trip for details, including registration deadline. To register, send a webmail with family ID number and attendee names and grades to the coordinator, who provides a confirmation. Pay by sending a check, or save your time and postage by clicking on PayPal.
9. Field trips fit the family budget
It’s always nice to reward loyalty and recognize our hard-working families. That’s why CCA can help with the cost of field trips: Up to $20 per field trip for an enrolled student and learning coach/caretaker for families who have been with CCA for three or more years. For families in years one and two, it’s 50 percent, up to $20. Families eligible for free and reduced meals (as a measure of income) can work with the CCA federal programs manager for payments of 100 percent, up to $20.
10. Family Mentors are ready to help
We get it. Cyber learning requires a different level of commitment. Your Family Mentor can assist you through the field trip process. It’s about building those connections we value so highly, making sure that learners and families get the most out of these priceless days.
I don’t get to join every field trip, but I try to visit a different region each week. Often, I meet families who are not only new to CCA, but are attending their first field trips. Maybe they’re holding back at first, but soon, they’re making new friends and feeling like old hands at this.
We not only roll out the welcome mat, but also help families step onto it with confidence. You belong here. We enjoy seeing you on your first field trip and every one you can make after that one. The enchanted looks on the faces of our learners – your children – make it all worthwhile.
Jill Fraser is the Family Involvement Manager at Commonwealth Charter Academy.