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Potential field trip venues include:
Having planned activities is essential to the success of your field trip, and the type of activities you choose will depend on the venue and the current area of study. Field trips to law schools or law firms provide a blank canvas for activities and special care should go into selecting engaging, educational activities, whereas a field trip to a courthouse or jail might follow a more prescribed agenda.
The field trip should be an enjoyable experience for everyone involved. Activities that include simulation and role-play allow for learning while having a good time. Include a social lunch time where students and adults can interact and learn more about each other. Keep the atmosphere upbeat throughout the day and everyone will have a better experience.
When planning activities for your field trip, be sure that they
At a field trip, each student activity should be no more than 60–80 minutes in length and give students the opportunity to practice important skills and learn legal content. Since these activities all involve the students doing things, they’re more likely to remain engaged and active than by listening to others talk.
Some great hour-long activities are:
Work with classroom teachers to identify potential scheduling conflicts like school vacations, activities, and statewide tests. Get the principal or administration involved in scheduling the trip and it is less likely to get canceled or rescheduled later on. Schools will need several weeks’ lead time to successfully plan for a field trip.
Availability and timing of field trip buses depends on the school district. Ask your cooperating teachers whether buses are available and if there are time constraints on their use. If school district buses are unavailable or impractical, consider hiring a school or charter bus to bring the students. Charter buses can be quite expensive, though, so the best option is to structure your day so that it fits the school bus schedule. A good relationship with the school principal may help you secure school-funded field trip buses.
Policies vary by school district. If you’re inviting counselors or administration, they can fill the required chaperone slots. If it will be difficult for the school to release the teacher, offer to pay for a substitute for the day (typically around $120).
In most cases, permission slips will be handled by the school, as they would for any other field trip. Be sure to check with the teacher on this point, and to find out whether the students need to sign a separate photo/media release. (Student Image Release Form).
You’ll want to plan on costs associated with any materials, transportation, possible substitute teacher reimbursement, and lunch for students and volunteers.
While a field trip at the law school is a great way to expose students to the campus and to higher education, don’t despair if you can’t reserve enough space at the law school. Ask a local law firm or other organization with appropriate facilities to donate space for the event. Put their name and logo on any press information or signs announcing the program.
Think about the ideal group size for the activities you have planned, for your space, and for the number of participating law students. If you have a large group attending, you’ll want to split the group up for some activities.
Have students fill out a Field Trip Student Reflection Form at the end of the day. Take the students’ comments seriously and adjust the program where necessary.
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