Incursion So, you’re planning a trip to the museum or you’re having someone come to the school to talk about astronomy. How can you make the most of this experience for your students? You have been very busy organising, booking a bus and getting parent permission but don’t forget the most important thing. This is still a learning experience. It may not be what you or your students are accustomed to, but informal learning situations have real advantages when combined with regular teaching. And this is the key, this is not a replacement for your skills as a teacher but an exciting environment for students to experience and explore their knowledge. Here are a few hints on how to get the most out of an excursion or incursion.

1) Know why you are doing it – You should approach an excursion/incursion differently depending on why you are doing it. Is it to get them excited about a topic, as a follow-up on a unit or as a reward for a term/year well done?

2) Prepare – This is where the ‘knowing why you are doing it’ part comes into play. If it is an introduction to a topic, try to discuss students’ prior ideas about the subject, then after you can discuss what was the same or different to what they previously thought. If it is a follow-up, then perhaps give the students’ a opportunity to delve deeper into the subject by asking some directed questions that they can explore during the session. And if it is as a reward, let them know that so they can feel a sense of accomplishment. Make sure you speak to someone about what will be happening in the session so you know what to discuss with the students. Also, it will help you be sure you are well equipped for an incursion and/or your students’ have everything they may need for an excursion.

3) Keep them informed – Make sure you spend some time with the students before the excursion/incursion to let them know what will happen. It is nice to have a surprise but if there are too many surprises the students can often focus too much on the differences to their normal routine rather than on the experience. This also avoids 30 children asking you the same questions over and over throughout the day!

4) Follow-up – This is very important! Your students have had some great experiences and this is a wonderful opportunity to talk about them so students can learn from each others experiences and so you can help them realise the day to day importance of their studies.

5) Breathe – It will all be over soon but your students will be talking about it for weeks, months and hopefully years!