This month we took thirty-seven eighth graders and five adults to Washington, DC for 5 days. We left our school in Phoenix at 3 AM on a Wednesday morning and returned at 11:30 PM on a Sunday night. I couldn’t even put all of the sites and memorials we visited in order without using the agenda. It was a very hectic, but very well organized trip.
I wanted to use social media to connect with parents and to let them know where we were and what we were doing during the trip. Below are my tips for anyone that is going on a field trip for an extended period of time.
1. Choose Your Purpose
What are you going to try and tweet or post out to parents or the community during your trip? With such a large group, getting a photo of most of our students at each stop along our trip wasn’t a feasible option. I wanted to make sure that parents knew where we were at and that we were safe. I posted a photo and the location of where we were at as soon as we arrived at a monument. Parents told me that this helped them feel better about the trip because they knew where their kids were at any given time. If time allowed, I took photos of students and posted them as well.
If it was a smaller group, I would have tried to take more photos of the students. Parents want to see photos of their own children smiling and having a good time. If you decide on trying to get photos of every student on the trip, you run the risk of missing someone and worrying parents.
2. Who will post?
Who will have access to the accounts that you are going to publish content? Is it one person on the trip or an entire group? With our group, I was the only one that had access to the accounts. I wanted to make sure that the posts were put up in a timely fashion and that the information wasn’t being repeated or told in more than one “voice”. I was also the person on the trip that was the most comfortable with the technology that we were using. It may have been better to have more than one person posting so that I could have enjoyed the monuments, but it really wasn’t that much time to take a photo and post it quickly at each place. I was taking photos already, so it wasn’t much more time to post them online from my phone.
3. Which service will you use?
Hopefully your school already has some social media accounts in place that you can use during your field trip. We have a Facebook Page and a Twitter account that we started using this school year. I wanted to use Facebook because most parents have a personal account and you can check in to places. Unfortunately, as a page you are not able to check in to specific places. Twitter does have the ability to geo-locate your tweets, so I used that instead. It would not put the monument name with the post, but it would put a marker on a map.
I also connected our Twitter account with our Facebook page (instructions here). This allowed any post on Twitter to be automatically put on the Facebook page. This made it easy for one person to post, and also gave access to all of the analytics and insights that Facebook offers for the amount of people that saw the post.
4. How will you share it with the people that should see it?
Making sure that you share the field trip posts with parents and community members before, during, and after the trip are important. We sent out an email to all of the parents with students going on the trip with links to both the Twitter and Facebook accounts. We also made sure to tell them that they do not need an account to be able to view the posts.
I also used a hashtag during the trip. This allowed me to easily find all of the Tweets that pertained to the trip. I also made a Storify of all of the Tweets and put them in chronological order so that parents, teachers, and community members could go back and look at the posts from the trip. Next year I may give the hashtag to students to use, but we did not do that this year.
Overall, the trip was great! Students acted appropriately and were able to see many monuments and museums in the Washington, DC area. The only time we had a problem was during our bus ride from the airport to dinner. A car that was parked on the street pulled out of their parking spot and grazed the side of our bus. There was quite a bit of damage to the other car, but our students didn’t even notice that it had happened until we stopped. I told students that if they were going to text or call their parents to lead off with telling them that no one was hurt or injured and to use the word “grazed” when describing the “accident”. Some decided to not even tell their parents at all because they didn’t want them to worry.
If you would like to see the Storify from our trip, check out this link: