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K.Guru Charan Kumar, IB ESS Teacher at Pathways World School, Aravali discusses the importance of taking his IB students on field trips that enhance the learning they do in the classroom. Over the past year, K. Guru has shared numerous adventures with the IB community and we asked him to reflect on why field experience is central to his teaching.
Field Trips – A unique approach to IB learning
April 30, 2014 in Diploma Programme (DP)
K.Guru Charan Kumar, IB ESS Teacher at Pathways World School, Aravali discusses the importance of taking his
IB students on field trips that enhance the learning they do in the classroom. Over the past year, K. Guru has
shared numerous adventures with the IB community and we asked him to reflect on why field experience is
central to his teaching.
Why do field trips play such an important role in Environmental Systems and Societies (ESS)?
I have been teaching IB ESS for the past six years and the curriculum gives students an opportunity to explore
the outer world. Field trips are one of the main things that differentiate ESS from other subjects in the IBDP
Field trips help students apply what they learn in class to the external world of biotic and abiotic factors. In class,
for example, students learn how to calculate the ‘Simpson’s Diversity Index.’ However, during a field trip students
can do the same calculation while they also investigate environmental factors that contribute to the high or low
index value. Students also complete their internal assessment lab reports based on the practical experiences they
gain during field trips.
What do you find most challenging as an IB teacher?
Every day presents a new challenge. The IB has taught me that life is an ongoing learning process. This is also
what motivated me to become an IB teacher. The IB ESS curriculum emphasizes the necessity of being up-to-
date with environmental current affairs, particularly as we complete the case studies in paper two. These
challenges encourage me to continue to research the subject extensively and seek out the best of resource
materials for my students.
As a teacher, it can also be hard to appreciate the unconventional skills that my students bring to the classroom. It
is often also challenging to channel their interests and skills toward the subject content. I use documentaries, field
trips and interactions as academic tools to raise the level of interest among my students.
What is the most difficult aspect of organizing a field trip?
Each and every field trip presents its own challenges. In general, background research requires a great deal of
time and effort. The logistics involved in organizing can also be hectic in addition to navigating the administrative
procedures found within any academic institution. I would like to thank Mr. Suprio Bhowmick, my IB Coordinator
and the Head of my department, who has guided me through all of these challenges and made many of these
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What advice would you offer to other teachers hoping to design a field trip or practical experience for
Here are a few things I have found helpful when organizing field trips:
Be sure to complete a background study on the field trip venue
A two or three day trip is ideal, but depends on you and your students
Prepare a small booklet, which contains all the necessary information about your field trip, including the
itinerary and the academic area under investigation for your trip. Instructions must be clear.
If you will be traveling with more than 10 students, divide them into various teams, assigning team leaders for
Make sure that all your students are well versed in the ESS IA criteria
And lastly, enjoy the trip!
In addition, you can explore the web sites we created to highlight individual trips:
On the Blue Mountain Trail-Trip to the Nilgiri
Blog Link- http://nilgirisonthebluemountaintrail.tumblr.com/
You Tube Link- http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vTdJ5nfRdpg
Purvanchal Trip-Trip to the Assam & Meghalaya,North-East India
Blog Link- http://purvanchal2012.tumblr.com/
You Tube Link- http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KJ20tzOxJ4k
Maha Kumbh Mela 2013
Blog Link- http://mahakumbh2013.tumblr.com/
You Tube Link- http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3Fg2PV-k1r0
For more information, please visit K. Guru’s Website
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