Weizmann School Reinvents the Bygone Field Trip with Weekly Experiential Learning Expeditions

Published : Monday, May 18, 2015 | 4:10 PM

Weizmann Students get hands-on learning about our judicial system at the Los Angeles Federal Court House

Weizmann Students (L-R) Nathan S. and Alec W. help clean up a local park as part of the school’s community service focus

In a recent article in the Atlantic entitled “why the Demise of Field Trips is Bad news” Emily Richmond bemoans the trend of schools across the country cutting field trips for lack of funds or instructional time. She shares a study by Jay Greene at the University of Arkansas that demonstrated “that field trips actually had a proven, tangible benefit to student learning.”

In the study, students were divided into two test groups. One attended a live theater performance, and the other read the texts or watched the film. Sure enough, the live theater students scored significantly higher on vocabulary and comprehension tests. Interestingly, that group “also scored higher on tests that measured their tolerance of diverse points of view and ability to detect emotions in other people” — demonstrating benefits well beyond traditional classroom learning.

Findings like these add welcome validation for our Middle School’s unique Weekly WEEL (Weizmann Expeditionary Experiential Learning) program. With WEEL Weizmann enriches and expands the school’s robust curriculum with travel to local museum exhibits, concerts, gardens, live theater, historical and cultural sites, and community service opportunities.

Weizmann students (L-R) Sarai G, Grace L. and Maya L. lend helping hands at a local food pantry

“At Weizmann, an important part of our mission is providing an integrated and enriched curriculum, and we know that the most memorable learning is active learning – where students are actively engaged in educational experiences and hands-on activities” says Head of School, Lisa Feldman. “We also believe in educating the whole student. Exposure to the vast array of Los Angeles’ local treasures improves their understanding of and interest in topics taught in our classrooms and stimulates their cultural awareness and intellectual curiosity well.”

Weizmann expeditions have included trips to the Getty Villa, Chinatown, a performance of Hal Holbrook as Mark Twain, a “sitzprobe” (sitting rehearsal) of Kiss Me, Kate at the Pasadena Playhouse, the Huntington Library, the Los Angeles County Art Museum, Caltech, the Norton Simon Art Museum, a Shakespeare play at the Kirk Douglas Theatre, El Pueblo and Olvera Street, the California Science Center, the Natural History Museum and a tour of at the Los Angeles County Courthouse with Judge Dean Pregerson.

As Pasadena’s only K-8 Jewish Community Day school, community involvement and tikkun olam (making the world

Weizmann Students bring the Jerusalem Day curriculum to life at the Dead Sea Scrolls Exhibit and the Jerusalem IMAX in 3D at the California Science Center

a better place) are also tentpoles of Weizmann’s mission. To that end, several of the schools WEEL activities have focused on community service and interfaith community building including visiting the aged, cleaning a local park and working at a local food pantry. The students also collaborated with their peers from New Horizon, a local Muslim school, on a mural painting project promoting STEM learning at a local public elementary school.

“All of this makes for meaningful learning – the kind that often stays with students for years” said Weizmann Middle School teacher, Jane Vandervelde. “I am so grateful to be part of a great teaching team and to be teaching in a school that empowers teachers to think outside the box — and classroom — on how to enrich our curriculum in ways that will make a real impact on these great kids.”

About Weizmann Day School

Established in 1983, Weizmann Day School is a non-profit, independent co-educational elementary and middle school offering outstanding academic education enriched by Judaic principles and values. Weizmann is committed to maintaining small class sizes with differentiated teaching strategies to fit individual students’ educational and social development. We believe academic achievement goes hand-in-hand with tikkun olam (making the world a better place). We welcome students and families from a wide variety of Jewish, interfaith and diverse backgrounds.

Weizmann is now accepting applications for grades K – 8. Schedule a tour at office@weizmann.net or get more information at www.weizmann.net.

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