Sneak peek: How to plan a successful class field trip to a restaurant or Mexican market for heritage Spanish class. I’ve even included free links for templates you can use!
Are you interested in taking a field trip with your Heritage Spanish class? I just took my Heritage Spanish class on a field trip and it ended up being a total win. Here’s hoping my success can help inspire your success as well!
For years I thought it would be so fun to take students to El Burrito Mercado, a local iconic family-owned market and restaurant. My family and I love this place for its vibrant, kid-friendly atmosphere, sweet smells wafting out of the bakery, and delicious breakfasts. Every time I go, I think about how perfect it would be for a class field trip. Sadly, years passed and I still hadn’t gotten around to doing this field trip because, let’s face it, planning a field trip is a lot of work.
Well, this year I finally did it, friends! I hope the ideas I share here about the experience can help you plan a local trip you and your students will never forget. I think our field trip is going to be a core high school memory for my students. For many of them, this was their first high school field trip they had gone on. I was shocked to learn this when talking to a 12th-grade student on the trip, but it makes sense in hindsight, that due to COVID there haven’t been as many field trip opportunities for students in general.
Connect to Learning
The overall goal of the field trip was to enjoy a meal at the restaurant, do a scavenger hunt of the market and the murals in the neighborhood, and just have fun together.
This year in heritage class we learned about culture through food in our family recipe project: Proyecto de la comida, and later, from a unit: Cesár Chávez and Dolores Huerta. So, a field trip such as this was the perfect way to connect back to this learning. Near the market is a big mural of César Chávez, and the market itself is also located on Cesár Chávez Street. The “Westside,” as it is affectionately called is home to many Latino businesses and a wide array of cultural murals. Personally, I’ve always strongly felt that the best way to tie into an educational topic is to experience it for yourself! So, exploring the market followed by tacos and burritos at the restaurant was a great way to connect to our food unit, and oh so delicious. Tacos de asada for me! 🙂
Funds are an essential part of planning a field trip and it’s where you should begin. Without at least some funding, the rest won’t matter. To start, I submitted a funding request to our school’s Scholarship Foundation. I described the connection this field trip would make in terms of contributing to our learning and how this field trip provides our Latino students a chance to connect to local cultural landmarks. The Foundation only approved paying for our bus to go there and come back. This meant I had to find other ways to fund the field trip.
The cost of the meal at the restaurant for each student was $12, so we decided that students would need to pay this fee. In a perfect world, it would be really cool to have school funding pay for all the food, so students didn’t need to pay anything. Unfortunately, I wasn’t able to find funds through our Equity Coordinator or anywhere else.
I did have some funds in our Spanish Activities account I had earned from doing a Food Truck Fundraiser the previous year. In a pinch, and when the funds are not coming together as one would hope, a food truck fundraiser can be a low-cost way to bring the fun and the field trip to the front doors of your school. Using the fundraiser money, I was able to cover the $50 service fee for the staff at the restaurant, and the meals for the chaperones, and then also offer a few students scholarships that couldn’t afford the $12 but wanted to go.
I found out my student’s ability to pay/desire to participate by having them fill out a Google Form questionnaire in order to express interest in the trip, and order food. On the form, I included a question that said “I would like to attend but cannot afford the $12. If this is true for you, please list your name below.”
If you don’t have any funds for scholarships, you could raise the price for students to a rounded number and then use the extra they pay for scholarships. For example, I could have raised the price to $15/meal and used the difference to cover some students that wanted to go but couldn’t pay. And if you don’t have a Scholarship Foundation in your district you might have to raise the price for students even more in order to cover all the costs. Small increases like this can be a deterrent, but I felt it was worth considering if doing so creates a more equitable opportunity to attend for all students.
With the bus covered, and the meals paid for by students, the only other funds needed were to have a building sub for the students that stayed behind and to cover my other classes. Our school secretary is amazing and she found a way to cover that cost for us.
Join forces with ELL class
Okay, let’s be real. Planning a field trip is a TON of work. One of the best things I did was pair up with the ELL class teacher for this. Our ELL students are all Latino this year so it was a good fit to have them go with the heritage Spanish class on this cultural field trip. The extra teacher to help with all the planning and logistics was clutch. You will also need more chaperones anyways. We reached out to parents to see if anyone wanted to attend with us and we had two parents take us up on the offer. We still needed one more adult chaperone, so we asked the school’s Multicultural Liaison to ride along.
In order to have a successful field trip, I highly suggest limiting who can attend the event. This year I have a group of students that consistently cause trouble in class. Their poor behavior can be a real learning block for my class at times, and with how much is going into setting up a field trip, I wanted to ensure that those attending the class outing would be those who encourage growth and learning. To be honest, their behavior completely tanks the academic environment and it has been a real pain point all year. The students that are here to learn are constantly having to deal with these students sauntering in late, making noise during FVR, and the frequent and general disruptions to our learning environment.
I decided to require a C or higher in my class in order to be able to attend the field trip. I did this for the benefit of all my students. For the students that are consistently causing trouble and not turning in work, this served as an incentive to get their grade up in time for the field trip. For the students who already do their work, this served as a reward for them to be able to attend.
You win some and you lose some. I was hopeful that a fun trip looming in the future would greatly encourage my students to reign it in, but I’m sorry to say that none of my troublemakers were able to attend the field trip. I thought the incentive of the trip would be something that would motivate them to get their grade up, sadly it was not. There weren’t even that many assignments in the grade book because it was towards the beginning of the trimester, yet these students chose to not ponerse las pilas.
The positive, however, is that we had an incredibly well-behaved group go on the field trip and I was able to trust them with some extra freedom. They enjoyed being able to walk around the neighborhood during our free time for the scavenger hunt and everyone showed up at the bus when they were supposed to. We had no incidents or complaints about student behavior from the restaurant/market. This is really important and ensures an opportunity to plan a trip like this in the future.
On a side note, we had about 50 students attend the trip. A good amount of students chose not to go due to social anxiety, appointments, or various other reasons.
Planning and Logistics
There is a lot to keep in mind when planning a field trip.
Before you say anything to students about the trip:
- Decide where you will go
Reach out to the place to see if they can even accommodate a group of your class size
- What will the menu be?
- What will they charge?
- Can you all eat at once or will they eat in shifts? They may wish for you to attend at off-peak hours. We were able to reserve time with the restaurant from 10am-noon.
- See if you can get funding through your district
- Partner with another teacher (ELL class or other Spanish class)
- Figure out what time you will go
- Design your itinerary
- Will you need a sub that day?
- Remember to apply for the field trip if your school requires it
- Notify the Health Office once the field trip is approved
- Notify the Special Ed Department in the event of special needs
- How many chaperones will you need?
- Find your school’s field trip checklist/ protocols
Time to tell students:
- Use a Google Form survey to gauge interest and get food orders
- Send permission slips home with students
- Set your deadlines for permission slip turn-in, money turn-in, and grade-check
- Get the bus ordered (hopefully a school secretary can help with this)
- Send out an email to parents (don’t forget to request chaperones!)
- Scout out the location and figure out what you will have students look for in order to create a scavenger hunt worksheet
- Create a scavenger hunt worksheet
- Create a Google Doc List of who is going to attend and who has turned in forms and money
- Double-check with each student about the food order they are requesting and add it to your Google Doc.
- Send the final food order to the restaurant you will be going to
- Collect money from students
- Submit the money you collected from students to the school in order to get a check made out to the place you are going
- Send out a list to the attendance office of who is approved to be excused that day
- Send reminders to parents and the chaperones that have confirmed
It’s a lot, I know. I swear, students have NO idea how much work we do behind the scenes in order to pull off cool opportunities for them! 🙂
One other logistical detail I should mention: I had some students turn in their permission slips past the deadline. I had already submitted the food orders but I decided to allow these students to attend anyway, they just had to purchase their own food once there on the day of the field trip. This worked fine as there is both a restaurant and a market where we went. So, there was enough going on at the establishment to entertain an extra guest or two. Every situation is different, so ensure you have a gauge of how many students a given venue can entertain well!
Field Trip Day
Okay, now all your hard work has paid off. Here we go! It’s Field Trip Day! Get ready to enjoy some tasty food and have some fun with your students!
Don’t forget to…
- Print off your Google Doc List of students attending with their food orders to bring with you.
- If you are receiving funding from your school or a foundation, it will likely be in the form of a check. So, bring the check for the restaurant if you have not already sent it in the mail or paid online.
- Bring enough copies of the scavenger hunt worksheet you created, and a few extras in case it is a rainy or windy day.
- Pick up a First Aid Kit from the Health Office.
As we waited to get on the bus, I checked with each student and reminded them of what they had ordered. I did this because when we arrived I didn’t want any confusion on what was ordered. We had pre-ordered food so I didn’t want someone to not remember what they ordered and grab something else, messing up the count. Restaurants feel a lot of stress to expediently serve everyone a hot, tasty meal. So sticking to the menu and gameplan are very important…not just for you and your class, but also for those working the event!
If you’re curious, our menu options we arranged were:
- chicken burrito y bebida
- 2 tacos de asada, arroz y frijoles, y bebida
- 2 tacos al pastor, arroz y frijoles, y bebida
- 1 taco al pastor, 1 taco de asada, arroz y frijoles, y bebida
We loaded the bus and did a headcount before leaving. Our first order of business upon arrival was the food, so we settled into the restaurant portion of the market to start things off. The staff were super great and brought out the meals in to-go boxes. They brought out each order one at a time so I would say, “Anyone who ordered a chicken burrito come get your food!” and so on. I am SO glad I reminded students of their order that morning because even despite the menu repetition, we still managed to have a mix-up.
After eating, I passed out the scavenger hunt worksheets. We decided to have half the students and chaperones begin in the market and the other half begin in the neighborhood. It was important to us not to bombard either setting with a glut of students so that patrons could still shop at the market while we were there! We set a time that they would need to switch and set a time that everyone needed to meet back at the bus.
Initially, I won’t lie, I was a bit worried students would balk at having to do a worksheet on a field trip. My colleague had the amazing idea to incentivize the completion of the worksheet, by doing a prize drawing at the end featuring gift cards to the market for those who complete it. GENIUS! Student participation shot way up, and the establishment we chose for the field trip further benefitted beyond simply buying food or paying a service fee. This worked like a charm and students went straight to work hunting for all the items they needed to check off. It was also super fun to do the prize drawing for the gift cards at the end of the trip! Students were so excited to go to the market and buy things. We gave away 6 $5 gift cards to spread out the love. Of course, if your funding is different or if you have a different dollar amount in mind, that is completely up to you. But for what it is worth, $5 still buys a pretty cool treat and my students thought it was worth all the effort!
One of my favorite questions on the list was “How many mirrors are there?” for the market scavenger hunt because there were 159 mirrors (they sell mirrors, and they have quite a few for sale)! Let’s just say it kept students busy for a while!
The scavenger hunt for the outside portion of the event included searching for specific murals and quotes that were stamped into the sidewalk.
Here is a copy of the Scavenger Hunt I made. Of course, you will need to make your own based on the place you decide to go but this will at least give you an idea, or get you started.
We ended up having quite a bit of free time after students completed the Scavenger Hunt because we didn’t need to leave until 1:15PM. Students found their own fun outside by playing at a nearby park. This was honestly my favorite memory of the trip because a group of 15 high school boys were all playing tag at the playground as if they were in elementary school. I love that they were able to feel transported back to another time in their life when maybe things were a little bit more carefree, and who doesn’t love a good classic game like tag? The innocent fun they were having was so beautiful and honestly I don’t think they would have felt as free to do so if some of the students who cause so much stress and distraction had been allowed to attend.
Here is why it is so important to source some extra chaperones: during the free time other students went to the Michoacán Ice Cream Shop and a nearby bakery. While yet other students stayed in the restaurant area chatting with their friends over dessert. I simply could not have done this alone! I was floored by the maturity my students showed and I think they relished the freedom the trip provided during this leftover time.
After a while, the boys at the playground found a soccer ball and headed over across the street to an empty soccer field for a quick pick-up match of the beautiful game. This was so fun to watch and I feel like they had even more fun by being able to play!
Post Field Trip
Afterward, a good amount of students regretted their choice to not attend when they saw things on social media about how much fun it was. This should create a positive incentive for class participation and prioritization of turning in work the whole year long next year, due to it being such a thoroughly positive experience for my students!
The next day, I created a slideshow of the murals we saw and spent some time in class having students reflect on the symbolism in the murals. This was nice because even students who didn’t attend were able to reflect on the mural’s connection to our César Chávez y Dolores Huerta unit. I also included some photos of students hanging out on the trip to reinforce the good memories we made on the trip.
Don’t forget to share photos of the trip with anyone who helped with funding the trip. It helps them see the educational goals and general good they have helped accomplish. I am sure your school’s social media team would love to hear about it as well! My superintendent even requested more info from me so he could share about our trip at the school board meeting.
What Students Said About the Field Trip
Pat yourself on the back for a job well done.
My students had a blast! Many of them had already been to Burrito Mercado, but going with friends and having free time was a lot of fun for them and a new experience for them even in a familiar venue.
Here’s what some of my students said:
“I thought the trip went very well with what we’re learning from whether what we eat, buy, and how authentic the place is from inside and out. You can see authentic items like cups, mirrors, plates and other things that are traditionally for us Latinos and can be seen in our households.”
“I thought the trip was a great way to connect to other friends. We talked about how we would always go to el Burrito Mercado as kids and the memories we had going there.”
“I really liked the field trip because I felt belonging around that area where I used to spend most of my time as a child because I had an aunt nearby who used to babysit me. Every day we would pass by all those murals and especially around El Burrito. I liked the trip because I got to learn more backstory on the significance of the art and the message and how they correlated to our Latino community. I felt connected while learning about all of the artwork and buildings in the area, not just El Burrito. It was nice to revisit that and analyze the deeper meaning that is able to signify and highlight our values as a community because Cesár Chávez Street is unique and it’s like a home to us and I think it’s really important to commemorate that topic and is a relevant and important highlight for this unit that we studied in heritage Spanish.”
Other Field Trip Ideas
If you don’t have a nearby market in your area, you might want to consider restaurants, museums, cultural dance performances, farm/ranch, pottery making, college visits, concerts, and soccer stadiums. What other field trip ideas do you have? Comment below!
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