Best Practices for Field Days E-Tips for Environmental Educators
Welcome to this inaugural edition of the University of Minnesota Extension Service's "Best Practices for Field Days E-Tips for Environmental Educators" – the quarterly source for practical tips to raise the impact of field day programs. We want to hear your suggestions for improving this resource. Send your ideas to email@example.com.
EE E-TIP: To clarify your event theme, avoid the use of scientific/technical jargon.
Your event theme is the one-sentence summary of the main idea you want to teach. It answers for your participants the “so what?” of your field day message. If your theme is not simple and clear for your students, you miss an important chance to help them make sense of the field day.
Try typing your theme in a word processor, and performing a grammar check. Look for a measure like Flesch-Kincaid Grade Level, which provides a basic measure of readability. You might have to turn on this function in your word processor options.
For younger students, try for a theme below their current grade-level. For high-school students and adults, try for a theme below the 8th-grade level.
“Prairies are Minnesota’s most endangered ecosystem.” measures 16.2 Flesch-Kincaid Grade Level. In other words, an "average" person with 16 years of education could read & comprehend this theme.
“Prairies are endangered.” measures 9.1 Flesch-Kincaid Grade Level.
“Prairies are in danger.” measures 3.6 Flesch-Kincaid Grade Level.
Of course, these scores are not cast in stone. It is also important to check with teachers to see if students will understand your theme.
For more information on planning effective themes, review the Structure Your Field Day around a Single Theme section of the University of Minnesota Extension Service's "Best Practices for Field Days: A Program Planning Guidebook for Organizers, Presenters, Teachers and Volunteers" – pages 26 to 33. Curriculum copies, workshop and other information are available here.
To learn more about the Best Practices for Field Days, read our short article in the online Journal of Extension.