Tara, Science in the City: When students request to have class outside, my answer depends. I have taught at a few different schools, and each school had a different answer.
In the first building where I taught, depending upon the group of students, and what the lesson was, I did sometimes have class outside, particularly when I had a smaller AP class, or if I could teach a science related lesson outside, its a great excuse to get “out in the field.”
The second school at which I taught was a K-8 building (I taught middle school). The kids still wanted to go play soccer, or play on the playground, and it was a great incentive. If they could get their work completed quickly, then we could go outside at the end of class/the day/the week.
The school where I am teaching now, unfortunately, is in a very dangerous neighborhood. I have taken a class outside once, but definitely don’t make a habit of it because its really not safe.
Claire, Different Drummer Secondary English Resource: My kids ALWAYS ask to go outside for class!! I think it is the need to be outside and in nature that usually drives this request, but sometimes, it is a the desire to have a different scene or landscape that increases their desire to ask for outdoor class. Usually, I can diver their attention away from the possibility, but sometimes, even I need to get outside and change my scenery. So, I create different adjective-driven activities that can be altered to address the student’s need for descriptive writing practice with their need to move and get their energy out. One of the best exercises I have done with them is ask them to participate in varying degrees of physical activity and ask them to write out the adjectives that accurately explain what their five senses have gone through and what they feel about it. It helps to describe their emotions when I set out the “Sight, Sound, Hearing, Smell, Touch, and Taste.” It helps when I establish the assessment at the beginning so they can see what they need to focus on instead of trying to only address the standards.
Sara, Ms. Fuller’s Teaching Adventures: I used to have the privilege of working at a school that butted up against the local metro parks! We had class outside as much as possible, especially in June since we stayed in session for approximately 3 weeks longer than the other area schools.
My advice is this- if you go outside have a set amount of time and a very specific location. You should have clipboards or binders available for students to write on. Make sure that your expectations for outside behavior is clear. Go ahead and try it! It’s great to get some fresh air and to mix things up a little!
Jackie, Room 213: I always struggled with this one. I want to go outside too, but I know that no matter how many promises they make, the students rarely do the work we were suppoesd to do in class. So, I decided to come up with a bunch of activities that are designed for outdoors, but that also focus on the skills or texts we are working on. You can check it out here.
Gina, The Perfetto Writing Room: One of the best ways I know how to engage students as an English teacher is to go with the flow, use what is fascinating to them, and to incorporate as many disciplines as I can to keep students immersed. When all they want to do it look outside, I take them there. We study the Romantic poets during the most romantic time of year. While I want them to write about meaning and literary tropes, part of their major project is a journal, at least three art pieces – they choose the medium – and one technology component (recording their own voice reciting an original poem, making a small narrated movie, and the possibilities go on). In this way everyone shines, everyone is excited and involved, there is assessment and the students really are focusing on the romantic poets and most of the time, the spring season.
Do you have any tips for taking a class outside? We would love to hear them!