Grantee Discussion: Outdoor Classrooms

Many NEA Foundation grantees have used funds to create outdoor classrooms at their school. We would like to hear from educators about their experiences.

What was your greatest challenge?  What have been your greatest rewards?

Please share you thoughts below.

8 Comments

Tabatha Stover, NBCT
July 21, 2011 @ 9:41 AM
What an amazing way to allow students to see the integration of real life and what they are learning.
Caroline
July 21, 2011 @ 2:22 PM
My colleague Dr. Elizabeth Fullerton and I were funded to redesign the classroom environments in K and 1st grade classrooms. The changes resulted in increased teaching and learning time, as well as decreased time needed for academic transitions. Both the teachers and students were amazed and elated by the outcomes of the NEA Foundation grant project. I'm interested in learning more about integrating the outside environment into the classroom routine. Please fill me in!
Ruth Roberts
July 23, 2011 @ 3:33 PM
Two years ago our school received a grant from the Inland Empire Utilities Agency and was able to put a garden in the middle of our school. We have 5 planter boxes and our students have the opportunity to plant, grow, and cultivate from the beds throughout the school year. We have the opportunitiy to educate our students to know about the many aspects of plant life from seed to fruit. We also teach them what a weed is:) since many students live in apartments around us and have no yards. The students have gained pride in their school environment and work in keeping it and the surrounding campus clean. It has been the most challenging endevor I have ever taken on in my teaching carreer, but the most rewarding. I have the privilege to watch the students I take in every week come alive with excitement and joy in the simple things as weeding, cleaning, and finding bugs. I know that I will always have stories to share about the hidden jewel of our school.
Joan Stetser
July 25, 2011 @ 12:58 PM
Through funds received through a NEA Learning and Leadership Grant, I was able to develop a curriculum for using GPS technology in the middle school classroom and purchase the handheld GPS units used in the activities. Geocaches or “treasure boxes” are hidden on school grounds. Students are then given the coordinates and clues for the caches. Using the coordinates, students in small groups locate the caches and complete the curriculum related activities inside. It is a high tech treasure hunt and the students really enjoy the outdoor “Educaching” activity. The challenges of such an activity are obviously that they are other possible during good weather. Secondly, it takes time to develop and hide the geocaches. You cannot control the weather, but I ended up having the students develop many of the caches and hiding them for their classmates, which helped address the time issue.
Jesse Graytock
July 26, 2011 @ 10:10 AM
Thank you Tabatha, Caroline, Ruth, and Joan for sharing your thoughts and successes. Ruth and Joan, would either of you care to go into a little more detail regarding if/how you plan to continue this work?
Joan Stetser
October 7, 2011 @ 7:42 PM
I just saw the comment from Mr. Graystock regarding how I plan to continue the "Educaching". At the start of the school year I continued geocaching with my students. Each grade level brings a new curriculum, so I weave the curriculum into the educaching activities. I also have had students create their own educache for their own classmates as well as students in the other grade levels. As the year progresses, I plan to have my G/T students teach their homeroom classes how to geocache and create curriculum appropriate caches for them.
Keesha
October 30, 2011 @ 5:13 AM
You know what, I'm very much ilnncied to agree.
Educational Tours
October 31, 2011 @ 8:24 AM
Outdoor classrooms is a great idea. It will help to students to know about the real life facts & it really help them for their future...


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