Day 135 (of 185) outdoor learning
Sure my twitter handle emphasizes the TECHNO, but I’ve always been a strong advocate for balance – being outside; connecting with nature; having fun; learning in a variety of ways – all key elements in having time learning outdoors. And today our learning community took ourselves on the road, down the street to our nearby provincial park to spend a day….outdoors.
Our spring has been very wet, but our weather forecasts both on apps and on websites have indicated that today was ‘between storms’ and a day where we should experience a mix of sun and clouds…..not too hot (no sunscreen) not too wet (umbrellas don’t enable a good game of ‘capture the flag’) but just right…..okay – 5 degrees warmer woulda been nice – and Facebook memories certainly indicate warmer adventures a couple of my ears back on this same date!
But when organizing an outdoor learning day, it was a chance to practice heterarichal leadership (via @dpontefract https://technolandy.wordpress.com/2016/03/31/notes-from-flat-army-by-dan-pontefract-dpontefract/ ) where we create situational hierarchies – not always the same leader. And collaboratively, though on a day I was away, a plan was formed:
Multi-age groups blending:
Nature house exploration (the facilitator was sadly suddenly unavailable but the house has SO much to explore)
Nature Walk (with a POC – principal-on-call who covered for me recently and liked our school so much he offered to come lead hikes for us!)
Then groups travelled the trails to help clear our winter branches and brushes that may have fallen (and we realized that we maybe shoulda scheduled our visit after the washrooms were open-for-the-season as the only facilities were some outhouses – also not quite prepped for the camping season…..).
Then our weekly hot lunch arrived (our community provides a weekly hot lunch to all students courtesy of our local Lions club, PAC, Super-Valu and food bank) which was appropriately: hot dogs!! With pickles and chocolate milk….needless to say, a big hit!
After some free play at the playground (something I strongly advocate: https://technolandy.wordpress.com/2014/06/11/day-176-of-184-free-deep-play/ ) we did some reflection journaling and then the older learners arranged a game of capture the flag (and rules vary from teacher to teacher – so first of all was organizing which rules were to be followed). Across the field the younger learners were being introduced to new (to them) outdoor learning games like a local classic The Thicket Game (I don’t know the rules yet sorry!)
Finally a clean up and the buses took everyone home….and the adults all prepared to take naps and get caffeine, because a “fun day in the park” takes a lot of work!
I liked that there was a range of structured and free activities. Last night our family was watching one of our favourite sitcoms – American Housewife (Goldbergs is still #1 as the kids ask us if life was ‘really like that in the 80s’) which had the topic of helicopter parenting and restricting movement of kids. Now I freely admit that we want to make sure kids are safe at school….even if/especially when the school isn’t in the brick & mortar building. But there’s also a notable push for outdoor learning – including discussion of creating more outdoor learning environments in our own district: https://www.outdoorlearning.ca/ , so there needs to be a balance of risk/reward/value to being in places where accidents can happen (only two bandages today).
In a time where we want to be doing what is best for Learning, and I foundationally believe that technology is the best differentiation tool, balance is key – so having moments to see that Learning occurs outside of the walls of a school helps also create the MindShift needed to see that Learning is a 24/7/365 360 degree experience….and authentic experiences matter.
Bonus update – one of my families from a previous school just shared an article on risky-outdoor-learning: https://www.facebook.com/amber.mackie3/posts/10154508404760686
Hmmmm is a Facebook share on WordPress that is tweeted out the ‘new’ mixed media?