Monday, October 5, 2020

Outdoor Learning Highlight: North Crawford Schools

Teachers and students around the country (and world!) are getting outdoors during school hours to do some of their work. And while we've known for years (long before this pandemic) that learning outdoors has many benefits, it is always so inspiring to see it first hand.

This week's outdoor learning highlight:  North Crawford Schools

Perhaps no one says it better than North Crawford Art Teacher, Brandie Myhre. "As a PreK-12 art teacher, I love taking all of my students, from varying ages and classes, outdoors to learn. It is amazing to watch nature provoke curiosity, and how observation becomes the forefront of learning. The world is limitless, and we are free to be gobbled up by nature. Taking a big, deep breath becomes easier, and life is less about the work that we have to do, and more about the work that we want to do. There is more joy, more laughter, and more time for unstructured play."

Here is one way Brandie is engaging her high school students outdoors.  Blind Photography! High school students taking photography class have been spending time outside in the school garden, using their senses to capture images. Inspired by the work of Pete Eckert, students closed their eyes and used touch, smell, and hearing to find objects to turn into compelling captures with their iPads. In this photo, a student is slowly moving around the garden, using his hands to guide him to an interesting subject. This photography class will continue to utilize the outdoor spaces for shooting macro and landscape photography in the coming months. 

North Crawford's Pre-K class consistently utilizes the outdoor space and sets up daily in the school garden to conduct class. In this photo, Pre-K students in art class are using crayons as a resist to make designs on a sheet of paper. The following week students will use watercolors to paint over the crayon, and attach streamers, and roll their paper to create a windsock! 
2nd Grade Plant ID 

Mrs. Kruizenga's 2nd grade class talked about chlorophyll in the leaves and why they change colors, after which the class spent time in the school forest using the Seek app to identify plant species.

2nd Grade Hill Rolling

And best of of all? After plant identification, students enjoy unstructured play! 

Students and teachers everywhere are experiencing the joys of learning outdoors.  

"Teaching outside allows kids to experience the natural world in an authentic way, to inquire about, explore and answer their own questions. They experience joy, comradery and a level of comfort not always found in a building. The outdoor classroom lends itself to children not having to depend on the teacher entirely to present a subject or topic, explain how to explore it and ask questions that may otherwise seem arbitrary and meaningless to a young mind. They are free to learn in their own way." Jamie Bearrows - North Crawford Interventionist - Reading Specialist 

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