#GetOutside

#EDUC454E100 – Week 4 – May 31, 2018

Thank you Dr. Gillian Judson from SFU IERG #imaginED for visiting our EDUC454 class last Thursday night to discuss a #walkingcurriculum. We were learning outside with purpose. #GetOutside. This was the first time that our EDUC454 class got outside. For the first few weeks, we interpreted “outside” as outside of the classroom and roamed the Surrey Central Mall as place. I was so happy that Gillian took a moment to sell her book “A Walking Curriculum: Evoking Wonder and Developing a Sense of Space K-12” at the beginning of our class and took us on a thoughtful walking field trip to Holland Park. Security locked the classroom. We went down 4 floors. Walked through the parking lot. We went down the parkade stairs, around the Brick, and crossed the street to the park.

As you can see, it was a gorgeous day. I love the idea of being productive while walking to our destination. On our walk to Holland Park, Gillian asked us to think about a place that we cherish and love such that we would be devastated if a Walmart parking lot was built upon it. Our work was to think about this place and DESCRIBE it to someone else en route to Holland Park. Once we arrived, we formed a circle (so that we can see and hear one another). In this circle, Gillian talked about her doctoral research that brought her to this place of ecological imaginative education and her current work with the Walking Curriculum and Imaginative Education. At the end of her introduction, we had the opportunity to NAME our place. My place was my hometown of Prince Rupert, BC.

Gillian’s presentation was a beautiful introduction to her book (our future course reading). She spoke about three components that make learning meaningful for students. First point was FEELINGS. Students have to feel and make a connection to what they are learning with feelings. The second point was ACTIVENESS. Students need to be moving and have a sense of self in a state of being. This was a big idea for me. I took this point as being physically engaged with their learning. The last point was PLACE. Students need to have a sense of place and “getting outside” is one way of doing so. I loved being outside, but what I did notice was the NOISE. Yikes. Coming from the Sunshine Coast and teaching outside at Surrey Central was a clear demonstration of the importance of place. The metro area revealed some challenges. Although I was very appreciative be in green space, there was active road construction happening next to Holland Park. It was loud.

Nonetheless, we proceeded and had the opportunity to break up into pairs and look at one of 60 Sample walks¬†as seen in her book, A Walking Curriculum. The task was to randomly choose a walk, do the walk, and talk what was learned and experienced to a learning opportunity in our classrooms. Students had to record this curricular opportunity on an index card and hand them off to Gillian after 20 minutes of roaming through Holland Park. I am confident that students had a lot of conversations as to what they were experiencing and what is possible for the K-12 classroom. At the end of Gillian’s session, we met at the waterfall and students had the opportunity to ask Gillian questions. I appreciated what my student-teachers asked and I am curious how many of us will #getoutside with our classes in the new school year. I’m hoping we will in EDUC454.

WEEKLY REFLECTION QUESTIONS

How can going outside (with your class) fit into your teaching practice?

I love going outside, particularly with EDUC454. It makes sense to me. Our course is Quantitative Approaches to Environmental Education. We need to get outside. Admittedly, it’s been challenging this term being at Surrey Campus as a night course. That said, here we are. We’re OUTSIDE. I love how it feels and I love how Gillian said… THIS IS ON TIME. Absolutely. If I was back in the K-12 classroom, I would like to be outside as often as I could. How would I do that as a secondary math teacher… well, I would have to take the time to figure that out. For science it seems a bit “easier” but I like going outside with a purposeful learning intention. Last year, my EDUC454 class went outside 12 out of 13 weeks. The one week that we stayed inside was memorable because I had huge regret after that class by not going outside. As a consequence, it was a positive reminder that going outside is important to student learning but also student wellness. I just love it.

Where is your place? (i.e. topic of discussion with Gillian Judson)

The place I was describing to a student en route to Holland Park was of the Prince Rupert waterfront. As a youth and young adult, I loved walking to the Rupert waterfront to listen to the waves, look at the view, and enjoy the quietness of my surroundings. It was a place I would go to find solace. What was weird, when I was describing MY PLACE, I felt like I could have been describing the Davis Bay waterfront or Sechelt waterfront from where I live on the Sunshine Coast near Sechelt. I love living near the ocean. I’m one of those people. I love being near the water (even though I don’t know how to swim).

How do you (or would you) use feelings, activeness, and place in your teaching and learning to educate for ecological understanding?

I would love to make a connection between learning mathematics and being outdoors. It’s like journalling or reading outdoors, but doing math. What would make learning math enjoyable, activated, and meaningful? I was remembering when my high school math students used to ask me to go outside to learn math. I would always say NO. I just made the assumption that it would be OFF TIME when really it was an opportunity for me to make going outside during math class ON TIME. Why not experience some joy in the sun and in the forest (or on the field) doing math. It’s more than just finding math in nature, but having nature (and walking) as part of the math learning process. It’s definitely got my creative juices going. It can be very exciting for me and my K-12 math students.

We conclude our EDUC454 with student led learning activities. The first one was with Stephen F. who was very enthusiastic about Gapminder and Dollar Street. I loved this activity. The room was divided up into A, B, C, and D (multiple choice options). Students are asked to get up and move to answer the question. The content of each question related to social studies. Students are asked why they had chosen their answers (aka. prior knowledge). The class was then asked to watch data change over time, which was correlated to place and related to the question (i.e. birth rate, death rates, education of women, etc.). After watching data change over 100 years, for example, students are asked if they would change their mind on how they first answered and move accordingly. Great discussion and answers revealed. I loved the meta data collection by Stephen who was collecting data on how students answered the questions correctly initially and how it changed given the data trends. All I can say is, what felt like a 20 minute facilitation was actually 60 minutes. Yup, it was an exemplar of student and teacher engagement.

The class ends with ONE of three reading reflections. Thank you Erin for leading us through our first oral summary of Trevor MacKenzie’s book on Dive Into Inquiry. I loved the Prezi presentation and how you’ve embedded the class discussion questions into your presentation. It was greatly appreciated. I love how students are taking the lead in this course. Something that would have normally took 6 weeks, took only three… and now we’re behind schedule. No worries. I made those decisions and postponed three student presentations for next week. What I appreciate is the level of engagement students have in this course, but also our next challenge for next week, which is TIME. That said, we will be GOING OUTSIDE for our first group facilitation in Week 5. It’s only getting better. Thank you EDUC454E100 Summer 2018. Let’s keep this learning momentum going!!!

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