The Benefits of Outdoor Education
Submitted by Allie Floyd on Thu, 2017-07-13 00:00
Hello Digi-learners! I hope this week is going well for everyone!! Another eventful day for us with lots of fantastic presenters. I was joking earlier that my catch-phrase this week is "Wow, I didn't know that!!" and have probably averaged saying that about 15 or more times a day! Haha! I am loving this workshop and I am so happy we are able to share these adventures with you!!!
There was a question written for us today that says, "What is the value of spending time outdoors? How could you get your students outside more?". I love this question because using nature and the outdoors as a tool to stimulate student interest and engagement is SO important. I value this so much and it was a practice near the end of this school year that I started applying and my classes had the most positive 360 degree turn around, not only in behavior, but also in work ethic. We would do small things in my class such as taking our students reading time outside, doing review games for tests out in the school garden, and having our vocab study sessions out on the lawn behind my building. My students would literally jump out of their seats with excitement when I told them they had earned these days outside- even my students that were never engaged and hadn't previously invested in their education!! Quite honestly, I wish I would have figured this out much sooner, so it is a goal for me this next school year to get my students learning outside as much as possible.
One interesting fact we learned about today is that there have been studies conducted and research completed that shows students' (and adults') stress levels significantly descrease when either participating in recreational activities outdoors or just spending sometime in a forrested area simply to relax. This makes absolute sense because all the times I have been most happy in my life involve the forrest and outdoors! Is that the same for anyone else? In a longer answer here, there is value in spending time outdoors to reduce stress, increase dopamine levels, engage students on a much higher level with the information they are learning, and hopefully give them a passion for something they did not know they enjoyed so much before. Another goal I have made is to do at least 1-2 field trips outdoors next year related to the curriculum. As a first year teacher this last year, I was too overwhelmed to set them up, but I am bound and determined to make it happen this year!!
Here is my question for you all... What are you currently doing outdoors to get your students more invested and engaged in learning? If you are outdoors, how do you keep your students focused and what benefit do YOU see in taking their education outside?
As an overview for today, we spent the day at Eagle Island State Park, completed a hike around the island, did some bird watching, learning about Monarchs (and attempted to find some unsuccessfully), and ended with a fantastic presentation on Birds of Prey! Even got to meet two beautiful birds of prey literally a few feet away from us... pictures to come!! Looking forward to your responses!!!