How do you achieve the full concept of bringing the outdoors, indoors? How do you make sure your students are getting the most out of it? How do you transition smoothly where you do not lose any student’s attention?
— K., Louisiana
I love teaching outdoors! Part of the problem you face is the novelty of taking your students outside and the time spent walking out and back. Consider separating the activity into two sessions, the first one outside collecting data and the second one indoors analyzing the data. You need to do a lot of planning and preparation. Build the activity as an inquiry and allow students some flexibility in asking questions, gathering data and exploring. Run through it yourself in advance so you can avoid any obstacles (literally and figuratively) and gauge the time commitment. Create checklists that students will need to complete.
You can reduce difficult transitions by…eliminating them entirely! Have the students meet you outdoors and spend the entire period outside. Prepare the students beforehand so they know where to go, what to wear, what to bring and what not to bring (large back packs, food, and so forth). Prepare all the materials you will need the day before. Ask for some volunteers to help carry out and bring back any equipment. (I always thanked volunteers with a candy treat.) Once you have all the students outside, instruct them and give them a timeline to gather up the samples, return equipment, and have a discussion before dismissal. Do head counts frequently. To promote good discussions later, have students keep logs and take photos of their observations, which could be uploaded on a shared drive. The ‘indoor’ investigation can continue the next period.
Hope this helps!
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