Believe it or not, students do still have the capacity to learn in the springtime! Even after testing! Even when the calendar warns of summer on the horizon and the crisp, clean breezes are blowing through the windows.
For me, as a teacher, I could not tolerate staying inside on a warm spring day. There is nothing more oppressive than having to stay in a moldy building when everything outside the door was fresh and full of new life. So, as soon as I earned tenure, my spring days were spent with my toes in the grass.
This doesn't mean my teaching stopped!
Teaching outside in the springtime can be a great experience for you and for your students. With the freshness and fragrance in the air, our creativity is at its best and we are more likely to think outside the box. More importantly, we can breath the fresh air and take in new ideas for change or progress that just simply didn't appear to us in the past.
While you can't take all classes outside, here are a few ideas for getting out in the sun:
- Read! Anything is better when it's read outside! Choose a wonderful novel or weekly readers and find a soft spot to circle your class in the grass. Read aloud or assign silent reading.
- Write! If you want your students' creative juices flowing, take them out and allow them to find that perfect spot for their writing task. Students, when taken outside to create, will work harder and longer than inside the stale classroom.
- Peer editing is a boring task for most, yet at the end of the year, it must be done. As students are facing deadlines for portfolios, college applications, and other writing tasks, take time to review, edit and revise under the sun.
- Playing games! After covering so much content through the school year, unit reviews (recapping past content with the current) is so vital. Take students outside to play review games on the bleachers or on the sidewalk. Use the football field to mark progress or to work toward content mastery.
- Discuss! While some will argue that students taken outside will only be off task, I argue that this is the perfect place for whole-class discussions. Pick controversial topics, or those near and dear to your students' hearts, and share a spot on the grass to carry on the valuable discussion.
- Research! Now that most research tools are mobile, allow students to work in small groups in the fresh air. They will be more productive and their ideas will be more refreshing than those typically created in the classroom.
- Present! As the school year comes closer to the end, it is also time to hand over more responsibility to your students for the collection and presentation of content. And take those thespians outside where the world is their stage!
Happy Springtime Teaching!