Applying Learning Outdoors

As part of her Wildlife Biology Class at Lyman Hall High School, one student has partnered with DEEP’s Wildlife Biologist Peter Picone to create a tree identification program along the Quinnipiac River Gorge Trail in Meriden, CT. As an upcoming teacher, I can’t help but see this as a learning opportunity. We should be doing more of this, i.e., having students apply their learning to make real-world differences. Students who form connections with their community are less likely to drop out of school and more likely to enjoy their coursework. Students who enjoy their coursework/the learning activities offered to them show an increase in learning.

Following are a few ideas I’ve brainstormed to take students’ learning into the community:

Volunteer to write social media/blog posts, newspaper articles, etc. for a local nonprofit or small business. Each article should include uses of the last grammar concept studied in class.

Create a fundraising contest! What better resume-booster to give students than a line noting, “Collaborated to raise awareness and funds for [insert cause/organization here].” The causes could relate to themes from texts we are reading (e.g. Macbeth—Gender Inequality/Struggles; Montana 1948—Racial Inequality; Nickel and Dimed—Social Inequality). Students could be assigned roles such as designer, writer, or media contact, and groups/classes could compete with one another for most funds raised, most articles published, etc.

Liven up an urban space with spraypainted stenciled poetry (with permission of course). Keeping an eye on the standards, I could have the students write a reflective paper on how the tone of the poems is fitting to the physical atmosphere. Students could also compare the differing tones of each poem to show how they complement one another.

Find out more about the June 1st groundbreaking walk at the PDF linked here.