This post is part of this year’s Walk This Way series, designed to share The Walking Classroom experiences of teachers and students across the United States. This post provides a glimpse into Kim Collazo’s class.
My expectations for the first real walk of the year, with students who have never participated in The Walking Classroom, are usually a little lower than later in the year. The students are just getting used to this new way of learning, and let’s be honest, walking outside can bring many distractions.
However, I found myself surprised recently when our 4th grade STEM Walking Club took their first walk. I believe this happened for several reasons, including some “Aha!” moments.
Preview Makes Perfect
Before each walk, my students and I preview the quiz questions for the podcast to which we will listen. Brain research supports tying new information to background schema the students may already have.
I had chosen the podcast Sun, Stars, and Galaxies (Complete-#144, 4-#78, STEM-#26) for our first walk. I knew the kids had recently studied the relationship between Earth and the moon, and I thought it would tie in nicely.
Prior to the walk, while we read over the quiz questions, we discussed background knowledge they had on the topic. This not only activated their prior experiences, it gave them what we call “focus items” to listen for especially carefully.
Watch for the “Aha!” While Walking . . . and After!
During the walk, I watched the expressions on the students’ faces. Many of them caught my eye and gave me a big smile and thumbs up, indicating they had heard an answer to one of our “focus items.” I couldn’t have been more excited!
After our walk, we gathered to discuss new facts we had learned. Many students were surprised to know that our sun is not the largest star in the universe. Several others chatted about how they had learned that life could not exist without our sun.
Others mentioned that their teacher had talked about that in their classroom. They also shared many other facts from the podcast during our post-walk wrap-up.
Supporting Science Concepts
Our experience over the past three years proves that The Walking Classroom program can be effectively integrated with specials. Conducted through our STEM lab, the podcasts support the science concepts that are being taught in the regular classroom.
When students have “Aha!” moments because they have learned something from a podcast that directly relates to what they’ve studied in a totally different setting, mastery of the content is all the sweeter! I’m so excited to see the amazing Happy Trails and other “Aha” moments these students will experience this year!
Pre-K to 5 STEM Teacher