My second site visit of my second day in southern California had me heading slightly northwest from Meyler Street Elementary, up to Los Angeles. It was about a thirty-minute drive to Cienega Elementary and Ruth Gentle’s fifth grade class. Another relatively recent adopter of The Walking Classroom, Ms. Gentle acquired her class set of TWC’s STEM Program in August of 2016.
Admittedly, I was running a little behind schedule, so I was moving to get there in time for my 1:00 p.m. walk. The school was located on a corner in a mostly residential neighborhood. As I was parking, I saw Ms. Gentle and her students lined up on the stairs leading down from her classroom. This class was clearly ready to walk!
On the Move
As the students saw me, they made their way to an open area behind the two-story buildings. A friendly female student remained behind to open the gate and greet me, lead me to the office to sign in, and finally, to direct me to where the class was walking … a paved track on the rather expansive play area.
As my guide joined the rest of her classmates, I joined Ms. Gentle, who was waiting to speak with me. She was positioned where she could easily see the class, as they walked around the oval several times until the podcast was complete.
When the students finished listening, they peeled off to check in with Ms. Gentle or to visit with me, asking me questions about The Walking Classroom, Mrs. Fenn, and the students whose voices they regularly heard on the podcasts. Once the whole class had completed listening, they formed a line to head back up to the classroom.
A Classroom Conversation
As my visit had started a little late, once the students had tucked their WalkKits away, we used the remaining time for whole class Q and A, revisiting questions students had posed individually outside. Since the class had Career Day activities that morning, we spoke about the origins of The Walking Classroom, and its journey from idea to reality.
The students also shared some of their favorite podcasts and suggestions they had for some others! Several of these sprung from biography projects the class had recently completed and which were prominently displayed on a classroom wall. We talked about the different content available on Programs 4 and 5 as well.
A Little Something about the School
Like Meyler Street Elementary, Cienega Elementary is also part of the Los Angeles Unified School District. A K-5 school with a Spanish Dual Language Program, Cienega is led by principal Kimberly Wright. The school was built in the early 1920’s, with additions and renovations over the years.
. . . and Time to Take to the Road
As the school day was soon to end, I wrapped up our conversation. We took a few minutes for group photos and the traditional (and unfailingly entertaining!) video message from the class to TWC’s creator Laura Fenn.
I gave Ms. Gentle and the students a parting gift, and then I hit the road for what I was anticipating to be a 45-minute drive back to the hotel! Not so much! L.A. traffic … enough said.