This post is part of our 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 Kari Lawson’s class.
Picking a favorite podcast is like picking a favorite food. How do you choose just one? The following are just a few of the podcasts I enjoy most.
Famous Dogs & Horses (Combined-#44, 4-#37) is always a kid favorite and it correlates so well with our curriculum. My students really love learning about some of the animals in history and it helps them connect in a new way to historical events.
The podcast does a great job of sharing stories about Balto (a lead dog in the 1925 Serum Run to Nome), Paul Revere’s horse (Brown Beauty), and Meriwether Lewis’ dog (Seaman), among others. I usually use this podcast in the late winter, when I teach my students about the Iditarod.
Most people have heard of Balto, but if you don’t know about Togo, you’re missing another great story from the Serum Run! To extend the lesson, try reading Togo by Robert Blake, Alaska’s Dog Heroes by Shelley Gill, or Lewis and Clark and Me by Laurie Myers. Your students will love them! If you know of a book about Brown Betty, please share!
Focusing on Firsthand vs. Secondhand
One podcast that I do early in the year is Firsthand vs. Secondhand Accounts (Combined-#21, 4-#46). I like the way it’s tied into persuasive advertising, too, because it leads to great discussion about the power of persuasion and making thoughtful choices based on facts. After the podcast, we dive deeper into firsthand and secondhand accounts, since it’s so deeply integrated into our social studies curriculum.
We talk about our own firsthand experiences and we do a writing project about them. (Two years ago, we wrote about our solar eclipse experiences, but any experience will do!) I refer back to this lesson throughout the year as we look at documents and informational texts in our studies.
Prepositions (Combined-#15, 4-#32, 5-#21) is another favorite podcast that sticks with us all year. My kids giggle all the way through making a bunny and a box with their hands as they walk and learn about prepositions.
I use mentor sentences with my class, so I use this podcast during a week that we focus on prepositions. Throughout the year, my students frequently refer back to the bunny and the box when trying to identify prepositions.
Leveling the Playing Field
One of my favorite things about The Walking Classroom is not a specific podcast, but the way it gives ALL kids a chance at success. It is especially great for struggling students that can’t always stay focused in class or those that traditionally don’t do as well in typical classroom settings.
One student in particular from last year stands out. He wasn’t in our classroom during regular instruction because he was so far behind grade level. He was also physically weak due to health issues. When talking to his mother, we decided it would be good for him to join the class for our walks. The first one was difficult for him physically, but he stuck with it and improved over time.
The biggest take-away, though, was that he eagerly shared in our post-walk discussions and had success answering questions about the walks. Before that, he would typically just sit and listen, but not participate, even in small group activities. The Walking Classroom gave him a level playing field, though, where he could feel success. He’s one of the many reasons I love The Walking Classroom and I can’t imagine my classroom without it any more.
Fourth Grade Teacher