The Walking Classroom has made a huge impact on my students. I first started using The Walking Classroom in late fall with my eighth-graders. By then, we had a lot of snow on the ground and temperatures well below freezing. Even though we couldn’t use the program outside, we used it while walking laps around our gym.
Often, middle school students will push back on new things. We commonly hear “this is stupid,” and “I’m not doing this,” from this age of student. Not with The Walking Classroom! I found myself excited and pleasantly surprised to see that they loved it. With The Walking Classroom, my students stayed quiet, and they listened. They learned things that in a normal classroom setting I don’t think they would have. On days that I didn’t plan walking time, they were disappointed. They looked forward to the time we spent walking and listening.
With The Walking Classroom, I have seen so many benefits, including some I didn’t expect. I had hoped that students would get some exercise and learn some new things about reading, math, history and science. They did that. What they got out it, however, went way beyond that.
One student, “J”, became inspired by the Salvador Dali (5-#85, Complete-#32) podcast. After learning about his artwork of melting clocks one Friday, she came back on Monday with several art pieces she had made with “melting items” inspired by the work of this artist. “I really love that you have us listen to those episodes,” J told me. “I’d never heard of his work before. I’m so glad I learned about it because he has really cool stuff.”
Another benefit that I think all students have gotten from The Walking Classroom? “Unplugged” time. In a way, they’re unplugged from society. They don’t have a screen to stare at. They just move their bodies. Nobody can talk to them. They feel no pressure from friends to get off task, no pressure to look at their phone, and no pressure in the classroom to answer questions. They just simply move and learn. This combination allows them to focus in a way I haven’t often seen in a traditional classroom.
Finally, I have found The Walking Classroom hugely beneficial to the struggling students in my classroom. Without the pressure to garner information via reading, something particularly hard for that set of students, they thrive. They come back from walks more willing to share information than ever before. Their confidence has risen so much!
In the coming months, we plan on using our Walking Classroom materials in our after-school program, and this will benefit an even greater number of students. The Walking Classroom means so much to the students in our community!
Middle School Teacher
Whitehall School District
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