The Walking Classroom has been a great addition to our school. The kids love having access to podcasts while walking. We had a bit of a rocky start, but ultimately our students were excited to see the program continue into this year.
In February, we were fortunate to receive notification that a kit had been funded through bioMerieux Endowment Fund. I was thrilled to be able to bring The Walking Classroom to students in my school! As someone without a set group of students, I knew I’d need to partner with another teacher in order to bring podcasts to students. Luckily, a partner was easy to find!
As things go, though, receiving something new during the middle of the school year presents challenges. We had to determine what to sacrifice in order to begin implementing the program. In the end, we created a plan in which to essentially introduce a group of students to The Walking Classroom. We would then carry the program into next school year with the same students.
My partner teacher and I felt that we could effectively get started without losing other important components. Our long-term plan is to use podcasts with students at least twice per week with an entire grade level on a rotation. Fortunately, as a small school we can easily accommodate the rotation while still allowing students a good amount of exposure.
As we began, we started with one class as a trial. We did this to ensure that students could participate safely and that we could fit the lesson within the scheduled time. This allowed us to make any tweaks needed without the worry of having another class immediately. Once we determined that everything worked well (it worked SO well!), we pulled other classes into the mix. This way, by the end of the year, all students would have a solid understanding of the program and could hit the ground running in the fall.
We started with the introductory lesson and established procedures for walking on our campus. Fortunately, we have a great walking area for students. Then, we we began sharing podcasts with students and chose a few that would be of interest to them. We first listened to Heroic Dogs and Horses (4-#37, Complete-#44). Knowing that many of our students have an interest in animals and really enjoy learning about extraordinary things that animals do or have done, we knew that this podcast would be popular. It did not disappoint!
Students were so engaged with the podcast and were ready to learn more following their listening time. Many students sought out books in the library for additional heroic animal stories and/or began their own research. It is always exciting to see students independently extend their learning beyond the block in their schedule! As teachers, we hope for these experiences daily. That was when we knew that this program would be here to stay and that we’d likely need to come up with a plan for expansion.
Now, our students ask to listen every day! While we cannot see all students every day, students always ask about additional opportunities. Additionally, we now have multiple teachers asking how to get access to the use devices. We are now looking at how we can create a schedule to share some of the love and allow others to use devices. What a great problem to have, that so many teachers want to bring podcasts to students.
As a result, we’ve also had students ask about recording their own podcasts for younger students. My partner teacher and I have loved seeing the inspiration and excitement in students unfold in the short time that we’ve used the WalkKits with students. We are excited to continue on with the group into next year and even provide the opportunity for students to carry out some of their project ideas on how they can bring other content to younger students.
While we don’t have a lot to share at this stage, given our recent arrival to the program, one thing is certain. We are incredibly thankful and grateful for the opportunity to bring The Walking Classroom to our students!
Carmen Money & Laurel Reisen
STEM Coach/Media Coordinator
Coltrane-Webb STEM Elementary