One of the many benefits of The Walking Classroom is that students have an opportunity to learn outdoors. Of course, this can mean that the rare chance to be outside enjoying the fresh air and nature around them can also be somewhat distracting. Time and time again, adopters share that while their students might have some initial difficulty paying attention, once the novelty of the program begins to wear off students are able to focus on the podcast and retain what they are hearing so much better.
It also takes time for your students’ listening skills to improve. Listening comprehension is like anything else in that it takes some practice, but is truly an invaluable skill for students to develop. You may find your students benefit from some additional support as they work to improve their listening skills. Here are a few easy to implement tips:
Activate Background Knowledge
It’s much easier for students to understand and retain what they are hearing when it can be connected to something they already know. Your students are bound to learn some new things when they listen to a podcast, but they most likely already have some knowledge, even if it’s limited, about the topic. The Teacher’s Guide makes it very simple to help activate their background knowledge before they walk.
- Read the synopsis aloud to students
- Introduce students to the provided vocabulary
- Be sure to ask the question and share the podcast preview in steps 2 and 3 of the procedure section
Show the Quiz Prior to the Walk
Even if you don’t plan to give the quiz, showing students the quiz questions is another way to quickly activate background knowledge and gives them something to listen for. If you are giving students the quiz following the walk, showing the questions will also help to alleviate anxiety about the post-walk assessment.
Have a halfway point in your walk where students know they are going to pause for a moment to check on their comprehension of the podcast. You could ask the same question every time, such as, “tell your neighbor a summary of what you have heard so far” or it could be based on the podcast you are listening to. Using a quiz question as the midway check-in is always a quick and easy option.
Nancy Laws, a 5th grade teacher and adopter in Tennessee, creates a bonus question for her students – something they would really have to be listening for to catch! If they get it right, they get a bonus point on the quiz! We love this idea and think it’s another great way to help students focus their minds and improve their listening.