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. It provides a glimpse into Britnee Reid’s middle school science classroom.
Hi, Britnee Reid again — seventh grade science teacher at Cramerton Middle School. Last week I transitioned to a new semester, which means 82 new students I have the opportunity of teaching. New beginnings are always so exciting! They also mean more exposure to The Walking Classroom for the seventh grade students in my building!
Walking with The Water Cycle
Our first unit of study covers Weather and Atmosphere, so we began our first walk listening to The Water Cycle (4-#30, STEM-#12, Complete-#148). I chose this because it is a topic with which most students are very familiar. After all, it affects us greatly at this time of year (sometimes daily!) as well as throughout the rest of the year!
Due to rain and below freezing temperatures, we have found ourselves cooped up after lunch during our normal walking time. The first day the forecast called for 60 degrees and sunny, I knew we had to “hit the trail!”
Time for Something New . . . the WalkKit!
To start familiarizing my students with The Walking Classroom, we went over the parts of the WalkKit. I assigned each student a specific number to use each time we go for a walk. In addition, I allowed them time to peruse the back of the holding case to see all of the titles available to us (167 podcasts!!) I had them write down one that they would really like to listen to during the semester.
Note: This helps me know what interests my students and often leads into many cross-curricular conversations! I end up with a lot of the same podcasts the students list and make a plan to try to incorporate as many of them into our 90 school days together as possible.
While some of the student-selected podcasts may not always directly correlate to my curriculum, I try to embed them into the schedule. I use time available after testing and on “buffer” days and I introduce something new. The Walking Classroom is also great for those “well, I thought I had more planned than they could finish, but we now have 30 minutes left in the class period, and I don’t know what to do with them!” moments.
Taking a Trial . . . Walk!
In the beginning, before we even turned on our WalkKits and actually took off on our first walk, I mapped out our route on google maps. I displayed the route on the classroom LCD screen. We established a line leader and a caboose. Then, we left our kits behind and did a trial lap of our walk.
We practiced stopping at specific points to allow any gaps to be filled in. As we walked, we talked about the importance of not only actively listening to the podcast when walking, but also paying attention to what was going on around us. Other classes could potentially be outside, or visitors could be arriving to the school. With safety our number one priority as we walk, we discussed how to be both engaged with the learning and aware of our surroundings.
All students thoroughly enjoyed this new experience, with the usual questions and comments. “Do we get to go on another walk tomorrow?” “Can we do these in ALL of our classes? I learn so much better moving!” “Thank you for getting us outside and allowing us to walk; sitting at a desk all day, I get uncomfortable and anxious.”
Extending the Lesson
As an extension activity back in the classroom, each student wrote “My Life as a Drip” — papers where they created a fictional rain drop and travelled the water cycle throughout their story. They were expected to use dialogue, show emotions, and incorporate ten vocabulary words covered within the podcast. The stories they came up with were creative and fun to read. They clearly understood not only the parts of the water cycle, but the order in which they occur!
As students finished their stories, they partnered up and created posters to display around the school. They showed what “life without water” on Earth would look like – AKA life would not exist! As you can see from the example, students both showed creativity with this assignment and demonstrated their understanding of the importance of the water cycle to life on Earth.
. . . and Supporting More than the Curriculum!
Thanks to The Walking Classroom, science class can now look a whole lot different! Students can learn in a new, exciting way that not only promotes enforcing the curriculum I teach, but also supports healthier lifestyles and character development.
Here’s to hoping the weather cooperates for you to get a walk in this week. If not, indoor walk time still gets students UP and MOVING! HappyTrails!
Seventh Grade Science Teacher
Cramerton Middle School