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 Amy Schott’s class.
Hello! Welcome to my fifth grade Walking Classroom! A few years ago, I received a grant for Walking Classroom supplies. It has energized my classroom! My students love walking around inside the school or out on the school grounds while listening to the talented Mrs. Fenn and her students talk on The Walking Classroom podcasts.
Fitting The Walking Classroom into the Day
I loved the idea of getting students up and walking, but initially did not know how I would to fit it in. After all, TIME is always a teacher’s biggest challenge. I also worried about keeping track of WalkKits, headphones (already a challenge with computer use!), and batteries. Through the last few years, however, I have developed a couple of strategies that work.
Depending on your schedule and how well the podcast fits with your lessons for the day, you can fit the Walking Classroom lesson in as part of your actual lesson. The time just comes from the time devoted to that lesson!
I have found it best if you can walk at the beginning of the day or when you return from lunch (to help refocus students). Other times, we take a few minutes away from recess. Walking is physical activity, so I might pull ten minutes from their 30-minute recess. Then, we make up the remaining minutes somewhere else. Occasionally, we cut our morning meeting really short to fit in a walk.
Are there weeks when we only walk once or even not at all? Yes. But we also have weeks where we manage to walk three times! The Walking Classroom is not a requirement, but it is a healthy choice to differentiating lesson presentation.
Keeping Program Materials Organized
I have tried buckets and zipper pouches to store WalkKits in the past. Both worked fine, but required someone to pass out the WalkKits. It was also not always easy for a student to find his/her specific device. You do want to assign devices (I attach a sticker with the student’s name). That way, if something is missing or broken, you know who to look towards.
I also struggled with headphones on the floor, missing, and broken. A cheap shoe bag has fixed both issues. Mine hangs up in a bookshelf on a curtain rod, but it is a bit precarious! If you have a way to attach to the wall, it would be more secure. Students store their WalkKits and their headphones in this organizer.
When we finish a walk, I have one or two children standing at the shoe bag. They verify that everyone has powered the WalkKit off before putting them away.
Walking, Listening, Learning, . . . and Discussing!
Just this year, I have started my walks in a new way. After I write the podcast number on the board, I have a student leader who reads the introduction from the discussion guide. I helped her the first couple of times, modeling and assisting. Now she can do this independently.
During this time, students retrieve and power up their WalkKits. If a battery is dead, they come to my desk to get a new one. If I have an especially long line (usually due to someone who tied their headphones in a knot!), when she finishes reading the introduction, students start walking outside our room. They simply repeat a small loop until I can join them for our walk.
Since students finish at slightly different times, as we start finishing, we return to the room. Students still listening do the same small loop until they finish. My leader again takes control. She either uses a beach ball with question stems about the podcast or asks questions about the podcast (from the discussion guide) with those who have finished.
If a student gets substantially behind the others (usually due to a student tardy for school on a morning walk), that student stops the podcast early. He/she can listen at a later time or will just catch it when we listen to the podcast for the second time.
Now that you have ideas for when to fit it in The Walking Classroom and how to keep track of your supplies — Happy Trails!
Fifth Grade Teacher
Fox Road Magnet Elementary