This post is the fourth in this year’s Walk This Way series, designed to share The Walking Classroom experiences of teachers and students across the United States. It provides a glimpse into Patricia Shales’ class.
It’s a new school and a new grade for me this year. I chose to move from a school that was very economically advantaged where I was teaching 5th/6th ESL, to a school that is smaller and Title 1 in my district.
A Whole New World
When I told some teachers at my new school about The Walking Classroom, they were doubtful that my students’ behavior would allow me to use it. Well, I am proud to say that they were wrong!!
My fourth grade students (who do have challenging behaviors in the classroom) LOVE the Walking Classroom. But we have taken it slowly. Before we even took a step outside, I spent a couple of days preparing them by explaining my expectations for when we used the WalkKits.
Practice Makes Perfect . . .
We practiced putting the batteries in and turning the WalkKit on and off to save battery life. We practiced how to advance to the correct number podcast and how to adjust volume. I explained the importance of keeping their hands off the WalkKit once it starts. I have learned from experience! In the past, I have had lots of students accidentally push a button, turn it off, etc. during walks.
I explained that I want the students to keep their WalkKits around their necks. From prior experience, I was aware of the potential for students to drop the WalkKit, or lose the battery cover on the way back to the classroom. We talked about not twirling our earbuds (!), not talking to each other during our walks, and staying (somewhat) together.
. . . and Success!
Our first walk was a success! At my previous school, we had a paved track to walk around. My new school is in an older neighborhood on its own block, so we walk on the sidewalks around the school. When we finish walking, we gather on our front stairs and talk about what we have learned.
Supporting Some Timely Topics
This year, with Hurricane Dorian in the news at the start of school, I decided to do a short unit comparing and contrasting hurricanes (which we never have in Illinois) and tornadoes (which we do have). We listened to Hurricanes (4-#28, STEM-#13, Complete-#150) and about Tornadoes (4-#31, STEM-#14, Complete-#149).
In addition, I supplemented with non-fiction readings from Teachers Pay Teachers, as well as vocabulary from the slide decks in the Walking Classroom’s Adopter Resources. We watched the movie, “Night of the Twisters”, and I had one of my reading groups doing I Survived the Joplin Tornado of 2011. The podcasts about these destructive storms provided very compelling and exciting topics to get my kids on board with the Walking Classroom!
. . . and Doing a Bit of Compare and Contrast!
I used the information we learned to practice our compare-and-contrast skills. We discussed how the storms form, in what parts of the country they are most commonly found, as well as ways to stay safe. In addition, my students gained a better understanding about the how’s and why’s of the tornado drills we have at our midwestern school.
We are now learning about our Federal and State Governments, and Checks and Balances (4-#59, Complete-#73) has been an awesome listen! Thanks, Walking Classroom, for helping me kick off another great year of learning and moving!
Fourth Grade Teacher