This post is part of this year’s 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 Dawn Rensel’s class.
. . . and just like that, another calendar year with The Walking Classroom is coming to an end. However, my students and I have already made our new Walking Classroom goals for 2020, which are to increase our distance and to build up the stamina to walk longer.
Walking through the Cold . . .
Rinnnngggggg . . . echoes the indoor recess bell. Simultaneously, you can hear all the teachers take a deep breath at the sound. As most educators know, consecutive indoor recess days almost always result in an overly active, chatty, unfocused class whose productivity decreases.
I used to have that dreaded, chatty, unfocused classroom until I discovered the secret about six years ago, “The Walking Classroom!” This program allows my students the ability to get their bodies moving and oxygenating their brains on the coldest days of the school year!
. . . and Exercising We Will Go!
In the winter months, I strive for two Walking Classroom days a week where we walk around the perimeter of the gym. The other three days I focus on integrating and extending the information from the podcast to which we have listened into our other content areas. With my hands-on approach to learning, I always find a challenging way to integrate the podcast information into our other subjects, to give my students additional learning opportunities!
The Learning Continues after Walking
If you would have walked into my classroom about two weeks ago, you would have seen organized chaos. Yes, there is such a thing! You would have observed craft materials everywhere, plastic animals, large boxes, computers, clay, paint, paper, grass, branches, sand, etc. Recently, we were fully engaged in our science unit of study — the interaction within ecosystems.
We listened to several podcasts to help guide our unit.
- Food Chains (4-#42, STEM-#33, Complete-#130)
- Deserts of the World (5-#73, STEM-#20, Complete-#139)
- The Ocean Floor (5-#75, STEM-#27, Complete-#143)
- Marine Life (5-#76, STEM-#34, Complete-#142)
Project and Presentation Time!
The students had to make a Google Slide presentation about an ecosystem and then create a realistic diorama using a large box. They had to record the sources that they obtained to collect their information, including the Walking Classroom podcast.
In addition, we listened to each of the podcasts again in the classroom throughout the week. Interestingly, the students actually asked to listen to them again! As I tell them with books, you can read anything more than once and still take on a different perspective. The same goes for the podcasts.
We culminated this science unit with a trip to Franklin Park Conservatory. Throughout the conservatory building, we found all the various ecosystems that the class had discovered in the podcasts and researched on their own. This was the perfect trip; it tied all their learning together in an organic and authentic way!
Thinking Beyond the Earbuds and “Outside the Box”
I hope this post inspires some of the newer (or not-so-new!) users of The Walking Classroom to think beyond the earbuds and to think “outside” the box when it comes to integrating all content areas and extending the learning within their classroom after the podcasts have ended!
My focus this year was (and still is!) to create interdisciplinary units around and within the Walking Classroom content! Happy Trails and Happy Holidays too!
Fourth Grade Teacher
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