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REAL Teacher Journal: Transformative Lightning

11.10.2013 - Cabell Elementary

Around two weeks ago I was working with a 5th grade class at Cabell Elementary when lightning threatened and it started to pour down rain.  When we returned inside, a transformative lightning strike came when I realized that I had not taught inside for almost six months. 


I felt handicapped by the lack of manipulatives and space that the garden provides me as a way of teaching constructively.  At this moment, I realized that this is the way teachers feel when they are asked to teach outside in the garden.  Teachers feel restricted, constrained, and less confident in their ability to deliver an effective lesson because they just are not familiar with their surroundings and the teaching resources that nature provides.  Studies show that students need to stand up, move, and interact with the content and curriculum being taught.  I hope more teachers feel the same lightning strike I felt a couple of weeks back and challenge their art as a teacher to explore the outdoor schoolyard as a teaching tool.

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Comments  2

  • Mayra Ortiz 09 Dec

    Your story also made me think about how students must also feel a little lost when they are first learning in the gardens.  Do some teachers teach outside 5 days out of the week? 
  • Logan LeCompte 17 Dec

    Students will only be lost if the teacher does not set clear expectations before entering the outdoor classroom.  We treat the garden like a classroom, and I use a garden pledge to help students understand that they need to be safe, respect all living things, have fun, and learn something new. Most teachers do not teach outside every day because of the weather, testing requirements, or they just don’t feel comfortable doing so.  However, most of the core subjects can be taught in the outdoor classroom through hands-on instructional practices.  We recommend using the garden as a tool for engaging students and delivering effective instruction whenever possible!

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