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The Outdoor Classroom

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Eleanor Brewer

on 4 May 2013

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Transcript of The Outdoor Classroom

Eleanor Brewer
EDF2303 - Assignment 1 Mill Valley Ranch Sustainability ...Carefully designed and delivered direct, multi-sensory outdoor learning can also aid in the development of a strong, affective relationship with the natural world. The ability to both understand and to care is fundamental to personal decisions about sustainable development. (Beames, 2012, p.8) Learning is a journey that is catalysed by curiosity, and education ‘should lead them to as research question of increasing sophistication, specify, depth and breadth, that set the on a journey towards making the unknown known.’ (Willison & O’Regan, 2007 as cited in Beames, 2012, p.52) Our capacity to move allows us to interact with the world and people around us. However, when these movements are organized into a work of bodily art we come to understand how marvellous our bodies are. (Bouza Koster, 2012. p. 324) Mill Valley Ranch Australia is country campsite that is positioned on the border of the Bunyip State Park, Victoria. This unique site has slipped back into the 1880’s with its old western themed accommodation and buildings, and the intensive horse riding program they have in place. But it is the distinctive environmental aspects that this campsite has to offer that persuaded me to select this particular site. As Mill Valley Ranch draws schools from the city, it provides a novel environmental surrounding that some children haven’t had the chance to experience, with natural features such as bushland, walking tracks, wildlife, creeks and grasslands.

As camping at the ranch would be classified as Zone 4 (Beames, 2012), there would need to be significant planning and preparation put into the organisation of the time away. On the other hand, as it is a registered campsite, with permanent full time staff available on site at all times, the supervision of students and risk management has already well structured to ensure optimal safety on site, and working within their safety guidelines assures the safety of students. So it would be important teachers are aware of these risks before commencing camp.

However the planning for this event is equally as important as planning for the learning that potentially can flow on from children’s experience at Mill Valley Ranch. The activities explain in this assignment are designed to be versatile to encourage learning across the curriculum that can be used in unison with encounters at the ranch, but it is also my intention that children would learn how to form a ‘relationship’ with their own local landscapes, encouraging further discovery and skill development (Beames, 2012, p. 40). These activities have also be designed as a guideline, so that teachers can adapt activities to suit a scope of age levels and learning abilities.

In order to enable students to take responsibility of their environment, Sobel (1996, p.10 as cited in Gilbert & Hoepper, 2011) argues the importance of providing children to ‘have an opportunity to bond with the natural world, to learn to love it and feel comfortable in it, before being asked to heal its wounds’(p. 357). This is the reason that the selected activities have been suggested, as they provide opportunities for children to become familiar with the natural world, and hopefully in turn, as they further their understanding and deepen their relationship they become empowered to actively become part of sustainable development.

With rapid advancements that are instantaneously changing our world, such as technology and population growth, the intensity of our profession is becoming apparent with the need to be teaching students to deal with situations and issues that have not yet even surfaced in society (Goekler, 2003). Promoting curiosity will hopefully prepare them to take on these future challenges as they develop specific knowledge and skills based on their environments. Harnessing students’ creativity has a strong connection with encouraging curiosity, because by providing the opportunities to experience high levels of personal relevance and interest in the outdoors, where students become intrigued by their surrounding and they can become inquirers and discovers (Beames, 2012), cultivating students’ independence and creativity.

The final guideline, building community partnerships, baselines the entirety of this unit. As children develop an in depth relationship with the environment, the activities and task aim to assist them in (1) ‘identifying serious problems in their communities, (2) analyzing the roots of those problems in larger socio-economic and cultural system, and (3) creating localized, healthy relationships with mentors and with each other in the context of our immediate ecosystems’( Lowenstien, 2010, p. 103). 8 Guidelines for Planning Lessons Outside the Classroom Beames, S., Higgins, P. J. & Nicol R. (2012). Introduction and Overview. Learning outside the classroom: theory and guidelines for practice. Retrieved from: http://readinglists.lib.monash.edu/items/4018D464-F869-DF17-271D-A935C9C02AEA.html

Creager, J. (1976). Teaching for the Future. The American Biology Teacher. 38(2). Retrieved from: http://www.jstor.org.ezproxy.lib.monash.edu.au/stable/4445473

Davis, J. (Eds). (2010). Young Children and the Environment. Early Education for Sustainability. Retrieved from: http://images.lib.monash.edu.au/edf4321/04129883.pdf

Gilbert, R., & Hoepper, B. (2011). Teaching Society and Environment. (2nd. ed.) Retrieved from: http://images.lib.monash.edu.au/edf2303/04208109.pdf

Goekler, J. (2003). Teaching for the future: Systems thinking and sustainability. Green Teacher, (70), 8-14. Retrieved from http://search.proquest.com/docview/228741779?accountid=12528

Lowenstein, E., Martusewicz, R., & Voelker, L. (2010). Developing teachers' capacity for EcoJustice education and community-based learning. Teacher Education Quarterly, 37(4), 99-118. Retrieved from http://search.proquest.com/docview/791909048?accountid=12528\

Waite, S. (Eds). (2011). Children Learning Outside the Classroom From Birth to Eleven. Retrieved from: http://images.lib.monash.edu.au/edf2303/04208640.pdf

Photo Credit: http://fc04.deviantart.net/fs39/f/2008/358/d/d/Mill_Valley_Ranch_1_by_FullMetalMono.jpg Reference List Environment Movement Community Community based learning relocates classrooms outside, asking students to see themselves and their learning as a necessary part of the immediate community surrounding them. (Lowenstein, Martusewicz, Voelker, 2010, p. 103) The Outdoor Classroom - Animal conservation: Learn about the possum rehabilitation program at MVR. Create a report of animals that need protection in their home area. (Literacy, Maths)

- Nature diary: have a class dairy that students can add photos, write or draw their observations throughout the day and can carry on back at school. The dairy could go home with a different student each week also and they could record what they find at home. (Literacy, science)

- Gardening: learning about the gardens at MVR, and cooking uses those ingredients. Students could create their own garden at home. (growing vegetables as well as the insect and animal population) MATH

- Climate change challenge: as a class, find ways to reduce their carbon footprint. Possibly compete against other classes in the school. (Maths, Literacy, science)

- Water: discover the various water sources/storage at MVR and how their water systems work. Research their own water systems in their community, including the conservation, origin and use of water. (Science, history)

- Food chains: examine food chains in the area and look at the significance of each individual part. Create and art piece that represents that particular chain. (Science, art)

- Power Saving: create energy saving promotional poster to put on display for MVR, their classroom, school and even community. (Arts, literacy) Pedagocial Possibilities - Short Stories: study and record information about a specific animal/plant/area/person for inspiration to write a narrative. (Literacy, science/history)

- Bird watching: Record observation of bird sightings, sounds, interactions, etc, and create a class fact file. Observation of other animals native to the area would also be applicable. (Maths, literacy, science)

- Water watch: Conduct a series of tests to discover water velocity, temperature, dissolved oxygen and pH levels. Explore the living things in the water; animal, insects and plants. (Maths, science)

- Mapping - Animal watch: set up a series of cameras in a particular area and photograph/record animals, as well as looking for evidence, such as tracks, droppings and homes, to create maps of animal paths.

- Ecosystems: Observe, explore and become comfortable in outdoor environments. This could be done through examining the various ecosystems at MVR. (Science, Literacy)

- Clean Water: Learn about how MVR uses tank water, and make own mini-aquifers. (Science, arts)

- Observation space: take a hoop and place it over an area (grassy areas, small plants, etc). Observe and record what you see in that area over a period of time. Share with others. (Science, Literacy)

- Which tree do I belong too: Hand out different types of leaves (or flowers) and allow children to search to find matching leaves. Make a collage with what they find. (Science, arts) Pedagogical Possiblities -Meet a Tree game: Blindfold a partner and lead them to a tree where they must feel and describe it. Once the blindfold is removed they must find the tree they were identifying. This allows students be become familiar and more comfortable in the natural environment. (Literacy, Physical Education)
-Orienteering Scavenger Hunt: Use maps and compasses to orienteer across the property, finding clues. (Maths, Literacy, History)
-Hut building: Reflecting on the history of the area, use different resources from round the bush area to design and create their own hut. (Arts, History, Maths)
-The Great Circle: collecting similar item to make art work. ART
-The Water Cycle: explore the water systems in place at MVR (creek, lake, dams, tanks) and create a drama representing this cycle. (Science, Arts)
-If Trees Could Talk: Choose a particular tree and inquire into the life the tree has, and perform, through acting, music or dance, the experiences the plant would have. Drama activities/games could be derived from this concept also. (Art, science) Pedagoical Possibilities -Aboriginal history: Go on a walk through the bush area, and examine the different elements that were used for various needs in the past, for example bush tucker, shelter, hunting, landscape. (History, literacy)
-The evolution of pollution: Distinguish differences between MVR and where students have come from, discuss the how pollution has had an effect on both areas. Create an action plan to help reduce pollution where they live. (History, science)
-Interview: have students write questions throughout their time at MVR to formulate question they can ask local community member (eg. Park rangers, wildlife specialists). They could also create surveys to find out more about their own communities. (Literacy, history)
-Conservation Rangers: create action plans that they can carry out at home to conserve energy/water at home. Have dairies for recording daily information. (Maths, Literacy, Science) Pedagocical Possibilities
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