This month I am proud to announce the publication of free lessons that I have created in partnership with The Forestry Commission Learning Rangers.
In July 2015 I met with the education team from Sherwood Pines to talk about this potential project and how we can work together to bring technology and outdoor learning together.
This year we have been running Woodland Workshops for our Foundation children. They visit the nearby woodland for a morning session every fortnight. It’s a great opportunity to get outdoors, no matter the weather, to investigate seasonal changes and take a closer look at this environment.
There have been stacks of learning outside and I wanted to share one way in which technology enhanced outdoor learning. Yes, iPads, outside, away from school.
I’ve talked with teachers for many years about the advantages of mobile technology in the hands of our youngest learners. But taking devices outdoors still seems like a big deal, yet it is very possible and brings great benefits. We use other tools outdoors so technology, when planned for carefully, also enhances play. Furthermore, there are many jobs out there which rely on the use of mobile technology and the outdoors. Take Network Rail for example, who maintain the railway with a workflow supported by a suite of custom made apps. See the story here.
Last half term our investigations were all around our local area. The outcomes of this project would focus on children talking about their home, community, school and their place in the world. As well as the regular practise involved in this kind of learning in the early years, technology enabled us to share this learning in a purposeful way.
First up in the project came International Dot Day which put a spot light on children from other parts of the world who shared the same interests as us. You can read more about International Dot Day here. It’s a great festival that shows children how they are connected to the rest of the world. This initiated conversations about our place in the world, where we live and what it is like here.
In the summer term we take our Foundation Unit to Sherwood Pines, a Forestry Commission park here in Nottinghamshire. As the name suggests, it’s a large woodland with tall pine trees and a great outdoor education team and facilities for all ages. During the day we did all of the outdoor education activities you could think of in a forest: mini beast hunts, woodland art (Andy Goldsworthy), story trails (The Gruffalo) and for the purpose of this blog post, photography.
This summer at the Apple Distinguished Educator Institute in San Diego our theme for the week was ‘Life On Earth’. To kick start the week we had a fantastic keynote from famed biologist E.O. Wilson, author of the new Life on Earth multi-touch textbooks available for free from the iBook Store.
I have watched this episode of The Simpsons many times and always wanted to do something with it.
It gives me a lot to think about, and I know that I have a lot of work to do to improve my outdoor opportunities. Sometimes I don’t always feel confident with the open ended nature of learning outside, I don’t always know how to plan it and how to explain it to others. Sometimes we are not prepared for weather with the right clothes and I know that is always the best times to be outside (puddles, mud, snow). Sometimes I’m not always prepared to take the risks involved in climbing, building etc.
Since starting my NQT year in September I have been passionate about discussing and debating ‘big ideas’ with young children, and exploring effective ways to give the youngest of minds a voice. One of my successful examples is the learning I have facilitated through Education for Sustainability. I put my ideas together alongside Debbie Bradley (Senior Lecturer and Primary Geography Leader at Nottingham Trent University) and Peter Bevington (Year 4 teacher, Nottingham). As a team we presented our teaching ideas at the Geography Association Conference in April 2011. I then presented my work at TeachMeet Midlands in May 2011. Thank you for everyone’s support and interest in my work, I feel it’s time to share this work on my blog.
My first experience of teaching sustainability came about in the first week of the Autumn Term 2. I had planned and resourced a week of work on Autumn Poetry, where children would extend their vocabularly to describe Autumn changes. To kick start this week, we wrapped up warm and went for a muddy walk along ‘Our Special Lane’.
Whilst walking the lane, the children noticed the litter and began to talk about how messy it was. The further we walked, the worse the problem became and the more emotionally charged the children were! By the time we got back to the classroom, they only wanted to talk about litter and blame the big children for it!