“POP UP” Outdoor Classrooms
A New Kind of Revolution
I am proud to announce that both my courses at North Shore Community College, Child Growth and Development and Foundations of Early Childhood, have been accepted as “Green Curriculum” courses. This project integrates sustainability issues and environmental concepts into existing courses. As adjunct faculty, I have worked with the Green Curriculum team and incorporated nature-based curriculum, sustainability and environmental topics into both courses. With each new semester, there are always new questions. This Spring semester I ponder, “How can we create outdoor classrooms on college campuses?”
Community Colleges tend to be transient places. People come from all walks of life to either pick up a course or simply begin their programs of study. Most students transfer and move on. Sustaining a traditional Outdoor Classroom on a Community College Campus may not be the best idea for now. We need a short term solution for the short time we have our students. What if we matched the type of Outdoor Classroom to fit the type of community we are working with? What course or seminar have you been to that was more outside than inside?
As an educator, I can led by example, advocate a way of teaching and hold my classes outdoors. This Spring I will be taking the “Green Curriculum” project one step further with “Pop Up” Outdoor Classroom experiences. In my syllabus, I have invited students to add clipboards and fold up chairs to their materials list. My plan is to demonstrate how simple it is create an Outdoor Classroom experience. Throughout the semester, I will review every existing lecture, lesson and activity and ask myself, “Can I incorporate an outdoor, nature based concept to this lesson?” If the answer is “Yes”, our class will travel outside for a “Pop Up” Outdoor Classroom experience. Students will come to understand to bring their “Pop Up” Classroom materials on those days.
I can’t wait to lecture on Reggio Emilia, Waldorf and Montessori while soaking up the sun and exploring the outdoors. My new group of students are in for a surprise. My hope is that one day, all Community Colleges will have Outdoor Classrooms for all to enjoy the wonder of teaching and learning outdoors. In the meantime, why not explore the “Pop Up” Outdoor Classroom experience.