For example, rather than exclusively teaching science with the use of kits, I think we should intersect that learning with the natural lands, gardens, and environmental/science organizations in our midst. I believe this makes the learning more natural and relevant while also giving students a learning palette they can continue to access with their families, as they play, create, and explore, and in their later life as interns, employees, and potentially for career paths.
I want our learning/teaching environments to be as natural, playful, and inviting as possible. For example, yesterday as I interacted with numerous exhibits at the Boston Children's Museum, I was witness to the playful potential learning holds when the environment invites natural learning.
So how can we make our learning environments conducive to playful, natural learning--what might we do? I have a number of ideas I'd like to implement in the coming years.
- Create interactive nature paths through our wonderful border forest and wetlands. We tried this before, but we did not give the effort the time or dedication it needed for success.
- Intersect our science units with the schools' composting and gardening efforts.
- Intersect our teaching and learning with local environmental and science organizations.
- Replace desks with rolling tables that can be easily moved and used for individual learning, teamwork, and project/problem based learning.
- Limit the number of traditional tests and build in more holistic assessments instead.
- Create a math-friendly playground where students have the chance to interact with math-friendly playground signage and equipment on a regular basis.
- Instead of spending lots of money on cabinets, instead use the money to install playful, science exploration exhibits, the kind of interactive exhibits you see at local hands-on science discovery museums.
- Use the new idea I read about for substitute teachers and hire experts in the field of science, music, and art to come in with special programming when a teacher is absent. Imagine that an origami artist teaches a day of origami when a teacher is ill rather than a substitute coming in to replicate a teacher's plans.
- Look at staffing and scheduling in an effort to create a more dynamic teaching/learning day for all.
I will be thinking about ways to develop a more natural, playful, creative and fun learning day for my students as I move forward. Yesterday's visit to the museum further inspired this quest for me.