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3 Tips for Teaching Outside and Staying Productive
Take your lessons outside and recharge your students when the weather's great.
Wonderful spring weather is knocking on your classroom door, and your students want you to answer! If you're nervous about taking your teaching outside, check out these three tips that will help you manage your students while giving them a much-needed breath of fresh air.
Incentivize the Experience
It's hard not to notice the longing stares out the window on nice spring days. Why not take advantage of that desire to be outside by using it as an incentive? Reward good behavior in your elementary classroom by having class outside for a day every couple weeks. For older students, turn it into a competition. Have your different classes compete against each other, and reward the one with the highest average on a test by having class outside. Talk about a motivator!
In my classroom, my students earn XP (experience points) throughout the course of the year. They "level up" when they have earned a specific amount of XP and can use "tools" on their test that depend on the level they're on. For example, at the "bronze" level, the tool my students can use on their unit test is a peppermint. When they reach the "silver" level, my students earn two bonus points on their test and a peppermint on test day. When all students in my class reach at least the "silver" level, they earn a class period outside!
If your class has access to smartphones, tablets, or laptops, try using a digital tool like EDpuzzle to help your students interact with content outside of the classroom. EDpuzzle allows teachers to create video lessons for their students. We know our students seem to want to be on YouTube all day, every day, so why not use that to our advantage? You can can create videos and upload them to EDpuzzle, choose ready-to-use lessons, or create your own video lessons with YouTube videos. Simply create an account, add your classes, embed formative assessment questions in videos, and you're ready to go. EDpuzzle assignments are accessible from any device, so students can interact with course content while enjoying the wonderful spring weather, and teachers can monitor student progress online. It's a win-win-win!
Further reading: 5 Inspirational Books for Teachers
Set Clear Expectations
Holding class outside can be rewarding, but also challenging because there are distractions. To maintain control, you'll have to establish sound procedures. So before heading out the door to enjoy the weather, lay the groundwork for your expectations and emphasize the reasoning behind those standards.
If students are outside, they'll likely be more spread out than they would be within the four walls of your classroom. Utilize the "buddy system" and create a specific area in which students are required to stay during the class period. Emphasize that following these rules and procedures will keep them safe.
Further reading: A Teacher's Guide to Spring Cleaning
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Holding class outside can be great fun for teachers and students. If you're itching to enjoy the spring weather with your students, make sure you use these suggestions to keep everything on track.