It’s been three years since rockstar teacher Martha Brown’s beloved Denton Creek Elementary became an Out Teach partner school, and they’ve done amazing work in their Outdoor Learning Lab, which students have lovingly nicknamed the Trailblazer Discovery Trail.  In addition to the original Out Teach learning features, they’d recently added interactive compression sandboxes, so students could demonstrate geological compaction.  The school’s gardening club was doing well with the compost, and teachers were inviting local gardening experts to talk through more complex growing challenges.  Martha has been sharing outdoor lessons from the Outdoor Learning Lab weekly on twitter, inspiring other teachers to give outdoor experiential learning a try.

But all of that activity came to a screeching halt with the onset of COVID-19.  Martha was heartbroken, but determined to persevere, and worked hard to transfer all of her outdoor learning online.

With other instructional leaders, Martha came up with a series of “Choice Boards,” where students at home are given a series of activities around a certain theme.  Martha’s were all outdoors of course, and invited students’ families to join in the fun of exploration and observation.   Denton Creek Earth Day Choice Board

Martha is also doing “3 Act” math lessons virtually on Zoom with classes, with an engaging and perplexing Act One, an information and solution seeking Act Two, and a solution discussion and solution revealing Act Three.

And last but not least, Martha is creating YouTube videos to keep students connected to the garden goings-on.   You can watch them here. DCE Garden Update Video  Part 2 Garden Update Video

Though students were sad they didn’t get to watch their veggies grow, they were delighted to learn that the food they’d grown went to local families in need.  Martha says it means a lot for students who are often the recipients of charity to have created something that allows them to charitable as well.

Thank you Martha, for everything you do for students, wherever you may be.

Out Teach, formerly REAL School Gardens, provides professional development for elementary school teachers. Out Teach prepares them to use school gardens, outdoor classrooms, and green schoolyards to improve instruction through three-dimensional project-based learning, and outdoor experiential inquiry-based education. Professional learning with Out Teach improves hands-on science and STEM education through instructional coaching and digital education resources and improves 21st Century skills.