Our Blog

A note from Mr. Gibbons, a 5th grade science teacher

clipboard-medium

“I had this one student, Sara. She was a sweet girl, but a distracted student, just bouncing off the walls, failing test after test. I worried about how to keep her engaged in my science class.

Then we partnered with Out Teach. I learned how to use the outdoor learning lab, and took the class outside for a “forms of energy” lesson. At first, Sara didn’t want to go, saying ‘Ugh! I don’t like going outside.’ But then I asked her to find an example of sound energy in the outdoor classroom, and she was immediately engaged and interested. It was like she had flipped a switch! Outdoor lessons finally unlocked what had been there the whole time — intelligence, curiosity, and wonder. The outdoor lab gave  her the chance to be herself because there was always something new to do and investigate outside. Soon, Sara was even coming up with her own lessons and sharing them with her fellow students.

Now, Sara and her classmates are confident problem-solvers, easily connecting what they’re learning to the real world — and it shows on their report cards!  Thank you, Out Teach, for helping me bring learning to life for my students. They’re eager to come outside and explore with me, and I’m happy too, because every day their futures get brighter and brighter.”

Out Teach equips teachers to unlock student performance with the power of outdoor experiential learning.

Help us empower more teachers like Mr. Gibbons to reach more students like Sara!

  • Names have been changed to protect student privacy.

 

Teacher Story — Elsa Hartmann

hartman-obscuredThank you so much to Elsa Hartmann for sharing her story with us!  We love hearing how engaged your students are.

My name is Elsa Hartmann. I am a 4th grade bilingual teacher at David G. Burnet Elementary School. My experience working with Out Teach was amazing. Before I started the program, I did not know how to use the garden in my lesson. Mrs. Kelly came to model a lesson in the garden and that helped me tremendously. I didn’t even know where to start, but now I have the tools I need. First, I observed how Mrs. Kelly took a TEKS and purposely aligned it around the school garden. Another thing that I observed was how one hundred percent of my students were fully engaged. Even the students that have difficulty staying focused where excited about the lesson and the work. I was very impressed at how Mrs. Kelly used the lesson cycle and motivated the students to create their own figurative language using the garden. Also, the kids were using higher order thinking skills because they created their own poem with the figurative they collected around the garden. I feel more confident about creating lessons in the garden and taking advantaged of it. My favorite part of the modeled lesson was how hands on and engaging lessons can be in the garden. I’m looking forward to seeing how we can use the garden for informational text/TEKS.

Elsa Hartmann
Bilingual Teacher
David G. Burnet Elementary School.

WOW.  There’s another way.

Luisa Aviles wasn’t always an Instructional Coach for Out Teach.  She first encountered the organization when she was a teacher at L. K. Hall elementary, where she taught for seven years. Luisa remembers what it was like before the Out Teach program (then REAL School Gardens) came to her school.

“After even just a few years, teachers can get tired and frustrated.  You want to help these kids learn, but over and over again, it can feel like you’re hitting a wall.  There’s always kids who struggle with certain concepts, or behavior problems, or attention issues.  And you’re struggling to help all your kids, searching for new ideas, or you’re spending hours trying to create solutions on your own.  I’m a creative person, but sometimes it felt like I was reinventing the wheel.

I knew I needed more professional development.  And while the district offered one-day PD sessions, their one-size fits all approach meant that there were only a few tips you could apply to your own daily practice. That’s not helpful to a teacher’s professional growth.  Think of teachers like doctors or lawyers.  For every student individually, and then the class as a whole, you need to analyze the situation, spot the challenges, then holistically look for long-term solutions.  For 30 kids, for every lesson, every single day.  And no one-day session is of much help there.luisa-teacher-2

So when our principal partnered with Out Teach (then REAL School Gardens,) I knew that this was something very different.  I could tell they were there to support me as a fellow professional.

During the first training, we were outside, learning in our own space, and I realized that this was what I had been searching for.  This was different.  This was a whole new way to teach.  Everything I needed was right there outside. I could use all my skills, all my creativity, and shift over to experiential learning in an outdoor setting.  It was so exciting.

And then our Instructional Coach returned, over and over again, working with teachers with their own students, in their own environment.  I couldn’t get enough.  I worked with the Instructional Coach and developed a six-week cross-curricular unit for my kindergarten class.  That class had a number of behavior issues I needed to manage, so some teachers were really surprised that I was taking my students outside, but I knew this approach could work wonders, and I was right.

For six weeks I got the children more engaged and self-directed by giving them experiential lessons outdoors.  At the end of it, not only did they all do well on their district test, but the kids who had exhibited difficult behavior beforehand, they shaped up and stayed right with me when we were learning outdoors.  Outside, I could just redirect all of that energy into the project and they really thrived.    I could really see a new path for myself and way to be more effective every day, and that’s deeply fulfilling professionally.  Now every day, I enjoy helping other teachers transform learning for their classes and themselves.

 

 

Press Release — Outdoor Learning Lab at Lebanon Road Elementary in Charlotte, North Carolina

MORE THAN 150 VOLUNTEERS BUILD AN OUTDOOR LEARNING LAB FOR LEBANON ROAD ELEMENTARY SCHOOL

On September 26, more than 150 teachers, students, and community volunteers will work side-by-side to build an Outdoor Learning Lab at Lebanon Road Elementary in Charlotte, North Carolina.  Soon, Lebanon Road students will have a dynamic new Outdoor Learning Lab where teachers can lead exciting and engaging outdoor experiential lessons that add relevance, purpose, and real-world meaning to every subject.

This “Big Dig” event is hosted by Out Teach (formerly REAL School Gardens), a national nonprofit that coaches and inspires teachers to unlock student performance with the power of outdoor experiential learning.  The Charlotte Hornets Foundation and Novant Health have stepped forward to provide both funding and the volunteers for the project.

lebanon-road-designOutdoor experiential learning deepens students’ understanding of key concepts, sparks children’s curiosity, and gets them excited about learning.  This new Outdoor Learning Lab matches up with two of the Charlotte Hornets Foundation’s four pillars for community outreach – education and wellness.  The new Outdoor Learning Lab will contain dozens of curriculum-aligned features that will give students hands-on real-world activities to get them more engaged in their Science, Math, and Literacy lessons while also boosting their health and well-being.

Novant Health Mint Hill Medical Center, the health system’s 15th hospital, will open its doors on Oct. 1 just a few miles down the street from the school. Team members from the new hospital are excited to lend a hand in creating this community’s Outdoor Learning Lab.

“Both education and environment are key priorities for Novant Health, and this project blends the two together beautifully,” said Joy Greear, president and chief operating officer of Novant Health Mint Hill Medical Center. “We see this as a long-term community partnership, and look forward to building relationships with the teachers, students and families at Lebanon Road Elementary.”

Where:              Lebanon Road Elementary School
7300 Lebanon Rd, Charlotte, NC 28227

When:               Wednesday, September 26 – Opening Ceremony 9:00 AM

The project began with students drawing out the different features they wanted in their Outdoor Learning Lab.  With even more ideas from dozens of parents, teachers, and administrators, the Out Teach team created the final design and volunteer building plan based on the school community’s vision.

By the end of the day, the new Outdoor Learning Lab will be complete with dozens of features that enhance instruction and give students hands-on lessons in every subject.  The finished outdoor classroom will have seating areas, white boards, raised vegetable and flower beds, a weather station, earth science stations, rain barrels, animal and insect habitats and more.

Out Teach will then provide years of training and professional development and coaching to show teachers how to use each different feature to improve instruction and deepen student understanding.  By leading engaging outdoor experiential lessons, teachers will get students excited about school and give them a deep understanding of what they’re learning, building a strong foundation of knowledge on which to grow.

 

Press Release — REAL School Gardens is becoming Out Teach

Going Outside Expectations
REAL School Gardens is becoming Out Teach

 National Nonprofit Changes its Name
To Better Reflect Focus on Teachers

For more than a decade, REAL School Gardens has been working for a future in which all students have access to the kind of engaging and hands-on education that can change their lives, schools, and communities. The nonprofit quickly discovered that teacher development and support is the key to success in this mission, and it now works with schools across the country to support and coach teachers. Today, the organization announced it has changed its name to Out Teach to better reflect its focus on equipping teachers to unlock student performance with the power of outdoor experiential education.

Being a teacher is hard work.  Each day, the nation relies on teachers to ensure that every student not only learns about math, science, and literacy, but also masters 21st Century workforce skills, all the while developing their social-emotional abilities. Even the most dedicated teachers need high-quality professional development to help their students succeed.

However, studies show that less than half of all teachers receive effective professional development, and only one in five report they receive tailored coaching.  Teachers in low-income schools have even fewer effective professional learning opportunities, despite a much greater need.  Across the board, science instructions suffers because of a lack of professional development.  In fact, 40% of elementary students receive less than one hour of science per week and it shows. On national tests, 62% of 4th graders are not proficient in Science.

To give teachers the tools and training they need to succeed, national nonprofit REAL School Gardens has spent the past 15 years empowering more than 6,500 teachers in low-income elementary schools with job-embedded professional learning and engaging outdoor learning labs, helping them harness the power of outdoor experiential learning to improve student outcomes.  Because when teachers succeed, students succeed.

That investment in professional development has produced measurable results.  Data from 1,382+ teachers in the program last year shows:

  • 96% showed increased effectiveness across 7 measures of knowledge, skills, and attitudes.
  • 95% reported being better prepared as educators as a result of our training, and say they are able to apply the content of the professional development to their work right away.
  • 94% reported that their students were more engaged as a result of the program.

Using an evidence-based approach, the organization equips teachers use outdoor spaces to deliver experiential lessons that accelerate learning, build critical thinking skills, and increase student engagement.  Research shows the program measurably improves teacher effectiveness and student engagement, the two strongest predictors of long term student success.

Now, to clearly reflect their commitment to teachers, the organization is changing its name to Out Teach.  A new name and tagline “Out Teach – Go Outside Expectations” and a new logo highlight the importance of teachers and the need for training to help them radically shift their daily practice from traditional teacher-centered instruction to more effective and inspiring student-driven learning.

Out Teach partners with schools and districts to provide years of job-embedded professional development so teachers can easily implement effective outdoor experiential lessons.  Instead of just changing a few teachers’ practices, Out Teach works with teachers, principals, and instructional leaders to create a new school culture.  By coaching and inspiring teachers to lead outdoor experiential lessons, the organization works to unlock the performance of every student.

Though their focus on teachers remains the same, the new name helps position the organization to expand its professional development offerings to new districts and regions across the country.  Now, as part of a national expansion plan, Out Teach is also announcing its new commitment to scale up its teacher professional learning programs to reach 15,000 teachers by 2023.

Out Teach is well on their way.  Over the past two years the organization has:

  • Doubled its regional footprint, partnering with 17 school districts across 7 cities
  • Provided 2x more teachers with job-embedded instructional coaching, having trained 1,382 in 2018
  • Developed an online Coaching Center, offering on-demand training videos and support to 3,300 teachers
  • Started offering proven professional development programs to any school with under-used outdoor space
  • Reached 57,610 students, becoming a national leader in outdoor experiential learning and professional development for teachers

Now, as Out Teach, the organization is strongly positioned to finish scaling its impact and reach its 2023 goal.

Out Teach gives teachers the tools they need to get outside – beyond the classroom – to create unforgettable learning experiences and measurable results for their students.  Because teachers who lead effective outdoor experiential lessons ensure that every student looks forward to school and is excited to learn.   By inspiring curiosity and a sense of wonder, teachers can help students build a foundation of real-world knowledge and experiences to last a lifetime.

###

About Out Teach
By coaching and inspiring teachers, and building them engaging outdoor learning labs, Out Teach unlocks student performance with the power of outdoor experiential learning.  We equip teachers to use outdoor spaces to deliver exciting, engaging lessons aligned with Next Generation Science Standards, Common Core, and standards.  We also partner with corporations to build dynamic Outdoor Learning Labs, full of features teachers can use to deepen student understanding of key concepts in Math, Science, and Literacy.  Out Teach is currently executing a national growth plan, and by 2023, will be in 15 cities across 5 regions, reaching 15,000 teachers and 200,000 students every year.

For more information, contact Alison Risso, 202.621.2375 or arisso@out-teach.org

Out Teach would like to thank the team at Red Deluxe for all of their work on this rebranding.

About Red Deluxe
Red Deluxe Brand Development is brand consulting and campaign development firm that works with corporate and nonprofit clients across the country to plan and execute effective messaging projects, including research studies, program naming, rebrands, and national PSA campaigns. More information about Red Deluxe can be found at www.reddeluxe.com.

Same promise. New Name! REAL School Gardens is Becoming Out Teach.

REAL School Gardens has spent the past 15 years empowering more than 6,500 teachers in low-income elementary schools with effective professional development and engaging outdoor classrooms, helping them harness the power of outdoor experiential learning to improve student outcomes. Because when teachers succeed, students succeed.

Over the past few years, REAL School Gardens has started growing at breakneck speed. Thanks to our dedicated supporters, board and staff, and enthusiastic school partners, we’ve working with more teachers than ever before in Texas, the Mid-Atlantic, the Carolinas, and the Southeast! We’ve also deepened the impact of our teacher training program and developed an online Coaching Center to provide additional support — all in the matter of just two years.

And with growth comes change, so I’m writing today to share some exciting news!

To clearly reflect our commitment to teachers, we are changing our name to Out Teach. This new name along with a new tagline “Go Outside Expectations” and a new logo help us highlight the importance of teachers and the need for training to help them radically shift their daily practice from traditional teacher-centered instruction to more effective and inspiring student-driven learning. Teachers need to do something new and different to help their students succeed, and we want them to know we’re with them every step of the way.

The name REAL School Gardens will always have a special place in my heart and our history, and it’s hard to say goodbye to a name created by our inspiring founders, Suzy Peacock and Stacey Hodge, and our founding investor, businessman and philanthropist Richard Rainwater, and the Rainwater Charitable Foundation. Moving forward as Out Teach, we promise to stay true to their vision of outdoor experiential learning and their dedication to teachers.

The hard work that went into building REAL School Gardens will live on through Out Teach and I thank each and every one of you for your support on this journey. I invite you to join us as we continue to empower teachers and students to go outside expectations. Your support as we take these next steps is critical. Please take a moment and donate now to impact the lives of thousands of teachers and students in the coming years.

Warmly,

Jeanne McCarty
Chief Executive Officer

We are coaching and inspiring teachers.

We are unlocking student performance.

We are empowering schools to go outside expectations.

We are Out Teach.

Teacher Spotlight — Martha Brown and Alison Wilkinson

This first story is from Martha Brown.

“Each grade level harvested potatoes from their garden bed and donated their potatoes to the Salvation Army, Irving chapter. We kept a chart totaling each grade level’s collection and used fractions when appropriate. We were trying to add up what we had collected so far, and one group of third graders were struggling with adding 4 1/2 pounds plus 6 3/4 pounds. We went back over to the scales and weighed 1/2 pounds in potatoes. We took those potatoes off the scale and then weighed out 3/4 pounds. Once we determined we had 1/2 and 3/4 pounds we put 3/4 pounds on the scale and added the 1/2 pounds one potato at a time. Learners saw the scale reach the 1 pound mark and then instantly knew it was going to go to 1 and 1/4 pounds. These learners understood more deeply about how to add fractions than if they had just been working with pencil and paper. The real world experience of weighing vegetables gave them such a valuable lesson. This group reworked their original problem and were able to solve it. We continued on to weigh our onions in ounces after that with student success!”

These next two stories are from Alison Wilkinson, shared by Martha Brown”

“Alison had given her 3rd grade dual language learners a brief lesson in the classroom on the properties of matter but knew some of her learners were struggling with the vocabulary. Alison took her class to the outdoor learner area and followed a REAL School Gardens lesson on the properties of matter. After the students collected about 15 solids in baggies with a partner, Alison modeled how to sort one of the baggies describing the properties of the objects as rough or smooth. It was then the learners turn to sort as they saw fit. Alison saw her struggling learners use the vocabulary words “properties” and “matter” correctly in sentences. Her students were extremely excited and found other ways to sort their objects. One group showed her their sort by manmade and things found in nature. They were very pleased with their work. Alison extended the lesson by having each group take a picture of their sort. She brought it back into the classroom and each group shared their picture and the class had to guess their sort. Alison said her class truly grasped the meaning of properties of matter after being outdoors with the lesson and asked if they could collect different objects on another day.”

“Alison presented a lesson on sound energy to her class in the outdoor learning center. She wanted her class to have a better understanding of what sound energy looked like in everyday settings while understanding vocabulary such as pitch and volume. She modeled with a student partner the way they would look for sound in the outdoors. She and her partner recorded a video with sound only on the iPad, crumpling leaves together. They then took a picture of the crumpled leaves with their iPad. Alison and her partnered described the sound as a medium pitch and low volume with crackling sound. At that point the dual language partners found their own objects and recorded sound and took pictures. They then took turns and let the class try to guess their sound by describing it’s pitch and volume and other sound attributes. The class was excited to see who correctly guessed when the partners shared their picture. The learners loved this lesson and struggling learners quickly caught on how to use the words pitch and volume when describing sound.”

Email Sign Up
Sign up to receive our latest email updates!
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.