Creating an Equitable Learning Environment for All Students!

Outdoor learning and hands-on STEM experiences are critical to overcoming learning loss and re-engaging students in their learning. As districts integrate outdoor learning into their reopening plans, they are embracing not only the academic benefits, but also the measurable social-emotional and health benefits during COVID-recovery.  This webinar focuses on the value of providing real-world experiences on every school campus that inspire students and deepen learning across the curriculum.

Experts include:

Peggy Brookins, Out Teach National Board Member and President and CEO of the National Board for Professional Teaching Standards
Dr. Morcease Beasley, Superintendent of Clayton County Public Schools
Ben Gaspar, Outdoor Education Specialist from Merrick-Moore Elementary School in Durham, NC
Out Teach Design Team Members — Professional Landscape Architects Evan Dintaman and Kalle Waterhouse, and Project Manager/Master Teacher Sammy Wren

How Do Outdoor Spaces Improve Equity?

School districts across the country are investing in outdoor learning because it’s an effective and equitable way to provide a wide array of benefits to all students. Outdoor learning is:

• Valuable – Access to STEM-skill building opportunities, such as those found outdoors, helps high need students forge a path toward one of many plentiful and rewarding STEM careers.
• Cross-Curricular – Outdoor spaces create an immersive and engaging three-dimensional learning environment proven to boost Science, Math, and ELA performance.
• Holistic – Hands-on outdoor group projects help students develop 21st Century and social emotional skills that foster success in school and in any career.
• Accessible – From sidewalks to soccer fields, most elementary schools have access to outdoor spaces that can be quickly and affordably activated to improve instruction.
• Lasting — Short term investments in training teachers to use the outdoors improves their effectiveness for the rest of their careers, and improves teacher job-satisfaction.
• Flexible — Because all students, even those at home, can get outside for real hands-on experiences, outdoor learning makes schools more flexible, nimble, and responsive to future pandemics or other emergencies.
• Safe – As schools return to in-person instruction, outdoor spaces give all schools ways to bring in-person instruction to a safer outdoor environment.

6 key ingredients to creating an outdoor classroom

Out Teach recently provided District Administration with a list of important ingredients for school leaders to consider when creating more formal outdoor instructional spaces. Teachers will be better equipped to use the outdoors regularly if leaders:

•      Carefully choose gathering locations
•      Provide seating and whiteboards
•      Identify shade and storage options

Read the full article          Watch the Edutopia video

Download the “Moving Learning Outdoors” Handbook Intro, FAQ, and Checklist

[Right Photo Credit – Lindsay Kappius]

Checklist for Campus

Moving learning outside can be intimidating, so we break it down piece by piece to help school and district leaders overcome common challenges and give all students and teachers more time outside.  Follow the checklist below to start getting students and teachers more time outside.

•      Decide on desired purpose and frequency of outdoor time
•      Map your space
•      Create a rotation schedule
•      Gather supplies and resources
•      Plan the lessons
•      Recruit volunteers

View the full list         Watch the Edutopia video      Read the Durham County Flipbook

Frequently Asked Questions

Moving learning outside often raises questions for school leaders, so we answer the most common ones we encounter here.  Download the full FAQ.

•      What kind of space is needed?
•      What about managing logistics?
•      What about the weather and safety?
•      What equipment/ supplies do we need?
•      How can teachers prepare?

Maps, Schedules, and Resources

ANY school can provide the benefits of outdoor learning, even if it’s just for part of the day.  View our sample campus maps from partner schools, as well as sample schedules to facilitate planning and make taking class outside less daunting.

View Sample Maps Larger CampusSmaller Campus

View Sample Schedules Schedule 1, Schedule 2 Schedules in Google Sheets

Access Lesson Plans — To access free Out Teach lesson plans and resources, visit bit.ly/OutTeachJoin

More Resources — Visit Green Schoolyards America’s Covid-19 Outdoor Learning Initiative for more tips on activating schools’ outdoor spaces.

Teaching methods to support outdoor STEM instruction

The National Board of Professional Teaching Standards invited the head of the Out Teach instructional team, Scott Feille, to help teachers working remotely get students more engaged outdoors.

Scott explains how the Synchronous / Asynchronous /Synchronous model helps teachers get students engaged in a topic, then lets them step outside for an independent exploration, and then has them come back to share their experiences.

SXSW Session

At the most recent SXSWEdu conference, Out Teach CEO Jeanne McCarty brought together Principal Reymundo Cervantes and Outdoor STEM Instructor Sean Splawski to discuss how ANY school can use simple outdoor spaces to improve academics, especially Science.

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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.