Welcome to the Outdoor Learning Guide!This Guide will provide you with information and resources about:
What is an Outdoor Classroom?
Any outdoor space used for student exploration, inquiry and learning is an outdoor classroom. Some schools make gardens the focalpoint of their outdoor education programs. Others focus on recycling and composting. Wildlife habitats such as woods, ponds, creeks, and clearings are popular settings for nature studies, science investigations, geography projects, measurement activities, and journal writing. Check out these featured outdoor education programs in Georgia schools for inspiration and ideas.
How to Make Your Own Outdoor Classroom
TAKE STOCK OF EXISTING ASSETS
ASK THE FACULTY WHAT THEY NEED AND WANT
GET HELP FROM EXPERTS
MAKE A MASTER PLAN AND A MAP
Excited about outdoor education but haven’t yet started the planning process at your school? No worries. You can teach outdoors as soon as today, without any special facilities or equipment. Just pick a hands-on activity for your class and take your students outside.
What to Do In the Outdoor Classroom
How to Keep an Outdoor Classroom Going (or Revitalize an Abandoned One)
Tip #1: Plan Well from the Start
Check out “Planning First to Make Your Outdoor Classroom Last; A Best Management Practices (BMP) Guide for Creating and Sustaining Outdoor Classrooms in Georgia” by Georgia Wildlife Federation
Tip #2: Keep the Program Fresh and Relevant
Use periodic surveys and site inventories to update the Master Plan for physical facilities; ensure that the educational program is still aligned with state performance standards; and add new activities.
Tip #3: Don’t Just Build Facilities: Build Capacity
Train teachers in outdoor education and provide workshops on inquiry investigations. Invest in Volunteers.
Provide training, recognition, support and food.
Tip #4: Document Everything
Provide a s mooth transition for future teachers and volunteers by keeping records of projects, plans, funding, and events. Create ”how to” manuals and post them online. Write a newsletter to teachers and archive them. Bind annual reports and grant progress reports and save them forever. Check out this link to Frey Elementary’s outdoor classroom maintenance guidelines from the “Adopt a Spot Handbook.” Note how thoroughly Worth Primary School has documented their work days and construction projects at this web site.
Tip #5: Read “Sustaining Outdoor Classrooms” by Amanda Kail
Article reprinted with permission from Green Teacher magazine.
Connecting with Kindred Spirits
Even if you are the only person in your entire school with an interest in outdoor education, there are plenty of folks across the state who are in the same boat and would enjoy sharing information with you. Here are a few tips for finding kindred spirits and staying in touch.
Tip #1: Join the Environmental Education Alliance (EEA), the premier environmental education organization in Georgia. Attend the EEA conference each spring.
Tip #2: Attend the Georgia Outdoor Classroom Symposium each fall, to meet kindred spirits and glean new ideas and inspiration.
Tip #3: Missed a few Symposia recently? No problem! Catch up with these hand-outs and Proceedings from the last few years.
Tip #4: Feeling isolated between Symposia? Sign up for these newsletters, to stay current in the field of environmental education all year long:
National Wildlife Federation
Tip #5: Search the EEinGeorgia database to find environmental education providers which may be closer than you think. Or environmental organizations which may be just around the corner.
Outdoor Classrooms and The Big Picture
Start school-wide projects to draw more teachers and students into outdoor education. Affiliate your school with organizations that set standards for and recognize exemplary outdoor education programs. The following are links to some of these organizations:
Resources for Your Outdoor Classroom
Vendors and Costs for Example Outdoor Classrooms (compiled by Frey Elementary)
Funding and Freebies for Outdoor Classrooms
Integrating Technology with Outdoor Education
Tips and Techniques for Teaching Outdoors
Lessons, Activities and Investigations for the Outdoor Classroom