Last Friday, our teachers took a professional development course about outdoor learning. As the weather finally warms, and it is looking and feeling like Spring, we welcome any reason to get outdoors and enjoy the warm sun and fresh air! But taking our classes outside isn’t just about enjoying the weather - it’s about offering a change in environment, activating our senses, providing more space to accommodate larger materials and allow for more movement, creating contact with the natural world and unique experiences, and nurturing physical development and promoting an active and healthy lifestyle.
We don’t need to be studying clouds, trees, or butterflies to go outside. Although we do conduct many science lessons outdoors, we also go outside to write poetry, make observations before art studio, practice measuring lengths in feet, yards and meters, paint and draw on different surfaces, and take scavenger hunts.
Our continuing education and professional development courses are about more than earning required credit hours. Our teachers, who truly are lifelong learners, left last week’s training excitedly planning outdoor lessons that will benefit their students’ academic, social-emotional, and physical development.
Earlier this week, our second grade teachers planned and introduced a transdisciplinary study of cherry blossoms. The children read an article about cherry blossom trees, worked together to investigate and answer questions, then got on the Harbor bus to visit the cherry trees in the Kenwood neighborhood. The kids observed the trees, and used iPads to take photos that they will refer to when creating paintings and writing poems about the blossoms. Ms. Kiernan and Ms. Darvish have also invited Ms. Wilson to teach the class more about the history of DC’s cherry trees, and their significance in Japanese culture.
Being able to take the short trip down River Road to view the trees up close brought this seasonal lesson to life, engaged the children, and helped foster an appreciation for our natural world. This is just one example of the creativity, energy and intentionality that our teachers put into their planning and instruction. We are lucky to have such talented, dedicated teachers at Harbor!