At Powhatan School we use an approach called Nature Enhanced Approach to Learning (NEAL). NEAL is a lens through which we can teach any or all components of our curriculum. We use it to bring our students outside into the natural world and to bring the natural world indoors to our students. Mrs. Kesler, a Fifth Grade Teacher, brings you a recent example of using the outdoors to enhance student engagement and make learning fun!
“After analyzing data that included ERB results, teacher anecdotal notes, VAIS committee reports, and the recent science curriculum review, we felt that measurement was an area that we wanted to revisit in fifth grade.
Through collaboration on campus, we designed and implemented a hands-on measurement unit in science. I created lessons that used both nature and classroom materials in order to engage the students. I wanted the lessons to be fun and focused and thought the use of the Crocker Property would be a perfect choice.
First we measured various objects found in nature such as sticks, plants, a blade of grass, etc. Students used measurement tools to estimate and then carefully measure. They had a lot of fun measuring the length of boards on a bridge, the height of a bush, and the width of a leaf. They also had to express their results in centimeters and millimeters. By measuring common outdoor items, I hoped students would be more interested in using the tools accurately. What could be a somewhat boring indoor lesson, became fun and engaging by bringing the classroom outside. After collecting our data… read more: http://bit.ly/1Q43BJK
These activities provided students with continued experiences in collecting, measuring, and analyzing data. By including the outdoors and common household objects, the unit connects their learning to the world around them making it more meaningful. The end of unit assessment showed positive growth for all students.”
-Mrs. Kesler, Fifth Grade Teacher