Page 16 - FIS World Oct 2019 Web
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 The nearby woods offer FISW students a world of wonder
The Classroom Just Got Bigger
Outdoor learning creates a strong foundation for all learners
14 FIS World October 2019
“Ifound a mushroom, a giant one!” says one FISW student. Along with four other classmates, they gather in the forest near the FIS Wiesbaden campus
debating whether the mushroom is living or dead. A few minutes later another student locates a nearby feather. “This one used to be living.” Leaving the previous discussion, his classmate walks up and emphatically declares that feather was never living.
As part of their current science unit, Christina Bachl’s FISW science class collected items in a scavenger hunt to discuss and analyze. Working with FISW Science Coach Sheri Gates, the students return to the class- room to work through their discoveries and develop presentations to support their claims on whether the feather and the mushroom are living or not.
These FISW Middle School students, along with their younger counterparts, are part of a growing global trend to move kids outside to learn. For the past sev- eral years, FISW has incorporated outdoor learning into its curriculum and sought to directly connect the curriculum with outdoor learning. Being outside pro- vides many benefits for students, including the op-
portunity to develop critical thinking, communica- tion, resilience, personal control, physical and mental health, sensory awareness, and gross and fine motor skills, according to Jason Bentley, FISW Primary Years Programme (PYP) Coordinator.
Not Just a Walk in the Woods
When a group of teachers initiated outdoor learning at FISW 10 years ago, the primary intent was to nur- ture biophilia, or an affinity with the natural world. Over time, the pedagogy has shifted to regarding nature and outdoor learning environments as liv- ing classrooms where learning is purposeful and connected to the world.
FISW teachers are now turning outdoor routines and designated "forest days" into a complete ped- agogy shift. After attending several workshops on outdoor learning, their collaborative focus is less on just getting students outside and more on teachers identifying the right spaces for learning, whether outside or inside. "Small groups of teachers started looking at what units would be better for the out- doors and began asking, 'why should we do that les-

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