Outdoor Learning

Outdoor Learning includes the discovery, learning about and connecting to our natural world. Getting students outdoors, even just for 30 minutes, and engaged in environmental activities offers many benefits. This is true during the pandemic and beyond.

When I first started teaching about 13 years ago, I worked for a central city Milwaukee public school. Being a Montessori public school, our students had a slight advantage over many of their neighborhood peers. Connecting to the outdoors and the surrounding communities was already built into their learning curriculum.

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Walking With Nature

Walking with Nature: New research shows walking and talking enhances our mental creativity. The primary source of walking’s cognitive benefits seems to come from its effects on the mysterious spontaneous fluctuations of our brains. Reason is not the source of intelligence. Instead, it’s the product of it.

Walking with nature also makes us feel good. It releases endorphins which lowers our risk of depression. Walking with nature also increases cognitive functioning and strengthens our memory.

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Full Moon

Last night there was an impressive one. And, I’m not talking about one of those wimpy ones. It was one of those giant, glowing, fill-the-sky full moons. Only, I didn’t know there was going to be one.

Instead, I noticed completely by accident. As I was climbing into bed for the night, its light was shining through the crack between my curtains. It reminded me of another full moon night. One that occurred in July of the year I turned 30 years old.

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Summer Learning

Summer Learning: Ever notice kids tend to misuse the word bored?

As a teacher, it can be frustrating to hear this word from one of our students. In my Montessori classroom, I give the children a beautifully prepared environment. I try to keep all the materials on the shelves as relevant and as appealing as I can.

Then it happens.

One day, about midmorning, a student will come sit next to me. We look at each other without saying much. I might ask them, “how is your morning going?” They share, “I’m bored.”

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Summer Slide

Summer Learning Loss – Fact or Fiction? Most of us have heard of the so-called summer learning loss, sometimes referred to as the ‘summer slide.’ Back in the early 1980s, researchers came to the conclusion that students’ achievement scores declined over the summer months. To this day, it remains the go-to industry standard.

Fast forward to now. We definitely continue to hear proponents endorsing the idea of an increasing learning gap and harping on its message. However, researchers are now questioning the validity of a research project occurring so many years ago.