Moving the Classroom Outdoors at the Middle School

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Middle school Principal Timothy Martin and teacher AnnMarie Mills were recently invited to attend a luncheon at the Greentree Foundation. In collaboration with the Seatuck Environmental Association, the two educators shared the “Nature-Centered Outdoor Classroom” concept with other school districts from across Long Island. This luncheon provided an opportunity for teachers who participated in the Greentree Teacher’s Ecology Workshop last year to share their implementations and reflections.

Mills attended the weeklong Greentree course last summer in search of a new viewpoint on science education. She left the workshop with a tremendous amount of knowledge of the natural environment and a renewed outlook on the structure of a science classroom and curriculum. With this newfound inspiration, the Nature-Centered Outdoor Classroom was born. The curriculum is infused with current science topics that are relevant to the local ecosystem and community. For example, Orowoc Lake and Pardees Pond have become the blackboard for daily lessons.

According to Dr. Martin, the students look forward to being outside and find their teacher’s newfound passion for nature contagious as they are more excited, engaged and connected with their natural environment than ever before.

“When learning outside, the students are so physically and mentally involved with their learning that they are often unaware of the rigor of their content,” said Mills. “I look forward to a future where being outside with my students is the norm and hope to inspire others to do the same.”