Neighborhood Walk

From We had way too much fun today!!!

We’ve all had those “best teaching days.”  You know, the ones where the children are completely engaged in learning.  The ones that are fun.  The ones that extend beyond the classroom.  For me, one of my best teaching days was on May 1st, 2007.  That day is vivid in my memory, even though it was a little more than four years in the past.  It stands out for me because of an incredible project we did in math class and because of a neighborhood walk we took during that day’s writing workshop.

Part of what made that day so wonderful was an impromptu outing my students and I made to Central Park’s Conservatory Garden.  Seeing as I had permission to take my students on neighborhood walks (Central Park was one block from our school), I was able to leave the building with them whenever I wanted to for academic reasons.  Therefore, on that May day, they had their writer’s notebooks in their hands as we set out to explore Central Park as poets.  They spent time observing the fountain, the flowers, and the way the wind hit the trees.  We walked to a pond observed some snails on the shore.  My students wrote glorious, descriptive poems based on their observations of the nature that surrounded them in the park.  As a teacher of writing, I could not have asked for more out of that little outing.

While some schools have let out for the summer, others are still in session until the bitter end of June thanks to all of the snow days this past winter.  Therefore, if you’re looking for a way to shake things up in your writing workshop, take a neighborhood walk outdoors during.  Whether you conduct your workshop outside or have students observe the world outside of your school, try to get outdoors for a little walk during these final weeks of the school year.

If you don’t have a neighborhood walk permission slip, then just adapt the one I used when I was in New York (see below).  Once all of your students’ parents send it back signed, put all of the signed forms in an envelope so you can grab the envelope as you head out of the school building with your class.

Finally, if you need more inspiration for bringing your workshop outdoors, then read “Out and About” over at Choice Literacy.