The Science of Teaching Writing

A blog on teaching, with an emphasis in teaching writing.

Saturday, October 22, 2005

Let's Go Outside

In the Poudre School District, most schools in the 6th grade take their students to either Pingree Park of the YMCA at the Rockies for three days and two nights of Science and Ecology lessons. It is one of the highlights of the year for the students, a way for student to learn Ecology in a more hands on approach, and also a real time of bonding for all who go, but also a great way to do teaching outside of the classroom.
Too often, writing is an activity with paper and pencil for kids, where they sit at a desk where they try to follow the formula of expository writing that that been drilled into them since third grade. Even when doing narratives, it's hard for some kids to get going--if a sixth grader doesn't have to sit quietly in a desk, they don't.
I took my kids outside to write. I cut really thick cardstock into quarters, cut unlined paper--I was trying to make it as untraditional as possible) stapled it, and took them outside to write. It was awesome. Up at Pingree Park as the sun is setting, it had lightly snowed the night before, the smells of the mountain were rich. After the sun set, the stars were littered across the sky like brilliant white crumbs of light. Kids were writing about how the ground felt--a cold that drains your body heat and energy, the pine needles flat and square like little rollers--the smells, the sounds of the wind and the Poudre river. It was wonderful. We shared our writing, talked about what we really liked of the writing that was shared, and one of my boys said, "We should do this more often. This is really fun."
As winter nears here in Colorado, I know I will take my kids out to enjoy the last of the fall, again in the Winter to enjoy the silence that comes with the season, in the Spring with all its newness, and the early summer smell that is delicious.
Besides, I hate sitting at a desk, too. And why not have a little bit of fun while we're at it?


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