Opinion
School & District Management Letter to the Editor

Activating Outdoor Spaces for Learning

August 18, 2020 1 min read

To the Editor:

Though many districts are delivering instruction completely online this fall, many students will eventually return to school for in-person instruction. To promote continued student safety, experts such as the American Academy of Pediatrics recommend that schools make outdoor learning one of their “highest priorities” when creating plans to reopen buildings. (“Outdoor Classrooms in the Age of COVID-19: Pros and Cons,” June 1, 2020).

Fortunately, in addition to improving safety, outdoor spaces can also be used for effective hands-on experiential learning, helping teachers create an engaging and dynamic learning environment proven to close achievement gaps and accelerate learning for all students. Outdoors, students can make their own exciting observations for lessons on life, earth, and physical sciences. Children can collect data, take measurements, and make estimates and predictions, boosting achievement in math.

Outdoor environments also provide the kind of immersive contextual environments that accelerate language acquisition. And because many students have some sort of access to an outdoor space from home, teachers can still send class outside for hands-on experiences when working remotely.

School districts investing in outdoor-classroom facilities should couple this investment with the professional development teachers need to make the most of their new learning environment. It is critical that schools maximize both safety and learning in order to help students through this crisis.

Jeanne McCarty

CEO

Out Teach

Washington, D.C.

Related Tags:

A version of this article appeared in the August 19, 2020 edition of Education Week as Activating Outdoor Spaces for Learning

Events

Jobs The EdWeek Top School Jobs Virtual Career Fair
Find teaching jobs and other jobs in K-12 education at the EdWeek Top School Jobs virtual career fair.
This content is provided by our sponsor. It is not written by and does not necessarily reflect the views of Education Week's editorial staff.
Sponsor
Mathematics Webinar
Engaging Young Students to Accelerate Math Learning
Join learning scientists and inspiring district leaders, for a timely panel discussion addressing a school district’s approach to doubling and tripling Math gains during Covid. What started as a goal to address learning gaps in
Content provided by Age of Learning & Digital Promise, Harlingen CISD
This content is provided by our sponsor. It is not written by and does not necessarily reflect the views of Education Week's editorial staff.
Sponsor
Curriculum Webinar
How to Power Your Curriculum With Digital Books
Register for this can’t miss session looking at best practices for utilizing digital books to support their curriculum.
Content provided by OverDrive

EdWeek Top School Jobs

Teacher Jobs
Search over ten thousand teaching jobs nationwide — elementary, middle, high school and more.
View Jobs
Principal Jobs
Find hundreds of jobs for principals, assistant principals, and other school leadership roles.
View Jobs
Administrator Jobs
Over a thousand district-level jobs: superintendents, directors, more.
View Jobs
Support Staff Jobs
Search thousands of jobs, from paraprofessionals to counselors and more.
View Jobs

Read Next

School & District Management Data For the First Time in the Pandemic, a Majority of 4th Graders Learn in Person Full Time
The latest monthly federal data still show big racial and socioeconomic differences in who has access to full-time in-person instruction.
3 min read
Student with backpack.
surasaki/iStock/Getty
School & District Management From Our Research Center To Offer Remote Learning in the Fall or Not? Schools Are Split
An EdWeek Research Center survey shows that nearly 4 of every 10 educators say their schools will not offer any remote instruction options.
4 min read
Image of a teacher working with a student through a screen session.
Ridofranz/iStock/Getty
School & District Management Opinion What Does It Mean to Call a Program 'Evidence-Based' Anyway?
States and school districts need to help educators weigh the research on programs. Too often it stops at a single positive study.
Fiona Hollands, Yuan Chang & Venita Holmes
5 min read
A researcher points to charts and data
iStock/Getty
School & District Management Opinion 8 Considerations for Designing High-Impact Tutoring
The most important rule is to start small and find success before expanding, writes Kevin Newman of the KIPP Foundation.
Kevin Newman
4 min read
A woman tutors a young child.
Collage by Vanessa Solis/Education Week (images: Svetlana Ievleva/iStock/Getty Images Plus; DigitalVision Vectors)