Teaching Photos

What School Looks Like When Learning Moves Outside

By Jaclyn Borowski — September 15, 2021 1 min read
Teacher Angela Ninde, right, works with students in their garden at Centreville Elementary School in Centreville, Va., on Sept. 7, 2021.
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For students in Angela Ninde’s 5th grade class at Centreville Elementary School, taking their math lesson outside is a daily occurrence. On one day in early September, they moved in groups—from a lesson at picnic tables where they used dice to learn the difference between odd and even numbers, to a section of planters where they dug holes for fresh seeds and trimmed kale from their existing crops, to an area with markers and large sheets of paper where they could spread out on the ground and illustrate different ways of using multiplication to represent the same number. Ninde has made learning outside a staple of her lesson plans, and has seen huge benefits for her students.

Reporter Madeline Will and I spent part of the day with Ninde’s class to see what holding class outdoors looks like. Learn more about how outdoor teaching and learning works in Ninde’s school, and the challenges that other administrators and teachers face in trying to shift learning time to outside of a school building’s walls.

From left, Estuardo Najarro, Robin Chew and Nawal Mohamed cut kale from their garden during class at Centreville Elementary School in Centreville, Va., on Sept. 7, 2021.
Students plant seeds in their garden during class at Centreville Elementary School in Centreville, Va., on Sept. 7, 2021.
From left, Zach Elwell, Talan Harris and Angelo Pareda plant seeds in their garden at Centreville Elementary School in Centreville, Va., on Sept. 7, 2021.
Lyric Monroe admires a recently released butterfly that’s landed in the garden at Centreville Elementary School in Centreville, Va., on Sept. 7, 2021.
Angie Ninde leads her class through a math lesson outside at Centreville Elementary School in Centreville, Va., on Sept. 7, 2021.
Lyric Monroe and Bobbi Johnson (top) and Jennifer Girgis (bottom right) participate in a math lesson during class at Centreville Elementary School in Centreville, Va., on Sept. 7, 2021.
From left, Adam Brooks, Mila Puphal and Nawal Mohamed work on a multiplication assignment during class outdoors at Centreville Elementary School in Centreville, Va., on Sept. 7, 2021.
Students work on a multiplication assignment during class outdoors at Centreville Elementary School in Centreville, Va., on Sept. 7, 2021.
Kira Vue, center, discusses an assignment on multiples during class outside at Centreville Elementary School in Centreville, Va., on Sept. 7, 2021.
Students in Angie Ninde’s class prepare to head back inside at Centreville Elementary School in Centreville, Va., on Sept. 7, 2021.
Layan Altarawneh holds the door for her classmates as they head back inside at Centreville Elementary School in Centreville, Va., on Sept. 7, 2021.

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