Hands in the Dirt Conference Presentation

-Thank you! Thank you all for being here today, on your Saturday, and Welcome to Forest School! 

  • Congratulations! For being supporters of this exciting movement! The pendulum has swung- back to what has been historically important in teaching, back to nature-based education, and back to what children truly need - TIME OUTSIDE!
  • I feel a bit like I'm preaching to the converted, so I will try not to preach, in actual fact I am really not comfortable lecturing to a group of fellow educators, I'm WAY more in my element learning alongside children in the forest - but that is the beauty of Forest School - no lectures, no nagging, no long winded speeches - it's all based on emergent learning opportunities and the inquiry approach.
  • Ah, the inquiry approach! I plan to use it a lot myself today so you don't have to stand here and listen to me, the learning and sharing will come from all of you!
  • This is where there is a major connection between Forest School and what happens in the regular classroom! We are on a wave to embrace the inquiry approach and it works beautifully in both settings.
  • My first question: Do you need a Forest to run a Forest School program?
  • A: you do not! Forest School is an ETHOS! There are many practices within this Ethos that lend themselves well to teaching both inside and out! 
  • (From Forest School Canada: FS is an education approach, and a program of delivery, with thousands of programs expanding over the world... In FNS children spend time in various urban and near urban parks, natural spaces adjacent to or on school grounds, or natural playgrounds and outdoor classrooms.  
  • FNS programs adhere to "regular and repeated access to the same natural space, as well as emergent, experiential, inquiry-based, play-based, and place-based learning" (Reference Forest and Nature School in Canada PDF doc - refer to forestschoolcanada.ca
  • Q: who has an outdoor classroom? Who has an outdoor playground? Who has a tree on the school yard? Who has a patch of grass on the yard? Who has a nearby park or trail? Anyone can do this! All you need is NEARBY NATURE!
  • Example: Little Falls Public School in St. Mary's Ontario.  
  • A typical day at Red-tailed Hawk Forest School - feel free to ask questions throughout!
  • Back wards planning - resources are used to support lessons in a backwards manner where we follow the students interests, and then resources, lessons and activities follow. 
  • Example - A Logs Life - lessons including literature, journal writing, poetry, art, science/ nature detectives, music, and math were all planned after students rolled over rotting logs in the forest! It' s a multidisciplinary and team approach- you need to work together - thank Cardinal!
  • Q: Is anyone concerned what this will look and feel like?
  • A: quote my Forest School Teacher: 'guess what, play feels chaotic! But I promise, play will move to order! You need to switch from covering to uncovering curriculum!
  • Curriculum uncovering activity. - role play... We're going to show you what this looks like... 
  • Gr. 1 - Understanding Life Systems - Cardinal and I - Role Play...
  • Assignment-in 3 groups review 3 overall expectations from Gr. 1 Science Curriculum, Understanding Life Systems strand... Brain storm ideas for how to teach these expectations in a Forest School setting, and present back to group through role play, discussion, or oral presentation... 
  • Role play is play-based learning, even adult learners can have fun and learn through this method! 
  • Play-based learning should NOT stop after JK/SK - quote Piaget: Play is the Work of Children - we can't let Piaget down! 
  • Activity 2: Create a 4 stick frame and use it to design a mind map of a happy childhood memory (this can be done as think pair share, or after sit spot routine). 
  • Q: where were you during this for memory?
  • Gallery walk if time permits. 
  • Q: what area the curriculum connections? 
  • Q: how can we incorporate more play-based, place-based, and outdoor learning into a typical day?
  • Q&A - share resources, typical day plans, resource list...
  • Read: I'm in charge of celebrations - if time!
  • Backwards ways - introductions at the end!