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Schoolyard Habitats How To Guide: 3 Teaching with Schoolyard Habitat Sites

Schoolyard Habitats How To Guide: 3 Teaching with Schoolyard Habitat Sites

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Published by: Greater Charlotte Harbor Sierra Club on Jul 18, 2010
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05/22/2012

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Section III
Teaching withSchoolyardHabitats Sites
This section discusses the many ways in whichSchoolyard Habitats sites can expand educationalopportunities for students. Examples of interdisciplinary curriculum connections areprovided, along with useful tools to help educatorsintegrate habitat sites in their teaching.Reaching High Academic Standards on theSchoolyard  Analyze Your CurriculumSchoolyard Habitats and Service Learning 
© Copyright Shutterstock.com
 
REACHING HIGH ACADEMIC STANDARDS ON THE SCHOOLYARD
The planning, design, implementation,and on-going monitoring and maintenanceof a Schoolyard Habitats project provideendless opportunities to meet and exceedhigh academic standards across thecurriculum.Teaching with the SchoolyardHabitats site as an integrating contextacross the subject areas can both supportand deepen the quality of instruction andstudent engagement.From pre-school through high school,Schoolyard Habitats projects enhance the teaching and learning of science, math,social studies, and English in many ways. Using a habitat-based learning sitemakes learning more real, fun, hands-on, interdisciplinary, and relevant. “Youngpeople learn most readily about things that are tangible and directly accessible totheir senses — visual, auditory, tactile and kinesthetic. With experience, they grow in their ability to understand abstract concepts.... Concrete experiences aremost effective in learning when they occur in the context of some relevantconceptual structure.” (Benchmarks for Science Literacy)In today’s learning environments, where schools are striving to meet and exceedhigh standards of learning, teachers must be creative in presenting content.Theschoolyard can provide a valuable avenue for reinforcing concepts for students.Thefollowing pages illustrate how creating and utilizing a Schoolyard Habitats site canhelp teachers use the outdoors to meet various standards. In fact, teachers can feelconfident that time invested in a Schoolyard Habitats project is a wise investmentfor students’ immediate educational needs and future development as good citizens.
www.nwf.org
NATIONALWILDLIFE FEDERATION
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© Copyright Shutterstock.com
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Reaching High AcademicStandards on the Schoolyard
 
REACHING HIGH ACADEMIC STANDARDS ON THE SCHOOLYARD
Core Subjects and theSchoolyard HabitatsProgram
Schoolyard Habitats projects serve asliving laboratories where studentsengage in hands-on science inquiriesand design investigations into thenatural world.They provide students with the opportunity to apply mathconcepts to the real world; whetherestimating numbers of plants in anon-site plant community or trackingand graphing ongoing wildlifeobservations, the outdoors is full of mathematical wonders. SchoolyardHabitats sites provide a quiet space forcreative writing about nature or aresearch laboratory where students candevelop strong English skills throughresearch, writing and communicationskills.The Schoolyard Habitatsprogram can be applied successfully tohelp teach about connections betweenpeople, social constructs and theenvironment.These concepts of geography and social studies come tolife as students gain real-life experienceof their local community in a globalcontext.
Outdoor Learning = Increased Student Achievement
In 1999, a consortium of education agencies from 12 states, called the State Education and Environment Roundtable,published a groundbreaking study. Entitled
Closing the Achievement Gap: Using the Environment as an Integrating Context  for Learning,
this study quantified and legitimized that which teachers had been observing and noting anecdotally foryears—the academic value of using the environment as a framework for instruction.The roundtable studied schools nationwide that are using theenvironment as the context for interdisciplinary, student-centered, hands-on learning and teaching across all subject areas.The study reports that students in such programs:perform better on standardized testsearn higher grade point averages (in language arts, math,science, and social studies)improve their attendance recordimprove their behavior in schooldemonstrate an increased ability to think creatively demonstrate increased problem-solving abilities
Lieberman, Gerald A. and Linda L. Hoody, eds. Closing the  Achievement Gap: Using the Environment as an Integrating Context for Learning. State Education and Environment Roundtable SanDiego, 1999. (Download report: www.seer.org)
SCHOOLYARD HABITATS
®
 —A HOW-TO GUIDE
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www.nwf.org
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