Outdoor Ed

OUTDOOR ED: providing meaningful opportunities for students to learn through experience

Part of the 3AB outdoor education (soon to be name ATAR unit 3-4) syllabus includes applying aspects of leadership, personal skills and interpersonal skills. The ‘end result’, or what students are working towards, is being able to effectively plan, organise and lead an expedition for a specific group of students.

The syllabus includes:
– Lesson planning: Plan, develop and lead effective activities
– Personal skills: Observe and analyze personal skills and give feedback
– Working with others: Observe and analyse interpersonal skills
– Leadership: Develop skills to facilitate group performance

So, something I pushed for this year is for the 3ABOE class was for them to be timetabled on at the SAME time as the year 10 Outdoor Education class they would be taking on expedition. What this has meant is that I could schedule lessons for the 3A students to lead/facilitate with the 10OE students.

Here’s the basic plan we’ve followed:
– week 1 team building (focus on get to know you and names)
– week 2 team building (focus on exploring trust and communication)
– week 3 team building (team challenges that require trust and communication)
– week 5 navigation basics (map reading and compass revision)
– week 7 route planning (discuss expedition route plan)
– week 9 using trangias and menu planning
– week 12 using tents and fitting and packing backpacks
– week 13 selecting equipment and packing lists
– week 14 final brief
– week 15 EXPEDITION

A quick run down on how the lessons work:
– Each of the above lessons are lead by two students
– Students write a lesson plan for their session
– Students complete a self assessment of personal and interpersonal skills prior to leading session in order to recognise a skill they would like to focus on during the lesson (ie. Build on a strength or work on a weakness)
– Two students are allocated to filming the lesson
– Student leaders watch the film after session and complete self evaluation focusing on the personal and interpersonal skills they chose to focus on
– Student leaders are also given a ‘mark’ and feedback from the year 10 students, the year 10 teacher and myself (mark obtained from tallying rating scale checklist)

A bit about team building:
I find team building can be haphazardly done as it’s often underestimated and under planned. I wanted the student leaders allocated to these three sessions to work together to plan something that flowed and built across three lessons. Effective team building takes experience, so I did offer quite a bit of assistance to these lessons. They do set the tone, and hence their success was essential. I explained the following to the leaders….

Session 1
The focus needs to be learning names and getting to know members of the group. Do not plan complicated team games. Think simple, fun and energetic! Games you want to find would be Name Games, Get you know You games, Ice breakers and Energizers!! Its about positive participation and creating a fun group vibe. You want students to walk away knowing more about the group they are in. This includes our class too!! So we want 3AOE students to know names and bit about the Yr 10s and vice versa – And we want the Yr 10s to know names and a bit about the each other.

Session 2
The focus of this lesson is group development. You want to do small simple challenges that explore team work in easy ways. The focus should still be fun but you want them to also learn about what it means to be an effective group. You want to find simple group challenges they will succeed at. Its not a problem solving lesson. You could find games that explore things like communication (ie. the blindfold draw game we’ve done in the past), trust (ie. partner catches), or positive participation.

Session 3
The focus of this lesson should be team work. You want to find complicated team games that challenge the group to work together. The group may fail at these challenges and that’s ok!! You want to have students experience the feelings of persistence, patience, working together and peer support. You want to find group challenges or problem solving activities.

Pick a ‘moral’ or ‘lesson’ you would like the group to walk away from your session with, then plan around that.
These three lessons will set the scene and vibe for the entire Year 10 unit! Do not underestimate them. They could be the difference between the group STORMING, NORMING or PERFORMING on the expedition.

A worthwhile experience
It’s been a valuable, but not always a neat process. There’s students leading, videoing, participating, observing and analysing. There’s feedback to gather, marks to calculate and comments to write. There’s often limited time to reflect effectively so ‘homework’ is often individual reflection. It’s been a bit messy and time consuming to set up but is well worth the effort as the 3AOE students are getting some serious hands on and meaningful learning experiences!


One thought on “OUTDOOR ED: providing meaningful opportunities for students to learn through experience

  1. Pingback: TEACH OE: Peer teaching navigation skills and route planning | Move Eat Teach

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