Pope High School
2011 Region V
Ideas Unlimited Winner
For Joe Green, a teacher at Pope High School in Marietta, Georgia, an effective education takes place both inside and outside of a traditional classroom. Green engages his students with outdoor lessons he has created called Outdoor Odysseys.
Through ten separate outdoor lessons, Green integrates Georgia state standards with horticulture, plant identification and anatomy, biology, mathematics, literature, communications, teamwork, and interpersonal skills. Prior to going outside, students review important information related to the concept, then are immersed in an outdoor activity.
“I have found that when I sprinkle in an assortment of meaningful outdoor learning experiences, my students see it as a reward, and are more willing to work effectively inside the classroom when indoor lessons are taught,” said Green.
Many of his lessons are scavenger hunts where students collect a variety of plant parts, leaf samples, flower types, etc, while following and answering a series of riddles. In addition to scavenger hunts students also have a sound journal assignment, where they sit in silence and record every sound they hear. Simple lessons like the sound journal encourages students to master how to learn from their environment, no matter its size and location.
Students enjoy Green’s nontraditional approach to teaching. He understands that the way students learn is constantly evolving and engaging them in new ways can garner effective and passionate learning. In the hustle and bustle of daily life students appreciate the change of pace outdoor learning offers and through it gain valuable skills.
“If you can teach your lesson effectively and still have kids move around and get fresh air, everybody wins,” said Green.
Most lessons require only simple materials like clipboards, small plastic bags and a pencil. Even with minimal resources, Green believes that any teacher can successfully incorporate outdoor learning into their curriculum.
For more information about the Ideas Unlimited award, sponsored by Delmar Cengage Learning, click here. For more information about Joe’s award-winning idea, visit this post on Communities of Practice.