Killaloe Public School marks shift in education with third outdoor classroom
OTTAWA -- Every day at Killaloe Public School in Killaloe, Ont. students head outside; not just for gym or recess, but for class.
The public school roughly two hours west of Ottawa makes it possible with three outdoor classrooms. Their newest classroom is a set of 12 massive boulders donated by Valley Landscaping and Excavating.
"Outdoor learning is really important, not just during a pandemic but anytime," says school principal Anne George. "So we were very excited to create this classroom for our school."
At 10:00 a.m. Friday, Patricia Stott's Grade 7 and 8-split class held a combined math and art lesson at the new outdoor classroom, learning fractions with Minecraft selfies.
"I just try to get them out for whatever; sometimes it's just a worksheet they're working on that we went over in class, and sometimes it's an activity that has to do with the actual environment," says Stott.
"I just love it because the kids are super engaged, they like being outside, they're almost easier to teach because they're happier."
Grade 8 student Ruby Kubisewsky says both her and her classmates agree they prefer having lessons taught outside rather than inside.
"I like it, we're not just sitting around," says the 13-year-old. "Sometimes we move around when we're doing work, we explore the yard, normally every day we go out for a walk around the track, two laps."
The new method of experiential learning marks a stark contrast from what school looked like one year ago when students were home by themselves, learning behind a screen.
"I think working in a circle is important for students to be able to see everybody at the same time," says Stott of the circular shape of the boulders. "The whole desks in rows that we've had to adopt since the pandemic is a little bit robotic."
Stott adds that a sense of nature and connecting with an environment that needs saving now works its way into every day's lesson plan. Kubisewsky says the change in environment helps focus her class rather than cause distractions.
"It's really nice just to get some fresh air and not just sit inside with our masks on all day."