Designing a School's Green Space

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This presentation summarizes the action research project I conducted last spring. The findings of this action research project will be taken into consideration when creating Garland's new Outdoor Club and Outdoor Classroom!

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Designing a School's Green Space

  1. 1. Michelle Vogt Garland Elementary SchoolSpecial Education, 1 st -3 rd grade May 21, 2012
  2. 2.  This presentation will…  Provide a brief rational and literature review further justifying this action research project  Describe the plan of action  Discuss the data collection process  Offer a data analysis and discussion regarding the recommendations and implications of this action research project  Examine the need for future action research
  3. 3.  About Hamlin Garland Elementary School  Garland is a K-5 Milwaukee Public School. Milwaukee Public School’s mission is to educate all students for success in higher education, careers and responsible citizenship so that MPS is the first choice for families.  Populated with 45% minorities (African American, Hispanic, Muslim), 15% special education, 10% ESL, and 63% free and reduced lunch.  Mission: Develop young minds with a strong academic foundation for independent thinking, a love for lifelong learning, and the necessary social skills to be responsible citizens in todays diverse society.  Values strong partnerships with families, which enrich the development of all children.  Upholds high expectations in all subject areas  Blue Ribbon School  New Wisconsin Promise School (seven years in a row)  Spotlight Grant Recipient
  4. 4. • Why Garland? Why Now? – Garland is moving to a new location in time for the 2012- 13 school year. – Currently Garland has an under-utilized garden space which staff, parents, and students have expressed interest in having at the new location. – Garland has a dedicated staff and strong connection to the community. – Students attending Garland live in an urban setting and could benefit from more outdoor experiences.
  5. 5. • There is “importance in bringing natural habitats to school grounds as places for natural learning… Schoolyard habitat projects [provide] places of natural and rich learning, integral to the curriculum, and a respite for teachers, students and the community overall.” ( Rivkin, 1997)• There is a “need to understand and incorporate children’s ideas and preferences into the planning and design of spaces.” (Moore & Marcus, 2008)
  6. 6. 1. Think deeply about what I could do to ensure a highly utilized green space at the new location; 2-3 weeks2. Create surveys for staff, students, and parents regarding the outdoor space design, utilization, and maintenance; 1 week3. Collect and analyze data; 2-3 weeks4. Begin developing a plan for the new green space based on data analysis and Garland’s relocation timeline; work in process!
  7. 7.  Create surveys for parents and staff  Distribute staff survey to each staff member’s mailbox along with a letter explaining this action research project and their associated responsibilities  Distribute a parent survey to each student’s nightly take-home folder along with a letter explaining the action research and a permission slip allowing students to be in a focus group  Create focus groups of approximately five students from each classroom to discuss ideas for the green space regarding design, utilization, and maintenance
  8. 8. 1. What would you need an outdoor space to provide in order to feel more compelled to teach in it? (ex: desks, benches, a way to communicate with the office, etc.)2. What is your greatest barrier to teaching outside? Why don’t you teach outside more often?3. What grade do you teach? What science curriculum do you use?4. Are there any topics in your science curriculum that you would like to teach in an outdoor space? If so, what are they? (ex: water cycle, plant stages, particular insects, etc.)5. What other subjects, besides science, would you like to teach in an outdoor space and what would you need an outdoor space to provide in order to do so?6. Would you be willing to volunteer one hour/week to help maintain the outdoor space?7. Are you interested in helping manage an outdoor club?
  9. 9. 1. . Do you have any concerns regarding your child(ren) learning in an outdoorspace? (Check as many as you need.) _____ injury _____ allergic reaction _____ weather _____ sunburn _____ getting dirty _____ adequate supervision _____ other concerns: 2. Are there any academic subjects or other topics you would like your child(ren) to learn in an outdoor space? (Check as many as you’d like!) _____ gardening skills _____survival skills _____ weather identification _____ ecology _____ art _____ music _____ writing _____ math _____ reading _____ science _____ other: 3. What would you like your child(ren)’s experience in an outdoor space to be like? 4. Would you be willing to volunteer one hour/week to help maintain theoutdoor space? 5. Are you interested in fundraising and/or donating money or supplies to anoutdoor space? 6. Are you interested in helping manage an outdoor club?
  10. 10. • Focus groups (5 students from each grade) ate lunch with me and discussed the following questions: – If you could have one subject per day taught outside, which would it be? Why? – What are three skills you’d like to learn about outside? (ex: plant identification, building a garden, writing a paragraph, etc) – If you were designing an outdoor classroom, what would you put in it? (Try to list and explain 3 things!) – If the school started in outdoor club, would you be interested in joining? What kinds of things would you like to do with the outdoor club? (ex: garden, canoe, camp, etc.) – Would you be willing to work in our school’s outdoor space one time/week after school to help plant, water, clean, etc.?• I took notes during of our discussions and later analyzed them for recurring/important themes
  11. 11.  What would you need an outdoor space to provide in order to feel more compelled to teach in it? (ex: desks, benches, a way to communicate with the office, etc.)  Blankets  Clipboards  Benches or Rocks  Shade  Lots of grass *Also mentioned: dry erase boards with markers, communication with office, confined area, tables, curriculum related materials, pencil cases
  12. 12.  What is your greatest barrier to teaching outside? Why don’t you teach outside more often?  Lack of shade  Materials needed  Noise  Bugs  Weather *Also mentioned: No place that is condusive, not enough to look at, time, hard to keep children located in one area, distracted with outdoors and enviromental sounds (birds, planes, cars, etc)
  13. 13.  Are there any topics in your science curriculum that you would like to teach in an outdoor space? If so, what are they? (ex: water cycle, plant stages, particular insects, etc.)  Plant stages  Water cycle  Insects  Weather  Seasons *Also mentioned: Lifecycle of bugs, conservation, temperature, life science, earth science, climate
  14. 14.  What other subjects, besides science, would you like to teach in an outdoor space and what would you need an outdoor space to provide in order to do so?  Reading  Social stories  Movement/Gym  Writing/Journaling  Art, sketchbooks  Math, measurement  Drama
  15. 15. Would you be willing to Are you interested in helping volunteer one hour/week manage an outdoor club? to help maintain the outdoor space? Yes 1Yes 3 Maybe 3Maybe 5 No 5No 1
  16. 16.  Do you have any concerns regarding your child(ren) learning in an outdoor space? (Check as many as you need.) Injury Alllergic Reaction Weather Sunburn Getting Dirty Adequate Supervision No Concerns
  17. 17. Are there any academic subjects or other topics youwould like your child(ren) to learn in an outdoor space? Gardening Skills Survival Skills Weather Identification Ecology Art Music Writing Math Reading Science Other
  18. 18.  What would you like your child(ren)’s experience in an outdoor space to be like?  Fun  Inviting  Calming  Creative and educational  …Feel like they can be themselves and feel like they belong  Help kids from being afraid of “hands-on experiences” (like dirt)  Worthwhile and well organized  Structured, but relaxed and educational  Rich and fulfilling  Adventurous  Interactive  Relaxing  Wilderness
  19. 19.  Would you be willing to  Are you interested in volunteer one hour/week to help fundraising and/or donation maintain the outdoor space? money or supplies to an outdoor  Yes 18 space?  Maybe 8  Yes 32  No 18  Maybe 11  No 9  Are you interested in helping manage an outdoor club?  Yes 3  Maybe 15  No 33
  20. 20.  If you could have one subject per day taught outside, which would it be?  K5: Math, Art, Music, Reading  1st: Reading Math, Science, Art, Playworks  2nd: Science  3rd: Science: Art, Social Studies  4th: Science: Art, Math  5th: Science, Reading, Art, Math
  21. 21.  What are three skills you’d like to learn about outside?  K5: Plants/flowers; bugs; butterflies; insects; daddy long- legs  1st: Gardening; bird watching; planting flowers and trees; using an easel and paints; fishing  2nd: Identifying snakes and spiders; harvesting apples; gardening/flowers; find, capture, study, and release different animals  3rd: Planting a garden/trees (for more oxygen!), writing (fresh air for thoughts); identifying plants  4th: Gardening, poetry writing, drawing  5th: Plant identification, survival skills, gardening, reading, studying animals
  22. 22.  If you were designing an outdoor classroom, what would you put in it?  K5: Tea party stuff, snacks, toys, books, paper  1st: Garden, flowers, grass, a hole with water and fish, race track, bushes  2nd: Cooking area, arts and crafts area for animal drawing, writing station, animal cages, jars for bugs, table  3rd: Picnic tables, petting zoo, small space for the little kids, garden with tulips and dandelions, snack bar  4th: Couch with a TV, chalkboard, science and math video games, insect room, book shelf, airplanes, mining tools, Smartboard  5th: Bean bags, gardening books, bug-catching nets, work tables, pencils/paper, cushions on ground, jars, lights, blankets
  23. 23.  What kinds of things would you like to do with the outdoor club?  K5: Hiking, camping, jump and skip, paint, write  1st: Canoeing, fishing, boating, gardening, sell lemonade and cookies, play army, camping, give away flowers  2nd: Plant trees and pick their fruit, grow a garden and make our own salad, look at insects, hiking, canoeing, play on playground  3rd: Have a gardening contest, make salads, listen to music, take field trips, go on a treasure hunt, arts and crafts  4th: Go on learning field trips, hiking, camping, fishing, help clean-up parks, archery practice, go hunting  5th: Lock-in, build a tree-house, use water to clean rocks, survival trip in the woods, biking trip, fort building, climbing trees, hiking, bird watching, gardening competition
  24. 24.  Teachers  Comfortably fits their class and has writing surfaces  Access to supplies that fit with the curriculums in a variety of subjects, not just science Students and Parents  Provide instruction in science, math, and art  Interested in learning or doing activities involving hiking, camping, plant and animal identification, and water related activities Visions for Green Space  Experience more than just “science” in the green space  Interactive, structured and education, and rich and fulfilling. School Community Supports Addition of Green Space  Volunteering their own time or making donations  Adding an outdoor club would be well received
  25. 25.  Designing and actually creating a green space based on the data collected  Create a plan of the area (See next slide)  Have school community help edit the plan  Create a scale model of the green space, including how it will interact with the new schoolyard  Display plan and model at our schools’ Spring Fling, to allow for feedback from the school community and to showcase what has resulted from their participation  “Move-In Day” celebration at our new school…use volunteers to begin creation of the green space
  26. 26.  How can the green space created be utilized to increase academic performance with students with special needs? Can this green space be utilized as a basis for a school project or community Farmer’s Market, run by students? How can I involve more teachers and/or parents in maintaining the green space?
  27. 27. • Charles, C., & Loge, Alicia. (2012). Children’s contact with the outdoors and nature: a focus on educators and the educational setting. New York, NY.• Kuo, F. E. (2010). Parks and other green environments: essential components of a healthy human habitat: National Recreation and Park Association.• Moore, R. C., & Cooper Marcus, C. (2008). “Healthy planet, healthy children: Designing nature into the daily spaces of childhood.” In S. Kellert, J. Heerwagen & M. Mador (Eds.), Biophilic design: Theory, science and practice. Hoboken, NJ: John Wiley & Sons, Inc.• Rivkin, Mary. “The Schoolyard Habitat Movement: What It Is and Why Children Need It.” Early Childhood Education Journal. Volume 25, No. 1, 1997.• Townsand, M., & Weerasuriya, R. (2010). Beyond blue to green: the benefits of contact with nature for mental health and well-being. Melbourne, Australia.

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