TeachMeet Beyond and the Outdoor Numeracy Notes!

30 May 2011 · 2 comments

in Maths Outdoors

This weekend I ventured down to the Central Belt of Scotland for an exploration into unknown territory. It was my first venture through Bathgate, my first visit to a scout camp and my first ever TeachMeet. This was TeachMeet Beyond with a focus on outdoor learning (yay)!

For those of you have no idea what a TeachMeet is, then have a look at the wiki which gives you a flavour. Basically, it’s an opportunity for teachers to meet other teachers and share ideas but with a sequence of events and activities that allow everyone to participate. The opening began at a campfire, “hosted” by Iain and Jen…

Who clearly had everyone’s attention…

We shared ideas and tips about taking learning outdoors. Here’s the “dancing tree” activity to help learn about the parts of the tree. It was a funky version of a Joseph Cornell’s “Build a Tree” activity and extremely entertaining! Find this and many other nature based activities in Sharing the Joy of Nature.

Then followed a fast-paced discussion on risk that kind of emerged from nowhere into something where people were contributing their thoughts, left, right and centre.

The next day involved series of workshops. Below are participants on the Mission:Explore workshop. Their mission was ME0058: Go for a back-to-front walk and see what happens. They even had to wear their clothes back-to-front!

The teachers below are on ME0088 Record a place… the smiles are to demonstrate the friendly nature of the place!

Cassie Law gave a helpful workshop about simple and practical outdoor learning activities based upon the work she had undertaken with her own classes. I liked her introductory statements about the need for learning outside needing to be embedded and relevant, that it doesn’t have to be all singing and dancing and that it’s great for messy activities that can’t be undertaken indoors.

Kim McIntosh from the John Muir Trust also gave a workshop about the John Muir Award, a simple, straightforward scheme for encouraging individuals, group and organisations to discover, explore, conserve and share their findings about wild spaces and places.

Jen Deyenberg also gave a Geocaching workshop. It’s worth checking out her blog for different ways of doing this. For example, look at the range of caches created by participants from TMBeyond.

I offered a workshop on taking numeracy outdoors. Below are the ideas presented by some of the participants. My apologies to those who I’ve inadvertently omitted. Please tell me and I’ll add in your activity!

Symmetry works well outside. Set up a picture or pattern for another person to copy…

The activity below nearly caused a riot! We were asked to find a small branch and then order ourselves in terms of the number of twigs coming off the branches…

Below is a very simple activity which involves children estimating the number of paces to a feature in the vicinity and then checking their estimates against their actual number of paces.

Great minds think alike, as the teachers below also developed a similar activity! Below, participants were asked to choose a feature in the vicinity and give instructions to their partner for getting there, e.g. 3 steps forward. Turn right 90 degrees. Take 5 steps forward. Setting challenges such as doing this in 3 instructions is helpful for children too.

I’m very fond of using transparent tarp for activities as well as shelter. Cassie and Cecilia demonstrated how to use it a a huge quadrat for recording information about plants growing underneath.

In the stones and cards demo below, participants had to find create sums with the digits presented in a variety of different ways…

Olivia demonstrated how simple algebra can be undertaken outside. I liked the quick switching of twigs to change functions between add, subtract, multiply and divide in this equation…

Sinclair showed that tossing cones into the air can be linked to the radioactive decay and the half-life of an isotope…

Another group of participants, demonstrated number bonds and other mental arithmetic through a tug of war!

These teachers devised a simple activity based on using sticks and children’s feet to help children understand the difference between squares and rectangles. They suggested this could be extended up the ages to investigate area and perimeter using non-standard units of measurement.

All-in-all, I think it’s a positive sign of the times that we have teachers in Scotland who are prepared to give up their free time to get together and share their thoughts on outdoor learning. Thanks and best wishes to you all. I hope to TeachMeet you again in the future!

PS A big cheer too for Iain Hallahan who masterminded this event!

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{ 2 comments… read them below or add one }

Charlie Barrow June 1, 2011 at 19:01

Wow, this looks like it was great fun… and camping too? How do we find out about the next one?

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Juliet Robertson June 3, 2011 at 18:11

If you google “TeachMeet” you get the wiki and this keeps you in the loop about TeachMeets everywhere.

Charlie – do you want to be on my mailing list for interesting bits and pieces? If so, do I have your email?

I’m trying to ensure that anyone who wants to gets access to relevant information.

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