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Weekly Challenge # 5: Telling Students to Take a Hike

September 29, 2013

“All truly great thoughts are conceived by walking.” ~ Friedrich Nietzsche

Island Lake Trails

The first week of October in Ontario where I live is Ontario Hiking Week  and it is the perfect time to bring your class outdoors and explore a new area near your school.

If you do not know the area around your school this is the week to learn it. Exploring your school community as a class has a lot of potential benefits. A hike can be led as a lead up or a follow up to a field trip. It can help create a sense of community and caring and can even lead to stewardship opportunities for your class to act upon concerns or passions they may develop with constant hikes to favorite places.

As well, in a time where many students are driven to school and are dropped off daily at the kiss and ride, hiking the community will allow them to explore and discover their home area. Hiking will allow them to develop their own sense of orientation and by bringing mapping into the plan there is grand potential for great lessons and adventure.

Since everything we teach is environmental with just a little thought a short hike could be a Spirit Walk for history or a Geometry Stroll for math or a Visual Art Tour. You can easily cover any curriculum during a hike. 

Of course, as a teacher there is preparation that needs to be done.

  1. If by chance you are not familiar with the community around your school you can learn about potential urban or rural walks and parks by having a look at Google Maps.
  2. If at all possible, walk or drive the route you are thinking of ahead of time. This is important as you never know what you will discover including downed trees in parks, high waters, broken glass or barbed wire or anything else that might be a concern in areas you are less familiar with.
  3. Bring a first aid kit and a phone or radio to be able to communicate with the school.
  4. Don’t make it a one time thing!

A hike should never been a walking lecture. Take it from someone who has worked over 25 years introducing the pleasures of a walk in the woods to students. There should always be time to explore, run, contemplate and reflect as individuals as well. Make sure to plan the hike to include some valuable learning experiences as well as exploration. Every community has its own special qualities. Perhaps it is ancient trees, community gardens, a river or lake or maybe even species of concern that you didn’t know lived in your own backyard.

So this week as the autumn leaves are turning I encourage you to bring your class out on a hike. Take a camera, have the student write about what they discover, share your adventures online.

Can’t wait to hear about it!

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