On October 3, the seventh grade teachers in Houston Hall at Shaker Junior High School moved their classes outside for a day of exploration, inquiry, and hands-on learning. To do this, students and teachers went to YMCA Camp Chingachgook on Lake George, where students were able to learn in ways that would not be possible within the confines of a traditional classroom.
At Camp Chingachgook, students began the day by taking part in teambuilding activities in their advisory groups (All seventh grade students are placed in an advisory group for approximately 10 students with the goal of giving students the opportunity to get to know a teacher and a small group of peers well). Students learned the difference between a group and a team and helped eachother accomplish challenging tasks, such as untying a giant human knot and passing a rubber fish around without using hands, arms, or feet.
After the teambuilding activities, students participated in three different academic activities. Students silently hiked approximately one mile to First Lookout on Buck Mountain for a descriptive writing workshop led by English teacher Robert Bedell. Bedell instructed students to listen to the sounds of nature and write what they see and feel at that time.
Another academic activity was a scavenger hunt, organized by science teacher Sarah Strouse. Students were given a list of plants and animals found in nature, but were written in Latin. Students had to decipher each of the items, take pictures of them on an iPad, and submit their findings electronically. By doing this, students learned about binomial nomenclature and what the terms actually mean in a natural, real-world setting.
Finally, students paddled the clean, cool waters of Lake George on 10-person war canoes. Through paddling the war canoes, students learned to work together and visit some historical sites along the lakeshore. For some, it was their first time on a boat, and for others, it was their first time seeing Lake George.
This field trip challenged students to meet many of the common core learning standards in a fun way that could not be accomplished in the traditional classroom. While all students were tired after a long day at camp, it was a day that they will remember for a very long time. Not only will they remember the skills and knowledge learned, but they will remember the memories made that day.
Click here to see a photo gallery of the event.