Successful Futures ;Outdoor Learning Wales conference 2019. The Lost Words project & the DCF

A very exciting day at Tredegar House with OLW and Natural Resources Wales (NRW)  presenting our work from ‘The Lost Words’ project developed by our year 2 Early Years student and demonstrating how Outdoor pedagogy can be applied creatively using digital technology to enhance learning.   Practitioners were responsive and eager to hear about the developments and were keen to take ideas on board – looking at how Outdoor learning and the DCF can be used in synergy to teach the new AoLE’s eg Science and Technology. It doesn’t need to be either or …

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My own practice has been based in a traditional outdoor pedagogy and only in the last two years have I overcome the fear of integrating digital technology to try and enhance teaching and learning in my Outdoor practice. It’s been a journey and still remains to be so, but there was a moment yesterday where the veil was lifted and I saw confident Outdoor practitioners take an iPad outside into nature and following the tasks that facilitated the session,  it actually demonstrated how a screen has the possilbity of reconnecting children to their natural environment ….. I could never have agreed with that before, but I saw a screen offering opportunities for creativity not consumption.  Whilst we know that screen time has detrimental effects on people in many ways ( endless research, Louv, 2009 ; Sigman, 2017) 😅 it can also be beneficial if used in a way that offers children the opportunity to become investigators, researchers, artists, writers, inventors  and scientists.

Colleagues seeemd  interested and hungry to access some support in order to use The Lost Words Toolkit which is currently being developed , hopefully to be made available by the end of the summer. The thematic approach was welcomed and practitioners could see that it would work well with the new Successful Futures curriculum in Wales.

They then used the iPad to research their living landscape, took  a photo of nature, eg a simple dandelion. So what ? everyone can take a photo… but what happens to the photo ? What do the children do with it ? How can this extend learning and connection to the outdoors? So they needed to  explain why they took that photo, and then explored the context of that flower, insect, habitat  ; they became creative illustrators adding words, pictures and recording  their voices, all of which they did using just the camera ! Not an app in sight!

Some of the comments :

“ this would be great for my reluctant writers” , …… “ I will use this with my EAL children”,………. “ recording the stages of making dandelion goop cupcakes meets so many outcomes and the DCF is all over it ,.. computational thinking at its most real..” 

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The synergy of these two pedagogies became very apparent and even these experienced Outdoor lovers were encouraged at how it could instil enquiry in children and connect them to what lives in their local landscapes so that they become the future stewards of our beautiful planet. 

Much to be gained , learned and developed, …… a productive day , another step in learning. 😊🐛🐞🐝🙏.

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