Regular classrooms are a tried and true environment carefully designed to help students learn.
And yet, schools and educators depending solely on the classroom experience to teach vital knowledge and life skills are missing out on helping students reach new heights of understanding, enthusiasm, engagement, and a lifelong love of learning.
Educators and administrators are evolving their lesson plans and curricula to take learning beyond the classroom environment. Just a simple tweak in planning can help students in often-overlooked ways.
Today, we’re exploring the benefits of taking learning beyond the classroom and providing actionable ideas for educators to enhance their teaching strategies.
Benefits of Transcending the Classroom Experiences
Why should educators transcend the classroom experience? Teachers of all grade levels are already working hard on their lesson plans; why should they work even harder?
There are plenty of concrete benefits to extending learning beyond the classroom. Even the slightest change can put existing lesson plans in a new light, so there’s no need to throw out any lesson plans and start fresh.
- Create authentic enthusiasm: Extending education beyond the classroom helps students link what they’re learning to real-world activities, interests, and issues. This promotes genuine enthusiasm for learning the given subject and retaining what they’ve already learned.
- Contribute to social and emotional development: A study that focused on students’ experiences with learning outside the classroom found that, when appropriately implemented, outside learning can improve a student’s personal, social, and emotional development. However, outside education needs to be an integral part of a long-term curriculum that continually reinforces learning opportunities outside the classroom to reap these benefits.
- Combat under-achievement: There’ll always be a few students who struggle with grasping and retaining new information and subjects. These students often become apathetic towards learning, which can quickly become detrimental to their lifelong success. Learning outside the classroom can help students approach lesson plans in new ways and provide valuable opportunities for additional help from educators.
Schools and educators that embrace learning beyond the classroom are doing their students a tremendous service. As a result, students may discover an authentic enthusiasm for learning that will help them well beyond graduation.
How Educators Can Promote Learning Beyond the Classroom
So, what can educators do to reap the above benefits? Fortunately, teachers don’t need to throw everything out and start fresh; a few tweaks to their existing curriculum are all that are required.
Let’s look at what educators can do to help students discover an authentic enthusiasm for learning.
Connect Lessons to Real-World Applications
Most lessons provide valuable knowledge to students to help them once they leave school or their current grade level. However, students don’t always know how their study is supposed to impact their lives. Connecting lessons to the real world will help students understand the greater context and application of the lesson.
To put it into perspective, if a math teacher introduces students to percentages, she might impart the formula, put it on homework assignments and tests, and then move on to the next lesson. However, having a few extra lessons that discuss when adults use percentages in the real world will help connect the dots. A real-world example would be if students learn how to calculate tips and sales tax rather than applying the formula to meaningless numbers.
The above example is simplistic, but this general idea can be applied to any knowledge or skill students may use once they leave school.
Promote Activities in the Local Community
Schools can work with the broader local community to discover and create activities for students that directly relate to what they’re learning. However, for this technique to be effective, activities should be carefully evaluated to ensure they support the current curriculum.
Students who are learning about life sciences, for example, might benefit from visiting a zoo, especially through a guided tour. By that same token, students who learn about Shakespeare would likely benefit from seeing a local play. There are endless opportunities for students to participate in the community in ways that relate to what they’re learning in the classroom.
Administrators should collaborate with teachers and the community to find or organize these events. Local leadership will likely be more than happy to support these efforts.
Encourage Participation in Extracurricular Activities
Clubs and sports are excellent opportunities for students to enact what they’re learning about. For example, a student who’s learned the basics of writing persuasive essays may join the debate team to take their newfound skill to the next level.
Extracurricular activities may not always relate to something a student has learned. Still, it’s beneficial to enhance learning—regardless of the club or sport, students learn something new as they participate. In addition, when they love what they’re learning, they develop a passion for learning. This continued passion helps students throughout their education and carries on through life.
Plan Regular Field Trips that Support the Curriculum
Field trips are fun to relate the curriculum to the real world. Much like participating in the community outside of school, field trips help students connect what they’ve learned to specific events or activities.
Students learning about plant biology would likely benefit from going on a nature walk and observing the local flora. Counting tree rings or dissecting leaves puts what they’ve already learned into context.
Educators need to intentionally relate the field trip to a recent lesson. For example, a trip to the zoo won’t do much to cement lesson plans if the teacher doesn’t relate the experience to what students have already learned.
Respect Students’ Time
Transcending the classroom does not mean absorbing a student’s entire life. Therefore, as teachers embark on a mission to better the classroom, they must be cautious not to ask too much of their students.
Keeping students through lunch or assigning too many community events may be detrimental to learning rather than supporting it. However, being aware of the time involved in any of the above suggestions helps educators avoid student burn-out.
Ready to Take Learning Outside the Classroom?
Educators can’t be solely responsible for implementing the above suggestions. Instead, districts and administrators need to work closely with teachers to find or create activities and opportunities to help students learn outside the classroom.
Now you can seamlessly take learning on the go with Edsembli. Plan, collaborate, assign, and coordinate learning with matched field trips and real-world learning all within the platform to give your students the best learning experience possible.
Let’s get started. Book a Demo today.