Island Lake Public School unveils new outdoor classroom

September 29, 2017   ·   0 Comments

By Jasen Obermeyer

Island Lake Public School has unveiled their Outdoor Learning Space, giving students a new way to learn and interact with each other.

With the surprisingly stretch of beautiful weather, the school held their annual BBQ last Wednesday evening (September 13), where the classroom was officially unveiled to students, parents, and staff.

Facing Highway 10 looking into Orangeville, the learning space is shaped like a compass, with inner and outer rings of armor stone seating, intersected with four pathways. The idea began during the 2014-2015 school year when one of the teachers, Jenn Bailey, brought the concept forward to the school council, originally as a place for students to interact.

All students were instructed to draw what they believed the learning space would look like, and from there, the current classroom was designed.

“We then used those as concept deigns. We sat down and reviewed all the teachers input and the kids’ pictures,” said Kim Soper, chair of school council.

Construction began mid-June, due to delays because of heavy rain, and was completed in early July. Now, it can be used as both a learning space and for students during recess to socialize. All classes are allowed to use it, and will stay open during the entire school year.

The classroom ties in with the school’s environmental focus, as they also have a community garden, and an Environmental Learning Centre (The EcoPak).

Ms. Soper said the second phase is to create a sound barrier by putting up a living wall with plants, as the classroom is behind Highway 9.

She explained the learning space isn’t teacher-directed learning, bringing collaboration and creative thinking. “This is a very social atmosphere, where students learn from other students.”

She added it is up to the teachers when they want to use it and for what subject, and that some classes have already used it, the reception being positive. “The teachers love it, the students really love it.”

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