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What You Need to Know About Outdoor Mathematics

Oftentimes teachers in content subjects like Mathematics, are confined within the four walls of their classrooms where they deliver their lectures, conduct their discourses and illustrate their demonstration of mathematical concepts. The classroom has become the place for most of the learning process and it is considered as the most “conducive” place for learning. The teacher can have the “privacy” of exhibiting all possible styles and strategies for teaching. The pupils are held captive by the teacher, as he/she “stand and deliver”. Yet, even if the classroom provides the place to mesmerize students, there are times when students have to be provided with varying situations to enhance and facilitate learning.

Consequently, if teachers are desirous of making their teaching exciting for the learners, they should not be contented in confining their students solely inside the classroom. There are teachers who bring their students to mathematics laboratory, if the school has one. The laboratory is appropriate for the manipulation of objects and the concretization of learning. Here, the students are provided better opportunities to explore and investigate for themselves the learning concepts they study. Some teachers bring their students on a field trip to view the world better. Yet, a teacher may not have to bring their students to a far place just to learn Mathematics.

More imaginative teachers will use the outdoors as their venue for teaching mathematical concepts. The outdoor here may constitute some place within the vicinity of the school. This can be the playground, the school yard, the basketball court, under the trees, in the corridor, etc. Outdoor Mathematics can be a good place for students to explore and investigate the things around their environment. It may provide for the concretization of the abstract concepts which are true to the nature of Mathematics. Students may relate the concrete and physical representations of objects they see in their environment with the abstract concepts and principles in Mathematics.

Activities generally done outdoors call for physical movements and exercises. They require a multisensory approach to learning which is essential for retention and permanence of what is learned.

One feature of outdoor activities in Mathematics is the involvement and participation of most, if not all, of the students in the activity. Their involvement forces them to think, reflect and become more creative. Experiential learning or “learning by doing” facilitates permanence and retention in learning. This is shown visibly through their participation and involvement in the activities.

“Requires practitioners who help children to see themselves as mathematicians, and develop positive attitudes and dispositions towards their learning. Children have a natural interest in numbers, measuring and shapes, aroused by interaction with their environment and with other people.”

Another feature of the outdoor activity is its deviation from the usual routine classroom setting. It frees the learner from the confines of the classroom walls, thus making him view the world in a wider and broader perspective. The outdoor is a very rich resource of real and concrete materials which enhance the “real-word experiences” of the learners. The exposure to such kind of learning may lead to an easy transition of understanding better the “idea world” of Mathematics.

The outdoor activity also provides for a good breathing space. Students can learn their mathematics lesson while appreciating nature. It will also check the wrong impression that one learns their lessons only inside the classroom, when in fact, the outdoors is a very rich resource for learning.

However, it is important that teachers using outdoor activities in Mathematics give prior orientation to the learners on what Mathematical activities are to be done. Students should be given rules on what to do to avoid non-participation of some members of the class. Each one should have work or activity so that the objectives for the day will be satisfactorily attained.

Group involvement also allows for cooperation in the outdoor activity. Students tend to be stimulated when they work together. Guide questions will help the students in doing the activity aside from the instructions of the teacher.

Mathematics activities like games which calls for “noisy” interactions are better done outdoors so as not to disturb the adjacent classes. Activities which require a big space like doing the “algebra walk”, “trigonometry walk”, measuring spaces, spirolateral walk, estimating measurements and distances and other mathematical tasks, are done best outdoors.

“Effective teaching requires practitioners who understand that mathematical development does not depend on specific resources.”

While the classroom is generally considered the “learning nest”, the teacher can sometimes make variations by having the learners move outside from that “nest” to get a broader view of the world.

Many principles of learning are demonstrated through outdoor activities in Mathematics. Some of these principles include:

Learning is facilitated ..

  • When the environment is conducive and appropriate for learning;
  • When varied activities are provided;
  • When there is physical activity in the process of learning;
  • When most of the senses are utilized in the process of learning;
  • When students find freedom in their movements;
  • When a variety of concrete resources are available and visible;
  • When students enjoy the learning activity, etc.

In this way, the learners can metamorphose into tolerant, open-minded and well-rounded persons.

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