Get Outside and Process


The importance of processing information is critical if we want students to understand content.  Too frequently we rush through curriculum in order to meet the demands and complexity of the pacing required of stringent scope and sequence models. Rushing is detrimental to the overall development of information.  The more we cram and rush through material, the more students will not understand, and we will need to reteach.  So, it is actually a time-saver, to incorporate processing time.

I recently read a blog post by Bill Ferriter about the overwhelming desire for students to get outside:

Many teachers tend to be creatures of habit, but the ones that take a risk are often more successful.  Taking a risk can simply be moving beyond the confines of the classroom walls.  In an effort to add processing time to a lesson, a simple action that involves movement is to move students to an outdoor setting.  Posing a question, or a prompt, regarding content prior to moving allows students to process while they move to the new setting.  Adding the physical component of walking to the desired setting while thinking helps activate the neurons in the brain in multiple ways. Walking forces teachers to add processing time that extends beyond seconds. Complex material, intensity of information, and onslaught of ideas require more processing time.  Once students move outdoors, teachers can decide to discuss in pairs, groups, or as a whole group. Or, students can continue move and discuss while walking outdoors.

When the discussion is over, teachers could provide another question or prompt for the return walk to the classroom.  In both cases, students would need to walk without talking to give them the quiet time they need to process.  This would have to be a routine that is taught and expected.