Beyond the Classroom


How do we make learning authentic? By taking it into the real world. Earlier this month, I accompanied more than 100 fifth grade students as they took their learning beyond the classroom with a three day, two night trip to Hatta in the UAE. Their adventures included searching for archaeological findings at the Sharjah Museum, exploring the Hatta Heritage Village, and searching for Arabian toads at the Hatta pools. For a finale, they pored over Gastropod Gulch where they discovered trilobites and gastropods from the Mesozoic Era, which means they are approximately 65 million years old.

The work our team of fifth grade teachers did to create a learning-rich trip that was grounded in the curriculum meant that students read, discussed, and journaled throughout the experience. After the sun went down, students used iPod touches loaded with astronomy apps to learn more about the night sky. Arabic culture was also highlighted through practice speaking Arabic and an Arabic-themed dinner. Other activities included hikes, swimming, bonfires (complete with s’mores), and an impromptu talent show.

While the idea of taking ALL learning beyond the classroom isn’t practical, imagine if all learning was actually grounded in the real world. What would be more authentic than that?



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