Recently, I went for a walk with one of my 9th grade classes. It was an impromptu, unscripted jaunt, and in total took less than five minutes.
It was the last period of the day and it was gorgeous outside. My students were about to work on major essays. What I would be asking of them would require focus, concentration, and attention to detail.
As soon as the bell rang and they were seated, I made an announcement that we would be going outside for a walk.
Their faces beamed. Smiles and grins filled the room. "Really?" "Outside?"
And outside we went. I had charted the route a few minutes earlier during the end of my prep period, leaving one of the side doors to the school ajar with a rock. I told the students I knew they had a lot to do that period, I knew it had already been a long day, and that I thought a little fresh air might help them focus. They all agreed.
"We should do this every day." "How far are we going?" "Can we go all the way around the school?"
We went about one quarter of the way around the building before turning in a side door and returning to the classroom. Once inside, students pulled up their essays on the computers and netbooks and began making revisions. Once done, they copied their work from Google Docs to Blogger, where they posted their essays for classmates to comment on.
Most of them did a nice job focusing on their work and being productive. I was able to circulate through the room, offering feedback and answering questions during mini writing consultations. It was a positive ending to the day, set in motion by a gut judgement about what the students needed most at that time.
Forest path photo by my sister-in-law, mindwhisperings at Flickr