California Educator

June/July 2021

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traditional classroom is one-dimensional," he says. "e SOLE allows me to take students into nature to have them explore the world of biology as field scientists do in their careers. "By exploring the area around the school, students can look for patterns in life and bring back their own discoveries to the SOLE, where we can discuss their implications and meanings. Creating relationships with the environment and the life around them will be invalu- able in students' understanding of the ecosystems and biology of the world." Likewise, English department chair Brinden Wohl- stattar looks forward to using the SOLE to help students think differently. "I view it as a place for students to shake off traditional learning and get creative," says Wohlstat- tar, also a UACT member. "In my English classroom I'm excited to use it for writing brainstorms, Socratic semi- nars and class discussions. "I 've always taken my students outdoors to study texts when the weather is comfortable, so it will be that much more exciting to bring them to an official desig- nated space where they can also access Wi-Fi, use their devices, and incorporate technology into our learning." How the SOLE was built "My high school environmental science teacher inspired me to love science and the outdoors — and to protect the world around me," says Farrell. "Today, as an environmental teacher myself, I hope this SOLE can inspire many of our students here. I know that all students, teachers and subjects will make great use of this space." Having an outdoor learning environ- ment was something that Farrell thought about constantly throughout her 17-year teaching career. "I've always wanted to immerse my students in nature as we were exploring curriculum, but we didn't have any place outside where we could hold class and still be productive." In 2017, h er form er princip al , L ou Lichti, handed her a f lyer from Schneider Electric, a Paris-based multinational company specializing in sus- tainable electricity, showing a concept for a sustainable outdoor classroom, and asked for her opinion. "I knew immediately that this was what had been missing," Farrell says. "Research shows that outdoor l earnin g env ironm ents are ef fe ctive to ol s to h elp 38 Teaching & Learning Heather Farrell

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