Back to Our Roots: Out-of-Door Learning in Action

From the beginning, Out-of-Door founders Catherine Gavin and Fanneal Harrison envisioned a school where some of the most important lessons would be learned “out-of-door” or outside of the classroom. Click here for photos of more outdoor learning activities around campus.
Innovation has always been an integral aspect of ODA’s educational protocol. Showcasing their creative strength and flexibility, teachers on both campuses have embraced these ideals and moved many of their lessons outside this fall.

On the Siesta Key Campus, Mrs. Caylyn Wells’ second graders spread out their yoga mats on the mulch in anticipation of a new learning experience. After an explanation of what verbs are and how we use them in language, she poses a challenge to her students. “I’m going to call out a verb, and I want you to show me what that action looks like!” she says. The students immediately hop into action, showing how they stretch, run in place, hop, wiggle, and dance.

“Going outside to learn about verbs was really fun,” said Owen McDonald ‘31. “I liked being able to act out each word to show Mrs. Wells I know what they mean.”

At the Middle School, many classes are taking advantage of all of the green space on their new campus. At any time, you can find students and teachers sitting in blue adirondack chairs spread across the quad, having discussions and going over their current lessons.

Mrs. Kruse brought her class outside to learn the basics of annotating while reading "Insignificant Events in the Life of a Cactus." “We read this book as a 5th grade/6th grade connection book two years ago and then I adopted it into my 6th grade curriculum,” said Mrs. Kruse. “It teaches empathy and respect for all people, and is a great book for learning to identify key characters, ideas, and new vocabulary words.”

Around the Upper School campus, teachers are also bringing their students outdoors. Dr. Zitani’s students have lively discussions seated near the Vitale Family Student Center, and Mr. Newham’s classes have relocated to an entirely outdoor classroom adjacent to the quad. Students in his class welcome the change from sitting indoors, and say that learning in an outdoor classroom has been a positive experience.

“I like having class outside, especially on the days when the weather is cooler,” said Ariel Conway ‘24. “Our [biology] labs are a little different in that we have to be aware of our distance to each other, but besides that it is really enjoyable to do some of our learning outdoors.”

The Out-of-Door Academy

LOWER SCHOOL |  Historic Siesta Key Campus  |  Pre-K – Grade 5
444 Reid Street, Sarasota, FL 34242  |  941-349-3223  |  Fax: 941-349-8133

  |  Uihlein Campus in Lakewood Ranch  |  Grades 6 – 8 |  Grades 9 – 12
5950 Deer Drive, Sarasota, FL 34240  |  941-349-3224  |  Fax: 941-907-1251
The Out-of-Door Academy does not discriminate on the basis of race, creed, physical ability, color, religion, sex, age, gender, sexual orientation, or national origin.
The Out-of-Door Academy is an equal opportunity employer.

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