Steve Ayre, Tecumseh East's physical education facilitator, was at a health conference when he first learned about the idea of a walking classroom. The walking classroom is where learners download a podcast on a subject, and simply listen to it while they walk, combining learning and exercise. Ayre, partnered with English facilitator Josette Richardson, has begun to implement the program at East.
Ayre has recorded two of his own podcasts and is in the process of recording his third, and ultimately hopes to create enough for a 10-week unit. The learners are helping him build his library of podcasts by suggesting and choosing the topics of each one. The first podcast was on the benefits of physical activity and served as an introduction into the class, the second was all about sports nutrition, and he is currently recording the next one about mental health in part because May is mental health month. Right now the topics are all about health, but Richardson would like to offer the learners the option of selecting topics from other areas of study as well.
Currently every learner is required to participate in the walking classroom once a week in place of an ELA class as the listening and recall of information meets one of the state standards for English. Each class lasts for 20 minutes and the learners are expected to walk around a mile and a half during that time around the campus of Tecumseh East.
"The cool part for me is I feel like the kids are retaining some of this knowledge better than if they just sat and listened," said Ayre, "In the first one(podcast), we talked about all your physical activity and why apple watches and fitbits are such the rage now. Why everyone is moving towards tracking your steps. All the benefits of it. It really sparked a lot of conversation between kids and facilitators. It's been a really positive thing."
Right now learners are using their own devices to download and listen to the podcasts, but in the future Ayre wants to explore getting a set of MP3 players for the learners to check out and use.