Feeds:
Posts
Comments

Posts Tagged ‘Green Schoolyards America’

BY TIMOTHY A. SCHULER

The movement for well-designed outdoor classrooms gets a push from the pandemic.

FROM THE NOVEMBER 2020 ISSUE OF LANDSCAPE ARCHITECTURE MAGAZINE.

 

When students returned to Portland Public Schools in Maine this fall, they did so in classrooms that looked at least somewhat like what many outdoor learning advocates have long envisioned: rings of tree stumps arranged in a forest clearing, chairs spread across grassy lawns, upturned buckets placed between raised garden beds. These makeshift learning spaces were a response not to the overwhelming evidence that outdoor education improves health and academic performance, but to the need to reduce the transmission of COVID-19.

Caught between the risks of COVID-19 and the uncertainty of online learning, school administrators have embraced outdoor learning at an unprecedented pace. In the past, explains Sashie Misner, ASLA, a landscape architect and volunteer with Portland’s Rapid Response Outdoor Classroom Initiative, outdoor classroom projects “have been bottom up, working with a teacher who is interested in doing this. So you’re trying to convince the administration. Now, it’s the administration saying, ‘We really need this.’ So it’s a whole different thing, and you have to grab it and push it as far as you can.”

Misner is one of 21 volunteers helping schools identify potential locations for outdoor classrooms and think through issues such as access, acoustics, and shade. The pro bono effort, which is coordinated by the Portland Society for Architecture and the longtime green schoolyards advocate Laura Newman, was launched in July 2020 and is part of a larger, nationwide mobilization led by Green Schoolyards America.

(more…)

Read Full Post »

THE SCHOOLYARD IS SICK

As part of an ongoing effort to make content more accessible, LAM will be making select stories available to readers in Spanish. For a full list of translated articles, please click here.

BY JANE MARGOLIES

FROM THE JUNE 2019 ISSUE OF LANDSCAPE ARCHITECTURE MAGAZINE.

 

Not long ago, the schoolyard of Eagle Rock Elementary, in the Eagle Rock neighborhood of Los Angeles, was a sea of cracked asphalt. Now it has rows of budding trees that divide up the three-acre expanse, and there’s a large grassy area and little enclaves with stumps and log seating away from the hustle and bustle. By offering a variety of settings, the schoolyard gives students the ability to choose where and how they spend their time at recess. Claire Latané, ASLA, the Los Angeles-based ecological designer who led the renovation of the grounds, says it also should improve their mental health.

Latané believes supporting the mental health of students is key to their happiness and well-being. Her conviction is based on decades of academic research by others, her own experience analyzing and designing schoolyards, and her gut feeling about the topic, as both a designer and a mother. Despite all we know about the impact our surroundings have on us—and the progress being made to introduce therapeutic environments to health care facilities—schools aren’t being designed with mental health as a consideration, let alone a priority. They are defensive (and ever more so, even provisionally, given gun violence in schools). Many schools have as much charm as storage facilities these days, and the worst are, in their environmental design, practically penal.

Through advocacy, writing, and teaching, Latané is trying to change that reality. She has encouraged the Los Angeles Unified School District (LAUSD), (more…)

Read Full Post »