Land-Based Learning at Eugene Coste School

Dec. 03, 2020

“Teaching will have to look different this year”. The response to COVID-19 has certainly created a new set of challenges in schools across the CBE. New protocols have impacted how we engage in group work, share materials and use our indoor spaces. Changes have also resulted in the temporary loss of highly valued opportunities such as participating in field trips in locations around Calgary.

The talented Spanish bilingual teaching team at Eugene Coste School have embraced these challenges as opportunities. Our kindergarten to Grade 5 teachers and students alike have eagerly engaged in outdoor experiences to support learning across the curriculum, including Spanish. Building on past experiences with Campus Calgary/Open Minds, the Grade 4/5 learning community have taken this opportunity further by committing to a full day of learning on the land every month of the year. So far, students, teachers, support staff and administration have embarked on four separate trips to Fish Creek Park in September, October and November 2020. This is no small feat considering the nearly 10km round trip walk from our school in Haysboro to Voitier’s Flats at the southern end of Elbow Drive in Canyon Meadows.

At the beginning of the year, teachers took time to prepare students for the experience. Students practiced how to engage in mindful reflection and stillness at their favourite “sit spots” around the school’s property. They practiced journaling using prompts such as “Yo pienso/I think”, “Yo veo/I see” and “Yo me pregunto/I wonder” to develop their critical thinking and observation skills. In Fish Creek, students have chosen new sit spots that they have returned to during each visit. Additional journaling activities have included colour hunts, four-point perspective drawings and “meet a tree”. Seasonal changes have made each trip unique and memorable. 
Student Observations About Sit Spot:

  • “Sit spot is where you see things that you have not seen before.”
  • “Sit spot is a secret place where you can calm down and relax.”
  • “Sit spot is a spot that you spend time in that you slowly increase to build patience. You observe your surroundings so you can come back to every day to build patience and focus.”
  • “We practice sit spot because it helps us block out sounds we don’t want to hear.”
  • “In sit spot, you learn the stages of nature and what happens.”
  • “Sit spot is not just a place to sit.”

Our trips to Fish Creek are something to look forward to and we cannot wait to return!