Since beginning my teaching career I have always endeavoured to be a reflective practitioner; considering my practice and how effective it was for the learners in my care. In order to be able to do this effectively you of course need to self-assess but you should also seek feedback from your group/class. Planning in this sort of reflective evaluation time into lessons and/or CPD gives you an opportunity to reassess how you would do things differently next time AND encourages participants to be self-aware. Here are some of the techniques that I regularly use outdoors:
Head Heart Bin (Bag)
- Have three posters with a head, heart and bin drawn in the centre of each
- Participants write feedback on post it notes and stick to corresponding poster
- Head: things you learned (about yourself, knowledge, skills, contacts)
- Bin: things you would rather have done less of or things that didn’t go so well
- Heart: things you loved or things that made you feel happy
People in the tree
- Print and laminate a set of ‘people in a tree evaluation’ drawings
- Before and after an experience you ask participants to choose a figure that represents how they are feeling
- Participants explain to a partner which character they chose and why
- Can be repeated after the experience to gain an idea of ‘distance travelled’
- Similar to People in the tree above but instead participants are presented with a drawing of a landscape and asked to draw themselves into the landscape
- They must explain why the location they chose represents how they are feeling about their current learning
- You can use pebbles, conkers or pine cones for these evaluation activities. Or any natural materials that is abundant locally.
- Zones of relevance: Draw a target of concentric circles and ask participants to place pebble in the most appropriate place for them with bullseye being ‘agree’ and outer circles being disagree
- Ballot: have ice cream tubs with slots cut in their lids and happy, sad and neutral faces on. Pose a question to participants and ask them to vote with their pebble
- Questions: take some flip chart paper and make a grid of questions and spaces for happy, sad or neutral answers. Participants place their pebble in the most relevant space.
- All outcomes can be photographed as a record of the pupils’ feelings.
- Used as a way of prioritising
- Choose top 9 ‘things’ (experiences, moments, learning, statements….) and arrange them into a diamond shaped formation with most important/relevant at the top and least at the bottom
I use these strategies regularly in my training and have used them during outdoor learning sessions with children and young people. These techniques can all be used effectively for assessment purposes; either for an individual lesson, an outdoor experience, a school-grounds development, a residential visit or a whole scheme of work. Versatile and straightforward!
NB: for more info on these and other evaluative techniques you can visit the brand new ACEWild website which is a result of a 2 year UK/Dutch/German Erasmus+ Project.