Mindfulness in the Outdoors – The Outdoor Teacher Journal

As an experiential outdoor educator I’ve made it a practice to incorporate reflective activities with my students.   This could be writing in their journals, reporting back on how they felt or what they learned during a particular activity, or in some cases sitting quietly for a mindfulness moment. Taking the time to reflect on a particular lesson or activity is a way for me to stretch my students thinking in new ways and deepen their experience of learning outdoors.

In May of 2017 I wrote an article for The Outdoor Teacher journal titled “Mindfulness and Experiential Outdoor Education.”  As someone who has a personally felt the benefits of yoga and meditation in my own reflections as an educator, I am interested in incorporating mindfulness and relaxation into student reflection as a way to compliment the process of learning. After I receive my 200hr Yoga Alliance Certification this summer, I would like to consider how I might integrate mindfulness and yoga into afterschool programs with children.

Below is a link to The Outdoor Teacher journal article:





Integrating the Arts: “Best Plant in the Forest!”



Why is it important to integrate the arts? 

As an IslandWood instructor I have the exciting opportunity to integrate the arts into my lessons.  When I encourage my students to explore subjects through creative expression, they are often more interested and engaged with the lesson.  As part of my Arts Integration class I have developed a lesson that integrated the cultural uses of plants and the design of an advertisement using claims and evidence. Below are some images from my lesson plan, “Plant Advertisements: Best Plant in the Forest!”

Full Lesson: https://lieselbenecke.wordpress.com/2017/05/25/arts-integration-lesson-plan/

Claims and Evidence

This lesson has the students using claims and evidence, and can continue to help students work with concepts of quality, quantity, and size of assumptions in their evidence.  When you provide evidence to convince someone of something, what kind of evidence is the most convincing? In what ways were they using quality evidence (i.e. using reference materials)?  Discuss some ways in which they can be critical of persuasive arguments when there is a lack of quality evidence.

Thinking critically about claims and evidence is something I’ve learned to incorporate into my lessons at IslandWood.  By asking students to support their claims with evidence I am able to provide space for students to construct their own understanding about a particular thing or topic. For instance, in the field I will ask students to “tell me more” about a statement they have made to stretch their understanding which necessitates bringing in more evidence to support what they are saying.  In this particular lesson student have been given resources to use to support their claim that their plant is the “best in the forest.”  While this claim has been given to them, it was an interesting way to have them generate their own understandings of what quality evidence looks like.

March 2017