For this True North Tale I sat down again with Abe Drennan but this time we’re not chatting about his music career. We’re talking about the outdoor classroom he got to take his grade seven class to up in Inuvik. And to start off our chat Abe explains what the outdoor classroom is.
“Every year the on the land coordinator creates a excursion down where we call Boot Lake which is just an area maybe a 15 minute walk from the school. Kids from elementary to high school go down over a period of a month or a month or two and have experiences out on the land. And so with the grade seven students this year, they’re the ones that set up the camp. They set up the tent, they set up the area for the other classes to eventually attend. And so they create sort of this classroom environment down along the river. And so yeah, it consists of a nice fire pit and a large tent frame and just quite an area there to explore and to learn and in some cases actually do their schoolwork out there.”
During my chat with Abe, he said one of the main focuses of the outdoor classroom was to bring the students outside that teach them science math, along with other subjects.
“Like building a fire and creating a shelter. And so the kids got a chance to sort of practice those things. First of all, be demonstrated of course, how to do those things, and then practice and then on the last day, there was a survival challenge and they had to actually in an hour and a half build a shelter. And a fire hot enough to boil water and they were given like a limited number of supplies. So we had like this, this table that had a variety of different survival resources, matches, flint, tarp, extra wood and so the groups had to choose like two supplies out of the table that they were able to take with them on a challenge.”
And it was during one of these survival challenges where a group of students really impressed Abe.
“We never showed the kids how to use a flint and steel and we told them in the beginning that if they got their fire going with the flint that they would get an extra two bonus points, you know, in the challenge, and so one group chose a flint and they took the greatest risk and they ended up winning the challenge. They got their fire going with the flint it was a ton of work and their shelter. They didn’t use a tarp either, so they had to build a shelter out of you know, all natural materials. And so that was really interesting and fun to watch them you know, progress and actually win.”
To finish off my True North Tale with Abe Drennan he tells me how the whole outdoor classroom experience was inspirational and a great jumping-off point.
“This experience is sort of a really good jumping off point for us as a grade seven teacher team right to start to integrate these on the land experiences into the classroom and of course, the cultural traditions language in these pieces of the Inuvialuit and Gwich’in cultures that we can start to you know, as I said, integrate and what was so inspiring about this experience was that we also took the curriculum and we brought it outside and we we integrated it within that environment. And so I think it’s just it was a really good model. And I really think that we can just use that to sort of grow and understand on a deeper way sorta how to integrate these experiences in the classroom and make it better for the students and for the teachers too I think.” – Abe Drennan, Northern Teacher and Artist
Listen to the full TNT here!