The Outdoor Classroom, Hardt, Summer 2019

Course Number: EDU 5627 C10 (graduate) or EDU 4710 CFS19 (undergraduate)
Instructor: Joshua Hardt
Location: Lake Bomoseen State Park
Dates and Times: July 8 - 12, 2019. 9:00 am - 4:00 pm.
Credits: 3 graduate or undergraduate credits


Note: Course payment of $975 by check or purchase order, payable to Castleton University, is due at the time of registration. A purchase order number can be entered into the online registration form and the purchase order can be uploaded to the registration form. If paying by check, please mail the check to: Financial & Registration Services, Castleton University, 62 Alumni Drive, Castleton, VT 05735. To help us ensure that your payment is applied to the correct course, PLEASE WRITE “CFS” IN THE CHECK MEMO LINE. Thank you.

Course Description

The Outdoor Classroom- a course that looks at a host of outdoor forums and recreational pursuits and transcends the "how to" to the "how to teach". Students will be immersed into an array of diverse and exciting landscapes and activities ranging from wild edible gathering to rock climbing. All the while students will develop a unique and effective “tool box” to reach students in a way that is unparalleled. This would look at goal setting, motivating student behavior, industry standard policy and procedure, outcomes and assessments, sequencing and incorporating group dynamic, individual growth and ecological literacy into an outdoor adventure based classroom.

Students will be provided with the opportunity to dive beyond the superficial and into a holistic study of the natural world, culture, confidence and group building, art, outdoor adventure and bio-regional relevance.  We will be guided by the writings and studies of a myriad of educators, poets and thinkers.  Students will grasp how topics within a traditional classroom can be connected through an understanding of Deep Ecology, and environmental literacy using David Orrs book Earth in Mind, as a diving board for discussion and learning.  Our group will enter into an array of adventure learning scenarios where they will be immersed into North Eastern nature and culture and asked to extract relevance and meaning in a classroom sense.  Mary Hollands, Naturally Curious and Elizabeth H. Thompsons and Eric R. Sorenson’s’ Wetland, Woodland, Wildland, will serve as field guides.  As we develop tangible lessons and learn real life strategies to teach in an adventure and natural setting our work will be validated through our understanding of the research of both Richard Louve in his book Last Child in the Woods and David Sobel’s , Childhood in Nature: design principles for educators.  The result will be an experiential learning laboratory and learning adventure that will allow you to take outdoor experiences and turn them into powerful lessons.  This class will instruct those in a teaching related field as to how to link their outdoor classroom to their own curriculum and state standards.  Those from nonpublic educational arenas will learn to incorporate the outdoor classroom in order to reach many differing goals, ranging from ecological literacy to 21st century skills.

Target Audience- This course is targeted towards those who are currently in a teaching role or looking to go into a teaching role, where outside and naturalistic based instruction would be advantageous.  This could be existing teachers in any field, summer camp instructors, adventure recreation minors or education majors.

Course Goals & Objectives

Course Goals -

  1. As an overall outcome of this course, each student should come away with a host of necessary skills and methods that would allow them to facilitate an outdoor-based lesson or class in an effective and safe manner.
  2. Students would be exposed to a holistic style of learning that capitalizes on a host of learning models where goals are met in an open air classroom.
  3. Students will learn to differentiate instruction in an outdoor environment thus capitalizing on an array of topics, learning possibilities and current best practices in outdoor education provided by differing recreational pursuits.


  1. Students will capitalize on an array of outdoor recreational pursuits that they will be able to incorporate into their own curriculum development and teaching style.

Required Texts

Our text book will be the forests, crags and waterways of Vermont and our reactions and the lessons we learn from them

However excerpts from the following will guide us-

Sessions, George. (1995). Deep Ecology: for the 21st Century. Boston. Massachusetts. Shombahala Publications

Louve, Richard. (2005). Last Child in the Woods; Saving our Children from Nature Deficit Disorder. Chapel Hill, North Carolina. Algonquin Books

Sobel. David. (2008). Childhood in Nature: Design and Principle for Educators. Portland, Maine. Stenhouse Publishers

Walker-Leslie, Clare and Roth, E. Charles. (2003) 2nd ed.  Keeping a Nature Journal. Storey publishing

Holland, Mary. (2010). Naturally Curious; a photographic field guide and month by month journey through the fields, woods, and marshes of New England. North Pomfret, Vermont. Trafalgar Square Books.

 Thompson, Elizabeth and Sorenson, Eric. (2000). Wetland, Woodland and Wildland; a guide to the natural communities of Vermont. Nature Conservancy and Vermont Department of Fish and Wildlife.


For additional course information

Joshua Hardt
(802) 273-2281

For additional registration information

Bethany Sprague
(802) 468-1325

Register online now!