KALIF - Concept outdoor learning in the forest
Working Group:Early Inquiry, Low Achievers in ScienceCountry:GermanyLanguages:English, GermanAge of students (target group/s):13-14
The KALIF-project (out-of school studying in the forest) may be described as a concept to teach students the goals of sustainable development by sustainable learning. Sustainable learning is reached by the way the project is woven into the school curriculum “spirally”: Students may attend KALIF- courses in out-of-school-classes, in required electives in grade 7 or 9 as well as in compulsory senior classes. The content is modified according to the students’ requirements. In the project students engage in different activities, which belong to four categories: sustaining habitats (e.g. by mapping certain bird nests), help to recover destroyed habitats (e.g. by building shelters for wild bees), experience the forest (e.g. by observing animal behavior) and use the forest (e.g. by selecting, cutting and selling Christmas trees according to sustainable considerations or running an apiary). These activities group around three main working areas: a forest apiary, a forest work yard and a forest nature trail. Besides the practical work phases, students also learn the theoretical basis of their work.
An important factor for the development of this project (which has been in existence since 1994) is the cooperation between the school and the local forestry office. Latter offers a part of the local forest to the schools’ project, equips the pupils with tools and helps them with certain types of work. In exchange the students take over responsibilities like conducting guided tours for the public.
KALIF is strongly project-oriented, which means that teacher and students work according to an hourly quota not strictly to the schools’ weekly timetable. A second main focus is KALIF’s product-orientation (also to integrate the idea of a student company): the students produce and sell honey, Christmas trees from sustainable sources and already conducted projects like facade greening.Strong points and opportunities:The most obvious strong point of the KALIF is its integration into the curriculum of comprehensive schools. A lot of good practice examples lack this feature which is very important for a possible use in schools.
Moreover it has strong point with regard to MASS’ goals (see below).
Another strong point regarding the GLOBE-community is that one project run under the organization of KALIF namely BIO-S.O.S already works together with Globe-teachers and pupils and has been running for several years in about 10 schools.Limitations:The KALIF project can only be integrated into the schools’ curriculum if this is heavily oriented towards the topic of sustainability. Otherwise the organizational cost is very high (since a constant work-flow from the students’ side has to be guaranteed e.g. to attend to the apiary’s needs, since you need a strong cooperation with a forestry office, etc.)
KALIF was developed by one teacher and was successfully run for several years as a cooperation of one school and the local forestry office. According to the teacher, who left the school, the project is still running but hardly any information can be found. Moreover, the forestry office could not find more schools to cooperate in this project – mainly due to the need to put an orientation towards sustainable development into the school’s curriculum.
AddedAdded value with regards to the 3 topics of the MASS project:KALIF does not take one of the working group’s categories into special focus. However, all of MASS’ research interests (low achievers, IBL, technical equipment) may be integrated in this open approach. KALIF’s mixture of a theoretical and practical approach has the opportunity to address a lot of students groups like the low achievers. IBL-methods are widely used in Biology-classes, therefore they are easily integrated. Also technical equipment may be used.
Indices of the motivating features of the KALIF-project cannot be summed quantitatively. The teacher interviewed said he notices that a lot of students who take part in the required electives in the grades 7 and 9 also choose Biology as a major in senior classes.Any prerequisites needed:As described above the projects involves quite a high degree of organizational work. The connection to the school’s curriculum is an important prerequisite. Equally important is the connection to a strong and reliable cooperation partner like the forestry office. Existing ideas concerning the project’s contents do exist.