Created as a supplemental material to the Effective Outdoor Management in School Gardensvideo project. See the videos at . Funded in part by the California Association of Nurseries and Garden Centers. Effective Outdoor Management in School Gardens How Can I Possibly Manage 30 Kids Outdoors in a Garden? Outdoor classroom management is an integral part of a successful school garden program. Many teachers find it challenging to work with their classes outside because of students’ high energy and the distractions that exist outdoors. However, when we are able to channel students’ energy and enthusiasm toward focused learning activities, and use “distractions” -- such as spider webs or bird calls -- as teaching tools, then the garden becomes an exceptionally effective and exciting space for learning. Ultimately, a well-managed garden provides teachers with new ways to motivate students and demonstrate concepts, and provides students with abundant opportunities to explore the natural world, apply skills learned in multiple academic areas, learn about nutrition, and work together. Educators have identified the following management strategies for making garden-based learning effective and enjoyable. Cooperative Learning Dividing students into small groups can bring a welcomed sense of structure to outdoor learning activities. It can be particularly effective to teach students cooperative learning strategies, such as listening to one another and sharing responsibilities, prior to providing them with small-group garden tasks. The first chapter of Life Lab’s Growing Classroomhas loads of activities designed to help students develop cooperative learning skills. Cooperative learning may already be part of your classroom teaching and, with proper planning, it can easily be adapted to the garden classroom. Small-group cooperative learning is an especially effective technique for leading hand-on science activities. Teachers provide students with clear directions for a structured activity, and then provide support for the groups as they work together. For example, if your students are observing how insects help pollinate plants in the garden, try dividing the class into groups of five, giving each group instructions to find one plant and quietly observe any visitor insects. Give members of the groups specific tasks, such as timing each insect’s stay, making a quick sketch of the insect, writing about how the insect moves, and communicating the group’s findings to the class. In this way students acquire cooperative learning skills (such as listening, explaining, suggesting, and group decision-making) while learning academic concepts. Once students understand the task at hand, you can provide support and guidance to the six groups while they work together.