On Tuesday, April 24th, 2012, teacher Tom Miro at Lincoln Middle School hosted more than 20 teachers from schools across Alameda County for a tour of the school's amazing campus and a conversation about school landscapes, gardens and outdoor learning spaces.
Over the last 30 years, students, parents and teachers at Lincoln Middle School in Alameda have worked to create landscapes on campus that advance student learning while contributing to the climate and culture of the campus.
Students in Tom Miro's 7th and 8th grade class, Outdoor Development, contribute to the design and maintenance of campus spaces. Students help build fences, benches and planter beds and take responsibility for planting, harvesting, trimming and composting on campus. They also manage the school's recycling system by collecting and sorting paper, bottles and cans. Each day, teams of students head to the tool shed to check out tools needed for their work. In teams of two, they work for 30 minutes each day on a variety of projects designed to teach a variety of skills.
According to Miro, "Each project usually takes a couple of weeks to complete and over the course of the year students learn to work with concrete, use a variety of power tools, design and build simple structures, care for chickens, and plant and harvest food."
By doing a little bit each day over a number of years, students have helped to create an amazing campus complete with edible gardens, on-campus composting, a chicken coop and well-maintained planter areas between classrooms.
The highlight of a campus tour is the "Walk Through California." Miro explains that over 30 years ago, parents had a vision of creating a landscape that mimicked many of California's biomes. The "Walk Through California" features a fruit orchard representing California's Central Valley; a Redwood tree grove; a high-desert habitat with cactus; and an oak woodland with manzanitas, oaks and other native plants representing California's foothills. The area includes a pond for the study of freshwater habitats and abuts the Bay allowing students to observe and study the estuary.
The space has become an attractive outdoor classroom for a wide range of subjects including Science, Art, and Language Arts. Students are frequently seen outside with clipboards making careful observations of the plants, animals and insects that thrive on campus.