Practicum: Methods of Teaching Outdoor Activities (PE 4445)
Idaho State University College of Education
Department of Sport Science & Physical Education
This course (PE 4445) consists of two basic components. The first is a series of lecture and class discussions about teaching methods and instructional strategies that can be used in outdoor activities. The second component is a 32 to 48 hour practicum.
If you are taking the course for 3 credits, a 32-hour practicum is required. If you are taking the course for 4 credits, a 48-hour practicum is required.
This webpage provides detailed information on the practicum portion of the course.
Purpose of Practicum
The practicum portion of this course is a planned field experience which enables you to gain direct experience in teaching and/or leading outdoor activities.
Making Arrangements with an On-site Supervisor
In a practicum, you work under the direction of an on-site supervisor. Examples of on-site supervisors include outdoor education instructors (such as instructors of kayaking, rock climbing, cross-country skiing classes), scout or youth group leaders, public school teachers, camp counselors, city recreation program supervisors, etc.
You'll want to pick a practicum experience in which you have sufficient skills and knowledge to be an asset to the on-site supervisor. You should not pick practicums which are out of your experience range. For instance, attempting to help teach a rock climbing class when you are only a beginner rock climber is a poor choice for a practicum.
It's important before approaching an on-site supervisor that you discuss your practicum ideas with the instructor of this course. Some practicum experiences may not be appropriate, and by consulting with the course instructor in advance you can avoid unnecessary work.
Once the instructor has approved your idea, you'll want to set up an appointment with the on-site supervisor to see if they are willing to take you in as a practicum student. Keep in mind that practicum students can and do create extra work on the part of on-site supervisors, and some supervisors may not be able to accept students. Be prepared with alternative ideas. Always use tact and courtesy when approaching potential supervisors.
Your responsibilities are the following:
- Discuss your ideas about possible practicum experiences with the instructor of the course prior to making any specific contact at the placement site.
- Meet with the on-site supervisor, discuss the practicum, and obtain their approval.
- Fill out the Practicum Placement and Duties form and list duties assigned by the on-site supervisor. Obtain signatures from the supervisor and course instructor.
- Perform duties as agreed to and as assigned by the on-site supervisor.
- Keep a journal of the duties performed. Include the following:
1. In your journal, keep a record what you have done: planning and preparation work, description of activities assisted with, list of skills taught, and any follow-up work required by the on-site supervisor.
2. Also include in your journal, observations on anything that you've learned: helpful teaching techniques, new ways of working with groups, and any new personal skills and knowledge you learned.
3. Your journal should include an accurate log of the time spent during the practicum. In the log include the date that you worked and starting and ending times. The total number of hours required in an outdoor education practicum experience is 32 hours if you are taking the course for 3 credits; 48 hours is you are taking the course for 4 credits.
Note that it's important to write in your journal soon after you have helped with an activity. By making entries right away, you'll find it fairly easy to summarize what you did and how it went. The longer you wait, however, the more information you'll end up forgetting.
As time goes on, you may reflect a bit more and think of things to add to a previous journal entry. Great! Go ahead and add it. That's the normal process of reflection. Subconsciously, your mind has been processing the experience and you suddenly come up with a new insight and some additional thoughts on a part of your practicum. Write them down. By doing this, you'll find that it's much easier to prepare your final practicum report at the end of the semester.
4. Lesson Plan. Develop at least one lesson plan of an activity of which your on-site supervisor has placed you in charge. Follow the format found in the Lesson Plan hand-out provided by the instructor.
5. Supplementary Materials. Include in your journal any supplementary practicum materials: (a) class syllabus (only required if you are assisting in the teaching of an activity class like kayaking or rock climbing). (b) hand-outs to students or participants (these might be equipment and clothing lists, class information sheets, letters to parents for youth groups, etc.); (c) sign-up or liability release sheets (include any sign-up sheet which lists the participants involved in the activity or include a list of the students in the class. Important note: all class lists must have all student numbers removed.); and (d) include any other materials that you might have developed during the practicum.
- Attend the regularly scheduled meeting times of this course. During these meetings, be prepared to report on the progress of your practicum work.
- Notify the course instructor immediately should there be any extraordinary event or problem that occurs during the practicum.
- Solicit feedback from the on-site supervisor periodically concerning your work.
- Prepare a summary of your experience. Near the end of the semester, one special class period will be planned in which you'll be expected to present a summary of your experience.
Practicum Report (Due at the End of the Semester)
At the end of the semester, turn in a practicum report. Remember that what you submit is nearly three fourths of your grade. Let's just think about that. In essence for majors, the practicum report represents the work of a 3-credit class. For minors, it represents a 2 credit class. You don't want to gloss over this. You'll want to put some effort into it. This is what you need:
1. At least a four-page typed summary and analysis of your practicum project. Provide an overall summary what you did in your practicum
- What sort of preparations were required?
- What were some of the highlights of the practicum?
- What aspects of it did you particularly enjoy?
- Were there some of the parts of the practicum that didn't go as expected?
- Did you have any difficulties working with any of the participants in the activity?
- Did you feel challenged at times?
- Did you come away from the practicum with any new skills or knowledge?
- Is this something you'd like to do in a future career?
You'll notice by reviewing the list of questions, above, that the summary report is more than a list of tasks you completed - that's a part of it, yes - but you also want the report to be a reflection upon the practicum. You may find that you are repeating some of your reflections and insights that are found in your journal. That's fine. What you want to do in the report is to distill the important parts of your journal in summary form. A person should be able to read the report and get a good feel about what you did during your practicum and what you learned from it - without having to read all of your journal entries.
2. A copy of your journal. If you like, you may use a notebook initially to make journal entries, but the journal that you turn in must be typed. Let me elaborate a bit more on what should be covered in the journal:
- An entry for each day or segment of the practicum. With each entry, be sure to include:
- Start time and ending time and total elapsed time
- If this is preparatory work, explain what it is
- If this is actual work with participants, indicate:
- Number of participants involved
- Description of activities assisted with
- Specific skills taught
- Any follow-up work required by the on-site supervisor.
- Observations and reflections:
- helpful teaching techniques
- new ways of working with groups
- any new personal skills and knowledge you learned
- would you do things differently next time. If so, what?
4. Lesson Plan of an activity or skill learning session planned during the practicum. If you were involved in a practicum in which a lesson plan wasn't used, you still need to turn in a lesson plan. Instead, create a lesson plan on some activity related to your practicum which could be taught.
5. The two signed forms: Practicum Placement and Practicum Verification Form. If you worked under more than one practicum supervisor, include the two forms for each supervisor. Copies of the forms are found here: Practicum Forms.
6. Practicum Report Checklist. A check-off sheet is available to help make sure that you have included everything listed above. Here's the link: Practicum Report Checklist
The deadline for the Practicum Report is Friday of Closed Week. IMPORTANT: Closed Week is the week prior to Final Week. Papers handed in late receive an automatic reduction of one grade for each day late. Anything handed in after Wednesday of Final Week is given an "F."
Two forms are needed for your practicum: 1) Practicum Placement and Duties form; and 2) Practicum Verification form. Both are available on-line at: http://www.ronwatters.com/Methods.html.