For the past eight years the public schools of Bridgeport, Connecticut have been the site of the largest program implementation in the history of High 5.
What began in 2002 with a Carol M. White Physical Education Grant (PEP) from the US Department of Education has blossomed into a city wide program involving nineteen schools, fifty five teachers and thousands of students. The program incorporates a High 5 adventure education program into the physical education curriculum.
To date, approximately 250 K-12 physical education classes (over 12,500 students) participated in this program. Over the past several years, the district wide program has been coordinated by a group of teachers who have volunteered to serve as a management team. One teacher spends one afternoon a week to coordinate the efforts of this team and to provide assistance to various schools for curriculum development and the training of teachers.
One of the more gratifying comments by a PE teacher K-8: "I just wanted to tell you that I did River Crossing for two days last week with every class that came in. Just as I was leaving school that second day, I was talking to a colleague about how things were going and I heard myself say that these past two days were probably the two best days that I ever had as a PE teacher in my 3 years so far. Its hard to really tell you how satisfying it was to witness the chaos, the risks, the failures, the small gains, the passionate discussions, the cooperation and team-building, and finally...the success of accomplishment. They loved it, I loved it. I think you guys are on to something here.
High 5's work with the Bridgeport School System is an example of successful adventure education programming in an urban setting. We are very proud of our nine year partnership with the City of Bridgeport to bring adventure education to their young people and their teachers. An evaluation of the program was completed in Dec. 2004, and below are some responses to a variety of questions about changes they have observed in their students, their classes and themselves.
Are there moments in your classroom using adventure activities that stand out for you?
- Anytime that we have done problem solving activities and the students have reached for a solution, I find their excitement very gratifying.
- When students say they cannot do it, and then are able to complete a task.
- When a student who is usually a pain becomes a leader.
- When students who don't participate actually get involved in activities
What specific changes have you seen in your classroom?
- The students are beginning to problem solve better and especially listen to each other better during the process. They are accepting more responsibility for each other.
- Students willing to huddle up and implement a new plan.
- Students thinking before they act.
- Students seem more excited with new activities
Do you think there is any change in the way students perceive themselves? If so how?
- Out of 45 participating I have seen a very distinct change in them in regards to their ability to talk, share and take charge.
- All students now have a chance to start at ground level and know all must be utilized in activities.
- They seem to be more cognizante of others and how others view them.
- Yes the shy kids seem to be more comfortable.
Do you have any information about what is happening in your classroom that you would like to share? For example- pictures, journal statements, quotes, drawings, comments from other teachers, successes?
- I have been using journals with all the participating students, some of the quotes I remember are: "I hated PE but this stuff I love; I hope we never play basketball again" and "I didn't use to trust but now I am starting to."
- Teachers have come to watch their classes on the low wall. Pictures were taken and put on the Longfellow website along with information on what adventure learning is about.
- We have a fifth grade teacher who has a very difficult class since we implemented the high 5 strategies with them she has learned to have more control of her classroom.