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Outdoor School – Literature

Monmouth County Private School – Outdoor School Literature

Outdoor School Literature

The Best Way to Look at the World

Behind the science and utility of nature, there is poetry and creative prose. As we tune into our five senses, we will record our feelings and experiences in words.

At the same time, we will explore the many literary outlets for our creativity, starting with the novel, which will be studied in the fall in celebration of National Novel Writing Month in November. Keeping our ‘inner editor’ at bay until the month is over, we will freely explore our deepest creative interests and add to the class word count that will demonstrate our commitment to the literary legacy of Mark Twain, Herman Melville, Ernest Hemingway, and others.

In the winter and spring, students will be introduced to shorter forms of writing, such as the novella, poem, and short story. They will continue to write their own creative works, using naturalistic elements while considering each other’s work and the work of famous writers for inspiration. The students’ work will also be used as examples for instruction in grammar, usage, punctuation, and style.


It is important both to read and study the work of prominent authors, as well as to produce, analyze, and revise one’s own writing, in order to grow in the literary arts.

The students will:

  • learn, appreciate, and produce the elements of a novel.
    understand the attributes of a novella, a short story, and a poem.
  • continue writing blog entries to document outdoor experiences as well as demonstrate their knowledge of global studies and science lessons.
  • use their outdoor ‘sit spots’ to produce personal reflections
    use their own novel writing to strengthen grammar, usage, and punctuation skills.


In mid-November, we completed our study of the elements of a novel (characters, plot, central conflict, setting, using setting to reinforce characters, and dialogue) using multimedia, brainstorming, and the National Novel Writing Month curriculum as tools. Students have each written a unique novel synopsis and ended National Novel Writing Month with a class word count of 137,500. Most students either met or eclipsed their word count goal.

Writing Collaboration outdoor school literacy voyagers community school

Writing Collaboration

During the same month, we finished the novel, The Old Man and the Sea, which was used as a model to inspire students in their own novel writing venture. The text has also been used to teach complex vocabulary, such as nautical terms; the aforementioned elements of a novel (particularly the ‘man vs. nature’ conflict paradigm); and personal life lessons. Finally, the themes of natural navigation, naturalism, and fishing were related to our Science curriculum, and the story’s setting (Cuba) was related to Global Studies.

Students also wrote and presented a number of reflective writing exercises and other creative writing assignments as a parallel curriculum track related to their study of the elements of a novel and of The Old Man and the Sea in particular.

In January, students covered parts of speech, grammar, and punctuation rules, and gave and received feedback. They used their NaNoWriMo novels as their laboratories for learning.

In mid-February, students began to edit their novels for content and grammar, with the help of writing buddies and teams. They learned how to give and receive constructive feedback. While engaged in editing, they have studied nouns, pronouns, adjectives, and verbs in depth, using Schoolhouse Rock and outdoor lessons to support retention. They also learned about paragraphing, end punctuation, and some rules regarding word usage.

*Also see blog entries

Robert Frost’s Poems by Robert Frost
The Old Man and the Sea by Ernest Hemingway
Lord of the Flies by William Golding
Following the Equator by Mark Twain
Moby Dick by Herman Melville

Dead Poets Society


TEACHER: Matt Johnson