Christina has been teaching for 22 years in the Sonoma Valley, where she currently teaches 5th grade. She has taught everything from kindergarten to high school algebra in her career.
Her love for gardening and being outside lead her to participate in a Jr. Master Gardener Program at her current school. Watching the students' engagement in the outdoors with this curriculum motivated her to incorporate it into everyday classroom experiences.
With her CTL Master's cognate project, Christina looked into whether the type of aesthetic experiences students have make a difference in their ability to learn and retain information. The purpose of her study was to investigate the connections between Aesthetic Learning Experience Theory in an outdoor classroom and student engagement and motivation. The conditions included in the Aesthetic Learning Experiences are: connection, active engagement, perceptivity, multi-sensory, risk-taking, and imagination.
Three lessons were developed and implemented and in-depth observations and reflections were collected from students and classroom teachers. The data consisted of fourteen participating classrooms, including over 337 students, spanning the K-5 grades. The findings show that if a teacher focuses on the 'Aesthetic Learning Experiences' and incorporates them into their daily lessons, students will not only be engaged and motivated, but the information will be retained by the students and stored long term in their episodic memory.