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Taking Education Outdoors: Community Stories


Students learning outdoors wearing masks


School Stories 

Highland Community School
Milwaukee Public School District

"We are starting online for the 2020-21 school year and we are gearing as possible toward getting kids out. I demonstrate nature journaling in my backyard and encourage outdoor follow-up work whenever possible. I dropped off seeds, soil and pots at students' homes for kids to plant and observe. Another educator records videos in natural areas around the city observing phenological changes to inspire families to get out and observe. One of my regular check-in questions with my students is, 'How have you been connecting with nature?'" — Alicia Steiner, educator


Woodside Elementary School
Hamilton School District

Forest Kindergarten teacher, Peter Dargatz, uses tree stumps as desks and says that time outside every day "provides a mask break." Read more


Howard-Suamico School District
Green Bay

Student learning specialist Kelly Koller is working to support social-emotional learning this year through outdoor classroom classrooms. Read more and get resources on Twitter and YouTube


Birchwood Public Montessori
Birchwood School District

Teachers and staff worked to build an open air classroom where students can learn and eat lunch this year. Read more


High Marq Environmental Charter School
Montello School District

With teaching to students both in person and at home simultaneously, during outdoor experiences teachers had "student liaisons" posting photos from their in-person field teams to Google Hangouts and the at-home field teams were posting their own photos as well to be connected and create a shared experience. Another tool they have used is posting to a shared iNaturalist account at the same time for a BioBlitz. All students used anonymous, shared accounts to avoid sharing personally identifiable information.


Baraboo High School
Baraboo School District
9-12 Environmental Science

High school science teacher Amy Workman is taking her students outside this fall with the help of a donation of carpet squares to provide student seating. 


Blooming Grove Montessori
Birth - age 12

The school built a 14-by-40-foot structure with an open-air feel that can be closed for use year-round. Read more


Prairie Hill Waldorf School

Teachers and parents volunteered over the summer to build outdoor classrooms to ensure more learning could take place outside this school year. Read more

Heritage Christian Schools
New Berlin

A student designed and built an outdoor classroom for his Eagle Scout project to give back to his former school. Read more


Community Partnership Highlights 

Henry Vilas Zoo provides virtual learning support for Bayview Neighborhood

Students at tables wearing masks studying during Zoo School
Photo courtesy of Henry Vilas Zoo


Henry Vilas Zoo launched Zoo School, an onsite learning environment for up to 20 elementary school students (10 in each class) to have a safe place to focus on their learning, enjoy healthy meals and snacks, and participate in additional Zoo education programs during the regular school week.


Do you have a story of community partnerships? 

For questions about this information, contact Victoria Rydberg-Nania (608) 266-0419