Amid the COVID-19 pandemic, schools and educators in Wisconsin and globally are moving classes outside to reduce disease transmission through open-air environments and increased space for physical distancing. A new toolkit on the DPI website provides resources to help Wisconsin schools take learning outdoors.
In June, the National COVID-19 Outdoor Learning Initiative launched and educators statewide have been working with this group to identify strategies and develop resources to take learning outside during COVID-19 and beyond. These resources, including downloadable worksheets, PDFs, and videos, are now available on the DPI Taking Education Outdoors: A Toolkit website.
Kristin Halverson, a first-grade teacher at Purdy Elementary School in Fort Atkinson, said, “I think one of the greatest things about this toolkit is it really gives you as an individual or as a district everything you would need to know to start this process.”
This toolkit builds upon the framework of Education Forward, identifying resources in the following areas: The Learning Landscape, Operations, Health and Safety, Instructional Programming, and Out-of-School Programming. For example, “The Learning Landscape” outlines outdoor learning considerations and provides layouts for physical distancing outdoors and low-cost outdoor infrastructure. A “Community Stories” page shares some of the ways that Wisconsin schools are implementing these ideas.
To support educators and schools in this work, a new online community provides a forum to ask questions, share ideas, and connect with others engaging in this work.
The toolkit will be continually updated as additional resources and information become available. The toolkit was developed in partnership with the Wisconsin Association of Environmental Education, FIELD Edventures, Green & Healthy Schools Wisconsin, and the Wisconsin Center for Environmental Education, with more than 100 educators engaging in conversations about the opportunities and challenges of this initiative.
Questions about the toolkit, taking learning outdoors, or environmental education can be directed to Victoria Rydberg at firstname.lastname@example.org or 608-266-0419.