Boulder Valley School District

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Ghita Carroll

Coordinator, Sustainability
Coordinator, Sustainability

Jeff Medwetz

Manager, Project
Manager, Project

Outdoor Learning

Outdoor Learning in BVSD

There are many advantages to outdoor learning. Outdoor learning can provide meaningful opportunities for students and teachers to connect. There are also mental and physical health benefits to being outdoors​. In addition, transmission of COVID-19 is lower outside, and using the outdoors will help slow the spread of the virus​ and ​increase opportunities for in-person learning​.

Resources for Staff

Weekly Wake-Up | Outdoor Learning

During our Weekly Wake-Up we spoke to BVSD educators and partners who have been navigating outdoor learning. They share their experiences and best practices for schools and teachers who might be interested in exanding their classroom to the wide-open spaces near their school. Outdoor Learning Resources & Tips

Outdoor Gatherings Guidelines 

Tips for Outdoor Classroom Management from our partner Garden to Table

I Heard it from Sam Podcast | Episode 6 - No Bad Weather, Only Bad Clothing
This week, we talk about outdoor learning - how it’s safer than indoor interaction in terms of COVID as well as the other benefits to students’ well-being and engagement in a academic lessons. We will talk to the staff at Ryan Elementary about their use of outdoor spaces and hear from Dr. Ghita Carroll and Stephanie Schroeder from our district’s operations team.

The National COVID-19 Outdoor Learning Initiative 
Across the country, schools are beginning to open back up and face the challenges that come with navigating safe learning environments through a pandemic. With safety and equity at the center of schools’ opening strategies, converting outdoor space into learning space is a cost effective way to keep students safe and engaged. “The National COVID-19 Outdoor Learning Initiative supports schools and districts around the country in their effort to reopen. The Initiative seeks to equitably improve learning, mental and physical health, and happiness for children and adults.”

Looking for high-quality, virtual environmental or outdoor activities and lessons? Need to find bilingual content for a certain grade level? Want to integrate science with math, literacy, art, or social studies?
Check out the new eeVirtual Learning Database! This highly searchable website collects and screens resources from outdoor and environmental organizations and government agencies across the state, allowing you to find exactly what you need. Content is largely asynchronous and designed to be easily shared with students. Synchronous resources coming soon!

Additional Partners and Resources Supporting Outdoor Learning and More
The E-movement virtual data base listed under internal resources can be sorted for outdoor learning activities.

BVSD Outdoor Learning in the News

Green Schoolyards America BVSD Outdoor Learning Case Study

Nestled in the foothills of the Rocky Mountains, the Boulder Valley School District (BVSD) encompasses 56 schools and stretches from the peaks of the Continental Divide to the suburbs of Denver. This forward-thinking school district has been dedicated to sustainability for decades, but when the COVID-19 pandemic forced students, teachers, and staff to retreat to their homes for remote education in March 2020, the BVSD made finding sustainable, healthy learning solutions a top priority.

Growing Up Boulder, BVSD collaborate on outdoor education | Daily Camera, November 28, 2020 

Platt Middle School science teacher John Mattson recently took seventh graders on a walk to the nearby Bobolink Trail to collect water quality data and make observations about ecosystems on the banks of South Boulder Creek.

The great outdoors: COVID-19-compatible learning experiences for all | CU Boulder Today, November 3, 2020

Growing Up Boulder (GUB), a CU Boulder-based initiative, is gaining national recognition for finding innovative ways to bring children back to school safely during COVID-19 times: through outdoor learning. Using creative outreach methods, GUB is working directly with Latinx parents and with classes of elementary school students within Boulder Valley School District (BVSD) to co-create outdoor learning experiences that will keep them virus free and be responsive to their learning and other needs.

Horizons Outdoor Learning | CBS 4, October 12, 2020

“In Boulder, schools have been implementing all kinds of new safety measures since returning to in person learning. One school has a new classroom, the great outdoors. Horizons K-8, tents are set up so students can have their class outside. It is kind of an out-of-the-box thinking that has helped this community with the help of a gofundme campaign they have raised within $40,000 to do this.”

Boulder’s Horizons K-8 Pilots Outdoor Classrooms | Daily Camera, September 30, 2020

As Boulder Valley schools begin to go back to in-person learning, several schools are exploring the option of outdoor classrooms in an effort to make in-person learning safer and more effective. To learn more about what schools are doing click here

Back to School: In-person, Outside | Christian Science Monitor, September 8, 2020

Many schools across the country are exploring new methods of outdoor learning. To learn more about what is being done across the US and locally click here.