Take it Outside! Teaching Standards-Based Curriculum in Nature

River Grove continues to lead the local outdoor education movement by participating in a series of retreats to be held at Warner Nature Center, Marine on St. Croix.
Three retreats — led by teams from Hamline University, St. Catherine University, and the University of Minnesota — will advance skills in delivering standards-based curriculum in an outdoor setting.

Teaching Standards-Based Elementary Curriculum in Nature -- River Grove

Led by a team of researchers, teacher educators, scientists, and education advocates (representing Hamline University’s School of Education and Leadership, Freshwater, and the University of Minnesota’s Institute on the Environment), River Grove’s K-6 teachers will join other educators from around the region in a professional development opportunity that will benefit students, teachers, and administrations.

Beginning in late summer 2022, the three immersive “teacher field school” retreats will be held at Warner Nature Center in Marine on St. Croix, MN. Nature right outside our doors gives educators opportunities that are not found inside a classroom. It is well documented that outdoor education for children leads to approaching topics with more curiosity, helping students advance as learners with life-long skill sets. Working as a team during the seminars, teachers and school leaders will investigate how to align existing curriculum to nature-based teaching practices.

Specific topics will include:

Teaching Standards-Based Elementary Curriculum in Nature -- River Grove
  • Meeting academic standards
  • Deepening an understanding of multidisciplinary teaching
  • Grounding work in equity-oriented approaches
  • Gaining practice in creating high-impact, nature-based lessons and activities

At the retreats, teachers will draw from existing curriculum and lessons. They will learn strategies for using nature as a context to deepen engagement, fully explore any content subject, and gain practice in multidisciplinary instruction to increase academic engagement to improve student outcomes. The teachers will set individual and team goals, and they will make plans to share their learning with colleagues.

The goal is to equip teachers with tools, skills, and the confidence to use whatever context and natural setting available to them to deepen students’ engagement in any subject. This work will rejuvenate and revitalize the teachers’ passion for teaching by providing professional development based in River Grove’s mission and vision.

Since the school’s inception, River Grove has been making use of the many 900-acre Wilder Forest amenities to take kids outside for learning. Our teachers are excited to put the retreat’s innovations into practice and continue to lead the local outdoor project-based education movement.