SARTELL -- With almost 60 acres of wooded area, staff at Riverview Intermediate School in Sartell are exploring new ways of teaching.

Last year the school received a School Forest designation from the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources and are now in the early stages of developing their new outdoor learning spaces.

Principal Zach Dingmann says being a school forest is about breaking out of the typical classroom environment.

You can go outside and have a math or language arts lesson. There are some teachers who tell their students to bring a beach towel and they read outside. It's just getting kids out of the four walls of the school and getting outside where there is more authentic learning.

He says they are still working on their first goal in developing their school forest which is creating outdoor learning spaces.

Dingmann says they recently had a visit from the Jeffers Foundations who helped teachers come up with strategies on how to best use their natural surroundings.

Right before EMA break, we had the Jeffers Foundation come in and do some professional development on our school forest and teach teachers how to teach outside. Even though that next week we moved to hybrid learning, teachers brought their classes outside and use the same lessons taught during the professional development.

He says they know they are a few years away from where they want to be but they are excited for the possibilities that are ahead.

Dingmann says in the future there will be some opportunity for the community to get involved with clearing out some invasive plants or building benches

Riverview is one of over 135 other School Forests in the state.

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