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USD 386 Exploring Outdoor Learning Center

posted Feb 3, 2015, 12:36 PM by website team   [ updated Feb 3, 2015, 12:37 PM ]

USD #386 Madison-Virgil hosted a Community Forum on January 28th, 2015 at 6pm at the Madison High School Theater regarding an Outdoor Learning Center (OLC) initiative.  The purpose of the forum was to share information and provide community members an opportunity to provide feedback to USD #386 administration.  Mr. Bradbury, USD #386 Superintendent, and Mrs. Hadicke, Madison Elementary Principal, presented information regarding the OLC initiative.  The objectives of the OLC initiative are as follows: 

  1. Provide hands on learning for students in USD 386 grades Pre-Kindergarten – 12th.
  2. Learning would be in the format of Project Based Learning (PBL), such as; selecting the correct amount of feed to determine egg production.
  3. Provide opportunities for parental and community engagement in USD #386 education activities.

According to the Association of Supervision and Curriculum Development (ASCD) Project-based learning creates opportunities for groups of students to investigate meaningful questions that require them to gather information and think critically.  Mrs. Hadicke explained that PBL in the classrooms would look like the following:  

·     It is a balanced approach to learning that would include learning by problem solving, using hands-on experiences and teaches social skills.

·     PBL would allow students to take ownership of their learning and be empowered to think critically.

·     The outdoor learning center would provide students with responsibilities for living things (such as vegetable care) and environmental awareness (such as rainwater collection and use).

·     PBL is only one method of instruction students will receive.  Technology integration, differentiated instruction, and best practice will still be a major part of the school day.  

Benefits of the OLC include

·         Additional career exposure

·         Increased student motivation

·         Increased student attendance

·         Family learning groups – siblings from all grade levels would work together on projects

·         Sense of ownership in the school and community

Mr. Bradbury and Mrs. Hadicke explained that initial plans for the OLC in USD #386 would include the following:

·     Land behind the elementary school would be used for a possible greenhouse. The greenhouse will be used to teach children how to grow and harvest vegetables that can be used in our cafeteria.

·         Possible pens for livestock (chickens would be a year one possibility).

·         Recycling drop-off for the community – money raised would be put back into the outdoor learning center.

·         Rainwater collection to be used in our greenhouse and for maintaining chickens.

·         Sustainable Living Practices

The OLC experience also offers students the opportunity to develop social skills, leadership skills, and a hands-on learning experience.  Due to challenging times in the area of school finance, the initiative will be funding totally through gifts and grants.  When the idea of the OLC was first discussed, a committee of teachers and administrators was formed to initially study the OLC concept.  The committee members visited a school in the state which was employing a similar concept in their instructional methods.  Mr. Bradbury and Mrs. Hadicke reported that feedback from elementary staff had been very positive.  While the OLC will be housed at the elementary, there will be benefits and opportunities for students PreK-12.  The OLC is in the planning stages and is expected to be taken to the USD #386 Board of Education for approval later this spring.  Mr. Bradbury indicated that there will be additional informational meetings in the future.  Community Involvement will be key to the success of this initiative.  If you have questions, concerns, comments, or would like to be involved in the OLC initiative, please contact Mr. Bradbury at or Mrs. Hadicke at