PARK FOR EVERY CLASSROOM
School's Out(doors): Place-based Education Responds to COVID-19 and Beyond
This booklet is designed to be the starting point for anyone wanting to do more place-based education. It summarizes main talking points and research evidence so you can make the case for place-based education, includes exemplar stories, and, importantly, lists experts who are willing to help support next action steps for people like you and the people you work with. It’s great for to share with principals, park administrators, community partners, parents, or anyone else looking to dive into place-based education with you!
View the brochure by clicking the image below:
Park for every classroom works
“The Park for Every Classroom program has changed my teaching in so many ways. It has given my students a chance to get out of the classroom and use real-world problem-solving and skill-building. It has taken me out of my comfort zone and pushed me to think about the curriculum in a new way that doesn’t fit the mold of any science kit.”
Alexandra Hobson, Village School teacher
Why We Created
Park for every classroom
National Parks are referred to as the "gems" of our country, offering historical, cultural, and natural treasures. National parks can provide tangible resources and illustrate complex issues, helping students to make meaningful connections to their place.
Park staff know their park’s resources and understand how to communicate their importance. Teachers know their students and understand how to help them learn. Community partners know local needs and assets. Together we can provide educator professional development aimed at deeper learning opportunities for students that use authentic experiences in the parks and communities.
With Park for Every Classroom's engaging work environment and methods, teachers, park staff, and community educators can share expertise and resources, learn about innovations in education, and plan together to make a direct impact in their communities.
Adapted from Forest for Every Classroom’s place-based education model, Park for Every Classroom (PEC) was created to encourage the use of national parks as extensions of the classroom.
In 2011, the National Park Service’s Region 1 (formerly the Northeast Region), Shelburne Farms, and the National Park Service’s Stewardship Institute (formerly the Conservation Study Institute) worked with teachers, park staff and community educators from six different sites, creating the Park for Every Classroom collaboration.
Over the years, the program has grown to over a dozen PEC Teams in the Northeast and has evolved into a Community of Learning, Inquiry and Practice. PEC Teams work together to design and implement professional learning opportunities for educators who are interested in using park resources to teach their students.
1. Grounded in Place
Tenant 1: Grounded in place
Learning is grounded in the multiple attributes of a particular place including the values of local residents, natural landscape and resources, cultural heritage and resources, social dynamics, and political and economic systems. Learning moves from local to global as children mature.
Practices and Approach
We gather once a year at a PEC Team's site to observe education programs in action; develop and share ideas and challenges; action plan; delve into best practices of stewardship education; and, most importantly, support one another's efforts to innovate. In between our annual gatherings, we provide opportunities to connect and learn together online.
PEC is adapted to fit the specific needs, assets, culture, and goals of each site. Although our Community of Learning, Inquiry, and Practice partners share similar foundational premises and overall aspirations, each team has created its own distinct PEC program for their unique situation.
Parks working with teachers and community partners to offer professional development and immersion experiences for educators, exploring park and community resources, and generating ideas for how the park can be used as an extension of the classroom.
• Gained increased access to park’s resources and staff to support curricular goals
• Increased professional development in place-based education and curriculum design
• Developed fresh ideas and support from other teachers and resource specialist
• Re-invigorated their teaching and connection to their community
• Leadership opportunities in serving on the PEC team
• Increased their level of engagement and active learning
• Experienced stronger connection between classroom learning and real world application and problem-solving
• Developed greater familiarity with the parks and their resources through multiple exposures
• Learned about park employment and internships, and capitalized on these career development opportunities
• Accomplished major learning milestones in alternative high school programs
• Felt greater capacity to help fulfill their missions, and connect with the community
• Expanded access to teacher and student networks
• Increased professional development in place-based education, curriculum design and promising instructional practices
•Established cohesive framework and direction for education programs
•New and better working partnerships with teachers, administrators, community non-profits, and other public lands
•Generated a greater awareness of the park and its resources
•Boosted visitorship and student involvement
•Increased understanding of what partners, teachers, and students need; helping make the park more relevant, visible, and valuable to the community
•Created new park-based programs and units
•Enriched diversity, and direct relevance, Education and interpretive programs for students