This article highlights the power of using place-based education (PBE) in a K-8 school to support and extend students' literacy and learning. Through PBE, teachers learn to use their local places such as playgrounds, neighborhoods, parks, streams, forests, and urban centers as contexts to make connections and facilitate learning. Moreover, as seen in the examples provided throughout this article, PBE empowers teachers and students to study and read the world, integrate knowledge across disciplines, write for authentic purposes and audiences, create and share narratives connected to local places, and engage in and share research. As a result, students’ excitement for learning grows as they see their school grounds and community as an extension of their classrooms, with access to more texts, learning, and opportunities for positive impacts.

Author Bio

Erica R. Hamilton is an Associate Professor of Education at Grand Valley State University, where she works with preservice and inservice teachers. Her research interests focus on teacher learning and professional development, place-based education, literacy, and educational technology. She can be reached at hamilter@gvsu.edu.

Janet Staal is Director of Nature-based/Outdoor Education at West Side Christian School. Through Groundswell, she’s now able to translate outdoor learning moments to increase inquiry-based, student-led stewardship projects. She can be reached at jstaal@wschristian.org.

Jessica Vander Ark is the Groundswell Program Manager at Grand Valley State University. She is interested in place-based education, environmental education, and getting students outdoors. She can be reached at vandjess@gvsu.edu.



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