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Principles of Place-based Education

Introducing place-based education in schools and communities works best when you give its roots a chance to grow deep and strong before expecting too many flowers. We’ve found the following principles to be key to PBE programs These principles are helpful starting points, but can also be overwhelming. Remember that PBE is an ongoing process that can be refined along the way. New and seasoned practitioners will most definitely run into challenges — and come up with creative and practical solutions — as they design place-based education initatives. You may also find our planning tools helpful for getting started.

Principles of Successful Place-Based Education

  • Learning takes place on-site in the school yard, and in the local community and environment.
  • Learning focuses on local themes, systems, and content.
  • Learning is personally relevant to the learner.
  • Learning experiences contribute to the community’s vitality and environmental quality and support the community’s role in fostering global environmental quality.
  • Learning is supported by strong and varied partnerships with local organizations, agencies, businesses, and government.
  • Learning is interdisciplinary.
  • Learning experiences are tailored to the local audience.
  • Learning is grounded in and supports the development of a love for one’s place.
  • Local learning serves as the foundation for understanding and participating appropriately in regional and global issues.
  • Place-based education programs are integral to achieving other institutional goals.


New Hampshire Forest for Every Classroom

New Hampshire Forest for Every Classroom A Forest for Every Classroom (FFEC) is a year-long professional development series for middle and high school educators, aimed at providing the inspiration, knowledge and skills required to transform classroom teaching into effective and exciting place-based education. Teachers develop their own units to increase student literacy skills and foster student understanding of—and appreciation for—the forested lands in their communities. These units integrate hands-on study of the natural and cultural resources of the local community, addressing concepts in ecology, sense of place, civics, and forest land management and stewardship. At the heart of FFEC is the belief that students who are immersed in the study of their own “place” are more eager to learn about and be involved in the stewardship of their communities and public lands. Place-based education is the process of using the local community and environment as a starting point to teach concepts in science, mathematics, social studies and other subjects across the curriculum. This approach is proven to increase academic achievement while helping students develop stronger ties to their community, build appreciation for the natural world and a heightened commitment to becoming active citizens. The FFEC program provides 11 days of professional development over the course of four seasons, including a five-day residential summer session. Most sessions are based at the world-class Hubbard Brook Experimental Forest in central NH. NH FFEC is cosponsored by NH Project Learning Tree, the Forest Service's State and Private Forestry, Northeastern Area, Northern Research Station, and the White Mountain National Forest. For more information see our NEW FFEC brochure NH_FFEC_brochure-2012B.pdf

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