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Collection by
Judy Buchanan
Published
Oct 25 2016

Resources in this collection

8 Resources in this collection
A National Writing Project and National Parks Service partnership helps connect students and educators to some of our country’s lesser-known national park resources, and become stronger writers in the process.
Bay Area Writing Project Teacher Consultants used newly accessible primary documents, secondary sources, photographs, oral histories, and artifacts from the National Japanese American Historical Society to develop a web-based curriculum for grades 4-12—16.
In collaboration with Independence National Historic Park and the Philadelphia Writing Project, the National Writing Project help to produce this video called The Power of Argument, featuring Philadelphia eighth-graders and highlighting the Declaration of Independence as an argument. 
Students in the Philadelphia Writing Project’s Project Write, a collaboration with the Independence National Historical Park, created an online wiki/blog to share resources and work.
Students participating in the Hudson Valley Writing Project partnership programs with the Roosevelt-Vanderbilt National Historic Sites created this website as a space to share writing and learning out of their experience at the Roosevelt-Vanderbilt National Historic Sites in Hyde Park.
Pennsylvania Writing and Literature Project designing a blog site for the youth work created through their partnership with the Valley Forge Historical National Park. Working includes podcasts/Threadcasts illustrating student voices, inquiries and writing processes.
Resources from the Western Massachusetts Writing Project/Springfield Armory National Historic Site partnership were published in an article by Katie Richardson, Justin Eck, Kevin Hodgson, and Bruce Penniman as “Writing about the History in Your Own Backyard” on MiddleWeb, January 25, 2016. The article includes video, photos, student work, and an infographic with links to resources used in planning and implementing the teacher and student workshops at the Armory. 
In partnership with the National Park Service the Maryland Writing Project aims to immerse history teachers in the past through workshops and tours of significant historical locations surrounding the Maryland area.

Opening the Walls of the Classroom and the Boundaries of the Park

Resources in this collection have emerged from a growing partnership between the National Park Service (NPS) and the National Writing Project (NWP) designed to bolster connected learning opportunities within the national parks and reach more young visitors and educators.

“We’ve seen students walk away and say: My voice matters,” -- Cris Constantine, National Park Service Education Program Manager, Northeast Region.

The collaborations between individual historic national parks and Writing Project sites emerged from this invitation to imagine how connected learning opportunities could be fostered to reach a broader audience. Each collaboration uses a local park as a platform for place-based, hands-on learning. All partnerships involve active engagement with the park’s resources, writing and publishing, while individual activities continue to develop and change each year for both educators and youth. Students in Philadelphia, for example, wrote their own “declarations” about gun control, grappled with big questions like “What does freedom look like?” and learned how to “read” the portraits hanging on the walls at Independence Hall. They shared their writing on a blog at the National Park Service website where they commented on their classmates’ work.

“The park experience gives students the opportunity to have an authentic learning experience as they step onto a historical land or in the footsteps of historical figures,” said Suzanne Norris, park ranger at the Roosevelt-Vanderbilt National Historic Sites in New York, which partners with the Hudson Valley Writing Project to host a summer writing camp for middle school students. “The greatest accomplishment for me is helping the students realize they can have a voice through writing.” She recalled one student’s short story about FDR, told from the perspective of a tree on the land.

Robust professional development opportunities for educators help them develop place-based curriculums that make use of local historical resources. Grace Morizawa, working with teachers of the Bay Area Writing Project and National Park Service rangers and resources from the Golden Gate National Recreational Area (NPS) and the Tule Lake Segregation Center (NPS), writes about how teachers sought to develop a curriculum that is relevant to today’s issues such as immigration, race, criminalization of Black and Brown citizens, treatment of Muslims, leadership, and the role of the press.  

The challenge was to develop curricula that was practical and would actually be used in classrooms. By going deep in this story,  teachers asked about the historical thinking skills and historical content that students could tap as they examined other areas of the curriculum.

The resources here support both the sharing of youth work and the further development of resources for educators working in and outside of school. They were developed with the explicit goal of opening the walls of the classroom and the boundaries of the park. This is the work we’ve been learning together and we invite you to explore and share your own.

In addition, the NPS invites everyone to:

  • Explore the stories of America's people and places. These stories are found across our nation's landscapes—in more than 400 national parks, in national heritage areas, along historic trails and waterways, and in every neighborhood.
  • Learn about the natural resources in parks, from the rocks under our feet to the sky overhead. Investigate the issues that affect our parks and how we join with neighbors and partners to address them.

Quotes excerpted from The Beauty of Learning on Historic Land by Natalie Orenstein written for Educator Innovator, February 2016

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