Back to School – in America’s National Parks
Teachers across northern Michigan have a new tool to help them engage their students in classroom and place-based learning.
On September 12, the National Park Service (NPS) launched a new online service for teachers that brings America’s national parks, including Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore (National Lakeshore), into neighborhood classrooms. The new “Teachers” section of the NPS website at www.nps.gov/teachers provides a one-stop shop for curriculum-based lesson plans, traveling trunks, maps, activities, distance learning, and other resources. All of the materials draw from the spectacular natural landscapes and authentic places preserved in America’s national parks.
“Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore has long welcomed local students to the park for field trips,” said Dusty Shultz, Superintendent of Sleeping Bear Dunes. “And now, through the new “Teachers” NPS website, all 401 national parks are opening the doors and inviting teachers and students to learn about literature using a lesson plan from Carl Sandburg Home National Historic Site, borrow a traveling trunk from Lava Beds National Monument, chat online with a ranger at the Grand Canyon National Park, or visit Mt. McKinley in Denali National Park.”
The site is searchable by location, keyword, and more than 125 subjects, from archeology, to biology, to Constitutional law. Teachers will, for the first time, be able to rate NPS-provided content. In addition to park-created content, the site also features educational materials created by NPS national programs like the National Register of Historic Places and its award-winning Teaching with Historic Places series of 147 lesson plans.
The website is just one part of the National Park Service’s ongoing commitment to education. Every year, national parks offer more than 57,000 educational programs that serve nearly 3 million students in addition to 563,000 interpretive programs attended by 12.6 million visitors. The NPS is working with partners and educational institutions to expand programs and encourage the use of parks as places of learning. The NPS has partnered with the U.S. Department of Education to integrate national park resources into core curriculums. Each summer, teachers across the country are hired to work in parks to develop curriculum-based programs based on park resources through the Teacher-Ranger-Teacher program.
To learn more about the National Park Service’s education programs, visit www.nps.gov/teachers.
Please visit www.nps.gov/slbe and click on the “For Teachers” link on the left side of the homepage to plan a visit to the National Lakeshore. Park information is also available on the National Lakeshore’s Facebook page at www.facebook.com/sbdnl and Twitter feed at https://twitter.com/#!/ SleepingBearNPS.