Collection Overview
Connected Learning Teaching Writing #writeout place-based

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

Partnerships between National Writing Projects and the National Park Service

9 Posts in this Collection

“It’s not just a great way to get kids writing; it’s also a great way to introduce them to places that they may not be familiar with already.” – Going Outdoors Inspires Student Writing, Edutopia

Resources in this collection have emerged from many years of collaboration between the National Park Service (NPS) and the National Writing Project (NWP). Local projects have been designed to bolster connected learning opportunities within the national parks and reach more young visitors and educators.

The collaborations between 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, even while individual activities continue to develop and change for both educators and youth.

“… We want to connect with students and we want to do that through teachers. … we’re learning from the teachers as we go. We get to promote student work [and ] we get to promote our communities.” – Heather Berenson, Education Specialist, Cuyahoga Valley National Recreation Area

Robust professional development opportunities for educators help them develop place-based curricula that use place-based historical as well as ecological resources. For example, teachers of the Bay Area Writing Project and National Park Service rangers and resources from the Golden Gate National Recreation Area and the Tule Lake Segregation Center, worked to develop a curriculum that is relevant to today’s issues such as immigration, race, and media literacy (see resource linked above). While in a partnership between the Nebraska Writing Project and the Niobrara National Scenic River, teachers and rangers have designed an award-winning river experience for students that involves floating down the river and writing along the way.

While the work of each partnership is specific and deeply connected to its local place and context, cross-cutting themes include: surfacing hidden and untold stories in local areas, bringing a social justice and racial justice lens to place-based writing and teaching, connecting to the land with a focus on eco-critical literacies as well as social emotional health, and supporting youth agency, voice, and leadership through connected learning. A collected set of links from these partnerships over time are available for browsing via this map.

“The depth of material and knowledge the spaces hold is endless and invigorating to dive into,” said Diane Waff, director of the Philadelphia Writing Project.

Working from this abundance, NWP educators and Park Rangers have also created a two-week open online national event in October called Write Out. Write Out is a free two-week celebration of writing, making, and sharing inspired by the great outdoors. It is a public invitation to get out and create that is supported with a series of online activities, made especially for educators, students, and families, to explore national parks and other public spaces. The goal is to connect and learn through place-based writing and sharing using the common hashtag #writeout.

We invite you to explore these resources, use and remix whatever you find helpful in your own context, and connect with us online via #writeout to share your stories as well as additional resources.

We look forward to connecting with you.

Up next

Content type
From Lines to Networks: Connecting with National Parks for Place-based Science Learning
By Stephanie West-Puckett
Content type
From the Tule Lake Segregation Center to the Virtual World
By Grace Morizawa
This resource highlights collaboration between teachers from multiple cities, the National Park Service, and a historical society that resulted in a powerful curriculum helping students to understand the internment of Japanese-Americans during World War II. It demonstrates the transformative learning possibilities of working across educational sites.
Read more
Content type
Bare Bones: Place-Based Teaching Through the Stories of Agate Fossil Beds National Monument—Part 5 of The Nebraska Experience
By Robert Brooke