Place Based Education

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What is Place-based Education

The Rural School and Community Trust (2004) portrays the concept of place-based education (PBE) this way: "Place-based education is learning that is rooted in what is local - the unique history, environment, culture, economy, literature, and art of a particular place. The community provides the context for learning, student work focuses on community needs and interests, and community members serve as resources and partners in every aspect of teaching and learning."

In examples of place based education most meaningful to us, students:

Foxfire Project

40 Years of Place-based Education Publishing

This is one of the most famous, and one of the most well know and effective PBE projects. Started in Rabun County, Georgia in 1966, the Foxfire project was designed on the ideas of John Dewey, and was intended to engage the poor, unsuccessful students in rural Appalachia in learning to write and produce content based on the things around them - their place.

Using the primitive tools available at the time, including early tape recorders for oral interviews, inexpensive black and white cameras, and and manual typewriters, the Rabun County students produced articles and then books. The first Foxfire book was published in 1972, and in over 40 years has spawned a series of 12 books documenting the folkways, traditions and culture of Appalachia. And, they've taught generations of students to communicate with an authentic audience in the process.

The last book was published in 2004, and a twice-yearly magazine is now the vehicle the Rabun County High School students use to publish writing on these topics.

The core practices are:

the beginning with learner choice, design, and revision.


  1. (In ERIC's | Foxfire Approach to Learning ; Starnes, Paris, & Stevens, 1999).

BSSD's Digital Foxfire Project

During the 2008-09 school year we will be formalizing many of our teachers' efforts in the place-based education mold into a series of connected, inter-related resources with a working title of Digital Foxfire.

Articles & Research about Place-based Education

Phi Delta Kappan "Learning to be Where We Are"

Promise of Place

Place-based Education

Semester Away (NYT)

Place-based Instruction

Sense of Place in Geo-science for American Indian & Alaska Native Undergrads

Benefits of Nature for Children's Health--CU

Martin Buber, Aldo Leopold & Place-based Education

A case-study of land-based Education Curriculum in Rural Alaska

Place-based education & Standards-based reform Does Place-based Education help or hinder teaching and student achievement in Standards-based models?

Additional Resources

Unalakleet Curriculum by Patricia Partnow

Creating a Place for Indigenous Knowledge Article by Ray Barnhardt

Village Science Science Curriculum based on village environments

Village Math Math Curriculum based on village environments

Place Based Lessons and Projects Examples of place based projects from across the country. Can be searched by grade level or topic. Very cool!

Announcement of Alaska Native TV - a YouTube for Alaska with interviews of Native Elders, etc.

Place-based Education Reading List

Sobel, David.Place-based Education: Connecting Classrooms and Communities. The Orion Society. 2004, 2005.

Wigginton, Eliot, ed. The Foxfire Book. New York: Anchor Press, 1972. Wigginton, Eliot, ed. Foxfire 2. New York: Anchor Press, 1973.

Wigginton, Eliot, ed. Foxfire 3. New York: Anchor Press, 1975.

Wigginton, Eliot, ed. Foxfire 4. New York: Anchor Press, 1977.

Wigginton, Eliot, ed. Foxfire 5. New York: Anchor Press, 1979.

Wigginton, Eliot, ed. Foxfire 6. New York: Anchor Press, 1980.

Friedman, Thomas L. The World Is Flat: A Brief History of the Twenty-First Century, Updated and Expanded. New York: Farrar, Straus, and Giroux, 2005, 2006. "Globalization of the Local" p.505-514

BSSD Place-based Education

Maggie Ferry's BSSD/BIA Units

PBE Lesson Plans

Place-Based Writing Assignments

Place-Based Social Studies Assignments

Place-Based Math Assignments

Place-Based Science Assignments

Place-Based Reading Assignments

Place-Based Tech Assignments

Place-Based Career Skills Assignments

Place-Based Life Skills Assignments

PBE Lesson Plans Relevant to Particular Sites

These plans are organized by site. However, they are in no way site-specific. With just a few tweaks, we believe you can make these lessons relevant to your site, student & levels. Enjoy!

Brevig Mission

Little Diomede








St. Michael





White Mountain

Site based Resources


"How to tell you are NOT Mom's favorite"

Picture taken by Kim Peters, New Jersey Audobon Society


Compare & contrast the kind of Place-based education each of these baby birds are receiving from their mother.

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