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Two summers ago, my husband

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Two summers ago, my husband and I both found ourselves with two months free from work. Hoping to never be in a similiar situation (until retirement), we decided to capitalize and take a cross country trip. We loaded up the SUV and spent five weeks on a tent-camping tour of many of our beautiful country's national parks. I returned from our trip with over 3,000 pictures and bags of maps, posters, brochures, books, and other assorted resources amassed at the 8 national parks we visited (Great Sand Dunes, Mesa Verde, Grand Canyon, Bryce, Zion, Grand Teton, Yellowstone, Badlands). The trip, while a life-altering event in and of itself, also became a part of who I am as a teacher. As opportunites arise, I incorporate photographs, stories, geography lessons, geology lessons, biology lessons, and even meteorology lessons (for the record, I do not recommend tent-camping on the prairie of South Dakota during a tornado-producing thunderstorm)into my regular curriculum. This trip represented the fullfillment of a lifelong dream to "see" the country. I truly hope that each of my students one day gets to share the experience, and I hope that my excitement and passion will plant a seed for a future road trip of their own!

Student Teacher from Virginia

Place-based learning

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I am new to the teaching world and am currently working on my student teaching in a 6th grade English class. This blog was of such interest to me because just this week the team of teachers I am working with were discussing the possibilities of how to expose our students to the world outside of Virginia Beach. We have so many students who have never left their district and so it is hard for them to visualize and even value the variety of places and regions that exist right here in the states. One teacher had commented that she wished we could load them all up and drive them around the country so that they could see and experience first-hand the amazing places they have never been. However taking 60 middle schoolers around the country is not a real possibility at the moment, and so this blog got me thinking about the ways teachers who visit those places on their own can bring that place-based learning to the students in the classroom. I remember how much a benefitted from field trips and trips I was able to take with my family and I want to be able to do that for students even if I cannot take them there myself. This entry has really got me thinking about how to make that happen and I am going to continue researching ways and methods to bring the outside world in! =)

I am a graduate education

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I am a graduate education major preparing to switch careers from the corporate sector. I am an avid outdoorsman and a true "geek" when it comes to national parks and museums. I belive field trips are an essential part of the learning process. Visiting these national sites offer students a perspective that is not available in books or the classroom. I can remember most of my school field trips from childhood. My favorite was a visit to Jamestown,VA. I can still remember the actors and stories that were told. I am appreciative that there are organizations dedicated to assisting teachers with incorporating visits to these historic sites.

Host and Co-Creator of Virtual Science University

Our National Parks, The Best Outdoor Learning Center

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In the early 1990's, when I was the Department Chair at MOJO Permian in West Texas the REAL Friday Night Lights High School, I took about 20 students to Big Bend National Park twice a year! On those Field Trips our students learned more Archeology, Plant Morphology, Ecology, and Natural History than what they ever learned at school. I was fortunate to also have two accompanying University Professors from my alma mater the University of Texas of the Permian Basin to lead the Field Trips. Students are empowered when they are given these opportunities to explore their national parks. To this very day, I hear awesome stories from my ex-students about how these annual field trips deeply impacted their lives!

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