beach_classroomSuccessful educational projects that focus on the community share key characteristics.

by James Lewicki

During the last several years, I have worked with dozens of elementary, middle, and high schools that value place-based learning enough to shift curriculum priorities to seeing that students, as well as studying about the community in the classroom, learn in the field with community elders and experts. Privileged to see what works across the country, I have coached students and teachers to create productive place-based projects. Over time, I have seen again and again how a handful of characteristics always frame good work.

In trying to distill these essential features into a mnemonic device, I came up with eight characteristics. The first letters of each word form the acronym MEASURES. (Considering that a worthy placed-based project measures academic achievement and personal success, this is a highly appropriate term.) Where I see great place-based work, I find these characteristics active and alive; where I see the place-based vision embraced, but the reality struggling, it is always because two, three, or maybe more of the characteristics are lacking.

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James Lewicki is a national director for EdVisions who works with schools across America that embrace project-based learning, as well as a National Rural Faculty member of the Rural School and Community Trust.