Social Studies and Science Through a Place-Based Lens
Students and teachers at FSW have always been committed to finding opportunities for experiential learning through field trips and community service learning. This year, we’re taking that to a new level with our school-wide Place-Based Education initiative, recognizing this lens as crucial to our 21st century curriculum. By intensively connecting students and teachers to their surroundings, Place-Based Education enhances learning, problem-solving, and critical thinking across subjects and grade levels. It is enhancing the depth with which we talk and think about the places where we live, work, play, and learn.
Our youngest students are immersed in Wilmington, studying eco-systems, neighborhoods, and the local history. “We really didn't have to go far to make an impact and the kids love exploring in detail places they thought they knew already,” teacher Julie Smith explained. Older elementary students focus on the landscape across the state, turning their “Mountains to Sea” curriculum into an experiential learning opportunity that includes, hiking, beach patrols, and environmental citizenship. Our middle school students connect with Carolina Friends School in Durham, New Garden Friends and Guilford College in Greensboro, visiting the North Carolina Museum of Art, Greensboro’s Civil Rights Museum and other evocative landmarks along the way.
But as Brenda pointed out, “Place-Based education doesn’t just mean North Carolina.” When addressing the recent trip a group of middle school students took to the Dominican Republic, our head of school noted that, “They are learning right now to care about the world because a new, rich, culturally different piece of it has been opened up to them through personal experience.”
All of these place-based lessons give students of all ages confidence and opportunities for leadership. As one student recently said, “I am grateful for what I am learning. Now I know I can help.”