Building relevant educational programs in our national parks requires skill. When planning education programs there are many factors that must be considered to ensure the program is relevant. These factors include: who is the audience, what park theme(s) connect and relate to participant interest and experience, and what curriculum standards are being introduced and explored in the classroom. “Achieving Relevance in our 2nd Century” states that “we provide opportunities that attract and engage new audiences, leverage existing and new partners, and consistently meet or exceed audience expectations” (April 2014).
Is your educational program relevant? How well do you connect the park’s interpretive themes to education standards? Is your park interpreting untold stories? Is your park creating meaningful experiences? Through this lesson you will explore ideas, resources, and suggested activities to examine how your education program and individual programs balance audience needs while integrating park themes with your curriculum.
What You’ll Learn
- How to triangulate the needs of the audience, park theme, and the curricular goals.
How to Use the Following Resources
You might want to dig in and complete all of the following ideas; however, the content is organized so that you can choose your own adventure. Do this alone or with your team. Upon completion, write a review below!
- Schedule a meeting with a local school and/or associated organization. Discuss audience needs, including what resources are needed. Share the results with your team.
- Attend a local meeting about community issues and explain how the park can be a resource.
- Observe or shadow a teacher in the classroom.
- Ask for feedback on a program that focuses on current societal issues from local teachers with whom you have a relationship.
Integrate Park Themes
- Brainstorm a list of connections between your park’s themes and the local news stories of the school communities with which you work.
- Create a list of relevant societal issues that connect to your park themes and share with your team.
- Get to know the standards – download the Common Core Standards App and explore the resources tab.
- Get to know the standards – download the Next Generation Science Standards App and visit the Topic Arrangement tab and explore the grade your park targets.
- Search for and attend a local or national teacher conference provided by organizations like National Council for Social Studies, ASCD Empower, TCEA Convention and Exposition, ISTE 2018 Conference, PBL World 2018 and Distance Teaching & Learning Conference.
- Consider weaving the Common Core skills-based curricular goals with strategies that connect to teaching tolerance and anti-bias.
- Watch the video clip on Bloom’s Taxonomy to assist you in connecting your curriculum goals by writing learning objectives based on different levels of learning, or review and use this handout to help form questions.
- Present at a local or national conference and share your ideas and promising practices.
- Seek out local activities in your community and request space or a booth. (i.e. WorldFest, Jamboree, Juneteenth Celebration, etc.).
- Considering the societal issues that connect to your park’s resources, employ a student centered teaching technique or activity to create connections between the resource, topic, and students.