Tag Archives: Authentic

My Backyard Links to Authentic Learning Ideas and Resources

Sometimes when I began thinking about making those real world connections in a lesson my mind would go blank.  It’s easy when my kids came bouncing in all fired up about something but often I looked at the standards and had to figure out: How am I going to make this relevant to the students?  How on earth am I going to find the resources for them to investigate what they need?    I felt like I spent my time doing a lot of hunting.  The hunting thought sparked an idea.   Sometimes ideas and resources were as simple as looking or hunting in my own backyard.

So, here are my backyard links that I used to help me with this process.
  • National Wildlife Federation site provides information about eco-schools, school yard habitats, climate change, and volunteer opportunities.   There is also information on the Gulf oil spill as well as going green. (Also)
  • National Wild Turkey Federation site has connections to careers; particularly biologists, information about programs by state,  habitats, and conservation.
  • Audubon Society site has information and tips for classrooms as well as detailed information about their initiative with Toyota called Together Green; Act Today to Shape Tomorrow program.
  • The National Park Service  has an entire section about Teaching with Historical Places targeting grades 5-12.  Wow, think about the connection you could make to Google Earth.  The site can be searched by state as well and the Teaching with Historical Places site can be searched by curriculum standards.
  • The US Government even has a page full of government resources for K-8 educators at Kids.gov.  This provides links to government resources from a variety of areas.  Places you never even thought about.  It is definitely well worth the time to look.
Many of these resources first sound like science oriented sites, but don’t let their name fool you.  They often contain information and ideas for interdisciplinary connections as well.
Even though the following resources are targeted at Missouri, they might help educators in other states or countries, to get ideas of where to find local resources.
  • Missouri Department of Conservation – MDC has information for inside and outside the classroom. The Discover Nature Schools is a big part of this site.  Targeting grades 3-12, its purpose is to provide information about Missouri nature.
  • Missouri Department of Natural Resources – This site provides information on a variety of topics including Earth Day; with a list of contests even, to information on creating and maintaining worm farms.
  • Missouri Secretary of State provides a site for kids with information about Missouri history and government.  The Missouri Senate also has a kid’s page with additional information.
I hope that these links might help you as well to make connections for your students and spark ideas for real world learning experiences.   Happy hunting!

Terri Brines is a program coordinator with the eMINTS National Center.

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