Creating a Sense of Place for All Learners at Sheldon Elementary School

Place-based education is the process of using the local community and environment as a starting point to teach standards-based concepts in language arts, mathematics, social studies, science, and other subjects across the curriculum.   From Sobel, 2004.

Doe's Leap Farm


Place-based learning is a philosophy of education that uses the local community and surrounding environment as an integrating context for multidisciplinary learning. It is characterized by student-driven, project-based explorations of local environmental issues, social questions, cultural heritage, or civic leadership. Students learn and build skills through interactions with local community members and investigations of their natural surroundings. They apply their learning to help solve “real” problems, catalyze change, document history, and celebrate local identity.


A growing body of education research shows that place-based learning provides students with a local context and relevance that inspires and motivates them to learn, serve their communities, and help protect their environment. A recent review of studies on the benefits of place-based learning conducted by the Place-based Education Evaluation Collaborative found that participating students often exhibit:

  • Higher scores on standardized measures of academic achievement
  • Higher-level thinking skills
  • Improved behavior in class
  • Greater pride and ownership in accomplishments
  • Increases in self-esteem and conflict resolution skills

For citations of these studies and summaries of findings, please visit Place-Based Education Evaluation Collaborative.

In addition, communities benefit from closer ties to local schools and greater engagement of young citizens in local issues and service projects. In many cases, students’ enthusiasm for place-based learning projects also helps to engage parents in student learning and school or community activities.

For more information about Place-based Learning in Sheldon, contact the Principal, Christie Martin or Joanna Jerose, School-Home-Community Outreach Coordinator.

78 Poor Farm Road Sheldon, VT 05483 802.933.4909 Fax:802.933.6405