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PBE Resources for Your Toolkit

In relation to the Summer 2016 issue

Compiled by Amy Demarest and Emily Barrett

Great books about place-based education

Place- and Community-based Education in Schools by Greg Smith and David Sobel (Routledge, 2010). Two patriarchs of the movement present a foundational view of the practice. They both have written numerous other valuable books and articles.

Place-based Education in the Global Age: Local Diversity edited by David Gruenewald and Greg Smith (Lawrence Erlbaum Associates, Taylor & Francis, 2008). A hefty and valuable collection of a variety of perspectives on place-based education. The mix is thoughtful and provocative.

Place-based Education: Connecting Classrooms and Communities by David Sobel (The Orion Society 2003). A classic that has introduced many to the joys and benefits of learning outside of the classroom.

Place-based Education: Learning to Be Where We Are by Greg Smith (Phi Delta Kappan, 83(8), 584-594, 2002). An early inspiration to many educators, Smith provides a foundational, useful understanding of place-based education. (ARTICLE)

Great books not specifically about place-based education but important to this work

Out of the Classroom and into the World: Learning from Field Trips, Educating from Experience, and Unlocking the Potential of Our Students and Teachers by Salvatore Vascellaro (The New Press, 2011). This book does not use the name place-based education; yet its avoidance of academic jargon is refreshing. It tells the stories of his teaching both young learners and to-be teachers and highlights the many ways to learn outside the classroom.

Ecological Literacy: Educating Our Children for a Sustainable World edited by Michael K. Stone and Zenobia Barlow (Sierra Club Books, 2005).

Setting the Standard for Project Based Learning: A Proven Approach to Rigorous Classroom Instruction by John Larmer, John Mergendoller, and Suzie Boss (ASCD, 2015).

Authentic Intellectual Work: Improving Teaching for Rigorous Learning by Fred M. Newmann, Dana L. Carmichael, M. Bruce King (Corwin, 2016).

An Ethic of Excellence: Building a Culture of Craftsmanship with Students by Ron Berger (Heinemann, 2003). Promotes the power of excellent student work and the role is can play in inspiring and engaging students in their communities.

Teacher with a Heart: Reflections on Leonard Covello and Community by Vito Perrone (Teachers College Press, 1998). An inspirational story about a principal, Leonard Covello, in NYC in the ‘30s. Embedded in the progressive education tradition, it provides a great story of an inclusive, community-based school.

Learning Gardens and Sustainability Education: Bringing Life to Schools and Schools to Life by Dilafruz Williams and Jonathan Brown (Routledge, 2010). A wonderful book that takes a wide view of the many wonders of growing food with young people.

Smart By Nature: Schooling for Sustainability by Michael K. Stone with Center for Ecoliteracy (Watershed Media, 2009). A great resource that deals with food, ecological design and sustainability. Useful portraits of numerous projects.

A People’s Curriculum for the Earth: Teaching Climate Change and the Environmental Crisis edited by Bill Bigelow and Tim Swinehart (Rethinking Schools, 2014; Five years in the making; a collection of articles, role plays, simulations, stories, poems, and graphics to help breathe life into teaching about the environmental crisis.

GREG SMITH recommends Bob Gliner’s films (

  • Lessons from the Real World, Schools That Change Communities,
  •  Growing Up Green, Barefoot College, and
  • Communities as Classrooms (his most recent film about his effort to introduce PBE to four schools in El Salvador

Related Websites

Community Works Journal. On-line archives contain a wealth of wonderful stories of teachers who have implemented place-based education with an emphasis on service learning and recently, education for sustainability. 

Orion Society. Rich treasures of spectacular nature writing and artwork including a rich diversity of powerful voices speaking to save our planet.

Our Curriculum Matters. Home site of Amy Demarest. Numerous tools and resources for curriculum design. Great reading list!

Education for Sustainability.

Edutopia. Maybe the best all-around great resource for project-based learning and good teaching.

Expeditionary Learning.

School Reform Initiative (SRI). The GO-TO site for a variety of tools and resources to support professional dialogue and school transformation.

Children and Nature. Organization related to Richard Louv that supports ways and reasons why children should be outside more!

The Citizen Science Association serves as a professional hub of Citizen Science and similar projects

Place-based Curriculum Design Resources

Place-based Curriculum Design: Exceeding Standards Through Local Investigations by Amy B. Demarest (Routledge, Taylor & Francis 2015).

Education and the Environment: Creating Standards-Based Programs in Schools and Districts by Gerald Lieberman (Harvard Education Press, 2013).

Connecting Service Learning to the Curriculum: A Workbook for Teachers and Administrators, Expanded and Revised Third Edition by Community Works Institute (Community Works Institute Press;

Research/Academic articles

PEER Associates: Insights for Organizational Learning. This organization has been a innovative and progressive leader in program research and development as well as collaborative models for system change.

The Best of Both Worlds: A Critical Pedagogy of Place by David Gruenewald (Educational Researcher, 32(4), 3-12, 2003).

Bank Street Occasional Papers: Claiming the promise of place-based education:

Article by Mark Kissling & Calabrese Barton titled Interdisciplinary Study of the Local Power Plant. available at:



Additional materials see Amy Demarest’s website: