You May Be a Geeky Teacher If… You Are Also a Junior Ranger And Use This Program in Your Classroom!

Do you love your national parks? Are you drawn to the beauty and history they hold within their boundaries? So are we! 

Your national parks are one of the best teaching tools available for learning inside and outside the classroom, and over the next several months Two Geeky Teachers will dive into some of the many print and digital resources that are available from the National Park Service through this blog. To launch this discovery series we start with the Junior Ranger Program (which evidenced by the photo below is not just for students anymore!) We have been involved with them from coast to coast and in between!

Accessing the Junior Ranger program is easy peasy, and you can  find information about your national parks and those that offer the Junior Ranger program right here: http://www.nps.gov/learn/juniorranger.cfm. Although NOTHING can truly replace being in your national park to experience the actual environment and history of the place, accessing the WebRanger program can help students explore wider themes in our national parks online and is a cinch to access through this link: http://www.nps.gov/webrangers/

If you are lucky enough to visit a park you can get these patches and badges!

Or you can complete some programs online and still receive a Junior Ranger pin via mail or a Web Ranger patch.

Here are five ways you can use the Junior Ranger program in the classroom along with some highlights from the program included in the links below. Regardless of being in a park—teachers will find the information contained in the Junior Ranger program books a huge score for teaching history, science, geography, and other subjects.  We love our national parks…we are betting your students will too. Here we go… Ready? Enjoy!

Five Ways to Use the Junior Ranger Program in the Classroom

5) Engage students in using the Junior Ranger program as a means to research an important location, which holds information on a topic of study and could have been a turning point in the course of American History.

Did You Know About the Junior Ranger Program At: Fort Sumter National Monument?

Tech Connection: Use a technology tool such as SpicyNodes (www.spicynodes.org) to help students organize their research around an essential question(s).

4) Use the Junior Ranger program to research a historical figure and bring to light little known information on that person, or sites that are unknown or out of the limelight, which could give more information about his/her life.

Did You Know About the Junior Ranger Program At: Abraham Lincoln Birthplace?  http://www.nps.gov/abli/forkids/beajuniorranger.htm

Tech Connection: Use the information from the Junior Ranger Program to create a Blabberize (www.blabberize.com) biography of young Abe Lincoln

3) Use the Junior Ranger Program as a means to explore literature and place in their humanities studies! The National Park Service has many locations that highlight significant authors and their works. Broaden your social studies content to humanities content by including literature and written works in your online or personal quest for understanding America.

Did You Know About the Junior Ranger Program At: The Edgar Allen Poe National Historic Site? http://www.nps.gov/edal/forkids/beajuniorranger.htm

Tech Connection: Use the information from the Junior Ranger Program to create a found poetry poster presentation in Glogster (http://edu.glogster.com/)

2) Use the Junior Ranger Program to explore science and the environment, and create an appreciation for our natural landscapes. Connect social studies and science together through an educational lesson on a scientist.

Did You Know About the Junior Ranger Program At: The Thomas Edison National Historic Site?  http://www.nps.gov/edis/forkids/beajuniorranger.htm

Tech Connection: Use the information from the Junior Ranger Program and connect it to primary sources from your national library, the Library of Congress. The Library of Congress houses Edison films and recordings, drawings, and papers from the famous scientist. Use clips from an Edison film to create a presentation on a famous event or person in iMovie to share with your class.

1) Encourage students and their families to get outdoors and explore their world together. Learning together, sharing together, and enjoying our National Parks can be a family event! You are never too old to be a Junior Ranger, and you can always start early too even if it is just wearing a “flat hat” and knowing that our park rangers are pretty special! It is these  rangers that help make our National Parks a special place to visit. In honor of our First National Park we will embarrass the geeks in our house with a picture of their very first Junior Ranger badge at Old Faithful Lodge/Visitors Center in Yellowstone (And yes this is the same kiddo in the picture at Mount Rainier below. Imagine that-- 12 years of Junior Rangers and 35 patches and pins later...) :

Did You Know About the Junior Ranger Program At: Yellowstone National Park

Tech Connection: Use the information from the Junior Ranger program to help differentiate content in the classroom setting though activities at different levels of complexity. Use a tool such as Animoto (http://animoto.com/) or Prezi (http://prezi.com/)
 to have students create a collaborative presentation on what they have learned to share with an authentic audience. 

And to prove that we have used them from coast to coast heres the photo evidence as our geeks would call it!

Fort Clatsop- Lewis and Clark National Historic Park
Fort Clatsop- Lewis and Clark National Historic Park
Ellis Island National Historic Park
Yellowstone National Park
Minuteman National Historical Park
Mount Rainier National Park
Yellowstone National Park

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