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We are please to announce the upcoming publication of our first book by the International Society for Technology in Education

"Our parks are vast schools...where people are studying, enjoying, and learning to love deeply the land in which they live." - Stephan T. Mather

Opportunities for transformative learning are not relegated to the classroom or lecture hall alone. In fact, some of the most inspiring educational experiences available happen everyday with learners of all ages in a "school" that consists of 424 rooms without walls, attendance, or grades - but the lessons learned change lives. And the best part is you're already enrolled - you just may not know it yet. 

The National Park Classroom will share how adapting the approaches to learning utilized by the National Park Service and other public land agencies can help classroom teachers address common instructional challenges such as student engagement, retention, equity, developing student agency, and college and career readiness among others. These solution-based strategies have been incorporated into a learning framework that reflects current best practices, is supported by current research, and provides avenues for teachers interested in the outdoors to integrate their passions into the classroom.  

While the most visited and well-known public lands entity are our national parks, the book incorporates perspectives from state, regional, and even city parks, drawing on diverse examples from both rural and urban parks.

Book Features

  • A detailed explanation of all six elements that make up The National Park Classroom model as well as actionable strategies for integrating all of them into your classroom.

  • Hints and tips for integrating parks into all subject areas and at all grade levels. 

  • Perspectives and helpful hints from classroom teachers, community educators, and park rangers that you can use to inform your own work. 

  • Hundreds of links to lesson examples, multimedia files, and educational resources produced by public lands. 

  • A library of "Project sParks" that can be used to inspire activities and to develop your own classroom projects.   

Teachers who are avid national park fans as well as those who rarely ventures beyond the limits of their city will find The National Park Classroom a valuable read. It is also a fantastic resource for public lands educators and park rangers looking for insights into developing programs that are more responsive to the needs of their classroom colleagues.  

This first-of-its-kind exploration of the connection between public lands and classroom education will be available for purchase in the spring of 2024. Check back here for updates as well as purchase instructions. 

About The Author

During his more than two decades in education, James Fester has worked in public, private, and online schools as a teacher, instructional coach, technologist, and curriculum specialist. No matter his role, learner-centered experiences have always remained front and center.


James currently serves as a member of PBLWorks’ National Faculty. He is Google Certified Innovator and a widely published author. He contributes regularly to a wide range of blogs such as Edutopia, ISTE, and National Geographic Education. His first book focusing on how PBL can serve as an effective vehicle for engaging students in understanding Environmental Science was published by ISTE in 2021.  


James’ educational work is not limited to schools alone. He is a facilitator for the United Nations through UNESCO-MGIEP, a National Geographic Certified Teacher and grantee, and a public lands volunteer at the national, state, and regional level who has collaborated with parks across the country to strengthen their educational offerings. He is an NAI member and also serves as a facilitator for the National Park Services’ Teacher-Ranger-Teacher program.  


James earned his B.A. in History at California State University Long Beach, an M.Ed in Curriculum and Instruction from Penn State and holds teaching credentials in multiple states.

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