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Guide to Contextual Learning Projects

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Does this project help students (and families) connect with people, resources and ideas that they may want to explore beyond the life of the project?

Does this project offer connections with others in the school or wider community that help students to develop civic awareness, learn about career and college opportunities, learn about health resources or make other important community connections?

Does the project expose students (and perhaps parents and other family members as well) to activities, experiences and skills that they may want to explore beyond the life of the project?

  • Field trips to local businesses, organizations, parks and historic sites show students how other invest in the community and contribute to the fabric of the community.
  • Participation in youth programs in the community — sports, arts, technology, recreation — communicate a sense of a caring community to children as they are growing up.
  • Projects might also connect families with community activities, perhaps inspiring a long-term family connection to resources and activities in the community. Community experiences that children have with their families, such as shopping in neighborhood stores, going to local parks and playgrounds and attending local events, help to shape a sense of community.
  • Community connections with police and other public safety personnel through day-to-day interaction, special events, youth/police sports and other events shape a sense of community.
  • Career speakers, career-related field trips, and job shadows help youth begin to see themselves in various professional roles in the community and beyond.
  • Projects may introduce students to local health resources, media resources, community resources that might inspire potential hobbies and personal interests, areas for reading and learning more, and areas for potential further student and/or careers.

The “Vision for Career Readiness” highlighted in the following box illustrates ways that classroom, community and workplace experiences, both in school and out-of-school, starting in the earliest grades, can build a foundation for career readiness.