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Monday
Feb232015

The Cloud Institute | Schools Learn EfS

The Cloud Institute's work with schools revolves around curriculum, instruction and assessment for Education for Sustainability (EfS). EfS is defined as a transformative learning process that equips students, teachers, and school systems with the new knowledge and ways of thinking required to achieve economic prosperity and responsible citizenship while restoring the health of our living systems.

Education for Sustainability has multiple, positive effects on student achievement, school culture, community vitality, and ecological integrity. Young people experience a greater awareness of community and a greater appreciation of the democratic process, and teachers respond confidently and with an improved outlook. EfS contributes to improved relationships between the schools, parents and the community, and neighborhoods benefit from improved air quality, reduced waste, and decreased energy use.

Our Schools Learn program is a long-term and comprehensive approach to developing whole school capacity to educate for sustainability. We support efforts to embed EfS into curriculum, instruction and assessment, and organizational learning practices, while working in partnership with the community. Schools Learn programming will generally include: Introduction to Education for Sustainability, Administrative Planning and Coaching, Professional Development and Curriculum Coaching for Instructors and Formal Strength Assessments.

How can Education for Sustainability (EfS) increase student health and academic achievement? How can EfS help to retain the best and brightest young teachers? How can EfS stimulate and sustain school and community improvement? These are just a few of the questions that we will answer together.

Learn more and schedule a consultation or workshop HERE.

View our client list HERE.

 

Sunday
Feb222015

Edgemont Montessori Elementary School Awarded Eco-Schools USA Bronze Award

Repost from: http://baristanet.com/2015/02/edgemont-montessori-elementary-school-awarded-eco-schools-usa-bronze-award
Original Post Date: February 2015

Students, staff, and parents at the Edgemont Montessori School in Montclair are playing their part in reducing waste pollution, protecting trees, and producing less toxic chemical emissions. The school was recently awarded the Bronze Award by the National Wildlife Federation’s Eco-Schools USA Program. This international program recognizes and provides free resources to schools integrating sustainability into the curriculum and on school grounds. Through the Eco-Schools program, schools select from 10 environmental focus areas or pathways to work on such as energy efficiency, biodiversity, and sustainable foods. This free and voluntary program has been gaining popularity in the Garden State with 122 schools registered throughout New Jersey.

Edgemont Principal Cheryl Hopper says “This award reinforces Edgemont’s commitment to not just teaching our students about the environment and its sustainability, but also living out those lessons in the children’s time both in and outside school. It is testament to our staff, students, and families, all of who have created inside Edgemont a culture of awareness and compassion for the broader world.”

To win the Bronze Award schools must establish an “Eco-Action Team”, conduct an environmental audit, develop and monitor an Eco-Action plan and include the community. Edgemont did just that with students having fun along the way. Starting in the fall of 2013 and continued again in the fall of 2014 the school began work on Eco-School’s consumption and waste pathway, kicking off their program with school-wide education and Recycling Right Challenge contest. The winning classes were invited to zero-waste parties and other prizes were awarded.

“We are excited by what this means for the school and the environment and the students’ sense of environmental stewardship. “says Gloria Lepari, Eco-Action Team Co-Chair and teacher. Suzanne Aptman, Eco-Action Co-Chair and parent explains “It was powerful to see the school come together with such focus and enthusiasm. We have a new waste-reducing program in place. We hope to continually improve it year after year while working on other environmental focus areas.”

Edgemont’s efforts resulted in an increase in classroom recycling rates and reduced cafeteria trash from 3 bins per day on average to 2 bins per day on average. That translates to roughly 20 bins of trash per month that is diverted from the Newark Incinerator and is no longer an additional source of pollution. Edgemont students took special care with plastic bottle caps which create an additional challenge to wildlife in our waterways who mistake plastic pieces for food. Students collected close to 1,000 caps between January and September and have plans to upcycle those caps.

“The Edgemont Montessori School community should be proud of what they have accomplished with the Eco-Schools USA program in such a short period of time. Students can see the impact that they are making with their efforts and that makes the learning so much more meaningful.” says Jennifer Dowd, Eco-Schools NJ Coordinator, New Jersey Audubon.

Edgemont has also started to incorporate waste-free procedures into the school events, especially their big annual fundraiser “Green Eggs and Ham”. About 150 gallons of non-recycled trash was delivered, by committed parents, to a local commercial composting facility after the event.

The school looks forward to setting new goals around waste reduction while focusing on additional Eco-School pathways. Edgemont is also certified as a Backyard Wildlife Habitat with National Wildlife Federation and just this year was recognized as a Monarch Butterfly Way Station for a newly established butterfly garden and efforts to educate the students around pollinator protection.

There are nine other Eco-Schools in Essex County including Miller Street Elementary School, East Side High School, Greater Newark Charter School, H.B. Whitehorne Middle School, Maria L. Varisco Rogers Charter School, Millburn Middle School, Montclair Kimberly Academy, Philips Academy Charter School, and Watchung School.

Thursday
Sep182014

Useful Steps to Embedding EfS Standards into your Core Curriculum using Backwards Design (UbD)

By Jaimie P. Cloud

 

For those of you who understand what EfS is, who can articulate why you should do it, who are inspired and clear about the role that education plays in accelerating the shift toward sustainability… and just need some guidance on HOW to embed EfS into your core curriculum, this is for you. If you don’t yet have the tools and vocabulary you need to make sense of this, you can participate in one of our introductory professional development programs and receive follow up coaching services. Or take advantage of our “do it yourself” resources in our bookstore. The Fish Game and The EfS Curriculum Design Manual will get you started.

VOCABULARY

  • EfS Standards - The knowledge, skills, attitudes and habits of mind of Education for Sustainability (EfS) are embedded in The Cloud Institute's EfS Standards and Performance Indicators. Aligned to Common Core, Next Generation Science and other and State educational standards, each EfS Standard has a set of coded Performance Indicators used to guide educators as they infuse their curriculum, instruction and assessment practices with Education for Sustainability. We believe that by meeting these EfS standards, young people will be prepared to participate in, and to lead with us, the shift toward a sustainable future. The Cloud Institute's EfS Standards and Performance Indicators are available on the Rubicon Atlas Curriculum Mapping system. Contact us if your school is using Atlas and would like access.

  • Backwards Design/Understanding by Design (UbD) - Understanding by Design® (UbD™) is a framework for improving student achievement. Emphasizing the teacher's critical role as a designer of student learning, UbD™ works within the standards-driven curriculum to help teachers clarify learning goals, devise revealing assessments of student understanding, and craft effective and engaging learning activities. UbD was developed by nationally recognized educators Grant Wiggins and Jay McTighe, and published by the Association for Supervision and Curriculum Development (ASCD). “Backwards Design” is a term we use to describe the process of designing curriculum with the end (the desired learning outcomes) in mind.

  • Levels of Accomplishment
    Introductory: Students are assessed at an introductory/basic level of accomplishment
    Progressing: Students are assessed based on their ability to demonstrate progress toward accomplishment
    Mastery: Students are assessed for mastery of the content or skill being addressed

  • Curriculum Stages - In UbD and Backwards Design, there are three stages to the design process. The first two stages make up the curriculum.
    Stage 1
    - Learning Outcomes (rationale, transfer goals, standards, enduring understandings, content knowledge, skills, /Essential Question(s).
    Stage 2
    - Assessments and Explicit Performance Criteria

  • Instruction Stage - In UbD and Backwards Design, the third stage is made up of the instructional practices that deliver on the curriculum.
    Stage 3
    - Lessons, Activities, Learning Experiences

PRE-REQUISITE STEPS

A.   Acquire a shared understanding of sustainability and Education for Sustainability in your school community; develop personal rationales for educating for sustainability; become informed, inspired and hopeful about the role that education can play in making the shift toward a sustainable future

B.     Align the EfS Enduring Understandings, Standards and Performance Indicators to your core curriculum. 
(This activity is in the EfS Curriculum Design Manual in the bookstore. You can also receive the protocol with the EfS Alignment Charts available in the bookstore.) 

C.     Select a unit of study you want to “sustainablize” or design from scratch. Make note of how much time you have to deliver the unit. (Time is our only currency.)

CURRICULUM STAGE 1 - LEARNING OUTCOMES/ESSENTIAL QUESTION(S) 

D.     Select the required standards (Common Core, NGSS, Content, etc.) that this unit will deliver on, and indicate the level at which you will assess student performance (Introductory,     Progress, Mastery) 

E.     Select the EfS Enduring Understanding(s), and the Standards and Performance Indicators that are aligned to this unit, and that this unit will deliver on, and indicate the level at which you will assess student performance (Introductory, Progress, Mastery)

F.     Decide what Essential Question(s) will drive the unit. Make sure that the Essential Question(s) corresponds to the Enduring Understandings you have selected. You may want to write a rationale for this unit (sooner or later it is good practice to do so) and you may want to develop a transfer goal(s) for the unit so that you keep in mind right from the beginning what, in the long run, you want students to be able to do independently and in a novel context as a result of this unit. It is a humbling experience to develop transfer goals. I recommend it.

G.     Using your UBD/Backwards Design Unit Overview Template, “Un-Pack” the Standards and Indicators (all) by dissecting each performance indicator and breaking it down into concrete understandable content knowledge (nouns) and skills (verbs) in those sections of your template. (Standards and Indicators are always written in abstract language—and this is an excellent step for meaning making and translation into practical language.) A good unit overview template is laid out so that the content section and the skills section sit side by side so you can see them together. This is really useful—because it is these two boxes you will work with most when it comes time to sketch lessons.

H.     Sequence, color code, and group the content knowledge in the order in which it will be delivered and do the same with the corresponding skills that will demonstrate that students have learned the content. Here is one exemplar of a Kindergarten Unit entitled, Change: Smile Through It! written by Jaimie Cloud and Marie Alcock. CLICK HERE

I.     Once you have the content and skills the way you want them—you can sketch the sequence of guiding questions you will ask that corresponds to the content and skills. Do a quick check to make sure that the content, skills and guiding questions you are sketching are all congruent with one another and serve your Enduring Understanding(s) and Essential Question(s).

J.     During the design process, I like to write the guiding questions in the content section first—so that I make sure that I haven’t missed anything. Sometimes I leave a copy there as a reference and then I always copy and paste the guiding questions into the learning opportunities/lessons section (Stage 3) because they will eventually drive the lessons and activities that will deliver on everything in Stage 1.

CURRICULUM STAGE 2 - ASSESSMENTS AND EXPLICIT PERFORMANCE CRITERIA

K.     Look back at the performance indicators and level of performance you are designing for, and the concrete content knowledge and skills required to achieve them. Decide what assessments will provide evidence of student learning, when they will need to be administered, what level(s) of accomplishment you are assessing for, and what quality performance criteria (rubrics, checklists, exemplars…) you will use explicitly with your students—and how and when you will need to communicate it to them. 

INSTRUCTION STAGE 3 - LESSONS, ACTIVITIES, LEARNING EXPERIENCES

L.     All along stages 1 and 2 you have been thinking about activities, readings and resources you will use with your students. Whenever your mind goes there, just jot them down in the Stage 3 Box. Don’t spend too much time in Stage 3 while you are still working out Stages 1 and 2, but don’t lose a good idea you will use in Stage 3 because you aren’t there yet. This is an iterative process—not a linear one. At the end of the day you want to make sure that all three stages hang together in a whole system of congruent mutually beneficial parts.

M.     Now it’s time to really dive into the specifics of your lesson planning—the timing, the flow of activities and assessments, the handouts you will need, the scheduling and logistics of the projects and place based learning opportunities, etc. Much of the heavy lifting has been done by this time and if your content, skills and guiding questions are robust and clear to you, and you have been checking to make sure it all serves the Essential Question(s) and ultimately the Enduring Understanding(s) and the standards and benchmarks, then through the lessons you sketch you should get exactly what you designed for: Students who are engaged mindful and reflective, whose products and performances demonstrate that they have met the standards at the appropriate level, and who are prepared to participate in, and to lead with us, the shift toward a sustainable future.

Tuesday
Sep162014

The Journal of Sustainability Education Publishes the 2014 “State of the Field” Issue

By Jaimie P. Cloud, JSE Guest Editor

I am proud to announce the first in a series of three issues of the Journal of Sustainability Education entitled, Sustainability Education:  The State of the Field.  As Guest Editor of this Journal series it has been my privilege to work with an outstanding Editorial team who designed this series for one purpose - To create benchmarks for Sustainability Education by asking the thought leaders and scholars who have created and continue to study EfS to address the following questions:

What is Education for Sustainability (EfS)?  What are the “essential ingredients” of EfS that distinguish it from other educational frameworks? What paradigms, knowledge, skills and attitudes characterize EfS?  What instructional and engagement practices are congruent? What are the favorable organizational conditions that will make it possible?  What types of school/community partnerships are key?

I invite you to go to the Journal of Sustainability Education to see the Table of Contents of this first issue in the series.  Then I invite you to read my introduction to the series here, and finally to explore the Matrix we have created of the different author’s work. You will see that some authors have spent decades drilling down deeply into one aspect of Sustainability Education, while others have worked to conceptualize the whole system of EfS. Some have focused on content for one or two categories in our database template, and some have contributed material in all the categories. We have combined all grade levels here as a starting point - before we attempt over time to determine the developmental appropriateness of the different aspects of EfS for different age groups (although some of us have already begun to do that in our own work driven by the markets we serve).  You can sort the data by author and by category and you are invited to compare and contrast the thinking represented there. Remember, the overarching question is “What is essential to Education for Sustainability?”

Sneak Preview of the next two issues:

The 2nd Issue in the Series:  A Meta-Analysis
Fourteen years into the 21st Century, educators and decision makers on the ground must be able to trust that what they are doing, and what they are receiving in the way of assistance, meets the industry standards for EfS. In order for that to happen, we need to have agreed upon industry standards or “standards of excellence” for EfS.   In the 2nd issue of the series, a core group of the thought leaders and scholars and a group of emerging scholars will come together to conduct a meta-analysis of our collective body of work with the goal of developing industry standards for EfS.  These standards, which should come to represent the whole of our collective thinking to date, will be used by school administrators and Board members, text book publishers, parents, faculty, students and the community at large so that they can assess the extent to which their institutions are educating for a sustainable future, and to what extent they are meeting those industry standards. More importantly, these benchmarks can help us to produce and distribute the highest quality EfS programs, curricula and learning experiences, intentionally designed to accelerate the shift toward a healthy and sustainable future.

The 3rd Issue in the Series:  Exemplars
For the 3rd issue in the series, we will invite educators worldwide to submit exemplars of curriculum units, courses, assessments, rubrics and other forms of explicit performance criteria, as well as student work samples (with aligned performance criteria) that meet the EfS Standards of Excellence that emerge from the meta analysis published in the 2nd issue.

Please let us know your thoughts about the first issues - we are feedback driven and would love to hear from you. cloudinstitute.org/contact-us

Friday
Jan312014

TNT's Dramatic Difference Features Green Bronx Machine

Repost from: http://www.tntdrama.com/video/?oid=679812
Original Post Date: January 2014

Educator and Green Bronx Machine Founder, Stephen Ritz and Bronx Borough President Ruben Diaz discuss urban farming, sustainable education and opportunities for youth in the Bronx.

Learn more at http://greenbronxmachine.org

Friday
Dec202013

Introducing Schools to the Future | The Journal of Wild Culture

Repost from: http://www.wildculture.com/article/introducing-schools-future/1282
Original Post Date: September 28, 2013, by Whitney Smith

Education as we have come to experience it is a system structured around 19th century models and needs is heavily influenced by the industrial revolution. Many have argued that this system is no longer relevant to the demands and aspirations of modern-day society; others have made claims that it is even detrimental. A few organisations have set out to redefine the weary standardised view within the education system today. • One of those organisations, The Cloud Institute for Sustainability Education, works closely with individuals within school systems in the US and around the world. Jamie Cloud, lifelong global educator and founder of The Cloud Institute, wants schools to become ‘learning organisations’ which place children in the centre of a curriculum that encourages, inspires and empowers them to think about the wider systems of ecology, economy and ethics. • In these video talks Jamie outlines the origins and importance of the Institute’s work, and how it is now time to relent our old fashion notions of education: to allow the fertile, vibrant, and bright minds of tomorrow to experience a school system that will help to nurture and cultivate their potential. • If you have a story like this one please let us know. The domino effect of a few of these can make the difference that Jaimie Cloud is talking about. — Matthew Small, Education Editor.

Here Jaimie discusses using the Fish Game and understanding Mental Models as a way to start the conversation about education for sustainability.

Watch the entire video series here:
http://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PLZDpc7lPFHSKHV4hHzGjX-m5P5udq9eY4

Sunday
Dec152013

Mobile Edible Wall Units: Growing Healthy Food and Minds

Repost from: http://www.njfarmtoschool.org/wp-content/uploads/2014/01/2014-01NJF2S_News-03.html
Original Post Date: January 2014

What do you get when you put an inspiring technology into the hands of high school students? You get real life applications of 21st Century Skills which can be translated into job skills in industries related to agriculture and the sciences.

The Mobile Edible Wall Unit, better known as a "MEWU", which is pronounced "mee woo", is the invention of Green Living Technologies, a Rochester, New York-based company founded by New Jersey native, George Irwin. These walls are increasingly being used in schools for indoor school gardens, in school greenhouses and are broadening the biology and science related learning taking place in high schools that have them.

We first heard about MEWUs from teacher Steve Ritz, who was the keynote speaker at the Green Schools Alliance Conference in New York a few years back. Steve was using the walls in his classroom at the time at Discovery High School in the Bronx. His students were keenly interested in the hands-on applications the walls provided and were seeing first hand what the technological applications were for growing plants and food. Fast forward to 2014 and some of these same students continue to be hired to work on professional job sites, using the skills they gained while incorporating Green Living Technologies' educational programs into their day to day class instruction.

Here in New Jersey, the first school to purchase a MEWU was Monroe Township High School, where Nancy Mitrocsak, the food service director for the district, learned about the walls through the New Jersey Farm to School Network and went on a mission to find funding to bring them to the high school. With the support of District Supervisor of Sciences and Social Studies, Bonnie Burke-Casaletto, the school incorporated the walls into their expanded greenhouse program and teacher Christian Jessop and his students have been using them ever since. In a recent email exchange, the team updated us on their progress, "As a quick and exciting update-we're collaborating with Helen in our Food Service department to harvest a complete wall of basil! It looks and smells wonderful and Mr. Jessop has done much under tough weather conditions during our holiday break to keep our student-created growth projects thriving on-site. Things are green and flourishing."

Meanwhile, at South Hunterdon High School in Tiffany Morey's Floral Design Class, FFA (Future Farmers of America) student Mitchell Haug contributed the following report about the use of a MEWU with fellow students Charles McDaniel, Patrick Charles, Collin Leary, and Isaiah Jones.

"Ever since we unloaded the Green Wall that was loaned to us by New Jersey Farm To School on December 6th and set it up in our Ag Shop, it's been nothing but good times. From packing the boxes with soil to seeding, watering, and overcoming a few engineering challenges, the Wall has provided us with a challenging yet rewarding learning experience.

As the five guys in the floral design class, we weren't always as excited when it came to putting together centerpieces or assembling corsages and boutonnieres, but we did all share a passion for agriculture. When our advisor came to us with the offer that we could use class time to grow and take care of plants in an innovative way, we were thrilled. It wasn't long before we were putting together the wall and loading it up with soil.

Since then we have seen promising results. While there were some early issues with a water recycling system and soil erosion, these issues have since been resolved and we have begun to see germination and the beginnings of life. We currently have six varieties of lettuce planted that we plan to use in the school's cafeteria and culinary classes. We look forward to continuing with the wall and seeing what we can produce!"

To learn more about the Mobile Edible Wall Unit, click here. Green Living Technologies and the New Jersey Farm to School Network are collaborating on a program to bring more MEWUs into New Jersey schools. If your school or district is interested in learning more, please email us at info@njfarmtoschool.org and put MEWU in the subject line.

Tuesday
Nov122013

The Black Run Preserve - A Suburban Pinelands Oasis

Repost from: http://www.sustainablecherryhill.org/the-black-run-preserve-a-suburban-pinelands-oasis
Original Post Date: September 26, 2013

Unbeknown to most area residents, just two miles from the The Promenade retail complex in Marlton lies over 1000 acres of undeveloped land called the Black Run Preserve. An isolated fragment of the New Jersey Pine Barrens, Black Run is an amazingly diverse and wonderful retreat from the hustle and bustle of fast-paced suburban life that lies on its doorstep.  Though not contiguous with the rest of the Pinelands National Reserve, Evesham Township’s Black Run Preserve boasts a pristine ecosystem accessible to thousands of nearby residents.  

Black Run gets its name from the stream which originates in the Preserve, fed by an underground aquifer of pristine-quality water. Its protected status means this lush, forested watershed is abundant with native species – including at least twenty rare and endangered plants. The absence of urban development has prevented pollution and invasive species from leaving their footprint here, providing an unspoilt natural ecosystem that feels as remote as anyplace along the East coast.

On a recent guided hike led by John Volpa – founder of Friends of the Black Run Preserve – we saw the impressive biodiversity native to the area.  A lush, open grassland savanna is a verdant, exotic landscape reminiscent of the Florida Everglades. Nearby, wild blueberries can be eaten right off the bush. Black Run also boasts rare or endangered hawks, tree frogs, turtles, salamanders and the barred owl. Even in the mid-summer heat, the shady trails of soft, moist peat made for an easy, comfortable hike.

The public may use Black Run for hiking, cross-country skiing, biking and bird-watching, as there are several miles of trails which give access to various parts of the Preserve. The area also provides a unique, hands-on educational opportunity for local schools, who have conducted wildlife monitoring programs here. The Pinelands Preservation Alliance has also held the Black Run Summer Teacher Institute, where local educators and students learned about the ecology of the Preserve from Pine Barrens experts.  

As a newly-emerging public open green space, Black Run also faces some challenges. There is an initiative to establish designated parking areas, as for now users must park alongside the road near one of the trailheads. There are also plans to provide bathrooms as well as to improve trails. Unfortunately, periodic clean-up is also needed for debris left behind by illegal dumping. However, as more people learn about the Preserve, there will be more incentive to increase its accessibility and usability.

You can help support Friends of the Black Run Preserve by becoming a member or volunteering for Preserve maintenance and improvement projects, and also by getting out and seeing this amazing natural treasure for yourself. An excellent five-minute promotional video provides an overview of the Preserve’s history and uniqueness. The public is invited to attend the Black Run Preserve Visioning Event on Wednesday, October 23 at 7:00pm at the Evans Elementary School in Evesham Township, where the public can give their inputto help develop a long-range Master Plan for the Preserve.

So take a step back from it all, and step into the magical world of the Black Run Preserve.

Author: Paul Hanley is a long-time Cherry Hill resident, New Jersey Learner, freelance writer and Environmental Science professor at the Community College of Philadelphia.

Monday
Nov112013

The Blue School in The News

Blue School Feature on CNN Next List - March 2012

Champions for education for sustainability, creativity and a community of learning, The Blue School makes CNN's The Next List.

 

Making Education Brain Science - April 2012

LAST month, two kindergarten classes at the Blue School were hard at work doing what many kindergartners do: drawing. One group pursued a variation on the self-portrait. “That’s me thinking about my brain,” one 5-year-old-girl said of her picture. Down the hall, children with oil pastels in hand were illustrating their emotions, mapping where they started and where they ended. For one girl, sadness ended at home with a yummy drink and her teddy bear. MORE

Photo Credit: Ruth Fremson/The New York Times. Written By

 

Monday
Nov112013

Janine Benyus: Biomimicry's Surprising Lessons from Nature's Engineers (TED Talks)

Repost from: http://www.ted.com/talks/janine_benyus_shares_nature_s_designs.html
Original post date: April 2007

In this inspiring talk about recent developments in biomimicry, Janine Benyus provides heartening examples of ways in which nature is already influencing the products and systems we build.

A self-proclaimed nature nerd, Janine Benyus' concept of biomimicry has galvanized scientists, architects, designers and engineers into exploring new ways in which nature's successes can inspire humanity.