Exciting Update on our Partnership with NYC DOE CTE

Exciting Update on our Partnership with NYC DOE CTE

Our work with the NYC Department of Education’s High School Career Technical Education continues and has now been merged into the CTE Academic Integration Blueprint.  This document aims to bridge the gap between graduation rate and low college readiness by facilitating the integration of CTE and academic coursework, training teachers to develop integrated curriculum and promoting high quality project-based learning (PBL) practices in academic classes.  One of the plan’s five objectives is to “Infuse sustainability principles throughout CTE and academic content curricula”.  

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How to Sustain Sustainability Education

I have been working with Kapalama Middle School at the Oahu campus of Kamehameha Schools for the past seven years. We would like to continue our work together, but for now, the contract has been completed.  How can we know if the work we have done together to educate students for a sustainable future will last and will be improved over time?  We can’t.  What we can do is create favorable conditions for it to flourish over time—just like everything else we want to sustain.  As I always say, there is no such thing as “sustain-guaranteed” but there is such a thing as “sustain-able”.

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EfS in Schools: Denver Green School

  

 

Today, we’d like to introduce you to the Denver Green School (DGS), a public neighborhood K-8 school now in its seventh year. DGS, located in a diverse urban setting, is one of Denver’s “Innovation” schools. These schools create their own unique program design with waivers from certain state and district rules. Recently, DGS was among four schools granted even more autonomy through the approval of a new “Innovation Zone”.
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EFS in Schools: Kapalama Middle School

Aloha! Today, we’d like to introduce you to Kapalama Middle School, located on the island of Oahu in Hawaii. This native Hawaiian middle school, on one of The Kamehameha School’s three campuses, “educates children of Hawaiian ancestry to become good and industrious men and women in spirit, mind and body and to use their talents and abilities to positively contribute to the world.” Kapalama’s unique building is designed with an open floor plan and giant common spaces. Innovation is a priority here, as the school embraces Education for Sustainability, curriculum mapping, effective instructional practices, character and student leadership.

A serendipitous beginning

The Cloud Institute’s relationship with Kapalama began almost by chance.  In the Spring of 2011, Dr. Pua Kaai, Principal of Kapalama Middle School  was inspired to explore EfS after reading Jaimie’s chapter, Educating for a Sustainable Futurein the book, Curriculum 21 Essential Education for a Changing World (Ed. Heidi Hayes Jacobs. 2010). Soon after, Dr. Kaai, Dr. Erika Cravalho, Middle School Curriculum and Assessment Coordinator and several other key members of the leadership team at Kapalama shared a meal with Jaimie at one of Heidi’s curriculum mapping conferences in Saratoga, New York and a productive partnership was born. Back in Hawaii, two enthusiastic Kapalama teachers volunteered to participate in The Cloud Institute’s EfS Curriculum Design Studio™ in NYC and followed that up with ongoing Skype coaching sessions with Jaimie throughout that Fall. Hoping to engage more members of the school community, leaders at Kapalama invited Jaimie out for a whole school professional development day that included a keynote address and the EfS Intro. She returned that next summer, taking the first full cohort of teachers through their own EfS Curriculum Design Studio™. Since then, Jaimie has been coaching the entire faculty and most staff members via SKYPE throughout the year. In addition, she has been making the trip to Oahu each February (someone has to do it!) to provide the full faculty PD day and to work on whole school sustainability on site. She returns  each summer to support Kapalama teachers during their Studio as they innovate, design, document, map and “sustainablize” their courses and units, assessments and performance criteria.

“This is something we have to do”

Sustainability holds special meaning for native Hawaiians, making EfS a great fit for Kapalama. “It has been about really getting kids to think hard about how to live well within the means of nature, which is very much, what our ancestors did and what our ancestors personified. When we met Jaimie in Saratoga, the more she spoke about the work of EfS, the more I realized EfS is so much of who we are culturally at our school, and our people.  It was nice to expand our understanding of sustainability beyond the concept of reuse, reduce, recycle to include the ideas of systems thinking, sense of place, and cultural preservation and transformation,” explains Erika. “We are starting to think about how we can get our students to think critically so they can thrive in, not just our current reality, but in the future we will invent together. Working with an indigenous population of children, this is something we have to do.”The school’s  long term commitment to this work has produced tangible results. “All of the teachers are at that point where EfS standards are part of their curriculum mapping every day. It’s operational,” describes Pua. “It’s been really interesting to see how the use of standards has evolved over the years. The trend has shifted from only focusing on content standards, like science or math, towards the EfS Standards and how the various disciplines can work together to achieve them.  It’s more holistic, culturally relevant, and it just makes more sense.” Stressing the benefits of including the whole school in this work, she says, “What we do is bigger than the classroom.  It’s about each of us shifting our mindset to thinking about our thinking, and the sustainability perspective.”

Erika points to one of Kapalama’s interdisciplinary exemplars: an extensive unit on Biomimicry that involves ELA, Science, Math, Social Studies and Technology. “It caught fire, which is a fantastic thing to watch.” Another exemplar includes a student developed planet-friendly app for increasing the regenerative capacity of the aina (Hawaiian for land). EfS at Kapalama doesn’t end when the students leave for the day. Recently a group testified about sustainable development issues at a local community meeting, showing that in-school learning has real life results.

Looking Ahead

Kapalama recognizes the importance of assessment and data collection in successfully doing this work. Jaimie’s most recent February visit focused on the question, “To what extent are we actually educating for sustainability, and to what extent are we assessing for it?”  To this end, a large scale analysis was initiated on their mapping software, Rubicon Atlas, seeking evidence of EfS content and performance indicators in the core curriculum. It took one second to “push the button” to get the data, and then Jaimie and the faculty spent the rest of the day analyzing the data and determining their strengths, gaps and next steps.

The results?  

In summary: Every team and every discipline is targeting EfS standards and indicators; all EfS standards (not all indicators yet) are being targeted in the Middle School; many but not all EfS indicators being targeted are being assessed for, and that will be the focus for the rest of this year and next.  “It was thrilling. The energy in the building was palpable,” says Jaimie. "There is so much is going on and more to do, as always." In addition to assessment, calibration and the development of EfS performance criteria, the rest of the remaining work in the sixth and final year of this long term contract will focus on fully passing the “baton” to the team who will carry the work forward in perpetuity.  Or in Hawaiian, Mau loa "forever"...

Thank You! Letter from a Parent: Derryfield School in Manchester New Hampshire

Intro by Jaimie P. Cloud

I work in the field all the time. I see happy teachers and beautiful units and courses that educate for sustainability. I see authentic assessment instruments carefully crafted to capture student learning, and I see student work as evidence that children and young people are thinking differently and contributing to sustainability as a result of what they are learning in school. What I don’t have the opportunity to see too often is letters like the one below. I am sure this is not a rare occurrence but it certainly is nice when people share what happens next…

Context
I worked with Brent Powell of the Derryfield School in Manchester New Hampshire during our Summer Design Studio and then again a few more times during a series of follow up coaching sessions with him.

This Environmental Studies course was innovated (sustainablized) to prepare students to play a role in creating a healthy sustainable future for humans and the living systems that support life. The overarching question for the course is: What Kind of Future will we Invent?

The course is divided into four units of study:

  1. INTRO TO SUSTAINABILITY
  2. ENERGY: What will it take to create an energy system in New Hampshire that contributes to our vision of the future?
  3. FOOD: What will it take for New Hampshire to secure a food system that supports the vision we have for our future?
  4. CONSUMPTION AND THE MATERIALS CYCLES: How can we produce and consume responsibly within the means of nature?

Letter from Brent Powell

Dear Jaimie,

As we wrap up the year I [wanted to let you know] that the work we did last year made a big difference in my course.  So thank you!  Below you'll see a note I just got from one of my student's parents.  I thought you might enjoy seeing it.

Brent

Letter from the parent of one of Brent’s Students

Hi Brent,

I thought you might enjoy hearing about the impact you have had on my daughter this year.

“A” was studying for her final this afternoon when her Grandfather stopped by to visit. He asked “A” a few questions about the Environmental studies class. It was initially met with humor and sarcasm as she expected. By the end of a two hour conversation, which attracted my husband and a few other guests, “A” landed herself a summer job.

“A” will research the cost of putting solar panels on all of the commercial real estate properties her grandfather owns. She challenged her Dad and Grandfather to really consider changing their environmental footprint. She debated until they really did begin to look at the difference that was possible. So although small changes in lighting were put into place this year, she has encouraged them to consider more.

I was impressed and so proud of her.  Thank you.

* Thank you Brent for sending this to me, and Thank you “A” for taking responsibility for the difference you make. *

Why Do American Students Have So Little Power?

reposted from: http://www.theatlantic.com/education/archive/2015/03/why-do-american-students-have-so-little-power/387634 Article by: Amanda Ripley, Published March 12, 2015.

A group of Kentucky teens is struggling to get a modest bill passed, revealing just how difficult it is to convince adults that kids' opinions matter.

For the past four months, a group of Kentucky teenagers has been working to make a one-sentence change to a state law. In the history of student activism, this is not a big ask. They want local school boards to have the option - just the option - of including a student on the committees that screen candidates for superintendent jobs.

That’s it. They aren’t asking to choose the superintendent; the elected school board does that. They just want to have one student sit among the half-dozen adults (including two teachers, a parent, and a principal) who help vet candidates and make recommendations to the board.

"I thought everyone would view it as a no-brainer," said Nicole Fielder, 18. She said this on Tuesday from Frankfort, the state’s capital, where she was missing classes in order to advocate - for the sixth time - for this bill.

Policymakers should be begging students to serve on committees and school boards, not the other way around. That’s because students are their secret weapons: Kids can translate abstract policy into real life with a speed and fluency that no adult can match.

To date, Fielder and her fellow students have testified before lawmakers, written op-eds, consulted attorneys, and collected piles of research. When a snowstorm threatened to keep them from traveling to appear in front of a committee last week, they asked if they could sleep on the floor of the Capitol rotunda. (The answer was no; they stayed in a nearby hotel.) As of today, the bill appeared in danger of dying a sudden death.

In the eight years I’ve been writing about education, my best sources have been students. An 11th grader in Washington, D.C., named Allante Rhodes told me that, while it was nice his high school offered a Microsoft Word class, only six of the campus’ 14 computers worked; he often spent his computer class reading a handout given to him by the teacher. That was good for me to know.

Meanwhile, Andrew Brennen, a 12th-grader who had moved five times as a teenager, told me that his grades depended on his zip code. In Georgia, he was at the top of his class; in Maryland, the very next year, his grades plummeted and he had to retake Spanish altogether. In Kentucky, he did fine in science but struggled with math. And that’s why he thought adopting the Common Core State Standards made sense. "Honestly," he told me, "you spend 35 hours a week in a classroom, you know what kind of things work and don’t work."

Students are the most valuable and least consulted education-policy experts in America. Before they graduate, they spend roughly 2,300 days contemplating their situation, considering how their schools and neighborhoods could be better—or worse. And unlike many journalists, teachers, principals, and school-board members, most couldn’t care less about politics.

Keep reading at: http://www.theatlantic.com/education/archive/2015/03/why-do-american-students-have-so-little-power/387634

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.

 

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

Putting Lessons into Learning... EfS in Action

repost from: http://acrossthewatershed.blogspot.com/2012/11/putting-lessons-into-learning.html


 

Inspired by her attendance at a couple of GSWA teacher education workshop, Great Swamp Watershed Association member and Madison Borough resident Nancy Kuster recently incorporated some of the water education activities she learned into her class at the Sundance School in North Plainfield.  Kuster is a second grade teacher with 15 years of experience, and also serves as a facilitator for Awakening the Dreamer - a non-profit organization that helps people co-create a just, thriving, and sustainable world.  Thanks to her GSWA workshop experiences and a grant from the Geraldine R. Dodge Foundation, she was able to continue her sustainability education by enrolling in The Cloud Institute’s New Jersey Learns program. Now, she is teaming up with GSWA to develop more ideas for sustainability lessons that she can introduce to her students.

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Kuster is developing her new curriculum by introducing year-long, integrated units on sustainability into her daily curriculum.  As she conducts these lessons, she asks her students to think about cycles and systems, including decomposition, product, and water cycles. Along the way, her children have learned that the water cycle is much more than just precipitation and evaporation.  And they have come to understand where their household water comes from and where it goes once they are finished with it.

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"Second graders don't typically spend a lot of time thinking about resources and pollution issues," Kuster said, "but they are definitely capable of understanding that we have limited fresh water, and that we need to start taking care of our environment."

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After a presentation on water use and the bigger water picture, Kuster's students used their artistic talents and language skills to make a mural explaining the water cycle as they understood it.  They also enjoyed a presentation about non-point source pollution and learned how to clean up after themselves.

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In the days and weeks to come, each child in Kuster's second grade classroom will be writing their own "Journey of a Drop"—a story aimed at describing a water drop's long trip from sky to earth and back again.  What a fantastic program our teacher workshops have inspired!

 

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