EfS in Schools | Sustain: Find your Sense of Place

Repost with permission from: https://www.smore.com/2kfcr

by Kirsten Beneke - Compass Charter School 

Published October 2015

 

www.brooklyncompass.org

 

Intro by Jaimie Cloud: Client Feature

Michelle Healy and Brooke Peters (co-directors at Compass Charter School) first came to see me before they received their charter and three years before their school would open.  They and their third co-director Todd Sutler have all been master teachers and wanted to start a K-5 school that educated for sustainability.  I have been working with them ever since.  We are in the second year of the build out of the school.  They have done everything right.  This is the way to start and sustain an excellent school designed around how students learn, for the future we want.  Read what they are doing and understand why they have already been named one of the 41 Most Innovative Schools in the Country.

Kindergarten
Students are learning how to be scientists by making observations and using their five senses. They are asking questions, making predictions, experimenting and sharing their findings.
We:

  •     Measured gourds and pumpkins
  •     Found out whether objects float or sink
  •     Predicted which objects fall faster
  •     Made scientific drawings of nature
  •     Sorted natural objects
  •     Explored magnets

In the science center we made lava lamps, blew up a balloon with baking soda and vinegar, and experimented with milk, soap and food coloring. We made many "predictions" by guessing what will happen in our experiments!

First Grade
First Graders are sharing what they know about the Earth, Sun, Moon and Stars. We are wondering about the solar system and asking many questions. Starting tomorrow we will begin our projects.

Some of the student ideas:

  •     Make a Planetarium
  •     Build a sun out of legos
  •     Create a weather center
  •     Paint a mural of constellations

Second Grade
Second Graders are studying natural ecosystems found in Brooklyn such as a forest, river or wetland. Students created group projects using recycled and natural materials to recreate these places. We created a picture map of Brooklyn showing what kinds of plants and animals are found in Brooklyn.

Grow

We have started building aquaponics systems to grow food in the classroom using fish waste to fertilize the plants.


If you would like to contribute a goldfish let me know!
kirsten@brooklyncompass.org

Read
Children need connection with the natural world:

Body

  • Outdoor play increases fitness levels and builds active, healthy bodies, an important strategy in helping the one in three American kids who are obese get fit.
  • Spending time outside raises levels of Vitamin D, helping protect children from future bone problems, heart disease, diabetes and other health issues.
  • Being out there improves distance vision and lowers the chance of nearsightedness.

Mind

  • Exposure to natural settings may be widely effective in reducing ADHD symptoms.
  • Schools with environmental education programs score higher on standardized tests in math, reading, writing and listening.
  • Exposure to environment-based education significantly increases student performance on tests of their critical thinking skills.

Spirit

  • Children’s stress levels fall within minutes of seeing green spaces.
  • Play protects children’s emotional development whereas loss of free time and a hurried lifestyle can contribute to anxiety and depression.
  • Nature makes you nicer, enhancing social interactions, value for community and close relationships.

--- from the National Wildlife Federation

Ideas on Natural Places to Go:

  •     Fort Greene Park
  •     Prospect Park
  •     Marine Park
  •     Greenwood Cemetery
  •     Jacob Riis Park
  •     Jamaica Bay Wildlife Refuge
  •     Sunset Park
  •     Dead Horse Bay

News Articles:

"Why We All Need A Dose of Vitamin N" by the Daily Mail

"Nature Smarts" by Mindful Parenting

"The Greenest City in America" by Treehugger

Discover

 Events and Classes:

  • Connected Worlds nysci.org.
  • Brooklyn Sewers: What’s Up Down There? (Through May 29) brooklynhistory.org.
  • Cooking With Frida (Through Nov. 1) nybg.org.
  • The Gazillion Bubble Show: The Next Generation (Friday through Sunday) gazillionbubbleshow.com.
  • Honey Weekend (Saturday and Sunday) wavehill.org; grounds admission on Saturday is free until noon.
  • If You Lived Here, You’d Be Home (Through Jan. 17) Maps cmany.org.

Connect

Nature's peace will flow into you
as sunshine flows into trees.
The winds will blow their own
freshness into you,
and the storms their energy,
while cares will drop off
like autumn leaves.
- John Muir

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

Hawaiian Student Shares Why Sustainability is Important

MAY 2013 UPDATE: In March we shared information about one high school student in Hawaii named Trevor Tanaka who had proposed to the Hawaii State Legislature a resolution to require that the Hawaiian Department of Education formally embed Education for Sustainability into the core curriculum. Resolution HCR178 HD1 SD1 was adopted by the legislature on April 24th!!!! We congratulate Trevor, the educators who inspired him, and the legislature who not only listened to him, but who agreed with him.

We are humbled by Trevor’s grace and tenacity, and that of all the young people who are accelerating the shift toward sustainability by showing up, standing up, and taking the lead. 

 

The resolution’s final language can be seen here

http://www.capitol.hawaii.gov/session2013/bills/HCR178_SD1_.htm


HCR178’s measure history and status can be seen here

http://capitol.hawaii.gov/measure_indiv.aspx?billtype=HCR&billnumber=178&year=2013

 

Repost from: http://www.hawaii247.com/2012/09/12/student-shares-why-sustainability-is-important
Original Post Date: September 12, 2012

By Trevor Tanaka | Special to Hawaii 24/7

It was September 2011. The state was abuzz over the upcoming APEC meeting in Honolulu in November where President Obama and 20 other heads of state would be gathering. All eyes would be on Hawaii.

It was the first time, since 1993, that the U.S. would be hosting APEC’s annual meeting. In an effort “to engage our local youth and provide them with a once in a lifetime opportunity to be a part of APEC,” the host committee sponsored an essay contest open to high school students.

Five winners would have the amazing opportunity to attend this premier economic forum in the Asia-Pacific Region.

While it sounded like an easy enough topic, I quickly realized that I really did not know enough about sustainability to write my essay. So that’s when my process of learning about sustainability started in earnest.

It also made me really think. Why would someone like me — a junior in high school, and a good student who had taken years of different science classes –- why was I having such a difficult time with this topic? Thus began my journey to learn about sustainability and the importance it plays in our lives today, tomorrow, and in the future of our world.

We all know that sustainability and clean energy are essential to Hawaii due to our location in the middle of the Pacific Ocean. Our current dependence on imports threatens our resources and our way of life. We also know that Hawaii is rich in renewable energy sources that have the potential to decrease our dependence on imports, especially imported oil.

I really believe that our ability to educate ourselves about finding the right balance of growing our economy, keeping our land healthy, and preserving our natural resources and culture is essential to our survival. In fact, our state is in a unique position to become a leader in our nation and possibly the world.

Through my research, I found out that some private schools in Hawaii offer courses/programs in some form of sustainable education (green technology, renewable energy, etc.). HPA (Hawaii Preparatory Academy) has its world-famous LEED-platinum certified Energy Lab.

Other schools incorporate sustainable education into existing courses, such as Environmental Science. Wouldn’t it be great if all students were given the equal opportunity to learn about the importance of sustainability and the role it plays in our lives today and will play in the future?

I decided to put my thoughts into action. I crafted Resolution No. 25 that requires all public schools in Hawaii to incorporate sustainability and clean energy units and related technologies as part of the Science curriculum.

In December 2011, I traveled to Honolulu to attend the 2011 Secondary Student Conference (SSC) held at the Hawaii State Capitol. The purpose of the SSC is to “provide secondary school students the opportunity to identify, discuss and arrive at recommended solutions to major youth problems, with emphasis on school problems that require the attention and joint action by the students, the Department of Education and the Hawaii State Legislature.”

At the Conference I presented the Resolution No. 25 to the 200 student delegates. I was very excited when 85 percent voted to support it!

This spring, I was nominated by Nancy Redfeather from The Kohala Center to serve as a youth delegate from the Big Island to the Stone Soup Leadership Institute’s 8th Annual Youth Leadership Summit for Sustainable Development on Martha’s Vineyard.

Five of us from the Big Island traveled together, representing the Sustainable Hawaii Youth Leadership Initiative (SHYLI).

Each SHYLI youth delegate created a power-point presentation on one aspect of sustainability: Agriculture, architecture, cultures, energy and environment. Mine was on Sustainable Education.

I expanded my research to learn about how other states and countries are involved with sustainable education. The New Jersey Sustainable Schools Network is promoting education for a sustainable future in all public schools in Jew Jersey.

The United Nations Decade of Education for Sustainable Development: 2005-2014 is a global initiative with the goal of reorienting education worldwide.

China has designated 1,000 public schools for Education for Sustainable Development. Japan has included Education for Sustainable Development into its national curriculum guidelines.

Every university in Sweden is required by law to teach sustainable development. I felt empowered knowing this. Just think Hawaii could become one of the leaders of sustainable education!

At the Summit, I met young people from islands around the world who are championing green initiatives in their communities. I also learned how people throughout history have struggled to keep their dreams alive.

I was inspired by youth leader Amira Madisen from the Wampanoag Tribe Gayhead-Aquinnah, who shared how they lost their language and are now working hard to reclaim it.

I also had the opportunity to share my vision for Sustainable Education in all Hawaii public schools on a national radio program – “Keeping it Moving with Marsha Reeves-Jews.” The entire Summit experience gave me hope and inspired me to take the next steps to pass the Resolution No. 25.

We are now gathering letters of support – from our elected officials to business and community leaders as well as young people and educators. I believe we all need to be concerned about sustainability.

My hope is we will build enough support to pass Resolution No. 25. Here are some highlights:

BE IT RESOLVED, that the Science curriculum for all public high schools in Hawaii be supplemented by the integration of sustainability/clean energy units that include the development of Hawaii’s energy, environmental, ocean, recyclable and technological resources; and

BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED, that the integration of sustainability/clean energy units in the Science curriculum will help educate students about the role that sustainability/clean energy plays in balancing the needs of Hawaii’s growing economy with protecting its environment and resources in a socially responsible way.

I want to see that all high school students throughout the State of Hawaii have the opportunity to take classes in or be exposed to some form of sustainable education as part of their science curriculum.

This will allow Hawaii’s youth to have a better understanding about sustainability and the connection it has with our way of life, especially here in Hawaii.

It is essential that everyone understand that keeping our environment healthy, keeping our economy healthy, and keeping our people healthy are all interrelated and will ultimately allow our culture, traditions, way of life, and unique island home to not just survive but thrive for generations to come.

Trevor Tanaka,
Senior, Konaweana High School

Young Voices for the Planet | DVD Trailer

Repost from: http://www.youngvoicesonclimatechange.com/movie_trailer.php

Young Voices for the Planet is a series of short films featuring young people using science and data to reduce the carbon footprint of their homes, schools, communities, and states. The films present replicable success stories. Young Voices for the Planet allows young voices to be heard and inspires action, the best antidote to fear. These young voices reach our hearts and minds.

This short video shows many young people talking about climate change solutions. There are young people from Team Marine, Green Ambassadors, Surfriders, Girl Scouts, and more.

Teachers: Show this film and discuss some of the points that the young people in the movie bring up.

  1. Social Responsibility
  2. Is it okay for humans to destroy the earth?
  3. Is it okay for one generation to destroy the earth for generations to come?
  4. Is it okay for people to do nothing?
  5. Do people have a responsibility to speak out if they see something wrong happening?
  6. Do animals have rights? Does nature have rights?
  7. Can we survive without nature?
  8. Can one person make a difference?
  9. Can kids make a difference?
  10. What Bill Love-Anderegg says—Things have to reflect their true costs to everyone? What is the value of ecosystem services?

More: http://www.youngvoicesonclimatechange.com/climate-change-videos.php

The Key Is Bees

There are beautiful moments in education when learning about the world around us also teaches us about ourselves. A scientific study about bumblebees’ spatial relationships and color perception, published in the December issue of the Royal Society’s Biology Letter and written and devised entirely by a group of 8-10 year-olds, is an example of just such an opportunity.
Read More

Reflection on the EfS Curriculum Design Studio

Last summer, I had the pleasure of taking one of the most productive professional development workshops in my sixteen years of teaching. The Cloud Institute had asked participants of their Education for Sustainability Curriculum Design Studio to come prepared with a lesson plan or unit which would be worked on and viewed through the lens of the EfS standards. This made all the difference. I chose our fall science unit on Water/Salt Marsh Ecology.
Read More

Pencils : A Classroom Commons

This 3 minute video podcast entitled, Pencils : A Classroom Commons, was produced by Betsy Kates , a teacher in our PNW BOCES EfS Curriculum Design Project , and her son Gabe.  Betsy got very excited about the work of educating for sustainability—particularly passionate about the EfS Standard, “Healthy Commons”,  and decided to produce this video about the lessons her students learned by studying the Commons through their use of pencils in the classroom.  

Marla Gardner, Director of the The BOCES Curriculum Center got very excited about this podcast as a great way to communicate what the EfS Standrds are all about, and decided we should have a podcast for every one of the Cloud Institute’s EfS Standards.  She offered mini grants to all the teachers in the project to produce additional podcasts.  Three have been produced so far.  Click here to check them out. 

Stayed tuned for more… 

 
 

Two Video Animations Demonstrate EfS Attributes

These video animations were designed and produced by high school students in the Philomath High Robotics Engineering Division (PHRED) at  Philomath HS  in Philomath, Oregon.  These two 30 second animations are from PHRED Team 847. PHRED Team 847 is sponsored by local foundations, corporations and the Lions Club.

Operation Gyre is an elegant  30 second demonstration of several EfS attributes including authentic curriculum and assessment, the entrepreneurial mindset,  an understanding of the materials cycle principle and three of our enduring understandings:  “A Healthy and Sustainable Future is Possible”; “Live by the Natural Laws” and  “Read the Feedback”.  

 
 

Pure Water 847  is another elegant 30 second demonstration of  authentic curriculum and assessment, the entrepreneurial mindset, Biomimicry and “A Sustainable Future is Possible.”  In addition, the animations illustrate a robust use of technology in the classroom (Autodesk 3ds Max).   

 
 

First Graders Resolve Social Conflict Using Systems Thinking

There is nothing more inspiring than being able to resolve conflict in our relationships with one another. Respecting one another and our differences and recognizing our interdependence is a core attribute of Educating for Sustainability. The result is happy, diverse, successful, and healthy societies.  

The Waters Foundation is an organization that integrates systems thinking tools into classrooms and schools. Learners are provided with the tools to develop solutions that break unsustainable patterns in our thinking and behavior. Watch in amazement as a group of 1st grade boys use a systems causal loop diagram to identify social problems in their playground and resolve their conflict with one another!

Three 1st grade boys use feedback loops to help define and solve problems they were having on the playground.

 
 

Trevor Day School raises money for EfS!

We love to feature the beautiful work of our clients! This video is a great example of the commitment our clients have to Education for Sustainability (EfS)!

Trevor Day School, located in New York City, created this four minute fund raising video for EfS (with a quick interview from a familiar face)!  They raised over $100,000 at an Auction Night for the school! Keep up the incredible work!

Trevor Day School - EfS Fundraiser Video from Cloud Institute on Vimeo.

Jessie-Ruth Corkins: Vermont Sustainable Heating Initiative

When thinking of the young people who continue to inspire EfS work, Jessie-Ruth Corkins comes to mind.

Jessie-Ruth is the core leader of the Vermont Sustainable Heating Initiative (VSHI), a group of students representing 200-plus youth from 26 high schools.  In 2004, Jessie-Ruth rose to a teacher’s challenge to create an energy conservation plan; her proposal to transition the school’s oil boiler to a woodchip boiler fueled by local products was adopted by the school board. After learning that Vermont does not have the forest capacity to heat the population with wood alone, VSHI wanted to facilitate the transition to heating with locally produced biomass energy crops.

Jessie-Ruth and VSHI wrote a persuasive statewide plan to develop Vermont’s 100,000 acres of underutilized land to grow prairie grass that could be pelletized and provide all of Vermont’s home heating needs. VHSI estimates the program’s financial returns could eventually reach up to $1.3 billion. However, Jessie-Ruth believes the returns will be greater than just money. “Locally produced energy will develop a greater sense of community in Vermont towns,” she said. “Our fuel will come from our own backyards and will offer a stable and affordable price to all Vermonters.” VSHI is currently running a pilot project in which it is transitioning low-income family homes in the community to pellet stoves.