Continuous Learning: Students #SustainSMSD

Continuous Learning: Students #SustainSMSD
Kristin Babcock

What does Sustainability Education look like as the Shawnee Mission School District engages in Continuous Learning? Over the last couple of weeks, several classrooms took time to study the planet in conjunction with the 50th Anniversary of Earth Day. Here are a few examples:

Alex Helpingstine and Mattie Weck, Kindergarten at Lenexa Hills

Kindergartners at Lenexa Hills took part in a week’s worth of Earth Day activities. They watched videos about recycling plants, they collected recyclable items around the house, and finally built something out of what they collected and posted pictures.

Sticking with class tradition, the teachers shared the creations on a class blog so they all could see and comment on each other’s work. With their recyclables, students created a variety of items from a racetrack, to an airplane, to a monster.

“The best part of all of Continuous Learning, including Earth Day activities, is seeing kids make learning their own,” Helpingstine said. “My students were already great at personalizing their learning based on activities available, and in their individual learning goals, but this has taken that to the next level!”

Using SeeSaw to share artwork and have students provide comments is allowing students one more way to connect as a class and share their work with an audience, Weck said. 

“I feel so grateful we have this platform available for continuing the classroom community we’ve created,” Weck added.

Jori Nelson and third graders at Brookwood Elementary
In Nelson’s third-grade classroom, students took time creating artwork of the planet Earth. When they gathered for a virtual classroom meeting, they discussed their artwork.

“We talked about it being the 50th Anniversary of Earth Day,” Nelson said. “We also talked about the reasons why it is important to take care of the Earth because it is our home and the only planet we have.”

Sandy Laudemann, Indian Hills Middle School Science
The Indian Hills Knights used an app that provided them a series of activities related to the Earth. Some options included artistic interpretations of Earth Day through pictures, murals, dances, and songs or answering quiz questions. Some also took time to recycle items in their household as one of the activities.

“I hope students thought about environmental issues, experienced nature, reviewed ecology concepts, and had some fun,” Laudemann said.

 Calleen DeWinter, Indian Woods Middle School Science: Several students in Calleen DeWinter’s class completed Earth Day BINGO Boards provided by the Joan Leavens coordinator of sustainability and community engagement, and members of the curriculum, instruction, and assessment team. Students used Flipgrid to create videos detailing their activities like calculating their household’s watershed footprint, drawing themselves while with the wildlife they hear in their backyard, and calculating the ecological benefits of a tree in their neighborhood.

Allison Leever, Kate Brewster, and Michelle Nixon, Westridge Middle School Science
Seventh graders were presented with a choice board about climate change that included a variety of activities to select. One online activity helped students learn more about how coding and artificial intelligence can be used to help the environment. Another online activity gave students a chance to study animals in their environment. While some students chose these activities, others opted to create robots out of recycled materials. These activities were all designed to help students construct explanations, design solutions, and learn about the influence of climate change.