Edmonton, 2021 - 2022 School Year
Edmonton Public's Elmwood Elementary lives the culture of an EcoSchool, centring learning IN, ABOUT, FOR, and FROM the environment, through Western and through Indigenous ways of knowing. Once Elmwood staff joined the EcoSchools Canada platform, all they had to do to become Platinum-certified was to track the work they were already doing with their students - the Elmwood Explorers!
Elmwood School is a school of choice with a science focus. Across all subjects and all grades, students are engaged in curiosity-based relationship with their environment, each other, and themselves, and participate in transformational learning experiences. Here are a few highlights:
Earth Month 2022 at Elmwood started with the Elmwood Explorers Earth Month Challenge. Student families are engaged in sustainable practices, providing the broad and deep opportunity for transformation that EcoSchools Canada strives to support.
Over the course of the month, students and staff contributed photographs, art, and curiosity prompts:
After being introduced to the free software Canva, one student was inspired to take the initiative to create their own Earth Month poster.
Art in all its forms is present all over this science school's building - these are Earth Day creations of some of Elmwoods' younger students.
Moss walls adorn the walls of the architecturally intriguing school library, as well as multiple other locations in the school.
Living Innovative Repurposing and Recycling, Grade 6 students created dioramas solving 'space problems' using reusable and reused materials.
Elmwood teachers store these materials in a number of Tinker Tanks throughout the school:
Elmwood took advantage of Community Science initiatives from the Safe Drinking Water Foundation by participating in Operation WaterDrop. Students learn about local water through hands-on water quality experiments. Elmwood was pleasantly surprised that SDWF will apply for sponsorship on behalf of schools, so their kits ended up being free of charge!
Thanks to an engaged parent council, the Elmwood Explorers have a class-size set of Explore Packs. Classes take these fully equipped outdoor learning backpacks on walks, e.g. into the nearby ravine. Inquiry crews made up of students from different grades go for monthly walks and engage one another to create diverse learning experiences - for example, Grade 3 students help the Grade 1 students with carrying the packs.
Elmwood is also making the most of the space directly around the school, having engaged community expertise to revamp their outdoor pre-K classroom to a K-6 learning space. They now work with goodworm.org with a Gardener in Residence!
Gardening happens both inside and outside. Grade 4 students grow seeds in their tower garden, and by classroom windows. On the wall behind the tower garden, they share and collect wonderings they have about their observations.
A culture of humble curiosity and respect pervades the inquiry-based work of Elmwood students.
The many passions of Elmwood's teachers mean that Elmwood students also get to care for a number of different animals, including bearded dragon Gigi.
The programs at school also impact community habits. With the zero waste lunch program, kids practice 'leave no trace', taking home what they don't eat. This allows parents to experience a few useful pieces of feedback: They see directly how much waste occurs, and learn what their kids do and don't eat. All of this happens in a very positive, uplifting environment, modelling best practices in empowering sustainable habits.
Can you do this, too? Absolutely! Elmwood teachers encourage you to look for those EcoSchools actions that you already plan to do anyway. EcoSchools Canada allows you to strengthen actions you're already taking. The sustainability review will help you identify the many things you're already doing. Sign up to use the free EcoSchools platform - Just do it!
Follow @elmwood_epsb to see more of this school's inspirational leadership on sustainability and responsible citizenship education!