This year, Rising Star Elementary students restored their green space, rejuvenated their school garden, and engaged in science learning with the schoolyard, community and community partners.
All of this came out of a two-year ClimeTime-funded partnership that supported PreK through Fifth Grade teachers in community-centered science learning. At its core, this partnership has provided place-based outdoor learning opportunities, with a special focus on centering the schoolyard and greenspace and how humans are impacting those ecosystems.
This community-based approach has built bridges between school administration, teacher staff, diverse community-based organizations, students and their families. IslandWood has partnered with Rising Star Elementary School staff in achieving their academic goals including teaching district-required science curriculum and fostering literacy development in early grades. IslandWood has provided ongoing STEM training, curricular support across grades, and mini environmental education action project support to more than sixty Rising Star Elementary staff members.
In 2022-2023, eight team-lead teachers at each grade level received science curricular support, participated in outdoor programming that integrates literacy development strategies and fosters student agency, and co-created mini-action projects with students in their greenspace. All towards a community-centered effort to support a whole school – administration, teachers, and students – in building new and long-lasting connections with their school backyard and neighborhood and being changemakers in their greenspace.
This year, teachers across all grade levels have engaged their students in community-centered learning.
Some examples include:
- Weekly wonder walks and playful phenomena-based investigations (PreK)
- Planting for pollinators and designing student-led vegetable gardens (Kindergarten + Third Grades)
- Creating science-based Haiku poems connected to planting, observing, and taking care of native seeds that also honor Asian American and Pacific Islander Heritage Month (Second Grade)
- Learning about soil and rocks in the greenspace and local water quality at the Duwamish River (Fourth Grade)
- Documenting greenspace plant and animal species to share with the community (Rising Star’s Nature Club with Third through Fifth Grade students). This was made possible thanks to a generous donation of cameras by Art Corps.
- Biodiversity awareness, conservation and ecological restoration workshops, including community-wide ivy removal, with First through Fifth Grade students.
This year’s partnership activities culminated in a Science Showcase with the community invited to explore the school’s greenspace and view posters showing ongoing place-based science projects that have happened at every grade level. Students led tours of the wetland and shared their learning with their families. This opportunity for families to witness how their students are learning science, and to experience the trails and restoration work that families, classes, and community members have carried out over the last two years further strengthened the community’s investment in the school’s greenspace.
The seeds cast during this academic year are still sprouting. Some might linger dormant but give fruit later. What is clear is that care for the greenspace and community-building are both on the rise at Rising Star Elementary School.