Wednesday, May 23, 2018

Grade 4 Talks SDGs

Grade 4 is on a journey to deepen its understanding of global issues and, of course, a big part of that is the recognition of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).  Mr. Myers, K-12 Service Learning Coordinator, who was invited to speak to the grade 4 students about the SDGs focused part of his talk on what it entails to have a sustainable mindset, identifying four main characteristics in particular:
  1. Having a "solutionary" mindset 
  2. Looking at topics/concepts/issues from multiple lenses (Nature, Economy, Society, Wellbeing)
  3. Making connections within and between the identified elements
  4. Taking informed action to engage with the world around us
Utilizing the SDGs and the Compass tool (developed by Compass Education) students were asked to work in small groups (typically two or three) to identify which SDGs were best placed in the compass points (Nature, Economy, Society, Wellbeing), essentially looking at the SDGs from multiple lenses. They were then asked to extend their thinking by creating cause-effect relationships within and between SDGs, essentially creating a systems thinking document. 

Systems thinking tools can be hugely valuable to students of all ages and adults. At ASD we are increasingly asking students to think in a systemic manner. It is a big part of the broadening of perspectives and the development of "critical consciousness" in our community. 

Sunday, May 13, 2018

In MS Everyone Can Be AWESOME!

Schools are great places to try new things and celebrate innovation, initiative and creativity. Middle Schools are arguably the "sweet spot" for such things because students are independent, passionate, and enthusiastic about touching their world in great ways!  That's why, in the Office of Service Learning, we're delighted that the new Project AWESOME has been created to allow students an avenue to showcase their version of awesome!

Below (in italic) is the excerpt from the Middle School Principal's May message to parents introducing this new initiative!  We can't wait to see the great things our middle schoolers will do to make their world just that much more awesome!

"I would also like to take a moment to highlight a new program we have initiated with students for the remainder of the school year called Project AWESOME. The program is aimed at engaging all students in the active process of contributing to a positive school culture in areas of: Advocacy, Well-being, Environmental, Service, Outreach, Mindfulness, or Entertainment. In advisory groups, students will brainstorm and commit to planning and engaging in a unique project that is, well, awesome! This could include random acts of kindness, volunteerism, "up-cycling" projects, or works of art or performances. Not only will this project empower students to make positive contributions, but also engages them in the skills of planning and action on projects that they are passionate about."

What a better way to end the year and engage students in culture building and positive change than putting awesome in their hands, supporting them in developing, learning and demonstrating their personal and collective awesome!

Monday, May 7, 2018

A Change Makin' Middle School!


Let's say that you're walking down the hallway wondering just what kind of school this American School of Dubai is. You're looking for evidence of learning, evidence of students addressing critical issues in their lives, showing leadership and expressing critical thinking in trying to make the world a better place. Is that too much to ask of a bunch of 12-14 year olds?  And say you're looking for them to impress you, too, with their presentational skills, their collaborative skills, perhaps through performance. And perhaps you're looking for some evidence that they are deeply concerned and want to take informed action to address issues that are important to them, and to make their community a happier place. 

Well, if you were searching for that type of evidence, on this day it wouldn't have taken you long to find. In what was a "wow" MS assembly the students who initiated, performed, presented, shared and collaborated did nothing but impress, one thing after another. The pictures above might not seem particularly varied. After all, they were standing on the very same stage. But look closely at the topics on the screen behind them and you'll get a heart-warming glimpse of the issues and topics that our middle school students are addressing. From happiness, to environmental action, to the sound levels in the cafeteria,  to reducing bullying to Project AWESOME, the middle school is - quite literally - awesome in bringing critical consciousness to the forefront and informed action to the stage!  

Way to go MS!

Monday, April 30, 2018

Earth Day, ES Style!

Earth Day (April 22) came and went. For some it was a chance to do the little things that it takes to show respect and appreciation for the planet. For others it was a more 'hands on' approach to things. The photos above are evidence of grade 5 students determined to do what they can within their own school community. Their awareness campaign - focusing on promoting Earth-friendly attitudes and behaviors - was supported by a campus waste collection campaign!  

We sincerely hope that their enthusiasm for the natural world, and specifically care and stewardship of it, will seep into the wonderful people they are becoming. For we all know that every day is Earth Day and when we're all looking the other way, the dispositions, attitudes and behaviors will be what makes defines us as the contributors to a rapidly changing world we all ascribe to being. Happy Earth Day everyone!

Sunday, April 29, 2018

Earth Day: High Tide Runs "End-Plastic" Petition Signing

"How inappropriate to call this planet Earth when it is quite clearly ocean"
Arthur C. Clarke

This past week, in support of Earth Day (April 22), High Tide shared the Earth Day Network's "End Plastic Petition" with the High School. The petition signatures will be shared with the Earth Day Network to world leaders in an attempt to ban certain single-use plastics - many of which end up in the ocean. 

An ocean conservation focused student organization at ASD, High Tide aims to raise awareness and initiate change in support of marine environmental issues. High Tide works within the school community through annual ocean-documentary screenings, fund-raisers (in collaboration with the WWF-EWS) and regular beach clean-ups. 

Post Submitted by:
Petrina Tran
High Tide Co-President

Monday, April 23, 2018

ASD Recognized as a Sustainability Champion by Expo2020!

Though relatively early in our sustainability journey, sometimes it really nice to know that what we're doing is being noticed. Case in point, this year we were invited to participate in the Sustainability Champions Competition, a program spearheaded by Expo2020 Youth. Part of the Expo2020 focus in sustainability and this outreach of sorts was geared toward recognizing what is being done in Dubai schools with regard to the different elements of sustainability: Environmental; Social; Economic. 

After a rather in-depth process of collating evidence of the learning at ASD, along with pictures and video of our educational work related to sustainability, ASD was chosen as the single international school in the UAE to receive this honor, joining our friends at Umm Al Arab school in Abu Dhabi (the national school category winner). A delegation of ASD students from different divisions and organizations - Sustainability Action Team, Sustain Our World (SOW), Elementary School - were joined by Mr. Jones (Facilities Director), Ms. Julia Martinez (Director of Advancement), Ms. Carden (Garden Coordinator), Mr. Myers (Service Learning Coordinator) and Dr. Richards (Superintendent) in the awards ceremony held at the offices adjoining the Expo 2020 construction area in Jebel Ali. 

The ceremony included a short introduction of the Expo 2020, a scrumptious meal, the award ceremony itself (of course) and a bus tour of the construction site itself. The students and adults in our delegation were delighted with the visit and the connections they made with our new friends!  

Returning from the excitement of the event we are emboldened by the recognition, which provides us with even more energy to move boldly toward being more sustainable in the future. And when we say "energy" we don't mean just the personal motivation variety. We mean a new photovoltaic (solar) energy system that will be placed on our campus in the coming months as part of the award!  

We are hopeful that this new solar array will provide energy for a portion (yet to be determined) of our campus' use as well as support learning through not only visits to the solar site but also in the analysis of energy-based data from the site. When facilities and learning come together it really sets the stage for the development of sustainable mindsets!

Monday, April 16, 2018

ES Starts Planting Ghaf Trees!

April 16 brought with it a new opportunity for our students: Tree planting from seeds. The ES Roots & Shoots program - joined by one young boy who had indicated an interest in planting tress to ASD's campus - congregated in our Sustainable Garden to plant the UAE national tree:  Ghaf trees! 

Typically found around the Gulf Coast desert environments the ghaf tree has adapted really well through its ability to utilize both a really deep root structure (up to 60 meters deep) or though the ability to "open" it's trunk during the night to absorb humidity. Cool, right?!

After a short introduction by Tatiana Antonelli from Goumbook our students and parents took on the task of getting sand and water, labeling bags and planting the seeds. In all 17 ghaf trees were planted and will stay in the garden until they are old enough to be either planted somewhere else permanently (how about on our new MS campus extension!) or be moved to the Goumbook nursery. 

The wonderful part of the story is that we have a new partner to work with for the foreseeable future with potential curricular connections to all sorts of sustainability and ecology-based elements!  

A big thank you to Mrs. Rusch and her Roots & Shoots team for this initiative!