Tuesday, September 19, 2017

HS Students Start Their 2017-18 Engines








It's the Saturday of the first full week of school. Do you know where your children are? We do!  They are busy developing their leadership skills either as facilitators of learning or as participants in learning. 

Last weekend brought with it the enthusiasm and energy of over 100 HS student leaders who took part in the 2017 Student Leadership Retreat. This year's theme - Collaboration and Cohesion - focused on uniting HS student leaders in ASDs 34 service, academic and leadership organizations to share pertinent information, best practices and generate plans for the year ahead. For those in pilot organizations it also provided planning time to work on developing their mission statements, their constitutions as well as structure their organizations. 

The day itself included some inspiration from Mr. Ataya, CEO of BAYT.COM (and ASD parent) and our new HS Associate Principal, Kevin Brawn before the requisite "nuts and bolts" by Mr. Myers. Students then participated in sessions related to their organization as well as hugely popular job-alike sessions before being given time to plan and collaborate with the support of their advisors. 

All in all a great start to a year of contribution focused largely on collaboration between organizations and cohesion as a community!  A big thank you goes out to the organizing committee (comprised of member of the SGA, GIN and NHS)!

Wednesday, September 13, 2017

Scout Uniform Sales Set the Tone



They say the best way to do your part for the planet is to "reduce" what you use. Certainly with an item such as a school uniform - where its use is limited to this time and space - it makes perfect sense to expand its use and keep it out of the landfill. 

The Scouts do a wonderful job with collecting uniforms from those who have left the school or have outgrown their old clothing. For several years they have been integral in running the used uniform sale, and you would have seen them already at work at the first day of school!  Anecdotal accounts would suggest that hundreds of uniforms get reused in this manner. What a great way to "set the tone" for a great, more sustainably minded, year at ASD!  

Sunday, September 10, 2017

Welcome to a New Year of Contribution!

A very warm welcome to the ASD Community from the Office of Service Learning!  As the year quickly starts up, we are eager to continue our work from the previous years in offering authentic learning opportunities to both student and adult member of our community!  From our perspective it's important to share our goals for the year and to invite you all to the table of service learning, sustainability, global citizenship building and making the world a better place!  

Service Learning Priorities 2017-18

  • Expand partnerships (NESA, Dubai-based)
  • Increase authentic student learning experiences (experiential ed., field trips, etc.) 
  • Support MS Week Without Walls through sustainability & service learning focus
  • Engage in ASD strategic planning
  • Develop sustainability-related action plans (data, best practices, etc.) 
  • Create Professional Learning Communities to support teaching & learning
  • Collaborate with KHDA to streamline student organization events & activities
  • Expand collaboration with parent organizations

Sustainable Garden Priorities 2017-18
  • Increase signage in the gardens
  • Develop garden school tour program
  • Increase awareness of garden-related programs
  • Increase use of garden spaces by all community members
  • Increase composting system 
  • Generate mechanism for data collection of composting
  • Establish a new ES mud kitchen
  • Introduce a new garden for Global Issues in Action (grade 9)
  • Expand use of MS, Grade 2 and Maze gardens.

The items listed above, of course, are in addition to the already-established programs and learning opportunities we offer at ASD. We invite you to become involved, to share your thoughts, to give us your ideas, to be part of contributing to a rapidly changing world!


Sunday, June 11, 2017

Appreciation, Grade 4 Style!







It was perhaps a heavily guarded secret but for those fortunate enough to visit Ms. Wilkgen's grade 4 classroom as a visitor on any given Thursday during the year were greeted by a surprise cupcake!  How fun!  And for those "in the know" it was no surprise that, when talking later in the year about how best to show appreciation for the workers on our campus, they wanted to make cupcakes for them.  The idea built up steam quickly. 

For those who are aware of the service learning cycle investigation is what starts it off. The assumption that cupcakes would make a good culinary gift were slightly challenged when Ms. Carden was brought into the conversation. Given the varied cultural backgrounds of our workers, it was determined that the best approach was to interview some of them directly. What ensured was a deeper engagement based on inquiry. 

When it was all said and done the students had collected information from the Facilities Office and from some of the workers themselves. Then, guided by Ms. Carden (in the kitchen), Ms. Wiltgen and Ms. Zara, they did pretty much everything - from identifying an appropriate time and date, to finding Bangla music to share during the event, to decorating the tables in the ES cafeteria, to identifying the menu, preparing the food and serving those who so often selflessly support our collective learning!  The final result was near perfect!  

Students sitting and sharing conversation and great food with people they often don't have the opportunity to really get to know so much. The final touch was a rendition of We are the World due largely to one student's passion for Micheal Jackson. Even when it was over the details were thought of... nearly everything left over (which wasn't much) was composted or recycled!  

This was not a planned event. It was a spontaneous thought which caught on, supported by great educators, to allow our students to follow their dreams. What wonderful student-initiated learning and community engagement to finish off a year of contribution at ASD! 

And how does this impact student "critical consciousness"?  Well, below is the reflection of one student; one of many thoughtful reflections shared with us following the event. 


"This is what I learned:
During the project on making the workers food for a day it was a great experience for me because I had to live in their shoes. I realized that it is very difficult job to do what the ASD staff and janitors do. For example, we had 20 people cleaning after 50 people but for the workers one or two people have to clean after 120 people.
Now I have a huge amount of respect for all of the workers and when I was walking in the hallway one worker said "Hi Samir."  That really shocked me and I was so happy he new my name and I knew his. In another example of learning, we did math problems.
For example, when we had to know how many plates and how many samosas per plate. That shows that we had to do multiplication and devision problems.
Thank you Mr. Myers for helping us plan.
Thank you Miss.Black for also helping is plan and believing in us.
Thank you Miss.Carden for helping us cook and for bringing the fruits and vegetables.
Thank you Miss. Zara for helping us organize the whole thing and doing the posters and the snow flakes.
Thank you Miss. Wiltgen for making this possible.

                            Sincerely,
                                          Samir 4WL. "

Monday, June 5, 2017

New Grade 2 Garden Tables, Courtesy of PTSA!










A while back the grade 2 students celebrated a change they initiaties in the second floor garden space. It was after their request to Mr. Advento that they were granted a new spigot. Well, they're back!  After their early success, they children opted to make the space even more suitable for use by all. After some further in-depth conversations with Ms. de Leon and Ms. Carden the students decided on a set of new tables (with umbrellas) to be set up in the same space. That will allow students a chance to benefit from share and workspace as they interact with their growing plants. It also creates a new space for respite for the rest of the community!

In a small opening ceremony today the children shared their story while developing their skills in being good hosts, speakers and collaborators. They also had a chance to write an article (shared as photos above for full effect) to share on this blog!  All in a day's work for these action planners!

Monday, May 29, 2017

Demonstration of Service Learning at the ES








Earlier this month elementary school teachers (and some students) were called upon to "share out" their work with regard to service learning. It was a chance for educators in all elementary school grades to celebrate their membership in our community of learners!  The share out included a short overview of the curricular connections of service learning experiences at each grade level (highlighted in the pictures above) as well as short presentations by the service learning team leads. The highlight - as one might suspect - was the presentation for grade one which was done by a small and enthusiastic group of first graders!  In service learning it is important to demonstrate the process and the learning and this was an opportunity to do just that through providing evidence of learning, curriculuar connections, learning experiences and and skills learned and developed over the course of the year. All great things to celebrate!

Sunday, May 14, 2017

Garden Compost Update... 17,000 kg!

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If food waste were a country, it would be the third largest producer of carbon emissions, right after the United States and China. Nearly one third of all the world's food waste ends up in landfills. This food waste produces, not only carbon but also methane gas, which is one of the most potent of greenhouse gasses.

Thanks to the collective efforts of ASD’s community members and the school’s cafeteria partners, this school year we diverted an estimated 100 kilos of food waste per day.  This food waste feeds our garden’s composting program enabling us to have a cost effective and organic means of fertilizing.  This becomes even more impressive, when the effect is calculated over time.  Since the beginning of the year, our school community has diverted nearly 17, 000 kg of food waste!  A big thank you to the ASD community for your support of our garden and for ensuring that all that food waste is kept out of the landfill!  Think Global, Act Local is alive and well at ASD!

By Sandra Carden, Sustainable Garden Coordinator

Saturday, April 29, 2017

A Week of Healthy Involvement & Discourse

Picking mulberries!

Corner Concerts

Earth Day Final harvest lunch

MS Advisory sessions

Healthy snacks/smoothies

G1 Making functional accessories from plastic bags

Farmer's market sample give-away

A few of our Walk for Water participants

Healthy World, Healthy Me Week intended to bring the issue of personal healthy, balanced lifestyles, global environmental health and sustainability into the forefront in an "it's all related" kind of way. The approach was very much "crowd sourced" meaning that the schedule offered itself for the benefit of those who wanted to take a moment - or longer - to highlight elements of personal choice (from working out to the food choices we make) and to celebrate the great things that already happen at ASD.  There was a little bit for everyone, from classroom and advisory conversations to after-school activities to yoga and exercise sessions. 

All in all it was a week that brought to the forefront the many things these school does that are aimed at bringing balance and health to the community. The pictures above offer a glimpse of some of the events that took place. Of course, though the week was intended at focusing on the issues of health, we all know that a week won't do the trick. It's important to continue along that path and to make personal choices that are beneficial both to one's self, the community and the world at large. A great week overall!

Thursday, April 20, 2017

Healthy World, Healthy Me Week



Born of two simultaneous seeds of inspiration - to extend opportunities for healthy habits and an awareness of global environmental health - this year ASD is welcoming a new concept... Healthy World, Healthy Me Week!

The week is intended as a 'crowd sourcing of opportunities and celebration' for those who want to focus, a little or a lot, on personal choices, learning about healthy eating and doing, sustainability in a personal, community and global context, etc. The week features a number of opportunities that are available weekly (did you know about them?) such as yoga and sports before and after school. But it also features a few items that are being introduced with a bit of a focus on either personal healthy habits (such as the Fitness Blast) or on sustainable lifestyles (like the Farmer's Market sample giveaway). In addition it highlights student run events such as the Walk for Water (by the Global Issues Network) and the Kids for Wish Kids Survivor event.  This is supported by on-going, week-long initiatives such as the calming art options in the libraries. There's lots of little things going on in this school so why not check a few out!  Check out the calendar below for some ideas!


Tuesday, March 21, 2017

The Plants of ASD






Students spend most of their waking hours in school. As such the campus is an integral component of the learning of our children and, of course, should be utilized as a learning tool.

Ms. Varnell's grade 3 class was studying plants. To make authentic connections the class decided to focus on plants that are all around us, right here on our campus. Through a short survey given to staff, parents and other students they discovered that, overall, there is a dearth of knowledge, which alarmed our young change makers. Did you know, for example, that the vast majority of our plants are non-endemic to this region? Did you know that there are over 20 species of plants on campus?  Did you know that we have banana plants and olive trees, fountain grass and neem trees? And, as a result of their service learning experience, did you know that technology can help you gain a better understanding of the plants that adorn our school?

With the support of Ms. Varnell and Ms. Carden (in the Garden) the students did a "deeper dive" into the world of these plants. Where are they from? What characterizes them?  How can we identify them from other, similar, plant species? How do we take care of them? How can we address the fact that the community seems to walk by them every day yet know nothing about them? Their collaborative minds decided to create a set of informational plaques for the community (complete with tech-integrated QR codes!) to generate an appreciation not only of the plants, but also for the learning that can be generated from our physical environment. 

So next time you're wandering the campus please take a look around and, armed with your QR code reader, find out more about  the plants that call our campus home. Way to go grade 3! 

Want to see more about their experience?  Take a look at their video below!


Wednesday, March 8, 2017

Tackling Waste... One Re-usable Container at a Time.






The ES Roots & Shoots Club has been working away. A small but diligent group they have been involved in the change of behaviors and culture at ASD. How does one do that?  Emboldened by last year's K1 service learning project that led to the elimination of plastic utensils in the ES cafeteria, the Roots & Shoots club wanted to address single-use cups.  Working in conjunction with the school's administration the final product - water dispensers in seven locations around the ES - was kicked off this morning!  

Today dawned a new day, both literally and figuratively, for our ES.  This morning the Roots & Shoots students were the focus of a small, yet very meaningful, "ribbon cutting ceremony" that served as the opening act of a new era.  Short speeches by Mr. Advento (ES Principal), Ms. Griffith (Roots & Shoots advisor) were a preface to the grand opening. Dr. Mutch also addressed the necessity for change makers before cutting the ribbon. Finally, the members of the Roots & Shoots club participated in a "first water bottle filling" to signify a key shift in the way ASD provides water to its community. 

What can we expect moving forward? Along with the elimination of the water bottle vending machines back in December, the introduction of the water dispensers forms a bold step in the "war on waste" (as they are calling it at the Sustainability Action Team meetings) for our school. As time ticks on, armed with our water bottles and reusable mugs, we expect to see our students being examples of sustainable practices and role models in their own right.