Lower School Service Learning Initiative: Taking Action
This Lower School interdisciplinary service initiative was designed to celebrate and bring awareness to endangered species while giving students the opportunity to lead the way in their own learning. Subject-specific teachers, specialist teachers, and head teachers came together to share this project with their students, highlighting the interdisciplinary nature of taking action and reinforcing the possibilities for interweaving subjects together as students develop their own ideas.
Science Teacher Alicia adds, “My hope is that through taking local actions from home, students can feel more connected to endangered species and the environment as a whole. Oftentimes, when students think about endangered species, the first thing that comes to mind is a panda or a sweet animal somewhere further away from New York City and initially, they may not connect the topic of endangered species to their lives here. The questions I always ask them are: How are we all connected? How can we spread awareness of these important issues and take action?”
These questions invite students to think about what they can do at this current moment to support and protect endangered species, both near and far.
Second Graders, who have been learning about endangered species in their current unit of inquiry, used the annual Endangered Species Day on May 15th as an opportunity to take action to protect and support the environment. Inspired by this day, the entire Lower School was invited to participate in creating their own actions. Lower School Science Specialist Alicia Smith shares, “Taking action is very important. It is powerful for students to understand that anything is possible and that their actions, both big and small, can be meaningful and have a real impact. I want to give students the opportunity to create their own actions and follow where their talents want to take them.”
Students have been busy developing their own actions, incorporating science, art, math, languages, music, and writing into their work.
They have created beautiful art with environmental messages and students in Kindergarten and Second Grade have had their work published by the Climate Museum, which is gathering students’ work for Congress.
Ranging in topics from Monarch Butterflies to ocean animals to planting Marigolds to “the lifecycle” of microplastics, students have also led informative, thoughtful, and heartfelt presentations to spread awareness and share their actions. Students have written and sent persuasive messages to government officials and local business owners, marched at home to show their dedication, and interviewed professionals including an animal rights activist and an oyster farmer to inquire further. One student created a theatrical performance of a dialogue between two endangered animals, the condor and the Komodo dragon, in French. Students also shared songs and musical pieces with the cello, violin, and guitar, conducted a plastic pollution audit within their neighborhood, sent a letter to an editor at a Maine local paper about plastic pollution, planted milkweed, created vegetable gardens, and the list continues!
Through each student’s action, there is a strong sense of excitement, empathy, hope, and advocacy. Inviting multiple grades to join in this division-wide initiative gave students the opportunity to build on their knowledge from their previous years and develop actions at all levels, diving deeper into the curriculum. Students are creatively and enthusiastically leading the way in their service-learning as they work towards a better tomorrow with confidence, conviction, and care.