Seeing her students take ownership of their actions and watching this flourish through the school community was an outstanding Enviroweek outcome for Murray Bridge South Primary teacher, Jenna Longstaff.
Jenna saw Enviroweek as a chance to revitalise existing programs, reignite her students’ passion for protecting our environment and celebrate the community’s ongoing sustainable practices. “It achieved all this, and so much more,” said Jenna.
“I felt like I was running on adrenaline. We had a week to do all of these exciting things! Students were really engaged. Having so many activities and being part of the challenge enhanced our communication, we were working together to achieve a common goal.”
‘Sustainability in the Curriculum’ is an online professional development course that helps you engage your students in sustainability education. There are specialised courses for Foundation to Year 2 and Years 3 to 6 teachers.
Growing positive change
Jenna found that ‘seeing is believing’ for motivating students around sustainability.
“Students really took ownership of the environmental impact. Enviroweek snowballed into so many areas of sustainability. For example, although students didn’t focus on a ‘Sparky’ challenge they became vigilant about the use of power and switching off the lights.”
Jenna was delighted when she saw her student’s passion spread to others. “Students from other classes wrote lovely notes, promising what they would do to help our environment. It was encouraging to hear that we had impacted on other grades.”
The prize draws the participant profile page and outdoor activity rewards were great motivators for students. Jenna made sure that information and photos supplied by her students were uploaded to their profile C2A Green Clean World. “They loved the interactivity, and that encouraged more to join in.”
Jenna said parents reported that their children were growing vegetables at home and asking for fresh food rather than fast food. They also check rubbish bins at home to ensure that things are recycled correctly!
Class members discovered that there were a lot of ten cent recyclables being thrown in the school bins. In a three day period they collected $30 worth. Students continue to collect ten cent recyclables and cash them in, using the money to support charities.
Jenna kicked off Enviroweek with a visit to the local recycling depot to explore how rubbish is sorted.
After this students noticed that waste bins were being filled with recyclable rubbish. They decided to do something about it by:
- Doing a waste audit of school rubbish bins
- Creating PowerPoint presentations, outlining what was found in the bins
- Presenting PowerPoints to other classes, discussing how bins should be used
- Re-establishing a bin system, with separate bins for non-recyclable waste, paper, cans and bottles
- Introducing food scrap bins, to be composted and used on the gardens.
To help her students connect with nature, Jenna incorporated the following activities into her class during Enviroweek:
- Observing, being still and quite outside; taking in the sights, sounds and smell of the natural environment
- Creating a colour wheel, using images of the local surroundings
- Natures rainbow, collecting various objects such as leaves, nuts and bark and matching them to paint swatches to create a whole class rainbow.
Year 6 and 7 students are custodians of Murray Bridge Sotuh Primary’s kitchen garden. Enviroweek welcomes spring and was an opportunity for students to:
- Plant seeds for the new season in the kitchen garden
- Measure the growth of the plants and observe different stages of development
- Analyse common weeds, enabling students to recognise and remove them from gardens around the school.
Jenna was aware of a need to direct students towards making healthy choices, rather than looking to fast food. She gave them the opportunity to experience cooking for themselves. They investigated sustainable eating by:
- Researching which foods were in season
- Picking herbs and vegetables from the kitchen garden and using them in cooking
- Using local, in season produce to make delicious and healthy food
Sustainability for the future
Murray Bridge South Primary School students will definitely participate in Enviroweek again. “Other classes are keen to get involved and complete some challenges.”
At the moment the students in Year 6 and 7 are preparing to plant winter vegetables in their kitchen garden and continue to monitor the waste program at the school. Jenna intends to further inspire her students by ensuring that she plans more activities in ‘the great outdoors’.
BY: SUSAN TATE