Growing up in an urban area often leaves too few experiences with nature. The fourth grade teachers at Conway Elementary wanted their students to see that they were part of something much bigger than the city in which they live. As a previously underperforming school, they knew their students were capable of more than they thought possible. Through careful planning and help from local conservancies (The Escondido Creek Conservancy, The San Elijo Lagoon Conservancy, San Diego Zoo), the fourth grade teachers were able to design a sequence of learning investigations that would inspire their students to see themselves as citizen scholars and turn learning into a purposeful, engaging, and fun experience.
Mastery of Skills and Content
This project guided students through the process of becoming field scientists. They studied the watershed through multiple field experiences that took them from the top of the Escondido Creek Watershed, through their city of Escondido, and out to the Pacific Ocean. They tested the water quality at several locations throughout the creek, they collected data, and were provided with hands on learning experiences where they began to realize that their watershed had many critical issues. They grappled with the causes and possible solutions to help restore the balance of the creek.
To find out more information students conducted research, read books and articles, and interviewed field scientists. They learned how scientists communicate their findings so that everyone can learn from their research. The students created presentations, posters, and a field guide to help others learn about their watershed.
At Conway our school focus is on 4 Norms which are Excellence, Perseverance, Integrity, and Compassion (E.P.I.C.) These norms incorporate scholarly attributes and active citizenship and were present throughout the journey of this project.
The goal of this project is for the students to develop their awareness of the habitats and environmental issues that directly impact their community. Students research and share their findings with community members. They had to read and understand complex text, research, communicate in writing, and develop presentations and proposals. Through this process, scholarly and active citizen E.P.I.C. traits flourished as they developed a sense of truly being part of community and now see themselves as having a role to ensure that the environment is safe and able to be enjoyed for future generations.
Students explored the local government's role in protecting the environment and researched initiatives that were being proposed by the state in upcoming elections. They realized, if you are passionate about something, there are many ways to get involved.
Better World Day
On May 4, 2018, Conway students, along with hundreds of other students across the United States, participated in EL Education's first ever Better World Day. The Super Stewards thought that this would be a perfect opportunity to share their learning and rally the community behind their cause. The preparation for the community presentation involved memorizing their lines, creating visuals displays, and practicing over and over again. They enlisted the help of fifth graders to critique their performances. These mentors provided them with the feedback they needed to improve for the big day. Students had a feeling of accomplishment and pride in their work.
Dr. Meg Lowman
Dr. Susan Mulley
Kristen Hoffman-The San Elijo Lagoon Conservancy
Contributions to a Better World
Conway students not only learning the importance of a clean watershed, they realized that they need to pitch in and do their part in making the world a better place. In these experiences, students worked together, persevered through new and challenging tasks, strengthened communication skills, and developed a sense of empathy and compassion for the environment.