Hendrix International Baccalaureate School third graders did research on pollution and the environment this past quarter. Tuesday, for a culminating activity, they set up displays of their work in the gymnasium and invited the rest of the student body and their parents to show them what they had learned. There were PowerPoint presentations, iPod flipbooks, science fair-type displays, posters, hands-on activities, demonstrations and handouts; I was absolutely thrilled with the rigor achieved as illustrated by the depth of knowledge the students could articulate.
As one went through the projects, the students talked about land, air and water pollution and what we can do to make a difference. If you happened to miss a display, they would pull you back so they could talk to you; there was an enthusiasm that was exciting. I saw scrap paper being made into lovely beads for necklaces, it was ground up and processed into recycled paper, games were made from egg cartons and bottle caps, students signed pledges to turn off the TV when not watching it and to turn off the water while brushing their teeth. (Guiltily, I retrieved a newspaper from my trash can at work and put it in the recycling bin when I returned.)
Earlier, the students had raised $726 that they were going to donate to three environmental organizations: Heifer International, Charity Water, and Nature Conservancy. Three booths had very passionate students describing the work of the organizations, and at the end of the tour, each student and parent voted on the organization they thought did the best work. The money was then allocated on a proportional basis. As a result, a goat, a flock of chickens, a flock of geese, and a hive of bees will be given to deserving families who will be trained in their care. Resources were provided to help people who have no clean water to drink dig a well, and money was used to adopt an acre of land in the Appalachain mountains, a coral reef in New Guinea, and to plant 197 trees in Brazil.
This is the type of higher order thinking and performance assessment we will see more of as we incorporate the Common Core State Standards into our instruction. The benefit of total student engagement will make a huge difference in what our students can achieve.
Additionally, Hendrix has been recognized again for their outstanding efforts with their students: Several weeks ago they were recognized by the Riley Institute for their Outstanding Contribution to International Diversity and today I learned they have been awarded $1,000 from the South Carolina ASCD for the Healthy category of the Whole Child Education Award. We are proud of HES!