Making Sustainable Well-Being Connections To the Classroom

Making Sustainable Well-Being Connections To the Classroom

First off I wanted to talk about the reason for doing something a bit different for this assignment. When I took the Health Promoting Schools course last Fall I chose to use the Living Schools Classroom Planner as one of my assignments and didn’t feel like enough has changed in my perspective or teaching assignment since that time. I’ve really connected to the Sustainable Well-Being Framework and wanted to see how I’d be able to make connections to the curriculum in a way that makes sense to my grade 3/4 learners and demonstrate to other educators how this can be done in a meaningful and approachable way.

If you’d like to look at my Living Schools Classroom Planner please click this link:                             Living Schools Classroom Planner

Throughout my work for this project I have included some photographs that I felt reflected the attributes from the Sustainable Well-Being Framework. I’d like to thank my colleague at work, Lena, for allowing me to use her photos for the purpose of this project. As you scroll through you’ll see how talented she is and you’ll also be able to feel her passion and respect for nature.

All photos are from Lena’s Instagram account for which she has given me her permission to use

Sustainable Well-Being Framework

Below are the the eight sections from the Sustainable Well-Being Framework. I’ve bolded the key words that I have either a) had success with using with my current grade 3s for this school year in some way or b) feel like I could/would use with this age group!

*The words without the bold are ones that I would either a) want to tweak for the age group or b) work with the 5/6 team and see if leaving them for when the students get to the next grade level.




creativeplayfulcuriouswonderinspiredinnovative, awe


open mindedflexible, grateful, interconnectedreflectiverespectfulself-aware

Integrity: *The term integrity is a challenge to explain to young learners!

authentic, transparent, honest, ecological integrity, principled, congruent


braveadventurousresilient, tenacious


patientappreciativemindfulstillnesscalmtranquil, prudent, self-regulatednon-action

Growth Mindset:

hopefulcollaborativeoptimistic, future-mindedresourcefuladaptable

Just: *The term just might need a little extra explanation since it’s different than “just” 😉

fair-minded, ecologically responsible, equitable, socially responsibleaccountable

Personal Thoughts:

After considering all the words, there are only a few that present a larger challenge for our young learners. I think that there is potential to be able to explain or reword some of the words that have not been bolded, but I also like the idea of leaving some areas of the framework for different grade groups.

At my school we teach in multigrade groups. We have three classes of 1/2, three 3/4s and three 5/6s. It would be really neat to use the Sustainable Well-Being Framework within our grade groups. I can imagine the 1/2s being able to teach and work with: Humanity and Passion, the 3/4s could integrate: Growth Mindset, Humility and Focus then the 5/6s would be able to delve into: Integrity, Courage and Just.

By using a whole school approach it shows commitment, unity and the belief in the importance of what it means to possess sustainable well-being! Obviously this would have to be discussed with the administration, then the staff and plans would have to be made together moving forward rather than pitching it to the administration then expecting teachers to begin implementing sustainable happiness and well-being into their teaching practices. It also can’t feel like another thing on teacher’s plates. The next steps in this project are to use the curriculum to show how to easily and meaningful sustainable happiness and well-being can be connected to what we are expected to teach! For this purpose I have considered ways to use all eight sections of the framework to show that this approach is also a possibility.

“World Year” Grade 3/4 2020-2021 @ Montrose School

“World Year” and “Earth Year” are what we refer to our Science/Social Studies rotations as the 3/4 team at my school. We are currently finishing up our “Earth Year” and next year we will head into a “World Year”. The reason we do this is because our classes are always set up as multiage. We do not alter grade groupings according to numbers which is different from split classes. This allows us to rotate the Science and Social Studies topics that we teach. Grade 3s will learn some of the grade 3 outcomes in grade 3 and some in grade 4, and vice versa.

Grade 3/4 Science/Social Studies Topics for ‘World Year”:

Grade 3 Science:

Materials and Structures

Forces That Attract and Repel

Grade 4 Science:



Grade 3 Social Studies:

Grade 3: Communities of the World
Cluster 1 – Connecting with Canadians

  • rights and responsibilities
  • connections with other Canadians
  • community leadership (formal and informal)
  • decision making (conflict, bullying)
  • Canadian citizenship (national anthem)
  • Remembrance Day
Cluster 2 – Exploring the World

  • mapping (maps, aerial photographs and satellite images)
  • mapping (equator, hemispheres, continents, oceans)
  • common concerns and connections between world communities
  • community services
  • human rights (housing, education, security, food, water…)
  • international support organizations (United Nations, UNICEF, Red Cross…)
Cluster 3 – Communities of the World

  • global human diversity
  • contemporary world communities (physical, social, cultural; daily life, traditions)
  • indigenous communities of the world
  • mapping (location of communities or countries)
  • media influences on perceptions of people and places
Cluster 4 – Exploring an Ancient Society: one of ancient Egypt, China, Japan, the Vikings, Incas, Mayas, or Aztecs

  • ways of life
  • customs, stories, traditions
  • cultural expressions (art, architecture, music, dance, writing,stories, religious practices)
  • senduring contributions (ideas, inventions, art, architecture, stories)

So…how can the Sustainable Well-Being Framework fit into what I will be teaching next year?

First off I’d like to talk to the students about the framework, explain what Sustainable Happiness and Well-Being could mean to them. I don’t want to tell them what it is, but it could be a nice way to begin the year. Even the new grade 3s would have likely heard of some or all of the words: Sustainable, Happiness and Well-being! It’s hard to say what things will look like because it would be a mini inquiry which includes a lot of student voice and choice!

Science: Materials and Structures

We often use bridges as a way to talk about materials and structures and then relate that to Communities of the World. However, instead we could use the outcome: Use the design process to build a structure that meets given criteria related to strength, stability, and function” to have the students think of something they could create to serve a positive purpose in the environment or for social welfare. Through this activity other outcomes will happen naturally.

Example :

Use appropriate vocabulary related to their investigations of materials and structures, Explore to determine an appropriate method for joining two materials for a specific use, Explore to determine ways to improve the strength and stability of a frame structure, Evaluate simple structures to determine if they are safe and appropriate to the user and Identify various materials used in the construction of buildings in their community and in communities around the world, just to name a few! 

Potential Connections to the Sustainable Well-Being Framework:

Humanity (compassion) , Passion (creativity and innovation), Humility (open mindedness and flexibility), Integrity (authenticity *or maybe we’d refer to this as true and real and ecological integrity *or “environmental health and safety”, Courage (tenacious *or “persistent and I like adding in another word like bold to this category), Focus (appreciative and patient), Growth Mindset (collaborative and future-minded), Just (responsibility and how that can be environmental and social and explain the differences).

  • The beauty is that these are just potential connections and once the students know more about the framework they will be able to communicate the connections that they see and that matter most to them!

Science: Forces That Attract and Repel

Again, a natural starting point could be suing the design process: Use the design process to construct a game, toy, or useful device that uses gravitational, magnetic, or electrostatic forces”. The design process might seem like a natural ending point for some people. But in inquiry there is less focus on the end product and more about the process, so just because the Design Process outcome is listed at the end of the cluster it doesn’t mean you need to end with it. The curriculum tells us the what…not the how!

I like this as a beginning or end of the year project! By focusing on a need of the people of the world or the natural environment, the students have so many areas that they could focus on. They an certainly take something that interests them and go from there. This type of cluster also lends itself nicely to a Genius Hour type of project! This is something I hadn’t thought of before. I always left this unit until the end of the year and then in June we’d be rushing to cover as many outcomes as possible. We would use LEGO to build cars and then take them outside to race using either the push or pull force of a magnet. The students love it, but I think there is potential to do better!

Science: Light and Sound

Light and sound have never really felt integrated for us. They have become ‘units’ that we go through quickly or get ‘out of the way’ at the beginning of the year. I’ve been thinking about ways to connect these two clusters in a more meaningful way. One thing we could do is start with the outcome with the design process (like we did with the Materials and Structures cluster);

Light: Use the design process to construct a device that transmits and reflects light

Sound: Use the design process to create a musical instrument

OR maybe a different outcome that includes and investigation;

Light: Identify technological developments that extend our ability to see, and recognize their impact on science

Sound: Investigate to identify inventions related to sound, and describe their impacts on society

Then maybe we use the framework (now that they are more familiar with it to make more connections together or in small groups. This uses the gradual release of responsibility model (I Do, We Do, You Do). The students use what they’ve learned by having things modelled first and now are ready to work together and eventually will be able to make these connections independently! So, again. This could look different from what I imagine in my head right now. The students will think of some of the same connections as I am, but also different connections as well. When we work together in a supported way they become more confident and extend their learning.

We’d ask ourselves: “How can we connect: Humanity, Passion, Humility, Integrity, Courage, Focus, Growth Mindset and Just to Light and Sound?”

Potential Connections to the Sustainable Well-Being Framework:

-creativity, curiosity, wonder, innovation, open-mindedness, interconnectedness, reflective, respect, self-awareness, ecological integrity (or environmental health and safety), appreciation, collaboration, optimism, future-minded, resourceful, adaptable, accountable

There are so many potentials that will happen naturally and helping the students make those connections brings more meaning to the projects and learning. Just like in the Materials and Structures cluster, the other outcomes will be learned in an organic way. Vocabulary get developed, connections between light and sound become realized, an extension of learning about senses way back in grade 1/2 takes place, connection to light and sound in nature will form, etc.

  • These clusters don’t have to be taught in isolation
  • We can integrate them into our environment and possibly teach both clusters at the same time

Social Studies: Communities of the World

I think this is where I see the most natural connections for some areas of the framework. As we compare Ancient Civilizations to how we live today, or where we live with other countries or how we explore the world or connect as Canadians there is so much potential to focus on Sustainable Happiness and Well-Being. We often teach Ancient Civilizations, then move into countries of the world then focus on connecting with Canadians as our year plan. It’s kind of like a past to present to future direction. I like teaching this way, but also wonder about working through these clusters simultaneously. If we were to commit to a yearlong learning plan that connects to the framework, then I can see a lot of natural ways to integrate the attributes to the Social Studies curriculum as a whole. For example: maybe the students choose to focus on “Humanity” and consider that through Ancient History, Countries of the World and in Canada. It’s just a new way to think about making connections to what we are required to teach! This could give students who are ready to be independent the freedom to do so (the You Do stage) and also allow more of the We Do practice that other students still need. So much to think about!

English Language Arts, Math, Health, the Arts, etc.

Although I’ve only touched on Science and Social Studies there are always ways to connect the framework to other core subjects.

Some Examples of Connections May Include:

-Introduce the framework and its attributes by doing writing prompts

-Use writing forms such as poetry, comics, How To, etc. to explain the attributes

-Read picture books and then discuss which attribute(s) the story fits into

-Find a way to incorporate drama and dance to explain the attributes

-Use facts that contain numbers to incorporate math (word problems, reading/creating graphs, mathematical reasoning (Which One Doesn’t Belong is one of my favourites!), etc.

-Talk about the connections to health (healthy body, healthy mind, healthy environment) that the attributes have

The Sustainable Well-Being Framework & Connections Through Photographs!

Thank you to Catherine for sharing this image of the Sustainable Well-Being Framework Graphic

The photographs below could be used for multiple sections of the Sustainable Well-Being Framework, but this is what I have come up with so far! Thanks again to Lena for these gorgeous images. The addition of the images provides powerful visual connections for the students. They become more than words! By no means do we want to limit what their visual representations could be, but simply give a starting point. I could also show them all of the images and we could talk about which attribute they feel matches and why. These type of opportunities allow students to deepen their understanding, make connections, respect other people’s opinions, etc.

*Using photography or art in other forms is also an idea to incorporate student voice into making connections to the framework!



















Growth Mindset

Growth Mindset

Growth Mindset




Final Thoughts:

This has been a valuable experience for me and I’m grateful for the opportunity to take the time to really think about the Sustainable Well-Being Framework and how my grade 3/4 learners can use this in any of the curricular outcomes they are required to learn. I feel like by doing the Living Schools Classroom Planner in a previous course has helped me set a foundation and be ready to think about next steps. I have some ideas of how the framework could be used in my own classroom (or hopefully with my grade group team) or how we could delve into this as a school. I often start with things in my own room and with my teaching partner and then try to extend that to others, so maybe this is how I’d approach this too. It’s helpful to have the experience and also a starting point for people and ways to grow your own work (based on what worked and what didn’t the first time around). My favourite “takeaway” is that teaching anyone about sustainable happiness and well-being can be integrated in anything and everything we do. There are no “rights and wrongs”.

Sustainable happiness can be defined as “happiness that contributes to individual, community or global well-being without exploiting other people, the environment, or future generations” (O’Brien, 2016, p. 1). It’s time to focus on this at every level of school and create a world where future generations can enjoy for many years to come!


Manitoba Education as retrieved from:

Manitoba Education as retrieved from:

O’Brien, C. (2016). Sustainable well-being for all.

O’Brien, C. (2016). Education for sustainable happiness and well-being. New York, NY: Routledge.

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