Driving Question

What are the important components of land use planning needed to create a sustainable neighborhood around a light rail station?

The City of Bellevue Planning Department is seeking input into planning of the area around the new light rail stations. The Hospital station will be built less than 2 miles from our high school and is within our attendance area making the future use of this land relevant to you and your future. Your team will become experts in 5 different components of land use planning and blend your expertise to create a cohesive station area plan.

This project fits into the a unit on Human Population and Land and Water Use (for more specific information see Standards page)

Unit Title:

Light Rail Station Area Planning for City of Bellevue

For Students:

Grades 10-12

Length:

4 Weeks

Course:

AP Environmental Science

Unit Launch

The Bellevue City Senior Planners came to my classes to launch to project. They showed the PowerPoint and answered student questions.

SAP presentation for Sammamish HS

On the second day, student teams were given the project components and began working on the challenge.

Project Components

After teams had done their initial research the city planners came back to class. City Planners worked with teams as experts to answer questions and give some help and direction where needed.

Midpoint Check

Student teams sent their presentations to the City of Bellevue planners on a Friday. The planners looked at the presentations over the weekend and wrote feedback to the students. Students received their feedback on Monday and used it to improved their presentations.

Culminating Experience

The student teams presented their light rail station area plans to the Bellevue City planners. The planners commented on their work. They especially noticed when the teams improved their plan due to feedback they had previously given.

Differentiation (e.g. Special Education, English Language Learners)

Differentiation occurred within the student teams when students chose the land use component they wanted to research. Students could choose the one that contained the most accessible language and/or content. We also allowed teams to decide how each group member would contribute to the presentations.

Station Area Project Rubric

Examples of Student Work:
Example 1
Example 2

Students also took a written assessment including multiple choice and free response questions which simulates the AP assessment.

Teacher Reflection

Here’s what I really enjoy about this unit:

I most enjoyed connecting students with real issues and watching them work to find creative and (sometimes) practical solutions.  This project affects their future and gave them a say in how their city will look.

I initially thought we had given the students too much direction when setting up the project. That was not the case. The teams were very challenged especially at the beginning. They wanted a clear path to the end goal which we did not give them on purpose. I had to keep reminding myself that students were building collaboration and problem solving skills. Building these skills is as much an objective in PBL as learning content. It was great to see all the students teams struggle through and finally being successful in creating a plan and presenting to our experts.

Here’s what I’m still working on making better about this unit:

The City of Bellevue is finished working on this project so we are not using the Light Rail Station project in the future. We are working to maintain a relationship with the city to hopefully involve them in creating future PBL units.

Student Reflection

Here’s what I really enjoy about this unit:

“I became more interested in what’s happening in Bellevue because I got to know more about the problems that the decision makers and engineers are making, and to become a better thinker.”

“This project got me more interested on the future of Bellevue and what could happen to my city in the future years, and it was cool that I had some say in what that may look like.”

Here’s how this unit could help me learn more effectively:

“The assignment may be more meaningful if the class got to contact business owners and people that are affected by the direct station planning. We could look at possible responses from people being relocated and how we can persuade them to agree to our plans.”

“It was hard to get an idea about the area and space that we had to work with and change. Its not that far away so it would’ve been interesting to go and walk around downtown Bellevue to and see all the old buildings we would’ve changed and the change in demand in housing.”

Outside Expert Reflection

Here’s how this unit connects really well to my work:

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Here’s where I think there are opportunities for growth:

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Authentic Problem

Light Rail is coming to Bellevue and The City of Bellevue Planning Department was actively seeking input into the Light Rail Station Area Plan for the Hospital Station. This station will be located less than 2 miles from our high school and the plan for the area around this station will impact residents who live in our school attendance area.

What might be one way to move towards more student initiation and ownership?

Students could seek out construction/zoning projects of interest to them which have implications for environmental impacts. They could contact the developers and/or planners of these projects and initiate a relationship where they could have input into these projects.

Authentic Assessment

Student teams created a construction/zoning plan for a circular area 1/2 mile in diameter around the light rail station. They presented their plans to the City of Bellevue Senior Planners who are created the actual plans for Bellevue.

What might be one way to move towards more student initiation and ownership?

The student teams could create a proposal including justification for who they want to assess their projects.

Student Voice

The station area plans included 5 complex components which required students on each team to become the expert of one component. The expertise each student built during the research phase was brought back to the group to form a cohesive plan. Students were able to choose the component that was the most interesting to each individual. Also, the solution to the problem of creating a station area plan was very open-ended allowing for student choice and creativity.

What might be one way to move towards more student initiation and ownership?

As stated with Authentic Problem, students could seek out construction/zoning projects of interest to them which have implications for environmental impacts. They could contact the developers and/or planners of these projects and initiate a relationship where they could have input into these projects. They could create a proposal for the project components and method of assessment which would then need to be approved by the teachers and outside partners.

Expertise

Two Senior Planners from the City of Bellevue helped with the planning, implementation, and assessment of this project. They had degrees and decades of experience in Urban planning.

Their jobs with the city of Bellevue included working with stakeholders to plan the area around all the light-rail stations within Bellevue city limits. They were interested in working with high school students as possible future residents of the new developments around these light rail stations.

Teacher expertise was critical in structuring student groups, lesson planning, creating rubrics and assessments.

Students brought expertise about their generation’s needs and wants in a high-density urban area.

What might be one way to move towards more student initiation and ownership?

Students could be asked to consult with other stakeholders and experts of interest to them.

Culturally Responsive Instruction

Students were able to incorporate their own cultural and ethnic priorities into the station area plans.

What might be one way to move towards more student initiation and ownership?

Students could be asked to collect input from various ethnic groups and be responsible for included this input to some degree. Some example might be artwork, museums, community spaces, markets, etc.

Collaboration

The project requires five different components be included in the station area plan. These components are complex enough so that it is necessary for each student on a team to learn about one component and bring that expertise back to the team. Teams decide on which team member will be responsible for each component. All five components are interconnected so that the team must work together to create the final plan.

What might be one way to move towards more student initiation and ownership?

Students could help construct a collaboration rubric and reflection tool. They could have more input into assessing themselves and their team members.

Academic Discourse

The vocabulary of Urban Planners was included in the requirements for the project and the City Planners used this vocabulary when interacting with students. Also specific AP Environmental Science vocabulary was  taught during lessons. Student teams were required to use this vocabulary for  successful completion of the project.

What might be one way to move towards more student initiation and ownership?

Build a classroom culture of student self-reflection about their learning. Model and encourage the process of seeking out knowledge and how to practice acquisition of vocabulary skills.

College Board AP Environmental Science Standards 

  • The Living World
    • Ecosystem Diversity
      • Biodiversity
      • Ecosystem Services
  • Population
    • Population Biology Concepts
      • Population ecology
      • Carrying capacity
      • Reproductive strategies
      • Survivorship
    • Human Population
      • Historical population sizes
      • Distribution
      • Growth rates
      • Doubling times
  • Land and Water Use
    • Urban Land Development
      • Planned development
      • Suburban sprawl
      • Urbanization
    • Transportation Infrastructure
      • Road-less areas
      • Ecosystem impacts
    • Public and Federal Lands
      • Management
      • Forests
      • Wetlands
    • Land Conservation Options
      • Preservation
      • Remediation
      • Mitigation
      • Restoration
    • Sustainable land use strategies
  • Pollution Types
    • Air Pollution
      • major air pollutants
      • measurement units
      • smog
    • Water Pollution
      • types
      • sources, causes and effects
      • cultural eutrophication
      • groundwater pollution
      • maintaining water quality

CCSS.ELA-Literacy.W.9-10.2d Use precise language and domain-specific vocabulary to manage the complexity of the topic.

CCSS.ELA-Literacy.W.9-10.2e Establish and maintain a formal style and objective tone while attending to the norms and conventions of the discipline in which they are writing.

CCSS.ELA-Literacy.W.9-10.2f Provide a concluding statement or section that follows from and supports the information or explanation presented (e.g., articulating implications or the significance of the topic).

Sammamish APES teachers are using the Knowledge in Action (KIA) curriculum. We used this project to replace the KIA project for the My Community Ecology Unit. The My Community Ecology unit’s standards are listed on the Standards page and are more inclusive than the ones listed above. Some of the standards were somewhat of an awkward fit for this project however we felt there were enough to warrant the investment in this project.

 

About the Authors

Kim Herzog

Kim Herzog has been teaching at Sammamish for 23 years. She has taught Biology, Chemistry, AP Biology, and AP Environmental Science. She worked as a teacher leader for five years during the Department of Education Investing in Innovation grant. Her work on the school leadership team helped support the school change process. Kim was also a member of the teacher team redesigning the AP Biology curriculum into a Problem-based Learning format.

herzogk@bsd405.org


Kristin Larson

Kristin Larson is a Bainbridge Island native who has taught at Sammamish High School since 2002. Currently teaching AP Environmental Science (APES) and Physics, she has taught a variety of other courses, from Biology and Chemistry to Pre-Calculus. She enjoys developing curriculum, and worked with the Knowledge in Action project, a collaboration between UW and the George Lucas Educational Foundation, to transform APES into a project-based course which is now taught in numerous school districts across the country.  Kristin’s passions are growing food, cooking, running and her 3 year-old daughter Fern.


The Bellevue School District acknowledges that we learn, work, live and gather on the Indigenous Land of the Coast Salish peoples, specifically the Duwamish and Snoqualmie Tribes. We thank these caretakers of this land, who have lived and continue to live here, since time immemorial.