What are some of the small physical or verbal details which led to a successful lesson this week?

This week my group had an on-campus day that focused on the garden and a soil investigation. Knowing that my field group would be engaged in a slug hunt stewardship lesson at the garden and later with a soil investigation, I decided to begin that day with a story time followed by a focused discussion.

The day started out overcast and raining (per usual), so I decided to head indoors for the story time.  I had set out 10 sit pads in the LS 102 loft the night before– 8 for the students and 2 for the chaperones.  The kids had seen the loft during an activity I had them doing the day before in the same room, and knew ahead of time that they were all super eager to “hang out” in that fun space.

Before entering the LS 102 room, I explained that we would all be heading up to the loft, and that they wouldn’t need their backpacks.  At that point, a few eagerly asked if they could take off their shoes. Seeing as they had wet shoes from walking to the studio, and that the lesson would probably last close to 45 minutes, I easily gave in to their request!  With backpacks laid down and shoes removed, the kids easily situated themselves on their chosen seat cushion and awaited the lesson.  I assumed a relaxed seated position on a desk enabling me to project my voice to everyone in the group easily and focus the groups attention towards the book.

The book I was to read, “Farmer Will Allen and the Growing Table,” dealt with a real-life former basketball player turned organic urban farmer. The story had a powerful and inspirational message about food equality and showed how hard-work can yield some pretty amazing results. Within the cozy confines of the loft, I was able to generate a relaxed yet focused discussion after each page read.  The kids were seated the entire time, and were all contributing to the discussion! The kids were directing their comments towards me as the reader, and also built on the responses of their peers after I included some questions of my own after each page.

will_allen_growing_power_milwaukee_wisconsin_usaImage Source: Creative Commons, “Farmer Will Allen.”

     Overall, the set up of the lesson in the small yet open loft, allowed for the kids to be all comfortably seated and aware of the focused intention behind the story’s lesson.  By having the kids cozy up in a small space,  it focused the discussion and made it difficult for any wandering-prone students to leave or avoid the group.

Food for Thought: As an IslandWood instructor given a small SOP field group, I want to think of ways in which to select the right “classroom” setting to  maximize small-group potential.  It isn’t often that an instructor has only 8-10 students in their class! I’m beginning to see how the IW “wild zones,” could be used to achieve similar results.

Check out this amazing teaching resource for “Farmer Will Allen and the Growing Table:”





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