During my Formal Classroom Teaching course this spring, I focused on integrative learning and differentiated instruction in the public/private school systems using school gardens as the context. Project Based Learning is an important aspect of this work, as are social justice and equity issues.
I was tasked with creating a garden lesson that included overarching goals, scope and sequence of work/activities that tie to Common Core and Next Generation Science Standards. The lesson need to be replicable, and usable by teachers and garden educators to link classroom lessons and content areas.
The resulting lesson “Our Garden, Our Watershed,” was written for a 7th-8th grade Natural Resources Career Technical Education class at Chinook Middle School in SeaTac, WA. After having interviewed and observed the class prior to delivering the lesson, the design for this work allowed me to best incorporate identified student outcomes by their grade level and identified teacher needs. The full lesson is an adaptation of the Nature Conservancy’s lesson “Gardens Filter Rainwater” and can be found below.
It was through this experience of teaching at Chinook Middle that I could see first hand the 1) challenges in transferring experiential garden education into formal classrooms, and 2) the importance of building trust through pre-visits. I was able to learn more about the students and the classroom climate by observing the 7th-8th grade Natural Resource CTE class beforehand. It was much easier for me to visualize the lesson’s run of show when I knew what types of classroom management were being used and whether the teacher did or did not engage with her students through discussion or other forms of assessment.
As someone who is new to garden education, I’m looking forward to building relationships with schools and bringing experiential education lessons into the formal classroom.
See the full “Our Garden, Our Watershed” lesson here: http://wp.me/p7RAVF-c5