Wednesday, 4 April 2012

Ecopoetry in the garden!

I guess we have to remind ourselves that "April showers bring May flowers"- but it's hard when we're starving for sun... Fortunately the 37 preservice teachers who joined us in the garden yesterday were good sports and well-equipped with rain gear.

The sun did peak out just in time for this large group (37 students!) to explore specific plants and areas of the garden. As this was an Elementary Language Arts class we asked the students to use all of their senses as they explored the garden- "how can we describe this texture? what words might you use to describe the taste of brussels sprouts vs. the taste of kale? what does this flower remind you of?" The students then used these details to compose playful ecopoems :)

Thank you to Andrea for sharing her sample poem with us! (we welcome more poems that may want to live on this blog...)

The Best Treat
green grass grows
lush rich tasty
munch poop eat
very yummy treat

thick bushy wet
all you can get
sweet sugary forces
loved by all horses

The professor, Lori, also spoke to some of the crucial considerations for outdoor pedagogies in working with young children in school gardens. She emphasized the need to distinguish a school garden from a playground- it's an outdoor classroom! And she's found it's helpful to give children specific tools to work with (aside from the regular gardening tools) to emphasize that this is a learning space: clipboards, waterproof seats, magnifying glasses, and bags for collecting specimens.

Lori also gave some wise advice on being a new teacher in the garden with children : (paraphrasing) "The first time you bring your kids into the garden, it might not be easy- it might be a disaster. You just have to try again and again- it definitely takes practice but it gets easier. You just have to believe that this work is important."

Lori shared an anecdote about a young student who simply could not sit still in the classroom and was academically challenged- especially in math. (paraphrasing) "Once he got into the garden he came running up to me and was so proud of himself! He showed me the "really hard math" he was doing. And he was- he was figuring out the area of the garden. I can guarantee you, he wouldn't have been able to do that math if we were sitting inside looking at a textbook."

Thank you to Lori and her wonderful class! We are so inspired to know there will be many new teachers who value this work!

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