Saturday, 26 September 2015

Salsa & Salsa Workshop #1 for 2015/16!

What a wonderful workshop today!

We had a great group of teacher candidates and other students, gorgeous weather, an exciting and accessible Salsa Rueda class taught by Diana and Jonas (from the UBC Rueda Club), and a lot of fun making fresh salsa with ingredients from the garden. Delicious lunch too! We learned that salsa (the dance, the sauce and the recipe) are all spicy mixtures of many cultural influences (Aztec, Afro-Caribbean, plus new ingredients) that create many tasty variations on the original saucy blend.

Looking forward to our upcoming workshops in this year's series.

I mostly got photos of Diana and Jonas demonstrating --
because the rest of the time, I was busy dancing!

Monday, 18 May 2015

CFE Week 3: Goodbye to the Garden

Beautiful chive flowers at the Food Garden
section of the Botanical Gardens
Lesson planning again! The culmination of this Community Field Experience is the hosting of the Orchard Garden workshop this coming Saturday. Pailin and I had the privilege of working with numerous brains on what is essentially a giant four-hour lesson plan. We will be teaching about herbs, compound butter and culinary math. Collaboration is probably one of my favourite parts of teaching. With so many brains involved, the lesson begins to be more layered and varied; our lesson plan reflects that through its auditory, kinetic and visual elements. 

Freshly harvested herbs from our garden: dill, cilantro and parsley
As I mentioned in my previous blog post, we had direct planted beet seeds into the soil during our first week and had not seen any signs of growth when we visited last week. This past Monday, Pailin and I visited the garden to give the plants some water. As we neared the plant beds, we saw something that caused us utmost shock and delight: little beet seedlings had sprouted over the weekend! As a first-time gardener, I was pretty sure that we had somehow killed our beet seedlings. Maybe we hadn’t given them enough water. I had all but given up hope on seeing them sprouting.
Who knew that little sprouts could elicit so much excitement?
 The surface of the soil did not reveal to us that the seeds were growing and on their way up to the surface. But indeed they were! As we look at the many students in our classrooms, we also cannot tell by appearances what is going on under the surface. Oftentimes when I teach, I wonder, how much are the students really understanding? How interested are they? There is so much variety in our students, making it a challenge (but a valuable one to step up to!) for us when lesson and assessment planning. 
Our beautiful kale seedlings!

“Isn’t it amazing that all the DNA that is needed for a plant is all right there in a tiny little seed?” It’s easy to take kids’ growth for granted – both their intellectual as well as physical. But it is one of the best moments in teaching, when you see the “aha!” moments and watch them become more mature throughout the year. Students can surprise us with how much they do know and how much they want to know. For example, the elementary school aged students I teach on weekends are constantly asking questions and are bubbling with curiosity. I hope to, as a teacher, encourage students to take the path of lifelong learning.

Practicing for our compound butter demo!
A few simple ingredients can automatically
make a meal fancier!

As we prepared for our workshop, Pailin, Toni and I went to the Orchard Garden to collect some herbs for our compound butter demonstration. We collected some parsley, cilantro and dill from the garden to use for our sample compound butter. It was my first time smelling and tasting fresh dill. How different it is from dried dill! The dried dill I have at home is bland and flavourless, good for aesthetic appeal but doing nothing for the taste buds; fresh dill, on the other hand, is tangy and incredibly fragrant. In the Home Economics classroom, we most often use dried herbs in our cooking because of its low price and its longer shelf life, but if we grew fresh herbs in the classroom, we would have the opportunity to use fresh and fragrant herbs in our dishes as well as learn how to plant and take care of herbs.

Because we wanted to learn more about fresh herbs and their traditional uses, Pailin, Kwesi and I visited the UBC Botanical Gardens for more information. The UBC Botanical Gardens is tucked away south of the UBC Campus and is a beautiful garden full of exotic as well as native plants. It is a “very large walking space” with a variety of plants to look at and is well-kept; we did not see a single horsetail weed! Our reason for visiting was the Physic Garden.

The Physic Garden
 The Physic Garden is surrounded by a neat yew hedge with sections of herbs in concentric circles with metallic plates detailing the various uses of this herb throughout ages past. It’s amazing how many ailments simple natural herbs can cure.
 The past three weeks have been a wonderful transition between the 10-week practicum and the summer school session. The variety of activities we did throughout the past weeks gave us gardening skills that we look forward to passing on to others. We also gained confidence in the garden as we learned how to identify weeds, prepare beds, direct seed, water plant beds and uproot old plants. Pailin and I really gained a sense of ownership of the garden and looked forward to tending it every day. The garden, which seemed an onerous task to accomplish on our first day, became a place that we cared about and wanted to see flourish.  Similarly, as we invest time, effort and care into the students that we teach at school, we also grow to care for them and their wellbeing.
Chive flowers growing in a crack

Thursday, 14 May 2015

Final Week of the CFE: Prepping for Orchard Garden Workshop

Walking to the Physic Garden at the UBC Botanical Garden.
We were on a mission to discover medicinal herbs from Medieval times!

Time really flies when you're having fun! We're already in our 3rd and final week of the CFE, working hard to prepare for our capstone project: the UBC Orchard Garden Workshop. The theme of our workshop is "herb, butter and math." We will be talking about traditional uses of herbs, then going to the orchard garden to pick some herbs to make compound butter! Compound butter is a simple and fun project that kids can do if you have some herbs growing in the school, and it also make great gifts so kids can make it as a project for Christmas or Mother's Day.

I will also be leading a segment on culinary math! I've been excited about culinary math ever since I learned it in culinary school, and I have found it to be incredibly useful not only in my career as a chef, but also in my every day life and my practicum as a Home Ec teacher. There is so much math in food, and what better way to teach mathematical concepts than to apply it to real-life situations! Coincidentally, Susan and many of the Orchard Garden team members are math specialists, so they were excited for this project as well.

We weeded, made the bed, planted, and here
are the fruits of our labour: Kale seedlings!

After 3 weeks of being in the garden, I have witnessed significant transformation in myself and my relationship with the garden. I started out being somewhat intimidated by gardening, but just by doing garden work little by little, with support from people who've done it before, it's really not that hard and surprisingly enjoyable. One very obvious change I noticed is how comfortable I feel around dirt. I started out not loving the idea of touching dirt, so I always kept my hands gloved whenever we had to do garden work, but towards the end of the second week, I became so fond of the garden that I no longer felt the "ick" factor, even around bugs and worms, and before I knew it I was weeding the garden with my bare hands!

These beets took a little long to come up, and we were
worried for days that we had killed them somehow.
Oh the joy and excitement when we saw these!
I also grew quite attached to the garden. I finally understand why so many people are so into gardening! When you've put work into prepping the beds, planting the seeds, watering the seeds, watching the seedlings becomes your baby! I found myself worrying about our seedlings over the weekend because it didn't rain, and couldn't wait to take care of them on Monday!

It really goes to show that "action cures fear." Many people may experience the same fear and intimidation about gardening, but getting your hands dirty can really do some magic! After the CFE is over, I will definitely find a way to keep gardening in my life. I love the sense of ownership, accomplishment, nurturing, and the relaxation and enjoyment that I get from gardening. Not to mention gardening as an educational resource for all sorts of subject areas.

Can't wait for the workshop, and I will definitely miss the Orchard Garden when it's all done!

Tuesday, 12 May 2015

Our March workshop run by Community Service students from Tracy Friedel's Place-Based Learning graduate class

Education graduate students Brittany, Tara and Suke planned and ran our March 28 Saturday workshop and sent this great blog post.

Thank you, Pailin and Jan-Lin, and to all the Orchard Garden team involved in this great CFE experience

I want to let everyone know how impressed I am with Pailin and Jan-Lin, the secondary teacher candidates doing their Community Field Experience three-week practicum in the Orchard Garden. They are doing such amazing work, and you can read some of their thoughts and insights in the great blog posts on this site.

I am also so grateful for the awesome work the Orchard Garden student team is doing in completely organizing and leading the CFE. Toni, Ozlem, Kwesi, Myron, Laura, Scott, Chessa, Galen, our new LFS student Bryan -- and I hope I haven't left anybody out, as so many of the team have been involved! Stacy at Landed Learning and the teachers at Tyee Elementary have been so welcoming to our team and CFE students -- much appreciated. Toni certainly deserves huge applause for taking on all the organization and planning of the three weeks.

I find it hard that it is so rare it is to have students run important aspects of teacher education programs. The students at the UBC Orchard Garden are proving how well this can work, and how much we can all learn from each other. Inspiring!

I'm posting a few photos from the day at Tyee last week, where I joined Jan-Lin, Pailin, Toni, Scott and Chessa (and left with a bike basket full of garlic greens and lemon balm!)