Hello! Today’s CFE blog post is by Laura S, Fatima S, and Stephanie Y.
|Entrance to the greenhouse|
Today we met at Windermere Secondary School and had the privilege of being toured around by a leadership student named Douglas. He introduced us to his school’s garden where the students are expected to take the initiative in terms of tending to the beds and plants, filling up the compost, and keeping the garden in order. He was extremely knowledgable and gave us a greenhouse tour where they are trying to get a hydroponic system up and running again, this time using goldfish (as the tilapia and koi fish were a little large).
|Hydroponic system- but currently not in use.|
What I found really interesting were the bee and butterfly houses and how keen the students are on creating a safe environment for them to flourish. I really enjoyed the self-directed teaching and learning that is involved between all of the students, and how multiple different classes come together to contribute to the garden community as a whole. I believe this style could be very beneficial in my own classroom, and it has got me thinking on ways to start a self-reliant, self-directed classroom. I was brainstorming ways that I could incorporate a garden into my own practice in terms of visual arts and I came up with the idea of combining mindfulness into the garden context. This could be done by creating zen stones based on designs the students find in the garden (patterns in the leaves, vegetables, grass etc.). They could spend a class searching and sketching in the garden, then rework their designs once they have an idea in mind, then later paint the stones. The stones can be used in the garden for decoration purposes after, for meditation purposes or as dividers within the garden.
Today’s visit to Windermere Secondary School was inspirational! It was amazing to see that a student-led project, the school’s garden, could be that successful!
It was wonderful to witness how gardening can be a very great tool to empower students and help teachers make their classes more interesting and relatable.
I was able to make personal connection with this garden especially, the palm tree, it reminded me of my family’s garden in Baghdad!
While walking through the school’s garden, I had so many ideas of how to incorporate it into my science lessons. I would use this garden when teaching the Ecology unit; biotic and abiotic factors, food chains, and bioaccumulation and biomagnification. It would also be a great place to start an inquiry-based science unit, where students can come up with a question and use the garden to come up with a potential answer.
I would really love to start a school garden because I believe in it’s power in teaching the student leadership and problem solving skills!
Windermere Secondary’s gardening program is run on a leadership/mentorship model, where the senior students take the lead on sustainability related projects and delegate other tasks among leadership students in other grades. Seeing the fruits of dedication and hard work in their school garden and orchard was encouraging and I’ve personally become motivated and inspired as a teacher to help students pursue their passions, in whichever school I teach.
If I had access to such a garden as a home economics teacher, I would like to dedicate an entire course around and utilizing the gardens. For example, for a course that introduces various units on international cuisine could use examples of crops and produce grown in the local Vancouver gardens and compare it with gardens and farming methods of different countries and cultures, especially Indigenous cultures. Lesson possibilities are endless for foods and textiles classes; I am excited to explore and learn more through this CFE!