Thursday, 16 June 2016

Planning for Teaching Through the Garden

On our first day in the Orchard Garden we weeded around a plum tree. After we weeded, we had to decide on certain wildflowers to plant in this area around the tree. There were many factors that we had to consider: the shade and sun, the length of the flowers and if these flowers are pollinators. First, we had to organized ourselves into two groups. One group handles the shaded flowers and the other group researched flowers that flourish in the sun. I was in the sun group and we went through the flower catalogue and chose Asylum for the whole outer rim because they grow in both sun and shade. Then a foot closer to the tree we planted an assortment of wildflowers. One step further in from there we planted cornflowers which are blue and slightly taller. Closest to the tree we planted bachelor button blue boy flowers. We chose the tallest flowers for closest to the tree so that they would not create shade for the flowers on the outer rim. After we made these decisions as a group we came to the Orchard Garden to plant! Each of us took turns scattering the seeds into shallow troughs we created in the soil. After placing the seeds, we raked and covered them with soil. The last step was thoroughly watering all the flowers. We’re looking forward to see how they come in! We were told by Joyce that even if these flowers don’t bloom this year, they may bloom next year! Throughout the whole decision making process we practiced important delegating and cooperative skills and learned all the different factors that involves planting flowers.

After our time in the garden, we met with Toni and she led us in collectively creating a resource package for teaching elementary students through gardening.  We collaboratively designed a template to use as we each compiled activities based on the new BC curriculum and divided by subject.  The template includes extensions, cross-curricular connections and adaptations to allow the activities to be suited for almost any age group within elementary.

It was lovely to spend the rest of the day working with Toni and chatting as a group about a combined resource package for teachers (across all subjects K-7) that can be used in the garden with activities inspired by nature. We had some wonderful discussions about ways the garden can be  used across all subjects, and I (Isis) will be compiling all the lessons we discovered/developed/adapted and worked on into one formal resource document that we can use, and share with other teachers. It was really amazing to see all the elementary teachers immediately hunker down and start working on it, and become so passionate about the subjects they had decided to tackle. Most of us even decided to work through lunch because we were enjoying the planning process so much.  

Experiencing the sense of “flow” that John had previously described to us was both rewarding and inspiring; as educators we hope to design learning experiences that draw students into this same sense of “flow” through motivating, self-directed activities.  John described how flow occurs when we find true enjoyment in our work, and how we need to facilitate these experiences for our students.  The fact that we didn’t want to stop was very representative of this “flow.”  I (Mary) felt a sense of pride in my work, knowing that it will serve an important purpose in our future practice as educators.  I look forward to using the resource and sharing it with others in the future. I felt connected to the group knowing that we were all working towards the common goal of creating a book full of meaningful learning activities.  We enjoyed chatting as we worked, sharing helpful resources and also just sharing life!  I love the kind of “garden talk” that we enjoy as we work in the garden.  We enjoyed it indoors as we worked on our garden resource too.  I believe that this sense of individual and collective purpose, combined with the feeling of community and collaboration were key contributing factors that created this spontaneous enjoyment in our work.  It is helpful to reflect on these factors as we continue as lifelong learners pursuing meaningful careers in education.

Today was a really wonderful day where we got to spend part of the morning hands on working together in the garden planting our flowers the way we had designed, and the rest of the day coming up with something very practical that we will be able to take with us as we move forward on our journey to become elementary teachers! All in all a very rewarding day. It has been so nice getting to work with teacher candidates from other cohorts, and hearing about their practicum experiences. Learning from your peers who are on this journey with you about what worked, or didn't work for them is where some of the most interesting learnings have been coming from.

This blog entry was brought to you by Mary, Bri, and Isis

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