Thursday, 27 April 2017

Orchard Garden CFE April 27

Joyce - Classroom Gardens

We started off our morning with a lively discussion on an article by Green Teacher called "The Roots of Diversity: Growing Culturally Significant Plants in the Classroom". We began our discussion with any questions we had regarding the article.

The article talks about celebrating diversity in the classroom by growing culturally significant plants together as a class. By growing plants and creating a nice windowsill garden in the classroom, we can engage the students in many ways. As plants can play an important role in many cultural traditions and rituals around the world, they serve as a useful resource for studying different cultures. We can use the plants in the classroom to explore their point of origins as well as the different stories they may have. I personally thought the article was a great read and provided a lot of helpful information on starting a classroom garden. After reading the article, I got excited about starting my own classroom garden and started thinking about the potential ways I could approach it based on my two teachable subjects.

Some of the questions that came up were regarding how we can find stories behind plants from a reliable source, how we can make deeper cultural connection between us and plants and solutions for classrooms that have limited exposure to light. We then started coming up with ideas for the use of classroom gardens for different subject areas. For example for Business classes, teachers can plan a food marketing unit which requires them to do project research and ultimately setting up their own garden. 

Featuring Colin's Bouba the rabbit and Kiki the duck

Next we had John introducing us to soundscaping by doing a quick activity. He got us to draw two shapes onto a piece of paper and told us to name our beautifully drawn shapes either Bouba or Kiki. It resulted in all of us having the same answer! We all knew the rounded shape just had to be Bouba and the spiky shape was a definite Kiki. We then watched a video on soundscaping explaining how the majority of people associated Bouba with the rounded shape due to the sound of the word. Our mouths makes more of a rounded shape when we say Bouba and an angular shape when we say Kiki.

Danielle – Forest Soundscape

After our morning discussion, we headed down to the small forest near the Orchard Garden where John led us through a soundscape activity. We each had a clipboard, a piece of paper, and a pencil. 

First, we spent 20 minutes alone listening to all the sounds of the forest. While we listened, we tried to draw what we think the sounds would look like on our paper. We had three categories of sounds to draw: human, nature, and technology. At this time and place, the reality was that the natural sounds of birds and rustling tree branches were overpowered by the aggressive construction noises.

After our 20 minutes of listening, we regrouped and walked back to the Orchard Garden. There, we got into groups of 3 and shared our drawings with our group members. It was interesting to see the differences in how people visualize sounds, which is not something most of us are used to doing. In our small groups, we were given a larger piece of paper and asked to combine our drawings to make a larger soundscape. The final part of this activity was to choreograph a live rendition of our group’s drawing. We found sticks and tools from the garden to try to re-enact the noises we heard in the forest.  

Next came the fun part – watching the performances of each group. Creativity was maximized with the use of voices and gardening instruments made to sound like birds and heavy machinery. I can see how students of all ages would enjoy the creativity of this activity. As we were doing the different parts to this soundscape – the listening, drawing, and group collaboration, I could see how adaptable this activity could be. It could easily be done with children and students of all ages, in virtually any environment. It could be a warm-up to garden learning or just a simple field trip outside where students get to use their senses in new ways. Teachers could lead their students through a sound walk or a sound sit somewhere near the school and then do various follow up activities. I think students would enjoy the sensory experience and feel more connected to the space around them. All in all, it was a very interesting experience!

To end our day today, we spent a couple hours weeding in the sunny garden. There's something about getting your hands in the dirt and breathing in fresh air that puts everyone in a good mood. I personally am loving it, and I am hoping that all of our future students will be able to appreciate how different they feel when they leave the stuffy classroom and spend time outside. 

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