Monday, July 24, 2017

Teacher-Approved Garden Lessons for the Classroom

Students building a bean trellis with teacher Laura Goodspeed in the garden at the Family School. 

From calculating the area of a garden bed, to writing about the process of planting a seed, hands on learning in school gardens can be a very impactful way for students to solidify and expand upon what they are studying in the classroom. Recognizing these benefits of garden learning, educators at The Family School (PS 443) wanted to help more teachers make use of their school garden. However, for many teachers, figuring out where to start using the garden can seem like a daunting task! The teachers at PS 443 realized that they needed a set of garden lessons that was organized, easily accessible, and did not require too many extra materials.

This year Laura Goodspeed, a first grade teacher at PS 443 and Cara Plott, FoodCorps service member at PS 443 created a garden curriculum for teachers. They pulled together lessons from established garden curriculum resources like Edible Schoolyard NYC and LifeLab’s “The Growing Classroom,” and filled in the gaps with new lessons and worksheets. The lessons support the NYC Science and English Language Arts learning objectives. 

“We designed a curriculum to be used for weekly lessons during one growing season,” said Cara. “However, we recognize that each school, each garden, and each class is unique. The beauty of having the lessons in an editable format on Google Drive is that teachers can put in comments, move lessons around on the schedule, and tailor it to their schedule and class needs. Over time this “living curriculum” will continue to adapt to the needs of your school. ”

The teachers and Cara piloted the curriculum this spring semester in their modest four bed garden.  Teachers and students at the school reported that the lessons were a great success. All of the school’s Pre-K, Kindergarten, 1st and 2nd grade classes had lessons in the school garden and planted their own crop. They will update and improve the lessons based on teacher feedback.

Cara noted, “We hope these lessons will empower teachers and motivate students to learn and grow more in our garden, and inspire educators at other schools to do the same!”

Any teacher interested in gaining access to the curriculum should contact Moria Byrne-Zaaloff at Bronx Health REACH. Or visit the resource page in late summer when the lesson booklet will be added to the BHR website.

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