Tomorrow Brenden from Community Greening is coming to visit the class to (hopefully) set us straight on getting a decent little @2CMEPS market garden happening. This is exciting for several reasons, perhaps most importantly because it means we all get to see Mrs. Cantanzariti hang out in the garden with all manner of creepy crawlies. Some may even be venomous!
It’s also exciting because it means that the students in 2C finally get to do what many have been asking me about doing since my first morning in the classroom – get their hands dirty.
Brenden is going to bring along some seedlings of various description, some seeds so that he can do a lesson on how things grow. The kids will get to clear weeds from a small section of the garden, prepare it for planting, as well as plant some of their own herbs and vegetables so we can watch them grow.
I’m sure it’s going to be an excellent morning of learning, and the weather forecast is for a mostly sunny day with a decent winter maximum of 21 degrees. Win.
The other, slightly more nerdy but equally important reason for me finding this visit so interesting is due to the timely manner in which it is all taking place. In a way, I see it as serving as an important secondary ‘entry event’ for the class project.
The students have generally been interested in the work they’ve been doing, and the previous session (hook lesson) where we walked through the garden to do a health-check on some of the plants seemed to work well. However it has been a bit of a struggle to get the project chugging along as well as I thought it might have been. I’ll get to some of the trickier stuff later, but for now I’d like to focus on this idea of a second entry event.
I’ve been reading PBL in the Elementary Grades over the last couple of weeks as I try to better understand the whole process of working through PBL with primary students, particularly those in the younger years, as I’m currently working with a year 2 class. It’s been pretty helpful, and also quite reassuring as I seem to be working through PBL in a very similar manner to that set out in the book.
What I found interesting, and something that Ashleigh pointed out to me via text message as we discussed the project the other night, was the suggestion that sometimes a single entry event may not be enough to get K-2 students completely ‘hooked’ on the project. Sometimes students in this age group might need more hands on experience in order to fully understand and become interested in what it is they will be doing.
One of the major reasons offered for this is that the long time-frame for some projects might make it harder for younger students to think about creating and presenting a product for (what may seem to them) a largely intangible, distant event in the far future.
When I think about myself discussing the prospect of running a farmers’ market with year 2 at the end of term, I think it’s perfectly reasonable to suggest that for some of the students I may as well be talking about going to the movies in the summer holidays. It’s just such a long way away.
To be fair, the project is broken into 3 smaller/shorter contributing projects, but I think that the duration of even these smaller projects may be difficult for some of the students to adequately comprehend.
The above mentioned book suggests to let the students explore the topic through some hands on work before getting to the challenging work of creating and presenting a product, and I think that’s largely where I may have gone wrong. Sure, I’ve been spending time out in the garden with the students, but mainly for less hands on activities focused on looking at plants for the purpose of producing some video interviews.
Don’t get me wrong, I think they’ve been learning from what they’ve been doing, particularly about structuring their compostions for a particular audience, but I guess we’re just all itching to get our hands dirty.
I’m really looking forward to the visit from Community Greening tomorrow and I think (and hope) it will be the perfect way to get us all back into the garden and reignite the students’ interests in it all.
NB: I have more to say about what the class has been doing around their interview work, but that really deserves a post of its own.