Grant-funded garden project nurtures learning, relationships; Schools of Character award opportunity; an Election project for secondary level students
From the News Desk
August 1, 2008
Outdoors and Learning While Planting Gardens
By Ami Neiberger-Miller
Grant Gets Youngsters and Volunteers Outdoors & Learning
You’re never too young to make a difference. At the Martin Luther King, Jr. Elementary School in Washington, D.C., elementary schoolers of all ages celebrated World Environment Day by planting a school garden.
While some students were digging holes and placing plants in the ground, others did the PLT activity, Schoolyard Safari. “I learned that you can find lots of animals if you just take time to look,” said a fifth grader. The fourth graders had a similar experience, with one student noting, “I liked when we found all the different insects in the tree stump because I didn’t know you could find so many things there!”
The activities made a big impression on the students. “Planting was fun and I learned how the soil makes the plants grow,” said a third grader. The project impacted the adult volunteers too. “Today has been an eye-opener for me,” said Eric Felton, a volunteer from HSBC. “It’s made me appreciate what you can do to help beautify an area.”
“This was an important event for our students. It let them see they could work together, set goals for themselves and follow directions,” said Netosh Jones, a third grade teacher at the school.
The pre-K through fifth grade students worked alongside volunteers from HSBC Bank USA, N.A. and the community to prepare areas for planting, place plants for a sensory garden and create walking paths. The sensory garden will help students use their sight, hearing, smell, touch and taste senses to interact with nature.
An unused section of the schoolyard is being transformed into a green learning laboratory. In the fall, students will get their hands dirty as they add more plants and maintain the garden. They will learn about the environment, plants and urban ecosystems. Reading and writing skills will improve as they make journal entries and study plants. Their math skills will help them monitor weather and plant growth. The project will also provide service learning opportunities to students of all ages.
In addition to being a vehicle for learning, the garden will also help the community. Shrubs and perennials in the garden will buffer street noise, dust and pollution. The plantings will also help reduce runoff from the site, protecting valuable drinking water.
A $10,000 grant from HSBC Bank USA, N.A. to PLT’s GreenWorks! Service learning grants program funded the project, and it’s also part of the bank’s Greening the Capital City: One Schoolyard at a Time.
The project is organized by Project Learning Tree, which is part of the American Forest Foundation’s Center for Environmental Learning.
National Schools of Character Awards
From PEN Weekly NewsBlast
The National Schools of Character Awards program identifies exemplary schools and districts to serve as models for others and helps schools and districts improve their efforts in effective character education. Maximum Award: $2,000. Eligibility: To be eligible, a school must have been engaged in character education for a minimum of three full years, starting no later than December 2006 for the 2009 awards. Districts need to have been engaged in character education for a minimum of four full years, starting no later than December 2005. Smaller administrative units that maintain a separate identity within a large district may apply in the district category -- for example, a school pyramid or cluster. Deadline: Dec. 8, 2008.
Presidential Election Simulation: A School-Wide Interdisciplinary Program
Helen M. Joyce,retired social studies teacher in New Hampshire,has created an interdisciplinary election project for High School students and is available to train other educators to implement the project in their schools. According to Ms. Joyce “Elections” is designed as an elective for 11-12th grade. Organized as a semester length 4x4 block schedule, it could also be run in traditional 55-minute classes.
Joyce says, “The beauty of this course is that there is a role for every student and very specific responsibilities that are attached to those roles The key element in the early lessons is to determine what each student’s strengths are, thereby assigning them the appropriate jobs and, secondly, to determine what their political affiliations might be. By having them fill out an interest and talent inventory, they are able to see for themselves how their skills match the aforementioned roles. They are further surveyed, using Kamber and O’Leary’s “The Political Quiz Show” and other instruments to determine where they stand in terms of party affiliation. Once both have been ascertained, the teacher can then proceed to assign students to various campaigns and specific roles within those campaigns.”
Helen Joyce’s published program includes lesson plans which specifically target integrating the Elections class with other departments. For free program materials email her at email@example.com
To learn more about Helen Joyce’s Election project, read her National Council for the Social Studies article, “A Presidential Election Simulation: Creating A School-Wide Interdisciplinary Program” http://members.ncss.org/se/7202/720295.pdf