The Watkinson Garden

[cross-posted at 09/10~Looking Forward]

During our conversation on climate change, Marcy Webb told me about a girl named Mary, a high school student who “…has chosen to devote her summer to sustainability. She is helping to cultivate an herb and veggie garden, on the school grounds. The goal is that the bounty from the garden will be used in the preparation of lunch meals at the school. She is maintaining a blog.”

So this post is about that blog. The blog is a diary of what she is doing to take care of the garden on a daily basis, though there is no description of why she is doing it. For that, I will trust Marcy’s description above :) I’d like to find more examples of initiatives like these to share with my students, not to mention to remind me about everything that continues to inspire me as a teacher.

Do you know of any? Please share!

Here is a sample from Mary’s blog, Watkinson Garden:

Day 14!

Today I went to school and spent my time weeding along the entrance. I also deadheaded flowers around campus, once again there was no reason to water the plants because the rain we have been having.

Very simple gestures that make such an impact.

Residential Schools Apology: Toward a Positive Future in Canada

**Aug. 19/08. My thoughts on this apology are shifting. See the progression here**
Yesterday afternoon I sat in my car with tears rolling down my face as I listened to words of healing in our government’s apology to First Nations, Metis, and Inuit peoples in Canada for residential schooling, and in the various responses to the apology.

Connie Brooks in a letting go ceremony

image from…Connie Brooks, who attended the Shubenacadie Residential School in the early 1960s, during a “Letting Go” ceremony in Shubenacadie, N.S., on Wednesday. (Mike Dembeck/Canadian Press)

Here is some of that response, a country in conversation.

Reaction to apology video on cbc

As a teacher who works with First Nations students (Mohawk from Kahnawake) I was moved by the sense of hope for the future that this conversation holds for all of us, together. And by the simple humility it is to give and accept an apology.

For more information about how this conversation got going, take a look at this cbc site

homework revolution

I just read a post by Elona Hartjes at Teachers at Risk on homework and came across this wonderful twist on homework:

I like Damion Frye’s approach to homework. He teaches grade nine, and for the last three years has been assigning homework to parents. Yes, that’s right. He’s been giving homework to parents. So how does this work? Well, students work on assignments in class, and then parents are expected to respond to their child’s work via an on-line blog or email. If parents don’t do the homework, it can affect the student’s grade. Why give homework if it isn’t going to count. He believes that involving parents in their children’s education improves the children’s educational experience. Frye says that parents complain they never see their kids’ school work. Now because of his homework policy, parents know exactly what their kids are doing , at least in his class.

When I think of it, most of the homework I have ever assigned has been for parents anyway! It makes so much sense to make this purposeful. Involving parents instead of merely appeasing them is much more relevant to student learning and success.

My students work really hard during the day in school. They take work home when, really, they’ve been goofing of during the day or if they have preparation to do in studying for an evaluation situation. I have no control over work that goes home. So in the past, when parents complained that there was no homework, I sent home ‘busy work’.

Lately, I have been doing something a bit different. The homework I give my students has to do with gaining exposure to the world around them (by watching, listening to, or reading the local news) and conversation with their families, as part of the homework is to report on a conversation they had about something that happened in the news.

I really like Damion Frye’s idea, as presented by Elona above. I have at least 2 students in my class who do not have computers at home, so I need to think about that. Though they can certainly go to the local library or even come by school to complete the assignment…(don’t mind me, thinking out loud here ;) )

Thanks for the idea Elona and Damion!

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New Wiki –> TeachingFutures

turn your head

A while ago I created a post in response to recurring themes I was seeing in many blogs around creating change in our schools towards authentic, meaningful learning situations for our students and teachers.

Here is that post.

Today I finally got around to creating a wiki to continue the conversation (thanks to John Brandt for the reminder).

I’ve called it TeachingFutures and am inviting all of my wonderful readers to join and add to the conversation. I think I made it public to join, but if it isn’t, post a comment asking for an invite.

As you can probably tell from that last line, I am a wikinewbie and will be relying on your help to make this one work for us :)

Here’s a question – I have added a page, but it does not appear as a tab…is it supposed to? Will it only appear if I create a link to it from a main page? I went to edit the ‘home’ page but did not seem to have the option to keep the welcome content there, which describes a bit about how a wiki works. I’d like to keep that there for any other wikinewbies who may need it. I did manage to create a link from the menu side bar, though…woohoo!

So, to see the new page (and discussion) I started, click on the sidebar link called ‘Discovery’ when you get there.

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