Permaculture Project

Permaculture Project

 Permaculture 

“permanent agriculture,” “permanent culture,” designing and implementing sustainable systems, a holistic approach to land use, which works with nature’s rhythms and patterns

 

The STAR school students have learned much about the four elements of permaculture: air, fire, water and earth, while working on their garden, the campus desert landscape, and within their school greenhouse. Several subtopics of the four elements were studied throughout the school year including the subject of soil.

Permaculture_1

First, the primary students came up with a list of questions:

1.      How do plants survive in the soil?

2.      What makes soil good or bad?

3.      Is STAR School soil dry?

4.      What temperature is it?

5.      What are the different types of soil?

6.      How does the soil make the plants grow?

7.      What types of bugs go in the soil?

8.      How do the plants “eat” the soil?

These questions were then researched
in different ways, beyond the four walls
of the classroom.

The students conducted soil research on the STAR campus within the
landscape and gardens. They found the living soil to be fascinating. Students such as Chanteal wanted to stay outside to conduct her own soil explorations
even after her cooperative group work was finished. While she examined the soil sift between her fingers, she told Ms. Richards, “I love being outside!” While the students worked on the xeriscape around the school campus, they developed a new awareness of and respect for the land.

Evaluation of the Permaculture, Gardening and Xeriscaping Work

Q: To what stage of development does the work engage students in investigation,
inquiry, and problem solving?

A: The evidence that substantiates a Progressing level includes the following:
• The list of questions is evidence of student inquiry prior to investigation.
• The images show that the students investigated soil characteristics such as soil temperature, soil types, living organisms within the soil, and identifiable organic matter.
• The teacher’s narrative evidenced that children were engaged in self-directed learning.
• This evidence also shows student interest and motivation.

Rubric One: Student Learning and Contributions
Theme: Academic Rigor of the Project

QUESTION

Beginning:
Glimmer of a New Approach

Progressing

Progressing

Advanced/GOAL:
Transforming and Sustainable

Does the work engage students in investigation, inquiry, and problem solving? The project provides one or two opportunities for students to engage in inquiry or investigation. The project provides several opportunities for students to engage in inquiry or investigation. The project provides numerous learning opportunities that engage students in problem solving, direct investigation, inquiry and analysis of data. Problem-posing and problem-solving, direct investigation, inquiry, and data analysis are seamlessly interwoven into the project’s activities.

A question to considered pertaining to the above mentioned project GOAL:


1. How can problem-posing and problem-solving, direct investigation, inquiry, and data analysis
become seamlessly interwoven into the project’s activities?

Problems and Dilemmas that Arose in Our Project
Mr. Willie taught the students how to respect the natural borders in nature by having them build rock borders around garden plots. Students such as LeBron and Lee, not only learned how to construct and respect borders, but they simultaneously became stewards of their garden. Later, they would inform visitors and schoolmates about the importance of staying on the pathway, and off of the garden plots. This is one of many indicators of how student ownership evolved in their project.

Permaculture_3

Last spring and early summer, we experienced severe drought conditions. Simultaneously, we were planting seeds, saplings, and other transplants. The significant amount of succulent growth, had a significant effect upon our chipmunk population which soon grew as it fed upon fresh, juicy plants. The students and staff brainstormed on the problem and decided upon two potential solutions: 1. Find two female cats and provide them with their shots and have them spayed. 2. Set a live trap where the chipmunks usually scamper.

Evaluation of the Permaculture, Gardening and Xeriscaping Work Theme: Process
Q: To what stage of development does the work welcome the questions and complications that arise from the work?

A: The evidence that substantiates a Maturing level includes the following:

  • The evidence does indicate that the students are open to new ideas, questions, and problems.
  • Plus, the project included some open-ended activities.
  • Much of the same community members were involved in the two dilemmas; staff and students.
  • Participants have yet to figure out how to engage with the most contentious issues in an effective way, i.e., abuse and neglect of the land, and differences of culture.

Community Learning and Contributions

QUESTION

Beginning:
Glimmer of a New Approach

Progressing

Progressing

Advanced/GOAL:
Transforming and Sustainable

Does the work welcome the questions and complications that arise from the work? The project introduces out-of-classroom work in the form of discrete, highly structured learning activities where little deviation is possible. The project includes some open-ended activities. When the project reaches its conclusion, it may be repeated with a different group of students connecting with pretty much the same community people or institutions, with positive, yet predictable results. If problems or questions arise along the way, they are not given much attention or they are treated as diversions from the “real” work. The work and its processes are open to new ideas, questions, and problems, showing a good degree of flexibility. However, participants have not yet figured out how to engage with the most contentious issues in an effective way. The work has led to the development or enhancement of a process that welcomes and encourages questions, multiple answers, and increasing complexity. The work may generate uncertainty, “mess,” conflict, or chaos, but as the work unfolds, passion and shared vision eventually guide the group to “aha!” experiences and positive results. New problems ultimately become resources.

A question to considered pertaining to the above mentioned project GOAL:

1.      How can the work lead to the development or enhancement of a process that welcomes and encourages questions, multiple answers, and increasing complexity?

2.      If the work generates uncertainty, “mess,” conflict, or chaos, how can we ensure a shared vision, “aha!” experiences, and positive results? That is, how can we transform new problems into resources and solutions that propel the work forward?

 

 

Categories: School Projects

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