Below is an overview of my work at the Irvington High School’s Gardening Club. The work focused on introducing teachers and students to various concepts around mulching and how mulching could help enhance the overall soil health of their outdoor classroom. Other topics included weed identification: why some plants are desirable to have in the garden, and why others aren’t, as well as themes around beneficial insects, specifically, bees and butterflies and the role they play on the health of the plants located in the garden.
The work was scaffolded so that all the activities built on prior student-led and focused events. Students were often prompted with a few tasks, letting them have the ownership to decide as a group what jobs they wanted to work on and what new concepts they wanted to apply to their work in the garden.
The end goal of the 6-weeks of work was to have the teachers feel confident that they could continue to sequence out students’ prior learning and see their work in the garden not as a one-off project, but as a continuation of prior learning that focused more on the overall maintenance of the garden. The main activities were targeted around weeding, mulching, watering, note-taking on how many beneficial insects were spotted, and how many solitary bees are in the pollinator hotel. Through this process, a healthy routine was established that would allow teachers and students to have continued time on task with the concepts mentioned previously.