• Observe some Herbs Lesson

    Posted by Park Guthrie on 6/3/2014
    The pictures below were taken at the Think College Now/International Community School Kindergarten yard. Danielle, a FoodCorps member, led the kindergarteners on a multi-sensory exploration of the portable herb bed. Students loved the chance to actually pick a leaf. 
    Thepicture of the chart shows the observations students made in each of 3 senses---sight, touch, and smell.  
    With small, pull-out groups, sometimes all you need to do garden-ed is a portable planter with some herbs. Portable herb planters lower the complexity of garden-ed infrastructure, but in the right circumstances they can still provide much of the hands-on, tactile, olfactory, and even culinary benefits of more complex gardens.  Perennial, Mediterranean herbs like sage, rosemary, oregano, and thyme are especially good choices for "low-fuss" garden ed infrastructure because they are especially resilient plants. Since they evolved in a Mediterranean climate like our own, they do fine in with long, dry summers and relative neglect. In addition, herbs provide lots of curricular flexibility. You can harvest them nearly year-round so any cooking lesson can include at least some student-grown products. Just one small leaf or rosemary needle provides students a rich sensory experience. Finally, they have a large flowering window and attract pollinators so they are a good living specimen to illustrate concepts in plant life-cycle and ecosystems. 
    Danielle recorded student responses to observations of each herb on this chart. Icons of the eye, hand, and nose represent the senses of sight, touch, and smell. The question mark column is where Danielle tallied student votes for favorite herb.

    Using icons helps kindergarteners understand how Danielle is using the chart to organize observation and data...an important model as they build their own literacy skills..This modeling could support student work towards the literacy standard below:

    Sort common objects into categories (e.g., shapes, foods) to gain a sense of the concepts the categories represent. 
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  • Hoover Elementary School Garden Program: Update May 2014

    Posted by Written by Cassie Barr and edited by Park Guthrie on 5/21/2014

    OUSD School Garden Volunteer Cassie Barr visited the Hoover School Garden in May 2014 and interviewed Ali Goldstein the Hoover Garden Educator. Thank you for this report, Cassie!

    History and Funding of the Hoover Garden Program: In the 2011-12 school year, Ali Goldstein was an Americorps member working in the Hoover Elementary afterschool program. Ali decided to clean up and use the abandoned garden at the southwest corner of the school, near the kindergarten classrooms. During this year, Ali used the garden to teach afterschool classes. At the end of that year, Ali asked the principal to support a school day garden program. In 2012-13 and 2013-2014, the principal was able to use a small amount of site funds to pay for her salary so she could teach garden education during the school day. Due to the success of the program, the principal will continue funding the program for the 2014-2015 school year.


    Reach and Structure of the Program: A total of 315 Hoover students participate in the garden education program---grades Kindergarten through 5th. Ali works with groups of 15 students for about 40 minutes at a time. Currently, students in grades K-2 learn in the garden classroom every other week; 3rd to 5th grade students learn every week in the garden classroom. Next year, all of the grades will learn in the garden classroom every week.

              In addition to the 18 school day garden classes each week, Ali teaches 4 afterschool garden classes on Tuesdays and Wednesdays. 


    Curricular Focus: Garden classes at Hoover are standard’s based, but also hands-on and experiential. Ali's curriculum focuses on eco-literacy, respect and appreciation for the environment, and food choices. Ali also uses the garden classroom to reinforce FOSS science concepts the students have explored indoors. The children gain a sense of agency and ownership through planning the garden and stewarding it. Ali’s students also participate in service learning and give food to community members, the school cafeteria, and a senior center. Finally, every grade does a big cooking project.


    Garden Design and Infrastructure: The garden is beautiful with large and interesting raised beds with flowers, herbs and vegetables intertwined. There is a large fig tree, a fence covered with grapes and a large group of purple tree collards at the end of the garden next to a large garden table. The teaching area has 4 benches in a rectangular shape where the children sit. There is a dry erase board on a portable easel at the end for the teacher to write on. Some of the benches are shaded by a mature maple tree and some palm fronds Ali wove into the corner of the fence.


         There are 8 raised beds with rainbow chard, mustard, fava beans, buckwheat, arugula, potatoes, carrots, lettuce, radishes, sunflowers, beets, snap peas and wheat. The flowers in the beds were: comfrey, California poppies, sunflowers, bachelor buttons, viola, cosmos, morning glory, nasturtiums, and penstemons. The herbs include thyme, borage, mint, sage, and rosemary. Fruit trees include: a fig tree, a persimmon, an apple and a citrus tree. There is drip irrigation set up in the beds, but Ali must turn it on manually. The garden needs secure tool storage.


    Sustainability of the Program: To ensure the sustainability of the garden program at Hoover, Ali has worked hard to make the garden program relevant to indoor classroom curriculum. Because there is such resonance between student learning in the outdoor classroom and student learning in the indoor classroom, it is easier for the principal and school site council to commit funds to support the garden program. The garden-program has also become an important part of the overall school culture. For the past two years, Ali has coordinated grade-level service-learning projects with garden-education and FOSS curriculum. Last year, student presentation from the garden-ed program were the centerpiece of the Hoover STEM-posium. In addition, Ali has cultivated a large network of external supporters. For example, she recruits volunteer interns from Urban Adamah to support her classes and she’s a founder and steering committee member of the West Oakland Outdoor Science Collaborative (WOOSC) a group advancing the vision of robust outdoor science and garden education programs across the region.




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