Integrated Studies: Gardening, Obesity, Open Source Learning

In Synergy we have six groups working on community issues: obesity, cafeteria design and cleanliness, Nancy Creek, designing a fair to raise awareness for Habitat for Humanity, sleep, and graffiti.

How do we create a movement to raise awareness?  How do we connect people to work for a common cause?  How do we learn from one another?  (All good questions critical to Synergy success.)

Listen to Roger Doiron, the founder of Kitchen Gardeners International:

Could you pick out the essential learnings from many areas of school?  Economics, persuasive writing, biology, arithmetic, algebra, geometry,  environmental science, and more, right?  Did you catch how he used social media to promote his agenda?

How much space does the White House vegetable garden require on the lawn?  How much would it cost to buy the plants to grown in this garden?

Suppose you don’t have that much space to dedicate to a garden?  How much space do you have?  How much would the plants you need for your garden cost?  What plants should you grow?  How will you determine the nutrients needed to amend your soil?  Will you eat more vegetables if you grow them yourself?  Will you save money by growing some of your food?

Live in an apartment?  Don’t like dirt?  Interested in having a garden in your classroom? Got a window? Want to see “Learn and Share” open-source collaboration in action? Listen to Britta Riley talk about Windowfarms, vertical hydroponic platforms for growing food in city windows:

What could we learn if we built the latest windowfarm design, the V3.0, the Modular Airlift Multicolumn Array?

Increasing intake of healthy food is one way to fight obesity.  I wonder if our teams can find threads to connect their projects – could they choose to work in their interest for a common cause?  Could the Nancy Creek team raise awareness of how to care for Nancy Creek and advocate for a healthier lifestyle at the same time? Would they consider creating exercise information stations along the trail that follows Nancy Creek? Is there a link between the appropriate and necessary amount of sleep, exercise, and health?  How could the spring fair team plan to advocate for all Habitat Houses to have a garden in the backyard?  Could one team build a “getting started gardening” resource guide?  Could the graffiti team create a movement using art to motivate making healthier choices?

Zooming out, what can we learn about integrated studies, student choice, and interdependence?  Could we choose to work in our field of interest for a common cause?  How do we harness the power of social media to create opportunities for open-source collaboration to improve, learn, create, innovate, reflect, and revise?

About jplgough

Learner, Love Questions, Problem-finding, Math w/technology. Interests: Collaborating, PLC, Formative assmt
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5 Responses to Integrated Studies: Gardening, Obesity, Open Source Learning

  1. Bo Adams says:

    A brilliant post. There are so many layers here:

    1. Synergy project layer – resource and thinking related to Synergy projects.
    2. PBL layer – example of a project that a school could pursue.
    3. School “gardening” metaphor layer as we transform to more integrated “garden” spaces in the school house and learning commons.
    4. Communication and collaboration layer about how to leverage web 2.0 and strong messages to make a difference in the world – a movement that should include students as creators and collaborators. The two TED talks tell this underlying message so well – what can be accomplished with thoughtful, purposeful connectedness.

  2. Pingback: Tilling some soil and playing with links – some rough draft blogging to think out loud « It's About Learning

  3. jplgough says:

    Thank you, Bo. I appreciate your comment and the layers you find in my post. Thanks for thinking with me. I want our Synergy team to have experiences like the ones you’ve recently written about. In When learning is open and connected…thanks Homaro Cantu you write about how thrilling it was to have a response from Homaro Cantu. In Tilling some soil and playing with links – some rough draft blogging to think out loud we read that a comment that a 3rd grader made on the blog of an author of a book his class was reading started a process that ended up with the author having a Skype call with the student’s 3rd grade class. Isn’t this a fantastic way for our learners to have authentic tangible evidence of success?

    I think about the rich, strong questions our Synergy 8 learners ask after processing Jamie Oliver’s 2010 Ted Prize Wish. They want to know how to publicize their projects, and how to garner support from others. They also want to share what they are thinking and learning with others to join forces to work on a larger scale. How will they learn to safely and productively collaborate with others to spread their good work? How can we help them learn to navigate and harness the power of the technology that affords them such connectedness? How will we serve as their guides, co-pilots, and passengers?

  4. Brian White says:

    Connectedness might not come immediately and you may never know your effect or place in it. I might have been involved in windowfarms before I even knew it!
    “Jackson” checked out the airlift pump videos on youtube before doing his own (excellent) experiment on a different video service. He suggested airlift to Britta and now the bulk of windowfarmers use it.
    (One of my “pulser pump” videos on youtube is the most watched “airlift pump” video in the world, so he might have seen it before doing his experiment). I contacted Jackson and he did not know that Britta had mentioned him OR that he had such a fundamental effect on the windowfarms movement!
    Eileen (also mentioned in Britta’s video) suggested a pulser pump nano. Although I couldn’t test the concept, I did test a nano airlift pump. This opens up the possibility for very cheap deep well pumps run by foot bellows! (But first someone has to collaborate my results). I think one of the keys to connectedness is actively taking on other people’s ideas and testing them and making them better. Britta does it, Jackson does it, Eileen does it and I think I do it too. Join in! Try something out, don’t expect instant gratification. Maybe in 1 year or 5 you will be very pleasantly surprised by what others built on your foundation.
    Brian

  5. jplgough says:

    I think one of the keys to connectedness is actively taking on other people’s ideas and testing them and making them better. Britta does it, Jackson does it, Eileen does it and I think I do it too. Join in! Try something out, don’t expect instant gratification. Maybe in 1 year or 5 you will be very pleasantly surprised by what others built on your foundation.

    Great, great point, Brian. Thanks!

    A couple of our Synergy student-learners teams are working on projects that they will not finish by the end of the semester. Your advice to be patient and watch your work grow is excellent advice for all of us! I will certainly pass it on.

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