Over the course of the 2012-2013 school year, the AVID Class at Mark Twain Middle School in Venice, CA worked with inquiry (a style of learning characterized by questioning and the purpose of the AVID program) to decipher what it takes to create and maintain their school garden. This process involved several different levels of information and included interviews with primary sources and research:
A. The Political Process – How did the garden get built in the first place? Who came up with the idea? Who put the process in motion and how did they begin? From whom did they have to get approvals? How long did the process take? What are the steps in starting a school garden?
B. The Production Process – Once the project was approved, how did they map out and build the garden? Where did they get the funding? How did they decide what would be included? What were the steps in preparation, buying the plants, etc. Who is the person who is overall in charge of the garden?
C. The Maintenance Process – Once the garden was built, who ran it? What does it take to run a garden on a daily basis? Where do they get the funding? What does it take to start a garden? How do you harvest the yield? What do you do with what you’ve harvested?
D. The Teaching Process – How do I teach others to build a garden at their school? What is the most effective way to communicate with adults and/or other students? How do I create a video tutorial? What tools do I need to do that? How can I know that the new students have learned how to build the garden? What can I do to motivate others to believe that this is important?
– Every Monday, students worked in groups to research and do inquiry on the steps that this process required. Overall, at the end of the process (May), students were able to explain why and how the garden was built, what it takes to maintain a garden, important information that other students should know and were able to teach students at other schools how to go through the process.
– Every Tuesday, students worked hands on in the garden, where they got their hands dirty, nurtured the garden and too Cornell notes on the physical work that they did, in order to be able to teach other students how to start a garden.
– At the end of the process, the class had created the following items:
- A video tutorial on starting and maintaining a school garden to distribute to other schools across LAUSD
- A packet of handouts which provides visual and written explanations of the process
- A dictionary of academic language necessary for understanding the tutorial