I sat down and explained my dilemmas about my ImagineIT project to my colleagues. They had a lot of great suggestions for me. The feedback that I received about the community and the fear of how the garden would have crops stolen included adding inspirational quotes on planting beds or just around the garden to deter anyone from stealing the crops from the garden, enforcing visiting hours to the garden, having a community ribbon cutting event so that the community becomes aware of the importance and purpose of the garden, and also have community dedication plaques for community members who have passed away so the garden could feel more like it belonged to the community instead of the school. They also gave me suggestions on my second dilemma of diverse learners. They suggested I focused on student’s strengths and allow them to flourish in that aspect of the lessons. It was also suggested giving those students basic lessons on the IPad that focused on the basic parts of a plant and food chains and ecosystems. Another suggestion was to create a folder for those students with student leveled work or have them buddy up with a partner.
My focus group of students also gave me suggestions on these two dilemmas. They suggested creating a greenhouse for all crops that allowed the community to see what was growing inside but keeping it locked so that all crops would remain secure. They also suggested designating a day each month where crops would be distributed to the community to make it fair that the entire community would benefit from the garden. My students also suggested to have the community all come together to help build the garden so that the community all felt like the garden belonged to them and maybe they would then take care of the garden. When the discussion turned to making sure diverse learners were still taking part in the learning process, students suggested giving the diverse learners easier work so that they were still responsible for completing and learning their own work. They did not like being buddied up with the diverse learners because they said they did not mind helping but the students would depend on them to do all of the work and they would just listen and not participate in the group discussions.
Reflecting on the feedback and suggestions from colleagues and students I have decided to combine some of both groups ideas. I love the idea of building a greenhouse, this way the community can still admire the garden but the crops would still be able to be secure and keep the goal of benefitting the community by distributing the crops on a monthly basis. I will also have the students to come up with different inspirational sayings to hang around the garden with hopes that it will inspire the community. Incorporating the community in the construction process with a final ribbon cutting ceremony explaining the importance of the garden is something that I will also incorporate into the community garden so that the community is aware of the goal of the garden and know that the garden will belong to them just as much as it will belong to the school. When it comes to my diverse learners, I will modify lessons that are at level for all students and then at level for my diverse learners by finding activities that they can work on with the IPad and also at level work in individual folders, this way they are still getting the lesson at grade level, then at their individual levels so they will not feel any different from the rest of the class. The only change that I will not make is to buddy the students up. I chose to not buddy up the students because I want all of the students to become independent thinkers and learners who do not have to rely on others to give them information.
What surprised me was the greenhouse idea that students came up with. They wanted the community to still be able to see the beauty of the crops but also stressed that they wanted to make sure the every one got a chance to reap the harvest of the garden so they wanted to give back by distributing the goods. I was very proud of this idea that came from my students. I was also shocked to hear why they did not want to buddy up with peers. They told me that they did not mind helping their peers, but they also felt like their peers were not learning because they depended on them to just give them the answer or they would become frustrated with them not getting it so they would just do the work and write both of their names to get it done. Each focus group gave me ideas of including the community in the process and this was my goal to bring the community together but have my students learn about science in the natural world through social change in the process.