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Creating a Three Sisters Garden

Elementary, Middle

Description

Students investigate the Native tradition of planting beans, corn and squash together, or what was commonly referred to as "Three Sisters", as they explore gardening and planting. Students will:

  • plant an indoor or outdoor Three Sisters Garden and maintain it
  • harvest and dry their own seeds
  • study folklore and legend associated with this trio of plants
  • experiment with different planting techniques
  • participate in a variety of nutrition lessons
  • develop their own quality questions relating to plants and gardening

General Assessment

What skills does this resource explicitly teach?

This resource explicitly teaches:

  • how to plant a Three Sisters garden
  • why the three plants compliment one another
  • how to harvest and save the seeds from these plants
  • how to grow the plants indoors
  • the history behind the Three Sisters garden

Strengths

  • The resource is thorough and easy to use.
  • The package offers an abundance of resources for teachers in the form of websites, reviews and articles.
  • Activities are hands-on and locally focused and will engage a variety of types of learners.
  • The resource does a good job of identifying, the past, and the present.
  • The resource provides an abundance of extension activities for students.
  • Students are given an opportunity to formulate their own questions, and investigate their answers.

Weaknesses

  • Assessment methods are not provided for students or teachers.
  • The complexity of issues relating to gardening are not addressed.
  • Opportunities for nterdisciplinary teaching methods are not developed.

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Themes Addressed

  • Indigenous Knowledge (1)

    • Rituals, Spirituality and Worldviews
  • Land Use & Natural Resources (1)

    • Planting Native Species

Sustainability Education Principles

Principle Rating Explanation
Consideration of Alternative Perspectives Good
  • Students explore traditional Aboriginal gardening strategies for planting Three Sisters gardens, and explore some modern day supplements.
Consideration of Alternative Perspectives:
  • Satisfactory: absence of bias towards any one point of view
  • Good: students consider different points of view regarding issues, problems discussed
  • Very good: based on the consideration of different views, students form opinions and  take an informed position
Multiple Dimensions of Problems & Solutions Satisfactory
  • Students have the opportunity to address some problems and solutions associated with their own Three Sisters Garden.
Multiple Dimensions of Problems & Solutions:

Effectively addresses the environmental, economic and social dimensions of the issue(s) being explored.

  • Satisfactory: resource supports the examination of  these dimensions
  • Good:  resource explicitly examines the interplay of these dimensions
  • Very Good:  a systems-thinking approach is encouraged to examine these three dimensions
Respects Complexity Satisfactory
  • The history of Three Sisters Gardening, as well as preparing the garden for planting is simplified for the students.  Students do not address larger more complex issues related to gardening, pesticides, or local food production.
Respects Complexity:

The complexity of the problems/issues being discussed is respected.

Acting on Learning Good
  • Students plant a Three Sisters Garden and harvest the bounty.
Acting on Learning:

Learning moves from understanding  issues  to working towards positive change — in personal lifestyle, in school, in the community,  or for the planet

  • Satisfactory: action opportunities are included as extensions 
  • Good: action opportunities are core components of the resource
  • Very Good: action opportunities for students are well supported and intended to result in observable, positive change
Values Education Satisfactory
  • As students are involved in authentic activities out of doors, they will begin to clarify their own values, although they are limited in the appropriate amount of background information that is provided regarding different methods of planting and Aboriginal traditions.
Values Education:

Students are explicitly provided with opportunities to identify, clarify and express their own beliefs/values.

Empathy & Respect for Humans Good
Empathy & Respect for Humans: Empathy and respect are fostered for diverse groups of humans (including different genders, ethnic groups, sexual preferences, etc.).
Personal Affinity with Earth Good
Personal Affinity with Earth:

Encourages a personal affinity with -the natural world.  

  • Satisfactory: connection is made to the natural world
  • Good: fosters appreciation/concern for the natural world
  • Very Good: fosters stewardship though practical and respectful experiences out-of-doors 
Locally-Focused Learning Good
Locally-Focused Learning:

Includes learning experiences that take advantage of issues/elements within the local community. 

  • Satisfactory: learning is made relevant to the lives of the learners
  • Good: learning is made relevant and has a local focus
  • Very Good: learning is made relevant, local and takes place ‘outside’ , in the community 
Past, Present & Future Good
Past, Present & Future: Promotes an understanding of the past, a sense of the present, and a positive vision for the future.

Pedagogical Approaches

Principle Rating Explanation
Open-Ended Instruction Satisfactory
  • The initial planting of the Three Sisters garden is quite structured and teacher directed, but once the garden has been established students explore and question on their own.
Open-Ended Instruction :

Lessons are structured so that multiple/complex answers are possible; students are not steered toward one 'right' answer.

Integrated Learning Satisfactory
  • The opportunity for interdisciplinary learning is present within this resource, but not fully explored.
Integrated Learning:

Learning brings together content and skills  from more than one  subject area

  • Satisfactory: content from a number of different  subject areas is readily identifiable
  • Good:  resource is appropriate for use in more than one subject area
  • Very Good:  the lines between subjects are blurred 
Inquiry Learning Satisfactory
  • The original planting and maintaining of the Three Sisters garden is quite structured and teacher directed, but students are provided opportunities to ask questions and extend their own learning.
Inquiry Learning:

Learning is directed by questions, problems, or challenges that students work to address.   

  • Satisfactory: Students are provided with questions/problems to solve and some direction on how to arrive at solutions.
  • Good: students, assisted by the teacher clarify the question(s) to ask and the process to follow to arrive at solutions.  Sometimes referred to as Guided Inquiry
  • Very Good:  students generate the questions and assume much of the responsibility for how to solve them.  . Sometimes referred to as self-directed learning.

 

Differentiated Instruction Good
Differentiated Instruction:

Activities address a range of student learning styles, abilities and readiness.

  • Satisfactory:  includes a variety of instructional approaches
  • Good: addresses  the needs of visual, auditory &  kinesthetic learners
  • Very Good: also includes strategies for learners with difficulties
Experiential Learning Good
Experiential Learning:

Authentic learning experiences are provided

  • Satisfactory: learning takes place through ‘hands-on’ experience or simulation
  • Good: learning involves direct experience in a ‘real world context’
  • Very good: learning involves ‘real world experiences’ taking place’ beyond the school walls.
Cooperative Learning Satisfactory
  • Students have the opportunity to work in groups, but are not explicitly taught cooperative learning strategies.
Cooperative Learning:

Group and cooperative learning strategies are a priority.

  • Satisfactory:  students work in groups
  • Good: cooperative learning skills are explicitly taught and practiced
  • Very Good: cooperative learning skills are explicitly taught, practiced and assessed
Assessment & Evaluation Poor/Not considered
  • Assessment strategies are not provided.
Assessment & Evaluation: Tools are provided that help students and teachers to capture formative and summative information about students' learning and performance. These tools may include reflection questions, checklists, rubrics, etc.
Peer Teaching Satisfactory
  • Incidental teaching arises through group work and discussion, but there are no authentic opportunities for students to share their work with peers or adults.
Peer Teaching:

Provides opportunities for students to actively present their knowledge and skills to peers and/or act as teachers and mentors.

  • Satisfactory: incidental teaching that arises from cooperative learning, presentations, etc.
  • Good or Very Good: an opportunity is intentionally created to empower students to teach other students/community members. The audience is somehow reliant on the students' teaching (students are not simply ‘presenting')
Case Studies Satisfactory
  • Some background information is provided relating to Three Sisters gardens, but no thorough case studies.
Case Studies:

Relevant case studies are included.  Case studies are thorough descriptions of real events from real situations that students use to explore  concepts in an authentic context.

Locus of Control Good
Locus of Control: Meaningful opportunities are provided for students to choose elements of program content, the medium in which they wish to work, and/or to go deeper into a chosen issue.