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Farming for the Future

Secondary, Middle

Description

Prior to the main simulation activity that deals with small scale, family farming in African villages, students are asked to discuss personal experiences of farming and hunger and to define food security, subsistence farming and malnutrition.

Through the simulation activity, students experience the challenges, decisions and impacts that subsistence farmers in the developing world face. In "village" groups, students decide which crops they will plant over two seasons, during which time they are randomly assigned dry and wet years. These conditions engender various food yields that may result in subsistence living or malnutrition and illness.

Following this simulation, thought-provoking questions are provided for students to generate discussion about subsistence farming issues such as malnutrition, illness and labor shortages.

Writing connection options are provided on agricultural practices and food security in a developing country, where your food comes from and how it reaches the supermarket, and the affect of international trade agreements on subsistence farmers and western consumers.

Finally, three action projects are suggested: define your "foodshed" by finding out what foods are grown in your region; research community supported agriculture and team up with a local food bank to develop a cook book.

General Assessment

Strengths

  • The simulations enables students to empathize with the plight of subsistence farmers and villagers
  • The resource is engaging and most of the elements (worksheets and cards)are provided to conduct the activities
  • The resource is very strong on interdisciplinary learning and provides all the elements of a systems thinking approach
  • Many supporting resources are suggested and there is a good choice of locally-focused extension activities.

Weaknesses

  • The resource may have benefitted from a case study that presents multiple stakeholders in agricultural development i.e. NGO intervenors, local officials, farming co-op representatives etc.


What skills does this resource explicitly teach?

  • The resource teaches systems thinking about solutions to hunger, malnutrition and subsistence farming in developing countries.

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Themes Addressed

  • Food & Agriculture (2)

    • Food Security
    • Subsistence Farming
  • Human Health & Environment (1)

    • Hunger and Malnutrition

Sustainability Education Principles

Principle Rating Explanation
Consideration of Alternative Perspectives Satisfactory
  • Allows students to explore the subsistence farmers' points of view
  • NGO intervenors' points of view are missing
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 Good
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 Very Good
  • Introduces the interaction of dry and wet years, geo-political, environmental, economic and population impact factors and developmental solutions.
Respects Complexity:

The complexity of the problems/issues being discussed is respected

Acting on Learning Satisfactory
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 Very Good
  • Fundamentally, this resource is about overcoming hunger and subsistence farming. Students are put in touch with their personal experiences of these concerns through an introductory activity.
Values Education:

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

Empathy & Respect for Humans Good
  • Explores challenges of subsistence farmers
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 Poor/Not considered
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 Satisfactory
  • The past is not considered.
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 Good
Open-Ended Instruction :

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

Integrated Learning Very Good
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
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 Satisfactory
  • The resource mostly asks for cognitive processing but there are affective elements to the activities. There are opportunities for basic mathematical operations. Accommodations are not provided for people with learning difficulties.
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 Satisfactory
Experiential Learning:

Authentic learning experiences are provided

  •  Satisfactory: learning is made concrete. Working with real objects,  using real sources of information
  • Good: learning takes place in a real-world context. Simulation, mentorship
  • Very good: learning provides experience beyond the classroom.  Addressing real world issues and problems 
Cooperative Learning Satisfactory
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 Good
  • Reflection questions and a worksheet table are 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
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 Poor/Not considered
  • The resource may have benefited from a case study that presents multiple stakeholders in agricultural development i.e. NGO intervenors, local officials, farming co-op representatives etc.
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
  • These opportunities exist outside the main activity through the suggested Writing Connections and Action Projects.
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.