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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.


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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
Bias Minimization Satisfactory
  • Allows students to explore the subsistence farmers' points of view
  • NGO intervenors' points of view are missing
Bias Minimization: Presents as many different points of view as necessary to fairly address the issue(s).
Multiple Dimensions of Problems & Solutions Good
Multiple Dimensions of Problems & Solutions:

The resource effectively addresses multiple dimensions of problems and solutions. These should include the environmental, economic and social dimensions of the issue(s) being explored.

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 problems is respected. A systems-thinking approach is encouraged.
Action Experience Satisfactory
Action Experience: Provides opportunities for authentic action experiences in which students can work to make positive change in their communities.
  • Poor = action activities poorly developed
  • Satisfactory = action opportunities are extensions instead of being integral to the main part of the activity
Action Skills Poor/Not considered
Action Skills: Explicitly teaches the skills needed for students to take effective action (e.g. letter-writing, consensus-building, etc.).
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: Actively encourages a personal affinity with non-humans and with Earth. For example, this may involve practical and respectful experiences out-of-doors.
Locally-Focused Good
Locally-Focused: Encourages learning that is locally-focused/made concrete in some way and is relevant to the lives of the learners.
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.

Interdisciplinary and Multidisciplinary Learning Very Good
Interdisciplinary and Multidisciplinary Learning: Multidisciplinary= addresses a number of different subjects Interdisciplinary= integrated approach that blurs subject lines Good: The resource provides opportunities for learning in a number of traditional 'subject' areas (eg. Language Arts, Science, Math, Art, etc.). Very Good: The resource takes an integrated approach to teaching that blurs the lines between subject boundaries.
Discovery Learning Satisfactory
Discovery Learning:

Learning activities are constructed so that students discover and build knowledge for themselves and develop largely on their own an understanding of concepts, principles and relationships. They often do this by wrestling with questions, and/or solving problems by exploring their environment, and/or physically manipulating objects and/or performing experiments.

  • Satisfactory = Students are provided with intriguing questions, materials to use & some direction on how to find answers. The learning involves unique experience & provides some opportunity for an 'ah-hah' event
  • Good = Students are provided with intriguing questions, materials to use, & make their own decisions on how to find answers. The learning involves unique experience & provides definite opportunity for an 'ah-hah' event.
  • Very Good = Students choose what questions to investigate as well as the materials/strategies to use to answer them.
Values Clarification 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 Clarification: Students are explicitly provided with opportunities to identify, clarify and express their own beliefs/values.
  • Poor = Students are not explicitly given an opportunity to clarify their own values.
  • Satisfactory = Students are given a formal opportunity to clarify their own values. The range of perspectives in the resource is limited, therefore, students do not have an appropriate amount of information to clarify their own values.
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 learning styles/different intelligences. They teach to both cognitive and affective domains. Accommodations are suggested for people with learning difficulties.
Experiential Learning Satisfactory
Experiential Learning: Direct, authentic experiences are used.
  • Satisfactory = simulation
  • Good = authentic experience
  • Very Good = authentic experience related to the primary goal of the lesson
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 used. Case studies are thorough descriptions of real events in real situations that can be used to examine 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.