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Pumpkins Against Poverty

Elementary

Description

This unique STEM learning unit teaches students that ingenuity and resourcefulness can transform communities living in poverty.  The pumpkins familiar to all of us as fall decorations become the catalyst for change in an area of Bangladesh where the annual monsoons often devastate homes and crops.  The multi-disciplinary approach uses a series of creative activities to introduce students to the following topics:

  • The geography and culture of Bangladesh.
  • Food shortage impacts.
  • The life cycle of plants.
  • The economic and and nutritional benefits of growing subsistence crops like pumpkins.
  • The social benefits of global citizenship.

General Assessment

What skills does this resource explicitly teach?

  • Geography - reading maps.
  • Responding to media.
  • Tracking nutrition.
  • Conducting experiments and data analysis.
  • Design - visual arts.
  • Citizenship.

Strengths

  • Strong multi-disciplinary approach with an emphasis on hands-on learning.
  • Includes a Powerpoint presentation to aid teachers in introducing activities.
  • All of the support materials are easily accessible.
  • Presents an excellent example of community stewardship.

Weaknesses

  • Does not include formal asessment tools.
  • Limited background information, particularly about the ecology of the region.
  • The use of written exercises to wrap up each activity may be difficult for some learners.

Recommendation of how and where to use it

The cross-curricular approach of this resource supports science investigations on plant growth and social studies outcomes related to poverty, citizenship and sustainability.  Students also use art and technology to design seed packets while health outcomes are addressed through a food diary activity and exploring vitamin content of foods.

This teaching unit also provides the framework for a classroom action project focused on nutrition and sustainability.  If a local community garden is available students could help harvest and distribute produce to low income families and seniors.  A class could also use their pumpkin recipes to prepare items for a bake sale which raises funds for the local food bank.

Relevant Curriculum Units

The following tool will allow you to explore the relevant curriculum matches for this resource. To start, select a province listed below.

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  • Alberta
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        • Exploring connections strengthens our understandings of relationships to help us make meaning of the world.
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        • Exploring connections strengthens our understandings of relationships to help us make meaning of the world.
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        • Analyzing diverse worldviews and experiences fosters our ability and willingness to live well together
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        • Active citizenship contributes to the vitality of communities that can promote pluralism among diverse people in a democratic society.
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        • Science 2: Living things have life cycles adapted to their environment
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        • Science 2: Living things have life cycles adapted to their environment
    • Grade 3

Themes Addressed

  • Citizenship (1)

    • Community-Building and Participation
  • Economics (1)

    • Poverty Reduction
  • Food & Agriculture (2)

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

    • Hunger and Malnutrition

Sustainability Education Principles

Principle Rating Explanation
Consideration of Alternative Perspectives Very Good

This resource effectively describes the value of community participation as an approach to addressing poverty issues.   Students are able to explore how families have worked together to implement a successful program to help alleviate some of the social costs of high flooding rates in the Rangpur district.

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

Students explore flooding impacts on individuals and villages.  They also consider factors that may be contributing to higher flood levels.  An analysis of the financial gains of farmers involved in the Pumpkins against Poverty project provides an understanding of the economic benefits of community based stewardship.

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 Good

The activities in this resource lead students through the process of defining a problem and brainstorming solutions.

Respects Complexity:

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

Acting on Learning Satisfactory

Although students are not directly involved in an actual project, the resource guides them through the steps to develop a community based action initiative.  This provides the foundation to support classrrom or school based environmental projects.

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 Good

Students will develop a greater ecological awareness of the global impacts of environmental issues such as climate change while deepening their personal compassion.

Values Education:

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

Empathy & Respect for Humans Very Good

Pumpkins Against Poverty encourages students to view the poorest citizens of Bangladesh with respect for their hard work and determination irather than the pity that so often defines regions of abject poverty.

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 Satisfactory

Students participate in a pumpkin seedling growing exercise.  This activity could be expanded to include an outdoors component with the class transplanting and tending the seedlings in a school garden.  Students are exposed to the impacts of climate change on the land and lives of those people living in flood-prone societies.

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 Satisfactory

The "Delicious Pumpkins" activity encourages students to share family pumkin recipies.  Describing how pumpkins are used at home builds meaning into the learning experience.

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

Students investigate causes of flooding from the perspective of continued sea level rise and explore seed saving as a method of maintaining food security.

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

This resource engages learners in the investigation of a complex real-world environmental issue from the perspective of the citizens who live in the flood prone regions of Bangladesh.  The hands-on activities support student reflection and interaction with the content.

Open-Ended Instruction :

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

Integrated Learning Good

The Pumpkins Against Poverty activities successfully draws upon content from social studies, science, math, ELA and visual arts to build citizenship skills in students.

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 Good

Challenging tasks such as measuring seed germination and designing a seed packet empower students to take the initiative in asking and testing questions while making new discoveries.

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

No accommodations for differentiation are provided, but there is a good balance between formal and informal learning to support students who prefer hands-on learning experiences.

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

Creativity, scientific inquiry and research are integrated into many of the lessons thus providing an in-depth learning experience.

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 Poor/Not considered

Students work individually or in small groups.

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 Satisfactory

Each activity includes a written exercise that gives teachers a formative assessment tool, but no other assessment techniques are included with the resource.

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 Poor/Not considered

Students prepare presentations and produce items such as recipie books.  These items could be used to promote the Pumkins Against Poverty project within the school and community but peer teaching is not an important component of this unit.

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 Good

The lessons use real examples and build upon each other in a holistic approach that guides students from describing an issue to defining and implementing solutions.   

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 Satisfactory

Activities like “Pumpkin lifecycle” and “Seeds for the future” support student decision making but since this unit targets a young audience a certain amount of teacher direction is necessary in all of the lessons.

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.