Myself and two other teachers came together to team teach strands of Grade 9 Geography, Science, and English that could be looked at through a farming lens. Our class had already partnered with a community organization in October 2017 to hatch and raise chickens. As teachers, we intended to use the chickens as a hook to get students into the world of farming, and to use farming – and an inquiry model – as a way for students to learn some of the expectations in all three of these courses.
This project was unique in that the three teachers from each of these courses worked together to look at our projects from multiple angles.
Here are some things we did:
- Students took care of the chickens in our classroom, monitoring the temperature and humidity when they were eggs, candling the eggs, and feeding, cleaning and playing with the chickens as they developed.
- A grade 12 student blogged regularly about the progress of the chickens in our classroom https://
- We had visits from the chicken farmer, and another organization that was getting some of our chickens, to find out more about what their lives would be like once they left our classroom.
- We checked out http://www.farmfood360.cat
o take a closer look at the types of farms we used for our project (you can use google cardboard to get an immersive 360 degree experience!)
- We went and visited two farms in the spring and volunteered, raking a goat pasture at one and doing some gardening at the other, earning some volunteer hours.
- We learned about the geography of farming, used realtor.ca to find suitable farmland in Ontario, and then groups of students each made a pitch as to why we should choose their farm. Students had to show the class what primary, secondary, and tertiary resources they could produce from their farm, they also had to talk about the land their farm was on, and what resources were available nearby. The farm pitches were also an oral presentation in English class.
- We then voted on the farm we thought would be the best to “buy”. (Coincidentally, a chicken farm won!)
- Once we selected our farmland, we “arrived” to find that the land was not as advertised – there was a pond and small forest on our land. We used this as an opportunity to learn about ecosystems, and humans’ effect on the environment, as well as the environment’s effect on humans. Armed with information, students then wrote an opinion piece as to whether or not the pond should be filled in. They then also wrote a news article about the public’s reaction to the decision.
- When that decision had been made, we then had to choose how to power our farm. We came up with a list of renewable and non-renewable energy sources. Then, each student had to write a report explaining how one renewable and one non-renewable energy source worked, and then had to choose one as a preferred energy source for our farm.
Generally, this project was a success. It allowed students to get something meaningful out of the course, and connect with the course material. The project spanned a semester and a half, with one period of the day being devoted to “farm project” stuff. In another period of the day for the whole year, the students also worked on other aspects of geography, science, and English that didn’t fit with the project. This is a project that would never look the same way if you did it multiple times. I will share some resources that we used – but many assignments were co-constructed as a class, and would therefore look different in each classroom – the act of discussing and deciding what was important in each project within “The Farm Project” also enhanced the inquiry process.
Overall Curriculum Expectations Covered:
(realize that they were touched on by the farm project, but may have been expanded on within each subject as well)
A1. Demonstrate scientific investigation skills (related to both inquiry and research) in the four areas of skills (initiating and planning, performing and recording, analysing and interpreting, and communicating);
A2. Identify and describe a variety of careers related to the fields of science under study, and identify scientists, including Canadians, who have made contributions to those fields
B1. Analyse the impact of human activity on terrestrial or aquatic ecosystems, and assess the effectiveness of selected initiatives related to environmental sustainability;
B2. Investigate some factors related to human activity that affect terrestrial or aquatic ecosystems, and describe the consequences that these factors have for the sustainability of these ecosystems;
B3. Demonstrate an understanding of characteristics of terrestrial and aquatic ecosystems, the interdependence within and between ecosystems, and the impact humans have on the sustainability of these ecosystems
C1. Analyse how properties of common elements and/or simple compounds affect their use, and assess the social and environmental impact associated with their production or use;
E1. Assess the major social, economic, and environmental costs and benefits of using electrical energy, distinguishing between renewable and non-renewable sources, and propose a plan of action to reduce energy costs;
E2. Investigate, through inquiry, the properties of static and current electricity and the cost of the consumption of electrical energy;
A1. Geographic Inquiry: use the geographic inquiry process and the concepts of geographic thinking when investigating issues relating to Canadian geography;
A2. Developing Transferable Skills: apply in everyday contexts skills, including spatial technology skills, developed through the investigation of Canadian geography, and identify some careers in which a background in geography might be an asset.
B1. Natural Processes and Human Activity: analyse some interactions between physical processes, events, and phenomena and human activities in Canada
B2. Influence of the Natural Environment on Human Activity: explain how physical processes and the natural environment influence human activity in Canada
C2. Canadian Industries: describe the economic, environmental, social, and political significance of selected aspects of Canada’s resources and industries
C3. The Use of Natural Resources: describe the distribution and use of selected natural resources in Canada
E2. Impacts of Land Use: analyse impacts of land use in Canada on communities and the natural environment
E3. Patterns of Land Use: describe patterns of land use in their local community
1. Listening to Understand: listen in order to understand and respond appropriately in a variety of situations for a variety of purposes;
2. Speaking to Communicate: use speaking skills and strategies appropriately to communicate with different audiences for a variety of purposes;
Reading and Literature Studies
1. Reading for Meaning: read and demonstrate an understanding of a variety of informational, literary, and graphic texts, using a range of strategies to construct meaning;
2. Understanding Form and Style: recognize a variety of text forms, text features, and stylistic elements and demonstrate understanding of how they help communicate meaning;
1. Developing and Organizing Content: generate, gather, and organize ideas and information to write for an intended purpose and audience;
2. Using Knowledge of Form and Style: draft and revise their writing, using a variety of informational, literary, and graphic forms and stylistic elements appropriate for the purpose and audience;