NGA Articles: School Gardens Measure Up

School Gardens Measure Up (cont)

By: Eve Pranis

Gardening Meets Special Needs

"Over and over we've found that kids who have been labeled behaviorally disturbed, learning impaired, and so on, make great strides in our garden program. When they have an opportunity to create a garden, become 'experts,' and share their expertise with others (often in a role reversal), their skills and confidence soar."
-- Karen Williger, New Orleans, LA

"A season after initiating a therapeutic garden for adolescents, I was floored by their enthusiasm and ability to focus on tasks. It was also amazing to see how fast group cohesion, trust, and self-esteem grew."
-- Amy Stein, Yardley, PA

What You Can Do

After exploring what academic researchers have uncovered about how students benefit from gardening programs, we wondered what strategies and tools classroom teachers routinely use to document and make sense of what kids are reaping.

By regularly recording what you see and hear as you observe students engaged in garden-related activities and conversations, and by gathering a variety of related student work, you can capture authentic data that serves several purposes:

  • Helps you adjust instruction to meet student needs, by providing continuous feedback on student thinking, understanding, and skills.
  • Provides palpable evidence of student thinking that can be interpreted alongside other data (e.g., test scores) and reported to others.
  • Enables you to gather and share evidence of student gains in areas that are less easily "measurable:" self-esteem, connection to the natural world, and so on.

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