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TeachNet NYC: Lesson Plans
How Does Your Garden Grow?

Project URL: http://teachersnetwork.org/teachnet-lab/is24/jdente/garden1.htm 

Purpose of the Project:
"How Does Your Garden Grow?" is a unit that investigates plants, biomes, and plant response to environmental change. The lessons are designed to provoke curiosity, which is what makes children ask questions and search for the answers. In the real world, much information comes from scientists talking and sharing their ideas with each other. Through independent assignments and group research, the children will experiment, communicate their results to audiences and defend conclusions from peer review. 

How it works:
1. A lesson on biomes of the world explores climate and plant life exclusive to each area. Children create mini habitats using living and nonliving things. 

2. Using computer skills to navigate a museum web site, they will learn about the issue of biodiversity and how living things interact with each other.

3.  Through a process known as vegetative reproduction, students discover how to grow new plants from cuttings of roots, stems and leaves. Growing plants from seed involves a different approach to experimentation. The scientific method is a systematic approach which is used in problem solving. Children work in teams as they learn about germination and the conditions needed for the process to begin. 

4. Variables are incorporated into the experiment and compared to a "control" corn plant. At the conclusion of the experiment, the team must make sure that the results clearly support or do not support the hypothesis. Finally, plants often grow in response to stimuli. Different growth responses are examined in this lesson. 

5. A software program is incorporated into the lesson to help define scientific terms and to further enhance knowledge through games or learning tools. Incorporating technology into the classroom creates excitement and motivates students. Scientific concepts are absorbed through hands-on learning and tools that promote understanding.

Standards addressed:
Life Science Concepts: The students will show a good understanding of major ideas and concepts in science. They will demonstrate their ability to collect, analyze and record data by different methods. Writing, graphing, drawing and designing further enhance skills. They will use technology and scientific tools for observation and data. The students will produce evidence of understanding how plants grow, and how environmental conditions affect their growth.

Materials used:
Tom Snyder Productions, Living Things, Science Court, is a CD-ROM program that allows students to take an active role in deciding a court case while learning about organisms. Scienceplus Interactive Explorations CD-ROM level red, is a program that enables students to become detectives as they enter a virtual laboratory. They experiment with different variables until they discover which stimulus is responsible for the change in a nursery plant. Grolier Multimedia Encyclopedia and Encyclopedia of Science are useful for defining terms. Obsessing with Orchids is a PBS program that is used in conjunction with this unit. It explains how different varieties of orchids are created through pollination and hybridization. Web sites include The American Museum of Natural History, The National Gardening Association and Scholastic Magazine.

The students
The students involved in this project have a variety of learning abilities. The lessons work well with advanced and average students as well as learning disabled students. By working in teams, the children can help one another. With a basic knowledge of plants and an understanding of laboratory procedures, life science students should be able to complete this unit.

Overall value:
This program can be used at any time of the year. In the winter, plant life cheers up a dull classroom. Students can learn while having fun, since the software programs are educational as well as entertaining. These lessons can be enhanced by taking the students on class trips to a pond, lake or nature trail. Team interdisciplinary lessons can include social studies (biomes) and math (graphing, charting). Language arts lessons can be developed by searching for information on this project or by joining a pen pal network. A laboratory can be set up for growing plants for profit. Guest speakers from the local greenbelt or garden club can visit the school. The students will learn how to use the tools of technology as they develop analytical and cognitive skills that will promote achievement.

Try setting up as many habitats as possible in the classroom. The children love to observe plants and animals while they work. When the Internet is not available for all students, consider printing out the information and making copies for the children to read. If possible, provide additional time for the children to use the software programs and Internet before, during and after school hours. Since most classrooms have only four computers, there is a limited time for the children to browse. The school library or computer lab may be able to obtain copies of the CD's which would increase the number of computers available for each student. Finally, encourage the children to duplicate all experiments at home. I found that many children wanted to have their own habitats to observe at home and several made as many as five different examples.

About The Teacher

Jean Dente has been teaching in New York City schools for six years. She is presently teaching sixth grade science at I.S. 24.  Past experience includes home and careers, technology and health. She is also a Certified Nutritionist and Registered Dietitian.

Email Contact: Jdente2@hotmail.com

Estimated Class Periods To Complete: 7

Subject: Science, Social Studies

Beginning Grade Level: 6

Ending Grade 


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