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Can educational policymakers see if there’s other, perhaps equally important ways to assess the value of a child’s experience in the learning process beyond standardized tests? With all of the recent questions and concerns regarding such testing, is there any way to see if students are prepared for their future beyond the numbers they receive from being excessively tested? If we are looking for evidence of active engagement of learning that lasts a lifetime, you may want to search no further than a school garden.
An opportunity to explore this question is about to take place with such a policymaker when New York State Board of Regents member Roger Tilles gets a first hand look to examine this and more during a visit to a Long Island School garden in Southold on Thursday, May 16th at 11:00 a.m. Educators from various local school districts and elected representatives from Town Government will also be on hand.
The Network of Edible School Gardens, which represents over 20 active school gardens throughout the East End of Long Island, is co-sponsoring a School Garden Expo with the Southold School District acting as the host and co-sponsor of the event. Cornell University’s Cooperative Extension will also provide examples of teacher and student learning opportunities at the Expo.
Here’s what visitors can expect:
Want to see if students are ready to demonstrate entrepreneurial and marketing skills? Evidence of this will be on display from students who sell fresh grown produce at a local Farmer’s Market during the summer season of the school garden.
Can students demonstrate the powerful use of technology in the garden? Yes, through a wireless hotspot located outdoors that will link Southold Schools to a middle school garden in Belfast, Maine. The live videoconference will afford young student scientists a chance to compare data between two climate zones.
Should we be concerned about the health and wellness of future generations? This too will be evidenced through the program that the school has established with the cafeteria to offer fresh vegetables grown and harvested by students in the garden. On the day of the visit from Regent Tilles students will help serve salad including greens harvested from the school garden, wearing chef aprons provided by Aramark, the Food Service Vendor for the school district.
Does art and music find its way into a garden? Evidence of how the arts work well in a garden will also be on display though sculpture, paintings, and highlighting the visit of Regent Tilles will be ongoing performances of instrumental soloists from the school’s orchestra and band programs. Regent Tilles will even take some time to read poetry to students at picnic tables set up in the garden.