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Moira Messick's picture

Moira's Final Project

My Final Project was Inspired by the Article:  “Reflections on Openess and Structure in Education.”


Gardening under an ONE STORY MODEL approach:

Teaching students about gardening and composting. 

Showing them effective methods then having them carry them out in the field.

Main Weaknesses:  Everything is predictable

                                    No changes in perspective

                                    No interaction among the group and the individual

                                    Few new emerging insights


Gardening under an INFINITE STORY MODEL approach:

Setting kids loose in the garden area and saying “go for it”

Main Weaknesses:  No successes (in gardens, compost, other content)


An Inquiry  Approach to This Year’s Communique Organic Garden

What learning do you want to bring with you to our sister garden?


My Background Story

Communique has been organically gardening for the past seven years.  We started off with the Square Foot Gardening Method and  most recently focused on colonial plantings.  This year, we are planning to collaborate with a first grade class in Philadelphia to further cultivate their naturalistic intelligences.   

We would visit them every (other) month and students would teach the children one area of the Pennsylvania environmental, nutritional, and biological standards they are most interested in...colonial plant usage, organic gardening benefits, planting procedures...


Gardening under the BALANCE OF STORIES MODEL approach:

Structure I will provide:  Students will be given various topics to choose from…

                                          Books, websites, and experts in the field



Flexibility I will provide:  Students will be able to choose an area of gardening that they are interested in pursuing.  I will provide a base story while acknowledging the classroom as a place of change.  This allows for new opportunities and value to be placed upon student’s emerging ideas.


Compost Crew

            Research various composting methods.



Gardening Group

            Research and implement IPM (Integrated Pest Management) methods.

                        Organic methods

                        Companion Planting


                        Biological control of insects and weeds


Focus on our garden’s plants and their contributions to colonial life.



                        (Coneflower, goldenrod, ginseng, chamomile, peppermint.)


            Paper Making

            Leaf Printing


Natural Dyes (Autumn: goldenrod or apple bark, Winter: onion skins & pine cones, Spring:  forsythia or bracken fern)


Importance of Native Species

Creating a field guide/dichotomous key for our garden





Students will work together to develop lessons and assessments for both their 7th grade classmates and the first graders based on the topic they have selected to investigate. 

The structure I will provide is to hold a brainstorming session for “Which criteria is vital for an effective rubric?” 

The flexibility comes in when they actually map out the criteria & content meaningful to the topic they have selected to pursue.


I am really excited about this new partnership and project. 

Thank you, Serendip!

Moira Messick



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