Fall 2015 Issue
October 06, 2015

My Cool Tools

Source: NYSUT United

Teachers Lindsey Gibson, Eric Jasuta and Juaneika Agyeman, Lansingburgh TA members, helped students create the Knight's Kale Garden in an unused school courtyard. Here the tools they chose to pollinate learning in science, history, social studies and English language arts.

Measuring tools
Students used measuring tapes to measure the amount of pea stone needed, learning the conversion from inches/feet to yards of pea stone. They measured raised bed boxes to calculate the volume of topsoil/square feet needed. They measured wood to build narrow raised beds for beans and squash. Rulers were used to measure the radius and diameter of a sunflower circle to calculate circumference of the outer edge. Yardsticks were used to measure square footage markings on raised beds and to place strings to space out plants, using a square-foot gardening technique.

Rake/garden tools
Students were taught how to use the flat edge of a rake to level the pea stone. They learned to use a shovel and wheelbarrow to transport landscaping materials like topsoil from one area to another without dumping the load. Students used spades to dig holes to the appropriate depth for seeds and seedlings.

Students used power tools and a circular saw in technology with direct instruction from their teacher to cut pressure-treated lumber to build the raised beds, wooden tomato cages and trellises for beans and peas. They were taught safety skills, precision cutting, measuring and woodworking techniques.

Students used a team Google drive account to access projects set up by teachers and to work collaboratively on the history of gardening, a newsletter, math calculations and surveys about careers that use skills from gardening. Articles were posted on recycling and going green.

Teachers compared the region to the geography of the area when colonists first arrived and met Native Americans. Students learned to grow the same crops (squash, beans and corn) and learned how companion planting — discovered by Native Americans — keeps plants growing well.

Books and movies
Other tools included documentaries about bees and pollination and how the honeybee is endangered; and the benefits of insects in the garden.

Students harvested compost from 1,000 red wigglers in the classroom throughout the winter months. Once the garden's soil was turned and was ready for planting, the worms and compost were added. Students learned what food and trash can be composted, what types of food the worms enjoyed more, and how to care for an indoor compost bin.

"My Cool Tools" showcases the variety of tools NYSUT members use to make their jobs and projects sparkle.