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Growing Unit Reflection

The one overarching objective that I had in this unit was to teach students how to
collect and record data in multiple different ways and then interpret that data. My
unit really focused on them collecting data on their plant growth each day and
recording that in their journals. To do this I had students organize their data in T-
Charts, bar and line graphs, 4 box charts and in reflections. Throughout the unit I
emphasized for them the importance of collecting and recording accurate data in
Science and what that can tell us about the topics we are researching.
That was definitely not the only focus of my unit however. By using their plant
growth as an overarching framework, I was able to introduce the students to key
vocabulary of plants and the agricultural process, explore industrial vs sustainable
agriculture, utilize labs to dissect seeds in an inquiry based approach, and have
students collaborate in groups to research, create, and present projects.
The way I assessed my students learning was to have them record their growing
information and things learned in class in their growing journals. I check these each
day to briefly assess student learning and would take them home each weekend to
more deeply assess each students work and grade them on their progress. It was a
great way for me to track my students progress. I was able to give them a lot of
work time both individually and in groups to complete various parts of the journal
and during that time circulate to confer with each student to monitor their thinking
and clarify anything for them. Then, when I took the journals home, I was able to
review them to see if they applied that feedback to their work and grew as a
student.
To answer the question about how I can be a highly effective and culturally
responsive teacher, I think the growing journals are a great example of that. I
allowed my students a lot of freedom and choice with how they created these
journals and what they researched. I let them to choose the seeds they wanted to
plant and research, when giving out articles I offered multiple different topics to try
to connect to my students interests, I allowed them to research and create
presentations about effects of different types of agriculture, and in the summative
project assessment I gave them a lot of freedom in how they presented the project
to me. All of these connect to and respond to my students different needs and
allow multiple different access points to my content for students of all learning
types.
The evidence for my students growth throughout this unit can be seen in my
students journals as well as in their summative growing project assessments. As I
reviewed each students journals, I could see them internalizing the feedback I gave
them during conferring times and applying that to their work in their journals. I
could see their data collection become more accurate and precise. They interpreted
their data to make inferences and connections about what was happening in their
plants growing process. And they also connected to and used their background
knowledge from the food unit as a whole in their reflections and response in their
worksheets and journals. Finally, they connected all that information in their
summative growing project and tied all those skills together.
The essential question of How do seeds turn into food on our dinner plates? was
definitely addressed in this unit. The students researched and were able to literally
see their seeds turning into food each day when they came into the classroom. On
top of that we researched both industrial and sustainable food production methods
and explored how each of those methods produce the food that ends up on our
dinner tables. The food unit as a whole is a trimester long cross-curricular unit that
will continue to the end of the year. The students will be creating their own food
philosophy that will connect the topics learned in this unit of sustainable, industrial,
and local growing process to the topics of food deserts, GMOs, sea food production,
transportation systems of our food, and how our food is marked to us in order to
explore our food system as a whole and tell us what they believe about their food. I
feel this unit has given my students a great base of background knowledge to bring
into their own food philosophies and help them define their own beliefs about food
for their end of the trimester projects.