Fifth Grade-March Happenings...

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March Happenings in Fifth Grade…

It has been a fabulous March thus far! We have been incorporating farm issues and themes into our reading, writing, math and science curriculum in relevant ways. As March began, students read and learned about migrant farmers, highlighting Cesar Chavez and his amazing, peaceful activism. Students learned about the challenges of migrant farm work, and that many of these families even live in Texas and surrounding areas.

Last week we focused our learning around bees with the essential question: How are bees connected to our food and the sustainability of our planet?  Students read and researched about the disappearance of honey bees, as well as watched a multitude of related videos to build background knowledge. Through video assignments and readings students learned both about bees themselves, as well as about the bi-products of their labors! Students also participated in a wonderful math simulation where they were forced to think about what it would be like if humans needed to pollinate all the almond trees in California. After this work, students realized how much more efficient bees were at this invaluable contribution to the planet!

In conjunction with our learning on environmentalism, and to begin our new writing unit, we began spotlighting environmental pioneers as a way to incorporate biographies into our studies. We read Wangari Maathai: The Woman Who Planted Millions of Trees and learned how one woman, against all odds, worked towards both giving women rights, while helping with bio-diversity and deforestation issues in Africa. Students are now hard at work creating their own eco-biographies about people who have inspired them, and this will connect to a creative project around this learning.

This week we began a new class novel entitled: Seed Savers, a science-fiction dystopia, set in a future world where people cannot grow their own food. Against all odds, three children set out to find a way to change this situation and begin a food revolution! This science fiction beautifully connects to the students learning on the farm, while helping the students to build both their literary and vocabulary skills.

Next week we will begin learning about food insecurity, as well as learn about how Austin is being a part of the solution to hunger! Connected to our studies around homelessness, the students will read and learn about how poverty and homelessness connects to food insecurity beginning by reading a beautiful story called: The Good Garden http://www.thegoodgarden.org/index.php that spotlights Maria Cecelia Vasquez (the real Maria Luz), community facilitator in Honduras, who is helping over 300 families apply for small loans and providing advice and support to them as they work themselves out of poverty. As fifth graders continue to learn through their work in the classroom and on the farm, they will continue to see how they can be a proponent of change within their communities. To compliment the learning in the classroom, at the farm next week we will discuss Green Gate Farm’s work towards these food issues, along with having the students’ learning hour guided by one of community outreach volunteers from KEEP AUSTIN FED. Hope you all have a fantastic break and I look forward to seeing you all on the farm!

Daring sustainably,

Karen