Archive for the ‘A.L.L. Pedagogy’ Category

Mar23

Students Transform Street and Their School Adding To Living Library Nature Walk

Mar. 23, 2016 Blog Post During the month of February, 2016, people from different parts of California came together to transform a street and add to the Living Library Nature Walk on Bernal Heights in San Francisco.  This ecological beautification project involved creating 12 new sidewalk garden beds on formerly sterile concrete sidewalks, and planting them with California Native Trees and Understory plants in front of Junipero Serra Elementary School on Holly Park Circle across from Holly Park. Bonnie Ora Sherk, Founder & Director of Life Frames, Inc. created the design for the planting, and then connected with the various San Francisco Departments that helped make it all possible.   The California Strategic Growth Council generously provided the funding for the project as part of their grant for the full Living Library Nature Walk throughout the neighborhood that is linking multiple schools, parks, public housing, streets, and other open spaces leading to the currently hidden Islais Creek at the south side of St. Mary's Park. * Mar. 23, 2016 Blog Post In December, 2015, the SF Department of Public Works, led by Urban Forester, Chris Buck,  removed the concrete in order to create the new 12 garden beds - and enlarge some of the existing tree basins.  SF Unified School District Landscape Department led by Rick Maia delivered compost from Recology in order to improve the soil quality in the new garden beds.  Now it was time to get planting.  93 Students from Junipero Serra Elementary School led by A Living Library Teacher, Kristin DeRose took part in the planting.  It was the students excitement and enthusiasm to help beautify their school that really moved the project forward.  Once planting was complete, the SFUSD Landscape Department donated and delivered a huge pile of wood chips, which the students used to mulch the new garden beds.   There were so many extra wood chips that the students mulched all of the trees on the block !   Through this whole, hands-on learning and transformation project, students discussed the importance of planting natives to improve air quality, increase water percolation, restore the natural Watershed, and re-attract native wildlife species to the area. They also learned about diverse native California plant species, drought tolerant plants, and how this street planting will help improve the quality of life in this neighborhood.  The children were thrilled to be so empowered by their actions ! Students planted 5 trees, 18 native shrubs and 75 native Understory plants.  We plan to keep continue planting on the side street bordering the school as part of the Nature Walk. *  This Bernal Heights Living Library & Think Park is a prototype for the whole Islais Creek Watershed, the largest in San Francisco that interconnects eleven communities:  Bernal Heights, Portola, Crocker-Amazon, Excelsior, OMI, Sunnyside, Glen Park, Noe Valley, Mission, Potrero Hill, Bayview.  It is envisioned that this Nature Walk will be expanded to connect these communities by developing a new, expressive, resilient landscape interconnecting them where they have been disconnected by freeways and other streets.  We are also proposing that the Chavez/101 Freeway Interchange and the Alemany/101 Freeway Interchange become the Northern & Southern Gateways to the Islais Creek Watershed. Mar. 23, 2016 Blog Post
Jan26

Unexpected Outcomes !

As A Living Library Garden/Ecology/Multi-Arts/Nutrition/Health Teacher, I plan each lesson with an educational outcome in mind. For instance, last week I wanted the students to learn about different kinds of edible roots; we looked at examples of plants with “taproots,” like carrots, “tubers,” like potatoes, and “bulbs,” like onions and garlic. My goal is that each lesson in A Living Library Garden & Think Park at Juniperos Serra Elementary School has a hands-on component as well. For my root lesson, we started with a discussion and photos, and then planted potatoes and garlic in the garden. After I gave instructions and handed out garden tools, I was immediately met with opposition by three students in the class.

Hands on their hips, disgusted looks on their faces. “I don’t want to get my hands dirty!,” they exclaimed.  “Me too,” another retorted, “I hate when I get dirt on my fingernails!”

Planting Potatoes in the Garden

I showed them my hands, thoroughly covered in dirt. “REAL gardeners” I explained, “get their hands dirty, we will wash out hands after garden class.” Then, I went to get the other students started on planting.   Without much thought I turned around, and to my surprise the three “anti-dirty” students were hands deep in the soil, giggling and playing with a worm they had found. Minutes later I heard them enthusiastically call my name, “Ms. Kristin! Look at my hands,” smiling, they waved their soiled hands in my face, “I am a real gardener too!”

Dirty Hands!

I love how quickly children are willing to change their minds. Adults are so set in their ways, myself included.  We have steadfast opinions about what we like and don’t like, and we are not easily swayed otherwise. I think this trait can be detrimental, as we may miss out on new opportunities and experiences.

I would like to think that in five years, while my A Living Library Garden Students may not remember what a “taproot” or “tuber” is, they will have held on to the sensation of having their hands in the soil. They won’t be afraid to get their hands dirty, and they will dive into the opportunity to spend time amongst plants.

By Kristen DeRose

May08

A.L.L. Green Futures: Paid Summer Internship for Middle School Youth !

This is a great opportunity for youth to learn green skills, do art and cooking, learn about sustainable business with A Living Library Farm Stand, and mentor younger children in diverse ECO/Art activities. View the Flyer and fill out the Application below today ! Summer15ALLGreen Futures Flyer-page-001__1430504551_23.241.97.142          
Mar04

High School Students Volunteer To Support A Living Library

IMG_8164_Fotor_Collage_Fotor__1424726941_73.15.149.33

Students (Camille Bersonda, Edmund Cruz, Kevin Zheng & Erica Narciso) from San Mateo High School, led by Erica Narciso, met recently with Bonnie Ora Sherk and Manisha Dhar to discuss ways to support A Living Library. Their written statements of why they want to be involved with A.L.L. are shown below:

My interest in your program was because that you really want to reach out to schools and spread the topic of the importance of ecology. I believe your goals and lessons are very essential and the work you guys have done for recreation and beautification are worth being noticed. So, I would like to offer my help in such a program with my knowledge of technology in order for A Living Library to get more attention and spread the word over the internet. I think what you are trying to accomplish deserves more credit and respect and I look forward to working with this program.
- Camille Bersonda

Personally, the idea of incorporating ecology and redesigning school communities is great for the students to enjoy as well as appreciate the wonders of nature. Once A.L.L (A Living Library) can get more of its voice globally, then students from everywhere will be educated and astounded by how nature can be beautiful and educational. Helping A.L.L as a volunteer will ensure that A.L.L is one step closer to sharing its magic of nature from one to all. From planting trees, making mosaics, and helping the environment gives great benefits of both being much greener and much more creative when it comes to the community.
- Edmund Cruz

In my search for a volunteer opportunity related to computer sciences, I came across A Living Library through VolunteerMatch.com and assumed the given task would simply be to create or modify website for a library. However, A Living Library is not your typical library, a silent building filled with books, its knowledge is centered around parks where children and adults alike come together to learn a countless amount of subjects. Similarly, the internet gives people a boundless amount of information but sitting at your desktop or laptop or being at school all day is not the same as being in the great outdoors and interacting with others, an opportunity that A.L.L opens up by branching out and creating Think Parks. The hands-on experience as well as the connections that can be formed between people and nature is what makes A Living Library unique and fresh, a stark contrast to today’s technological age, but highly necessary.
- Erica Narciso

A Living Library has contributed to numerous communities by setting forth projects that bring ecological innovation and building a learning place within those communities. Think Parks in Chinatown and Excelsior for example, bring children and adults alike to participate in local gardening and teaching the youth about how important it is to create a culture that will last for years to come. As a student recently joining A.L.L., I have explored their goals and would love to take part in their mission to create a better community through education, shared experiences, and a positive attitude. My next steps would be to visit A.L.L’s programs at schools and libraries to see how they work and if its possible to volunteer at those locations.
- Kevin Zheng

Feb23

A Living Library Instructor Discusses Weeds With Students

3rd & 4th graders from San Miguel Child Development Center have a discussion with A.L.L. Instructor, Adam Long about the nature of weeds and the many different kinds, as they sit in the Redwood Reading Circle at the OMI/Excelsior Living Library & Think Park in San Francisco.  Later students apply their knowledge about pulling weeds in the Farm Learning Zone, all shown below.   IMG_8212_Fotor_Collage_Fotor__1424126859_73.15.149.33
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