Through A Different Lens is a teacher led project sponsored by the Vancouver Foundation. This project involves teachers from K-12 who are focusing on alternative methods of instruction and assessment to help all students succeed.
One of the focuses during Social Studies 10 is on British Columbia's economy and the major sectors that make up BC's economy. For our look at agriculture we discussed different agriculture based activities such as ranching and crop farming. We focused primarily, however, on the Okanagan based activities of orchards and vineyards. With recent discussions in the media about the Agricultural Land Reserve we were able to identify reasons why the ALR is both positive and negative for farmers and the general population of BC. This enhanced students understanding about the need to promote farming, not only in Penticton, but throughout the province. As part of this unit we looked at parts of three different documentaries, No Impact Man, End of the Line and Dirt. During the documentary Dirt, students were given multiple looks at how dirt provides humans with the basis of all life on the planet and how through constant development we are negatively impacting so much of the dirt on our planet. One of the parts that stood out for most students was when a winemaker in Italy bent down and tasted the dirt. The winemaker said that he can taste many of the flavours of the wine in the dirt. This clip peaked students interests and led us to a field trip to a local vineyard in OK Falls.
On April 28th, along with Naryn Searcy and Christy Bevington, my class went to Wild Goose Winery for a tour of the vineyard and wine making facilities. For many of the students it was their first time in a vineyard. Throughout the tour our guide, owner Roland Kruger, discussed the impact the dirt had on the growth of his grapes and how simple things like a higher abundance of rocks in one area, or clover in another impacts the flavours that winemakers will produce. Roland helped us understand the farming methods that are used at his vineyard, including watering cycles and pruning methods. One of Roland’s greatest fears is that there is a limited number of young workers entering into the field of work. As Roland said, the young energy that these workers can bring to a growing industry can really help make the Okanagan market flourish. Our students were exposed to not only the agriculture of the vineyard, but also the marketing and tourism of the winery.
At Wild Goose Winery our students saw the full process from growing to shipping a finished product. Many of the students in my class are very hands on, the opportunity to pick up pruned vines and touch oak barrels full of two year old wine allowed them to connect the process. A highlight for all students was the opportunity to see the bottling room and the machinery required to produce the 14,000 cases a year that Wild Goose sells each year.
The winery tour allowed our students to see agriculture in action. By having an opportunity to put together information from the textbook, from class discussions and from a field trip, students were able to connect with the topic in a deeper manner. Having just written our test, it was evident that students understood agriculture much more than say another topic like mining which can seem quite foreign to many students in Penticton. As with most new learning opportunities there are things that can be adapted to still provide a richer learning opportunity, but overall this was a very big success and will hopefully be one of the better memories for students in my Social Studies class.
Blog post courtesy of Bo Boxall Bo's inquiry question: If we offer students multiple outdoor learning activities how will affect student engagement?