A few weeks back I attended a professional development called learning 2 in Manila. Teachers gathered from international schools around the world to discuss the possibilities of change in the classroom. "Stop. Rethink. Change." was the mantra. It was there I first learned of a passion project or some may call it Genius hour.
I came back to HCMC, Vietnam and immediately invited my students to start a Passion Project once a week. I promised we'd spend 10-15 minutes a week working on something they love! I never really figured out exactly what the project would be, but the kids just loved the idea.
Whenever I ask my kids to do a big activity, I usually do the project too. For example, we each created a Food waste diary during our unit on the world's food supply. So this time around I was going to do the passion project also. It helps me model and establish good rapport with the kids.
I asked myself "what was my passion?" I loved making videos, I loved travelling and I loved being outdoors. I had to look real hard at my surroundings and history. I thought of my time doing construction with my brother, the massive vegetable garden I grew for 3 years at my mother's house and the landscaping I used to do for a private employer. I loved to get outside and get dirty. I thought, why not grow a garden? The benefits of a school garden are endless. Our rooftop was the perfect space that wasn't being used. Plenty of sunshine (maybe too much) and plenty of kids who would be willing to help.
When I asked these kids how many of them have planted a seed only 1/4 of them raised their hand. I was shocked. I guess this generation grew up with tech and some of them missed the planting a seed class in elementary school. At first it was a struggle to get the idea going, but word started to travel. Science got involved and GIN is planning on creating their own compost.
Students were encouraged to use recyclable bottles to start their seedlings. We planted everything from pumpkin and cucumber to Brussels sprouts and Ghost pepper. We still need to plant broccoli and spinach. Extra credit was given to kids who brought in their own potted plants (not vegetables). Once the seedlings started to grow I was receiving endless requests from the students to have class on the roof.
I just recently purchased a small amount of lumber at a ridiculous price compared to wood in the US (it was actually much more expensive here). I would have loved to find some recyclable stuff. The idea is to make an Urban Garden. This is how it begins.