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The Art of Growing

The Art of Growing

Unit Summary

In order to analyse the impact of chemical fertilizers and pesticides on environment and suggest strategies to overcome their adverse effects, students of 9th class take on the roles of various professionals like Agricultural officer, Entomologist and Social worker working as members of Centre for Agriculture and Rural development. The team members study and analyse the problem by conducting research and surveys. They suggest strategies to the issue, and present their study in the form of a multimedia presentation to the village panchayat members. They also create a wiki to give a global message about alternate farming methods.  

Curriculum-Framing Questions

  • Essential Question
    Are we crossing our limits?
  • Unit Questions
    How do today’s agricultural practices affect environment?
    How can we grow enough food, without polluting our environment?
  • Content Questions
    What is Green revolution?
    What is the impact of Green revolution on environment?
    What is the importance of soil for crops?
    What are the disadvantages of using chemical fertilizers?
    What is the impact of agrochemicals on environment?
    What is the role of biotechnology in crop improvement?

Assessment Processes

View how a variety of student-centered assessments are used in the Unit Plan. These assessments help students and teachers set goals; monitor student progress; provide feedback; assess thinking, processes, performances, and products; and reflect on learning throughout the learning cycle.

Instructional Procedures

In Preparation of the Unit
Before introducing the unit, prepare 

  • A chart with essential question for introduction of the unit
  • KWL Sheet 
  • Prepare a list of Web sites and books for students’ reference
  • Research log for the students to note down
  • Teacher presentation to give overview of the project
  • Multimedia evaluation rubric and wiki rubric to share with the students
  • Prepare guidelines for field visit and questionnaire
  • Prepare handout on etiquettes of conducting a survey
  • Prepare a parent permission slip for field trip
  • Prepare a letter to the gram panchayat for field trip
  • Collaborate with the Mathematics Teacher and arrange sessions with students for analysing data
  • Contact Department of Soil Sciences, University of Agricultural Sciences for guest lecture

Introduce the Project
Week 1 (2 periods)
Put a chart with the essential question Are we crossing our limits? on the class bulletin board. Draw students’ attention to the essential question and encourage a Socratic discussion among students. Narrow down the discussion to agricultural practices with some driving questions like: 

  • How is man exploiting nature?
  • What are the causes?
  • How does increase in population affect nature?
  • Why do we need more food?
  • How does increase in food production affect nature?

Administer K-W-L sheet(doc) to know the knowledge level of the students and their expectation in this unit. 
Hand over a list of websites and books(doc) to serve as reference materials on basic agricultural practices in India and their effect on environment.

Ask students to think about the following questions while doing research:

  • How do today’s agricultural practices affect environment?
  • How can we grow enough food, without polluting our environment?

Ask students to make an entry in the research log(doc) as they conduct their research using Web sites and reference books.

Week 2 (5 Periods)
Ask students to reflect on their learning from research and discussion of previous week. Ask students to take their stand on the topic: “Enough food can be grown with/without polluting the environment” and make two groups. Encourage students to justify their stand in the debate by quoting examples, reference materials, Web sites, etc.

Introduce the Project based learning scenario by dividing the students into groups of 6 students each. Explain students that they will be working as members of “Centre for Agriculture and Rural development” with an objective to analyse the impact of use of chemical fertilizers and pesticides on environment and suggest strategies to overcome adverse effects of chemical fertilizers and pesticides. Ask the groups to assign two persons for one of the following roles: Agricultural officer, Entomologist and Social worker.

Define the areas of work based on their roles:

Agricultural Officer – Analyses various methods of cultivation for better yield and studies the impact of chemical/organic/both fertilizers on crop yield.

Entomologist – Studies the problems faced by farmers by pests and the effect of pesticides for better yield.

Social Worker – Identifies and analyses the socio-economic problems facing by the farmers. Studies the impact of using chemical/organic/both fertilizers on their life.

To analyse the impact of chemical fertilizers on environment, arrange for students to visit a village and conduct survey of 25 farmers. Ask students to collect information on their agricultural practices, study the effect of fertilizers and pesticides on soil fertility and suggest strategies to overcome adverse effects of chemical fertilizers and pesticides.

Share teacher multimedia presentation(ppt) to give an overview of the project. Provide guidelines for field visit(doc) handout to students and explain the steps to the students.

Put students into groups based on the roles they will play in the project (e.g., Agricultural officer, Entomologist, Social worker), so all students with the same role are in a group together. Give  guidelines to prepare a questionnaire(doc) for survey considering their roles. Ask students make three different questionnaires keeping in mind the role they are playing. All the three questionnaires are shared with the larger group. Ask the groups to edit the questionnaire according to the suggestions given by teacher and peers and prepare a final questionnaire.

Provide a parent permission slip(doc) for each student and letter to the gram panchayat(doc) in the village for each group to conduct the study. Give clear instructions on etiquettes of conducting a survey.

Week 3 (Field Visits + 2 Periods)
Three groups of students (with same roles) visit a near by village and survey 25 farmers. They administer their respective questionnaire for agriculture officers(doc), questionnaire for entomologists(doc) and questionnaire for social workers(doc) and collect the necessary information. Get the students to photograph the farms for using in their presentations. Instruct the students to record their observations on the basis of the set criteria.

Provide time to the students to conduct the survey and note down their observations. Collaborate with a mathematics teacher and arrange for a session on analysing data and representation of data graphically. Make students analyse the data collected and draw inferences with the help of mathematics teacher.

Collaborate with a Mathematics teacher and arrange for a session on analyzing data and representation of data graphically. Make students analyze the data collected and draw inferences with the help of Mathematics teacher.

Week 4 (Field Visit + 3 Periods)
Make students visit Department of Soil Sciences, University of Agricultural Sciences for a guest lecture by Prof. Parthasarthy on “Importance of organic farming”. Hold a question answer session for students to clarify their doubts.

Ask students to return to their original groups (with different roles). Ask students to discuss about the guest lecture, findings during field visit, analyse the problems and come up with strategies to overcome the problem. Encourage students to refer their research log and notes prepared during their research and guest lecture while formulating the strategies.

Introduce the assignment of preparing multimedia presentation. Ask students to prepare a story board of their multimedia presentation to present their findings and suggest strategies to the village panchayat members. Ask students to consider the unit question while preparing the multimedia presentation.

Share the multimedia evaluation rubric(doc) with the students.

Week 5 and 6 (5 Periods + Showcasing + Awareness Drive)
Ask students to prepare a multimedia presentation(ppt) to present their findings to the Village Panchayat members. Make students present their observations considering their role as Agricultural officer, Entomologist and Social worker. Make the students pool in their observations and suggest general strategies to overcome adverse effects of chemical fertilizer and pesticides.

Invite Village Panchayat members for showcasing of the multimedia presentation and arrange for an awareness drive in the village. Take necessary permissions and make the students spread the message to the community at large. Prepare a group of students for street play during awareness campaign.

To synthesise learning and to spread the message to the global community, assign each group the task of creating one or more Web pages addressing one of the following topics:

  • Introduction that describes the class and the project, including Indian agricultural scan - general information related to the Indian agricultural scenario and write up on best agricultural practices.
  • Discuss how can we grow enough food, without polluting our environment? And write about the main facts of at least 2 methods of alternate agricultural practices.

Show the sample wiki and discuss the strengths and weaknesses of each page and the site as a whole. Distribute wiki rubric(doc) and ask students to use it as a guide when designing their wikis.

Have students look back at the K-W-L sheet created at the beginning of the unit. Begin to fill out the “Learn” section with student ideas. Pose the Essential Question, Are we crossing our limits? Ask students to write an essay on their learning in this unit by focusing on essential question. Have students share with the whole class reminding them to use examples from their The Art of Growing project.


Prerequisite Skills

  • Basic knowledge about agricultural practices in India.
  • Basic computer skills with knowledge of Microsoft Office*, and Internet.

Differentiated Instruction

Describe changes in content, process, products, or learning environment for different learners:
Resource Student

  • Giving personal attention, tie-up with gifted students, giving simple assignments, make him/her to participate in group discussion, Boost their confidence by counseling. Facilitate using innovative methods of teaching such as mixed grouping strategies, providing scaffolds, catering to their learning styles.

Gifted Student

  • Ask them to guide, co operate, co ordinate with resource students. Give more challenging tasks that involves in depth research.

Credits

Mrs. Saubhagya Lakshmi, teacher of  Government High School, Mangalore participated in the Intel® Teach to the Future Program and implemented this unit plan. A team of teachers expanded the plan into an example that you can see here.

At a Glance

Grade Level: 9 - 10
Subjects: Science, Social Studies, Statistics, Language, Computer Science
Topic: Agricultural Practices
Key Learnings:  Advantages and disadvantages of using chemical fertilizers and pesticides, role of biotechnology in agriculture, organic farming, importance of organic farming, inorganic farming
Time Needed: 17 periods, 6 weeks