Sunday, March 11, 2012

Mountain Devils lead a PLC up the garden path!

On Wednesday 7 March, the Parramatta Learning Community (PLC) for Sustainability met at St Finbar’s Primary, Glenbrook to discuss learning opportunities for students around developing oral language skills through kitchen garden groups and environmental programs.
PLCs are widely used in the Parramatta diocese and have proven to be highly effective in improving student learning outcomes by improving teacher practice. They generally refer to a group of teachers, leaders and professionals who come together to work collaboratively around a specific learning or teaching focus - in this case the environment and sustainability - to share information and learning opportunities.

Students show the visitors what a Mountain Devil flower looks like!

Clare Maloney says that students are engaged when they can use their senses to learn
PLC members were impressed with the students' engagment with the program
PLC members were impressed at the students interest and ability to communicate about their plants. Picutred here with Catholic Earthcare action director, Luke Edwards
Students led a tour of their garden. Pictured here with Catholic Earthcare's, Luke Edwards

As part of the meeting, St Finbar’s students from the Mountain Devils kitchen garden group led the PLC members on a tour of their school grounds, discussing their plants and herb gardens along the way.
Itinerant communication teacher, Clare Maloney, from Catholic Education is very involved in the PLC and Kitchen Gardens in Schools program with a focus on how students can develop oral language skills in a naturalistic and social setting. She said the student led tour is a great example of social and oral language development.
‘The program provides benefits to all students, particularly those with specific oral language needs,’ said Clare. ‘I had members of the group marveling at the students’ knowledge, interest and ability to communicate what they were doing.'
‘Kitchen gardens provide an opportunity for hands on learning and when students can use all their senses – touch, feel, smell, see, hear – they are more engaged in their learning,’ she said.
Those present at the meeting included principals, teachers and coordinators from several Catholic schools across the diocese, as well as Zhan Patterson from Western Sydney Regional Organisaton of Council’s (WSROC) Water in the Landscape Project; Damien Feneley from Department of Education and Workplace Training (DET); Jennifer Plaskett, Western Sydney and Nepean Blue Mountains Local Health Districts; Luke Edwards, acting national director from Catholic Earthcare; and head of environmental education at Abbotsleigh Anglican School, Helen Watkins who all spoke to the group about programs, initiatives and learning tools that can be implemented in their teaching.
The next meeting of the Parramatta Learning Community for Sustainability will be held 13 June at St John’s Primary, Riverstone 2-4pm. Interested schools, educators, business and community leaders should contact Clare Maloney via email: 
More information about Kitchen Garden in Schools via:
Several members from various educational, government and organisations are part of the OPLC
Several members from various educational and government organisations are members of the PLC for Sustainability
when syudents use their sense they are enghaged
Catholic Education's, Clare Maloney says students need to use all their senses to balance indoor learning with outdoor learning

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