The Teaching and Learning cycle

There are two distinct components of the Trees for Survival (TfS) Teaching and Learning Cycle (TLC). The first is centered around growing and planting trees and the second is a focus on the classroom.

Growing trees requires ongoing attention and it is important that the students are involved. Teachers will have different strategies but we suggest allocating  watering and weeding teams with the whole class involved in pricking out, potting on and planting. The TfS Calendar is a useful planning tool.

Teachers will receive help and guidance from TfS or Council Officers but additional parent, grandparent or School Sponsor voluntary help is invaluable particularly at key times in the programme. Growing plants is a seasonal process and it is a reality that important growing times can fall during school holidays and volunteers provide essential help at these times.

The growing season varies from region to region and some plants take longer to grow to planting out size. It is best that the teaching curriculum is completed in one year and a planting day planned annually. This may require some plants to be in the growing unit for two years or more. Also if seed germination is to be included in the TLC it will not be possible to grow the plants to planting out stage in one year. Good teachers will develop strategies to include the germination process in their teaching but it is for this reason most regions will have small seedlings supplied to facilitate growing the seedlings to planting stage in one year.

Teachers should plan to plant a minimum of 600-800 trees in any one year, a target easily achievable using a 6m Plant Growing Unit. Managing this provides students with plenty of classroom learning opportunities ranging from counting and recording, to identifying native plants to understanding the complexities of how habitats are maintained.

Planting days, if the trees are to have a reasonable chance to survive, should take place from May to July and this determines when the rest of the programme can be implemented. Some classes can plant seedlings which have been pricked out and potted on by the equivalent class in the previous year.

Whatever, it is expected that as a result of growing, caring for and planting trees students will not only develop an appreciation of our native flora but they will also develop transferable horticultural skills which they can use throughout their lifetime.

Classroom activities based on growing trees in the TfS programme will provide the incentive to develop most if not all of the themes outlined in the environmental education curriculum
–  Education IN the environment
–  Education ABOUT the environment
–  Education FORthe environment

Just how far this is developed depends somewhat on the environmental education available at the school but the key planks of the TfS programme emphasising the role of trees in
–  controlling erosion
–  improving stream flow and water quality
–  biodiversity
–  reducing carbon emissions
provides ample opportunity for teachers to inculcate an awareness in their students of the need to maintain sustainability in local, national and world environments.

The TfS Primary and Secondary School resource material provide plenty of ideas to achieve this in the classroom.