Students Identify Interactions in the Garden

A video showing how third-graders explore interactions among diverse plants and animals in their school garden. 

Students Identify Interactions in the Garden

“Interactions in the Garden” is a film made for educators who seek to cultivate ecological literacy in urban school children.

Produced by the Center for Ecoliteracy and directed by award-winning filmmaker Tim Metzger, “Interactions in the Garden” follows a third-grade class at Hoover Elementary School in West Oakland, California as they and their garden instructor explore plant and animal interactions within a small urban garden habitat.

In this short film, Ali Goldstein, a young garden instructor, and her students spontaneously apply four dimensions of a quality academic discussion:

  • They enthusiastically share their ideas as they discover evidence of biological interactions in their garden;
  • They authentically listen to each other and at times respectfully disagree;
  • They co-construct knowledge as they look for patterns in their observations that lead to working definitions of biological interaction;
  • They demonstrate a deeper understanding of relationships in the garden by recognizing the vital role that soil plays in the survival of living beings.

Perhaps the most poignant feature of this unrehearsed film is the vivid contrast between the wild aliveness of their outdoor learning lab and the mostly barren school grounds they march across on their way to the garden. An often-missing element in efforts to cultivate quality academic discussions is the design of learning environments that stimulate children’s minds, bodies, and spirits.