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Check out the Chickens Workshop

Page history last edited by kay hones 3 years ago

Check Out the Chickens: Unique programs supported by the school library


Check Out the Chickens poster.pdf




50 minute agenda

10 minutes Overview of School, students & grant background

10 minutes Student service learning & leadership

10 minutes Library-Garden-Animal programs & grants

5 minutes Chicken photos

10 minutes Brainstorm student leadership & grant writing tips (whole group)

5 minutes Reflection & 3-2-1 (individual)



Students take “life skills” classes each week learning gardening, cooking, budgeting, carpentry, art, music & other projects. Civic Center serves students in grades 7 through 12 and is located one block from city hall. All are at-risk students, with habitual truancy, behavior issues and histories of suspension, expulsion and probation. Several students live in group homes, foster care and some are homeless. 78% of the students are identified as special education. Civic Center serves a maximum of 60 students each year. Students are assigned to Civic Center throughout the year.

Our school library supports learning for all students incorporating academics, physical exercise, healthy eating & mental health activities.  In the library  provides books, media, guest speakers & garden related programs.  I have written several grants for garden programs, often with student input. The garden has become a special & integral part of our library program. In the garden, teens find a space that provides quiet work time, occasionally building projects AND the wonder of seeing things grow that most have not ever experienced.

Last year students began cooking healthy breakfasts & our science teacher brought eggs from his hens. Everyday there would be a line out the door for egg sandwiches!! So I wrote a grant for chickens!!
Chickens are a great service-learning project for students and help them better understand living creatures!!

Students learned about raising urban chickens & being responsible for them including feeding, cleaning their home & making sure their coop is in a safe place.  Students are already cooking with eggs each week and now they will learn much more about eggs & chickens. 

Before the little chicks arrived, students read from the chicken book collection & build a coop. Many students had never held a live chicken before!


Student Service learning

Students  grow plants that attract birds, butterflies and bees.  A year ago they create birdhouses from recycled materials & bee safe areas.  The library had speakers come talk to the classes about endangered bees. Teens planted "butterfly" bushes to encourage butterflies to come to the garden, too. The garden is 6 raised beds located between to staff parking lots and in front of the bungalow where teens go to get work permits.

Students are able to work in the garden every day.  Some days they have been busy clearing & composting plant matter.  Other times they build a variety of structures like a bench, some irrigation systems and birdhouses.  Students collect a variety of recycled materials for starter planters and birdhouses. Prior to Covid-19, some students came early or stayed after school to work in the garden.

The garden is part of our STEAM curriculum for all students.  Students work hard to recycle materials, especially for when they want to start seeds before replanting in the garden. Teens have built birdhouses from a variety of recycled materials, too.  

Library Garden Programs

In the garden a local naturalist & artist, John Muir Laws worked with the students to create nature journals. He emphasized how important it is to observe nature and taught students some basic drawing techniques.  Our teens were very interested. In fact they wanted to stay in the garden past the program time & continue working in their nature journals.

Several students have created a “native plants” section in one raised bed to attract birds, bees & butterflies.  They have studied some of the native plants of this area & selected some of them for the native plant section.  Students are growing food plants and some native plants for birds, butterflies & bees.  Students are researching & selecting plants that do well in our specific climate.  They also discuss & decide on which plants will be able to grow in the space we have.  We are researching & discussing trying an indigenous method of growing several plants together in one space. We also added a greenhouse using grant funds.

Students have planted seeds in starter containers & shared with the neighborhood elementary school.  They also created birdhouses for the school.

Some students have been researching recipes in the library collection from many cultures & they hope to cook these recipes after they grow some of the ingredients. Working with Voice of Witness students learned to do oral interviews. They interviewed family or community about a favorite recipe. These recipes were sent in to 2020 Students ReBuild program.

Our science teacher has coordinated the garden program for several years.  He works with the students in coming up with new & innovated ideas for gardening like a living plant walls!!


What are your students interested in?  When/how do students help in the library & with library programs?

Where to find grants: CTA/IFT grants, KidsGardening.org, Planet Bee, donorschoose


3-2-1 Reflection

KE Hones was the school librarian at Civic Center Secondary, San Francisco. During 2013-2014 school year, she created brand new libraries at Hilltop & Civic Center. She is a National Board Credentialed librarian. Her overarching goal is to promote the enjoyment of reading. “Each month I spotlight multicultural/YA displays & free books for home libraries. She matched library programs to student interest with guest speakers, authors & field trips that spotlight the rich resources available in our collection & community. In addition she wrote grants to expand programs with authors, community resources, special events, field trips.”





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