Planting a Community

October 26, 2020

Riverhead Middle School seventh and eighth grade English as a New Language students are bringing the book “Seedfolks” by Paul Fleischman to life through a planting project spearheaded by their teacher, Martin Faint.

Inspired by the book, which discusses a community coming together to renovate a blighted vacant lot in their city, the students are growing plants that they will use to construct a model of the book’s setting.

“I thought the upbeat message about a diverse group of people working together for everyone’s benefit was perfect for our ENL students, especially given the challenges that we have all been through this year,” said Faint.

By planting a variety of seeds, the students are enhancing their literacy skills by carefully reading planting instructions. In addition, they are measuring plant growth daily, logging measurements on a Google spreadsheet and hypothesizing why some seeds grow faster than others.

“We are discovering that, like people, seeds come in all shapes and sizes,” said Faint, “but with some care and attention, they can all flourish.”

Science teacher Ann Priapi furthered the project by sharing her expertise on planting and providing the students with a grow rack and a watering can. Science teacher David Leone also pitched in by offering ultraviolet luminescing beads so students could measure the amount of light needed for growth as an independent variable.