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Innovation in Teaching Competition - Beyond the Textbook

Designing a Garden Bench

Courtney Bryant
Jeff Mather
Drew Charter School

Grade Level and Content

2nd Grade


During this project-based learning unit, students participate in the design process to identify and solve a real- world problem at their school – designing and building a garden bench for Drew Charter School’s TinkerYard. Students begin the unit by determining the resources needed, interviewing a master gardener, and researching details about garden benches. Then, with the help of a teaching artist, students use perspective drawing to sketch ideas for the garden bench. The unit concludes with students synthesizing drawings from the various groups, constructing the garden bench, and blending the bench with its surroundings.

Standard Addressed

ENGR-Elem4; ENGR-Elem5; ENGR-Elem7; ENGR-Elem8; ENGR-Elem10*

Available Materials

Unit Plan
Unit Introduction
Design Process Graphic Organizer
Garden Bench Brief
Annotated Perspective Image
Annotated Garden Bench Image
Annotated Protractor Image
STEAM Project Mind Map
Unit Planning Template

Video of Unit

Video 1 of 4

Video 2 of 4

Video 3 of 4

Video 4 of 4

> Download Video 1 of 4 (To save right-click then select 'Save target as' or 'Save link as')
> Download Video 2 of 4 (To save right-click then select 'Save target as' or 'Save link as')
> Download Video 3 of 4 (To save right-click then select 'Save target as' or 'Save link as')
> Download Video 4 of 4 (To save right-click then select 'Save target as' or 'Save link as')

About the Teacher

Courtney Bryant is currently a K – 5th grade Engineering and Design teacher at Drew Charter School in Atlanta, GA. Ms. Bryant holds a Bachelor’s in Art Education from Case Western Reserve University and a Master’s in Art Education from Maryland Institute College of Art. She was the Career and Technical Education Teacher of the Year in 2011 and the Elementary Winner for the Technology Association of Georgia’s STEM Awards in 2015. She serves as the department chair and a member of the school leadership team.

About the Teaching Artist

Jeff Mather is a community-based public artist & environmental sculptor & teaching artist based in Atlanta. He is a lead artist, co-founder, and board president for the Atlanta Partnership for Arts in Learning. He coaches the designing and building of large-scale architectural sculptures. He is a member of Alternate ROOTS and several of his community-based public art projects have been funded by ROOTS’ Community/Artist Partnership Program. He has also been the lead artist for the On Site/Insight Program, coaching multi-school environmental art partnerships in Atlanta Public Schools.

*Standards adapted for the elementary level from the Georgia’s middle and high school engineering and technology standards

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Disclaimer: The unit plans and materials on the Innovation in Teaching Competition website are aligned with Georgia’s standards through December 2014. English Language Arts (ELA) and Mathematics standards have been revised. The revised standards were approved by the State Board of Education on January 15, 2015. The revised ELA and Mathematics standards were renamed from the CCGPS to the Georgia Standards of Excellence (GSE).

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