Category Archives: Methods

What is “microteaching”?

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(…) Invented in the mid-1960s at Stanford University by Dr. Dwight W. Allen, micro-teaching has been used with success for several decades now, as a way to help teachers acquire new skills. (…)

Micro lessons are great opportunities to present sample “snapshots” of what/how you teach and to get some feedback from colleagues about how it was received. It’s a chance to try teaching strategies that the teacher may not use regularly. It’s a good, safe time to experiment with something new and get feedback on technique. (…)

For more information, go to

(excerpt from Wikipedia)

An Exercise: Patterns

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Photo by SullySilly

Shared by Graham Bell, from a recent PDC Handbook.

Why are patterns important?

  • They are easy to remember.
  • They are portable and so can be used anywhere.
  • They are universal so they fit changing circumstances.
  • They are strong because they bind their elements together (‘geodesic strength’, tesselation).

Patterns can be physical, behavioural or structural.

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An Exercise: What is Energy

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Shared by Graham Bell, from a recent PDC Handbook.
Most of us have heard at some time in our lives, E=mc2. Some of us know that it’s the basis of Einstein’s theory of special relativity. A lot fewer of us know what that means!  But you don’t need to.

From a permaculture perspective the key point behind the theory is that matter can neither be created, nor destroyed.  And the same is true of energy.  Designing efficient systems is all about how we manage energy.

There are three main kinds of energy we need to be concerned about:

  1. Potential
  2. Kinetic
  3. Entropic

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Micro-teach session: Abundance games

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This post describes how to teach a game called “Resource Line” (and is a summary of a micro teach session with Mirka by Andrew Zionts at the Barcelona meeting).

The lesson plan is as follows:


  • To discover more about each other’s knowledge and skills.
  • To create more beneficial connections between participants.
  • To explore the abundance paradigm.
  • To build community.

Useful for adults.

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A Book Review Exercise: “A Selection of Wise Words”

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Joel Rosenberg
Joel Rosenberg

by Joel Rosenberg

Context:  I’ve used this method with master level art & design & architecture students when running an intensive one week workshop called “Foraging and Gardening in the City” in Helsinki, Finland 2011-2013. This method can be used on a PDC too.

Duration:  Part I. 30min. + Part II. 5min./student (12 students = 60min.)

Description:  Before the session the teacher selects a number of books that she/he thinks could be helpful for the students.

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Introducing How to Teach Patterns with Kirsty

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(Note: This session would be best to give early in a PDC. The session plan for this session can be found at the bottom under “Resources”)

Time needed:  Best as a one-hour session, possibly longer. It can be flexible to fit the time available. Introduce the topic of patterns to the class and state why it is important in Permaculture. Invite the group to step up to the square paper sheets (different sizes) and ask how many times they can fold in half. Keep going until you can’t go further. Ask if there are any common experiences?

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Introducing How to Teach Inputs & Outputs with Joe Atkinson

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P108 in the Permaculture Teachers Guide has a full class plan for this exercise.

Time needed: Best as a one-hour session, possibly longer. It can be flexible to fit the time available.

This activity can sit in different sessions. This is usually one of the first sessions on a PDC. Good to use to introduce principles and systems in a non-threatening way.

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Sample Session: Permaculture Ethics

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Given on Wed 25 Sept 2013 by Joe Atkinson, UK, at Mas Franch, Spain

A french write-up of this workshop is also live.

Opening question: The teacher asks if the students know the ethics of permaculture, and if they can explain what they mean for them. Afterwards, the teacher summarises the main points, and can add some comments as appropriate.

Method: The teacher draws a circle on the floor (e.g. with chalk or strings) with scales to represent the “Fair Share” ethic. Then two further overlapping circles are added for “Earthcare” and “Peoplecare.” (An object can be used in each case to represent the ethics). This portrays the ethical framework of permaculture, and a brief explanation can be given on how they are related and interconnected. The simplicity and universality of this framework is highlighted, and its uniqueness to permaculture. In general there is no reason for Earthcare nor Peoplecare to be controversial; however “Fairshare” may provoke more debate. The importance is that these ethics offer a set of tools rather than a set of rules to follow.

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A Teaching Method: Groups

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02-Aljaz-giving-Groups-Session Aljaz from Slovenia delivered a micro-teaching session on Wed 25 Sept 2013 at Mas Franch during the Spain EPT Meeting to demonstrate and reflect upon ‘Groups’ as a teaching methodology.


The session opens with the following question: How do you feel about working in groups?

Some possible responses could be:

  • Can be very inspiring
  • Can be difficult if there is a negative ambience
  • Depends a lot on the personailities within the group

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