Ag in the Classroom
News & Notes
Welcome Back to School!
Thank you so much for your commitment to your students, especially in this time of such uncertainty. I know that your plans and approaches change regularly, but want you to know that Ag in the Classroom continues to be a resource to you, your students and their families.
Whiteside County AITC – 2020 Virtual Classroom Visits
Weekly Video Visits
Starting after Labor Day, I will send you a short, weekly video clip highlighting Whiteside County agriculture. I’ll plan to post this to our “Whiteside County Ag in the Classroom” YouTube Channel every Friday so that you have something new to use each week. These will be short and simple – 2-4 minutes about something fun or fascinating related to agriculture. These should be easy for you to use as filler at lunchtime or during a transition time. They should also be easy to use with your virtual platforms for students who are eLearning. I’ll plan to post an “Introduction” video this Friday, August 28th – knowing that we might have some technology challenges when we first get started. I’d love to include a student in each video – if you have someone who would like to be involved, please let me know. It can be as simple as them sending me a short video clip asking me a question about agriculture (to AITCwhiteside@gmail.com). We might need to be a little strategic – they need to ask a question that relates to Illinois agriculture in some way – but I can get pretty creative in making connections.
Monthly Hands-On Activity for your Classroom
Starting in October (with a few test sites in September) - if you would like to connect me virtually, I’d be glad to teach a hands-on activity with your students once per month. I’m sure we’ll have lots of tweaking to make this work, but I’m envisioning that I can drop off any necessary supplies to your school. Scheduling should be relatively easy – my calendar is pretty open and I won’t have any travel time so I’m hoping this will be an option to connect with your students whether you’ve got a full classroom, hybrid classroom and/or virtual learners.
October is Farm Equipment
We’ll relate it to the kinds of equipment they are likely to see in the fields this fall and each student can design a piece of equipment using common items (craft sticks, cardstock, paperclips, etc.). While I can provide some basic supplies via a school drop-off, it's an activity that can easily be tailored to supplies that your at-home virtual learners will have on hand. Let me know if you’d like to pilot test the lesson with me in September or if you’d like to schedule for October.
“Whiteside County Agriculture in the Classroom” Facebook Page
We’ll be using our local Facebook page as our primary platform for reaching all students and families throughout the school year. Please continue to encourage families to follow us on Facebook. I’ll begin daily posts after Labor Day with the following five-day format:
- Major Crops/Livestock (corn, soybeans, dairy, pigs, etc.) – different monthly commodity
- Specialty Production (pumpkins, alpaca, turkeys, etc.) – different monthly theme
- History of Agriculture (related to other themes – i.e. AE Staley’s influence on soybeans and the Chicago Bears and ADM in Decatur)
- Science & Technology (again, aligned with other themes – use of drones for crop production, corn and soybeans as renewable fuels, etc.)
- Field Trip Friday – my goal is to have a short video of a virtual field trip each Friday. For the most part, these would be recorded. If you’ve got ideas for specific field trips, let me know. It will be easy to take field trips out into local fields this fall during harvest and then we’re thinking of things like a turkey farm in November and a Christmas tree farm and maybe a greenhouse full of poinsettias in December.
Whiteside County Ag in the Classroom YouTube Channel
We added YouTube to our outreach this summer. You’ll find lots of our Farm Camp videos posted there now. Additionally, I’ll continue to post most all of my new videos to both Facebook and YouTube so that you and your students can access them in which ever way is easier for you.
Live Virtual Field Trips
I’d love to do some live field trips with kids, but that can have its challenges. If you’re interested in that, let me know directly and we’ll see how it goes. Scheduling, weather and connectivity can make going live a little tricky, but if you’re willing to try, I am too!
Be on the lookout for our new “Whiteside County Ag Mag” this fall, featuring major and specialty commodities and producers from right here in our area. Additionally, Illinois Ag Mags continue to be a free resource for you in print or digital format. If you’d like print copies, just let me know how many you need, I’ll get them ordered and drop them off at your school. Note – several of our Ag Mags may be out of stock in print form, but they are always available electronically. The electronic versions do have a number of interactive links that supplement the print content. A complete list of Ag Mags is available here: http://www.agintheclassroom.org/TeacherResources/AgMags.shtml
Resources available from Illinois Ag in the Classroom
Our Illinois Ag in the Classroom staff have been busy developing new resources for this fall and I encourage you to access these resources as well. These include:
“Illinois Agriculture in the Classroom” Facebook page – be sure to follow their page to stay up to date on the professional development and classroom resources that IATC has for teachers including:
- Weekly featured lesson – September will feature apples and soils
- Monthly Classroom Challenge – September is a Pumpkin Transport Machine
- Monthly Family Engagement Challenge – September is Applesauce
- Monthly Cooking Challenge (for families) – September is Apple Smiles
- PD in your PJ’s – teacher training one Saturday a month at 9:00 a.m. – September 19 is Pumpkin. A sign up link is below.
- Monthly Virtual Field Trip – September 3rd is Braeytigam Orchards in Belleville and October 1st is Heap’s Giant Pumpkin Farm in Minooka
- Monthly Author Interview – September 10th is Lisa Amstutz, author of Applesauce Day
- Weekly book reviews of some of our favorite ag-related children’s books
I try to share their posts pretty regularly on our local Facebook page but I encourage you to follow the Illinois Agriculture in the Classroom page.
Beginning after Labor Day, we’ll be send you a quick weekly update from Ag in the Classroom – to let you know what we have posted and what we have planned (agriculture is weather-dependent so can’t plan exact details too far in advance). As always, let us know if you have specific requests.
Thanks again for your continued dedication to education, your students and their families.