Wisconsin Ag in the Classroom has always had online resources, but staff and volunteers never realized the value until this last month.
With schools closing across the country, sending students home to parents or guardians who didn’t envision themselves as teachers, having ready-to-use lessons, resources and activities has been a godsend for many.
Ag in the Classroom staff and volunteers have learned that there are different kinds of users, for example, there are teachers trying to find lessons to use in virtual classrooms; there are parents who are working from home and teaching their children; or there are extended family members who are teaching if the parents are going to a job site.
Other things that we discovered are that lessons and activities must be easy-to-use, user-friendly to students along with using supplies and resources that a family has available at home and the activities must be fun. Ag in the Classroom can provide these resources at state and national levels along with working with our partners in agricultural literacy.
On a national level, the National Center for Agricultural Literacy has introduced e-learning sections on the Ag in the Classroom website and started an AgBytes blog to share lessons for K-12 students. The resources that are available include a curriculum matrix that can search more than 400 lessons, activities, companion resources, videos and educational tools in its database.
On the National Agriculture in the Classroom website, the ‘Student Center’ tab has educational games, career resources, agricultural facts, virtual field trips and Ag Today readers. The ‘Teacher Center’ tab has resources including: A hatching science center, school garden center and STEM activities. In addition, there are 360 agriculture links for using 360 videos, Google Street View and Google maps; a curriculum matrix; state commodity information; and teaching and learning strategies.
The Journey 2050 sustainability program has transitioned some of the lessons that a teacher would use to lessons that a student can view, and parents can teach. This is a great resource for middle school and high school students.
Also, Ag in the Classroom offers a video series of fields trips, ‘Where are we going today with Wisconsin Ag in the Classroom,’ that have accompanying worksheets. #WIAITCWhereAreWeGoing?
The deadline for the annual Ag in the Classroom essay contest for fourth- and fifth-grade students was extended, as well as the deadline for the National Ag Day contest for students 12-years-old and younger. Parents or guardians are encouraged to send those entries directly to Ag in the Classroom staff. We are making many of our booklets available to download from the website, adding new hands-on activities and are working to update older lesson plans to make them available.
The American Farm Bureau Foundation for Agriculture also has provided a weekly lesson plan series for K-12 grade students with links to videos, lessons, books and activities. They have many free, downloadable resources about energy, beef, sustainability, misconceptions and links to videos.
The My American Farm series of games and lessons for Pre-K-fifth grade students offers the games, lessons, activity sheets and color pages.
It will be interesting to see how the interactions between parents and teachers change now that parents have worn the ‘teacher hat’ and how we can use technology to save costs and to bring outside resources to our classrooms.
For other great Wisconsin educational resources, visit these websites: