Thursday, October 27, 2011

Ag Unit: Cotton Samples

Over the summer, our grade level went through GLAD training.  After the training I decided I wanted to test out the strategies I learned while teaching agriculutre.  I knew ag was my classroom theme and my goal was to make sure all of my students knew about agriculture.  So, an ag GLAD unit was the perfect fit! 

Another first grade teacher decided to do the unit with me and I am SO glad she did because she is AMAZING!  We talked about the different parts of agriculture and what we wanted to focus on.  I wanted it to be something they had around them and could relate to but something that didn't really think about.  We decided on a fiber.  And cotton was it!  Originally, we were going to do expert groups and one of the expert groups would be about the other areas of ag but we didn't get to that (that will be the plan for next year).

On twitter, I asked Janice if she could send me some samples of cotton (her twitter name is @JPlovesCOTTON) and instead of just sending me a sample of cotton, she sends me this:

Getting in the mail at school was like Christmas - I was expecting a piece of raw cotton but, I got this:

huge color pictures of the different stages,

a curriculum and activities guide,

a easy to read cotton's journey map, AND cotton samples (along with oil samples and seeds, and every stage in between)!!!  I was (am still) SO EXCITED!  Cotton's Journey really is a field trip in a box - there was also a video (which I didn't watch but had every intention to), a map, songs, and many other things. 

Then, a few days later I received this in the mail:

Cotton!!  Straight from the farm in the Central Valley (of California).  Cannon (isn't his name awesome?!) picked the samples just for my class and sent them up to us.  He also blogs here

A closer look - there are closed bolls and open bolls and leaves and parts of the stem.

In a later post, I will show you just how I used these samples and Cotton's Journey!

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

San Francisco Farm Day 2011

Thursday, October 20th was Farm Day in San Francisco.  Since I was going to be in the city for the CFAITC Conference and my sister was presenting the next day I decided to stay with her and help her present.  I had no idea what to expect.  I was a tour guide for Farm Day when I was in FFA but that was at the fair grounds and the students came to us, this was completely different. 

We arrived at the school early to find a parking spot.   
All around the school there were these galvanized water troughs with plants.  I am not sure if there was one for each class or what, but it was awesome! 
As soon as you walk in the computer lab (the classroom we were presenting in) this is what you see!  I am blown away by this room - I will have to make a post just for this amazing classroom.

School started and all of the kids stopped playing and sat down all quiet and focused on the principal.  I was amazing!  This would never happen at my school (for reasons I will not get into here).  The principal talked and the kids and parents listening.  He told the kids that the animals were stuck in traffic and would be arriving late so they will have to be flexible. 

We went into our classroom for our first presentation. 

See how amazing this computer lab is?  Shannon did a great job with the presentation and the kids had some great questions. 

She talked about weed control, pest control, and plant nutrition.  Since the animals were stuck in traffic, we did double the presentations and made them half as long.  It worked out perfectly.  The sheep arrived and everyone got to see them! 

During recess I stopped the most adorable girl in San Fran - how cute is she?  Their class made a vest with farm products on it.

And the back of it - she cute out pictures and drew some of her own. 

I also got the chance to take some picture of the people from UC Davis talking about the sheep.

Then the kids got to pet them. 

This is my favorite picture from the day! 

Some of the students dressed up as "farmers."  It was cute!

They were having fun!

Shannon talking to one of the teachers. 
The greenhouse the school just got (one of the teachers bought it for the school).

Than it was back to presentations.  This class was amazing - they had some really great questions!

One of the students grow pumpkins and wanted to know something about them.  There just happened to be a pumpkin in the room so Shannon grabbed it and explained how they grow and where pests like to hide on a pumpkin. 

The sheep were just hanging out in the middle of the city. 

A mural on the side of the building at the school.

Their school garden is on the street! 

Plants in the garden.

An outdoor classroom.

And a sign welcoming everyone to their garden.

I am so glad I went!  This school is AMAZING and this experience was AMAZING!  I have never got to a school as a presenter (or photographer which is what I really did the whole day) and it feels different than going as a teacher. 

Do you participate in a local Farm Day?  If so, please tell me about it.

Sunday, October 23, 2011

Ag in the Classroom Conference

On Tuesday, I left school giddy with excitement.  I have always said that one of the worst parts of teaching is making sub plans - every little tiny detail needs to be written and explained so another person can teach your class.  And, I don't like to keep my stacks of paper out (I don't want the sub to think I am messy) so I also have to clean (more like move my stacks into the closet and lock the door, but whatever).  But, the lesson planning and cleaning was all worth it because early Wednesday morning we made the trek down to San Fransisco and even the Highway being closed didn't stop us from getting to Cow Palace for the Ag in the Classroom Conference.
Cow Palace.

I loved the table centerpieces - I should have got a set of these post cards!

As we arrived breakfast was being served (buffet style) and there were many tables with information for us to look over.  I love that metal pheasant on the left.  This booth was about ag in the classroom.
And there was a booth full of free stuff (teachers LOVE free stuff).

The other side of the free table. 

The California Beef Council table - I got a bumper sticker here.  I also talked to them about my plate.

I liked this poster and thought it would be something we could make with the kids.

The FLP table - FLP stands for food land and people, I didn't visit this booth, I just took a picture of it.

The life lab booth.

I took a picture of this set because I loved it and guess what?  I won it!!  So exciting!!

This book also looked really good.

This is Judy Culbertson, the executive director of the CFAITC (California Foundation for Ag in the Classroom).  She spoke a bit to welcome us.
If I remember correctly this is Dan Desmond, and he spoke a bit and welcomed us too.

Then there was a farmer panel. 

This is Dennis Hellwinkel and he is from the Nevada Ag in the Classroom - he seemed like a really nice guy.  He reminded me of my grandpa and looked a little like my Uncle Kenny.  He grew up on a ranch and owned a dairy. 

Side note - the woman in front of me is Renee - she works for ag in the classroom and is a fan of this blog - isn't that amazing!  When she told me at the very end of the day I was shocked - I didn't know what to say!  I've never met anyone who reads the blog (aside from my family and friends) - so hi Renee!!  Thanks for reading!!  Please leave a comment to tell me if I missed anything from the conference!

This is Ira Brister and he works for Foster Farms.  It was great to have a "big ag" farmer being represented - I liked how he put a face to a "corporation" but it would have been even better to have a person from the foster family there.  He talked about growing up and why he chose a career in poultry - he was pretty funny!  A great speaker.

This is Rick Phillips - he grew up on a dairy.  To be honest I was a little confused about what he does - he works in ag for a corporation (J.R. Simplot Company) - I just don't really know what he does. He was a good speaker and brought a national and global perspective.   

After each of the farmers talked there was a question and answer time.  There were a few good questions.  Someone asked Ira about organic, natural, and conventional I think she asked which is better - she didn't like his answer so she asked what he eats and he said conventional (which many people were surprised to hear but I expected).  I think that is my favorite question for farmers - What do you choose to feed your family.  There was also a question for Ira about the percentage of contracted bird and the percentage or company grown birds.  My coworker didn't know what that meant so I will explain it here too - contracted means farmers grow something (in this case chickens or turkeys) following a set of rules (set by the company they have a contract with) and it becomes property of the company come harvest time.  The farmer gets paid by the company and the company markets the product under their name.  It is a great way for small farmers to get a fair price for their product without having to go to market their own product.  

I know there were more good questions . . .

Next it was time for workshops.  There were four to choose from and we got to pick two.
We chose Eating Healthy from Farm to Fork.  We did an activity where we drew our favorite meal on a paper plate and then found a group that had the same thing as we did, then we traced it back to a plant.  for example, I drew beef (the presenter thought it was a potato - lol) so beef comes from a steer which eats grass and grain which are plants.  It was easy for us, but would be too hard for my first graders.  I might adapt this and have each student draw their favorite meal and then do the rest whole class. 

I know this book and love it - but I don't own it.  It is about a rabbit who tricks a bear and agrees to have the top or the bottom or the middle of a plant and the bear can have the rest - it is great for teaching parts of a plant that we eat. 

We also got some great info about farmers markets.

Then, it was time for lunch . . .

But we had to stop and take a picture with the turkeys.  This is my adorable coworker - she is AMAZING!

And here we are in the cage.

After we got our lunch Michael Marks talked to us.  This was the 25th anniversary of California Ag in the Classroom so he talked all about produce that was not here 25 years ago.  He kept asking if we remember this or that about the produce isle 25 years ago.  25 years ago I am pretty sure I was only drinking breast milk, so I didn't spend much time in the produce isle.  He was a great speaker - very enthusiastic about produce and knew so much information but it wasn't geared toward a young teacher like me.  Most of the teachers were older than I am so I am sure they enjoy the trip down memory lane much more than I did.  I enjoyed the facts he shared and the history of the produce.   

Mini pumpkins, personal watermelons, grape tomatoes, tomatoes on the vine, pico de gallo, fresh herbs, golden kiwi, and yellow pineapple were all not here 25 years ago. 

Then it was time for the last workshop.

We chose Cattle Ranching in the Classroom.  We almost didn't pick this because my sister is a rancher and we could have gotten this from her.  But, making my own brand sounded really appealing, so we went with it. 

A hide - I took a picture to remind myself that I was to find someone to tan a hide for Heman's room.  Wouldn't a cow hide rug with the family brand be awesome in his room?

Some brands he brought to show us. 

He explained to us how he starts his lesson - with a map to show how different the west is from the rest of the country.  He also talked about the allure of cowboys to young children. 

I know this is a bad picture, but this book looks really good. 

A kit he came up with for this unit. 

My brand! Circle S - do you like it?

Then, Miss Grand National and Cotton Rosser came to talk with us.

Cotton really enjoyed telling stories ... he was pretty funny.

Then we took a short tour of Cow Palace. 

I didn't hear anything he said, so I just took pictures. 

He showed us how the shoot opens.  Imagine how many great bullriders came out of these gates. 

We came back to the building for the make and take sessions. 

Mini Greenhouses - very cute!

Great book that I had not heard of.  Will be great to get for our plant unit in the spring.

We loved this pictorial and are going to recreate it for the plant unit.  My coworker (isn't she adorable) is also holding a great book (that I own a few copies of) by Gail Gibbons - Gail Gibbons is one of my favorite authors.  She writes many books about agriculture. 

Tree cookie name tags - like the one Bev is wearing here.

To finish off the conference Sherrie, the Literacy for Life award winner spoke.  She thanked us for coming and gave us some words of encouragement. 

I am very glad that I finally went to this conference (I have been meaning to go since I started teaching but always had something else going on)!