I had a stickler of an elementary education professor in college. The most memorable feature I can recall from her courses (aside from failing a case-study assignment—it’s a long story) is how strict she was about our lesson plans. I remember hating having to write them because she insisted on excruciating thoroughness.
So what single skill have I most often used in my professional career since college? Writing lesson plans, of course. Even though I’m not a classroom teacher, every time I plan a new program or project, I write some version of a lesson plan.
According to my professor’s rules, the first and most important thing to establish when writing a lesson plan is your objectives. As in, what do you want your students to know or be able to do when the lesson is over? The rest of the plan: materials, anticipatory set (a.k.a. attention-getter or interest approach), procedure, reflection, and assessment should revolve around the objectives.
It’s easy, when developing a plan of any sort, to get lost in the weeds and lose sight of where you were going. I am notorious for chasing squirrels as I plan any presentation or program—“Ooo, I can show this cool demonstration! Oh, I should share this book/website. Hey, what if I incorporate this fun activity?” Because of this tendency, I have lots of practice forcing myself to circle back and say to myself, “Wait. What are my objectives? How does this idea fit?”
That brings me to our new ag literacy website, GrowYoungMinds.org, going live this month. It’s new, it’s shiny, it’s engaging, and it contains a ton of information and resources. But I had been wishing for and working on this website for so long that eventually I started to question my sanity in wanting to have it developed in the first place. “Was this the right thing to do? Will it actually be useful? What was I thinking?”
Of course, the answer to those questions is to circle back again and ask: “What are my objectives?” To increase agricultural literacy, obviously. Okay, but what IS agricultural literacy? The National Agriculture in the Classroom Organization helpfully defines an agriculturally literate person as one who “understands and can communicate the source and value of agriculture as it affects our quality of life.”
I’m confident that over time our new site will help to accomplish our objective of increasing ag literacy. It does a great job showcasing what we have available for area educators who impact thousands of students every day.
Teachers will be able to view and request a wealth of teaching resources. They will also have at their fingertips the dates, details, and deadlines for all our popular programs, like Ag in the Classroom, the Food for Thought Placemat Design Contest, and our Summer Ag Institute.
Educators and others will be able to quickly access dozens of fact sheets and articles about farm and food topics. We’ll be sharing our own educational videos and favorites from elsewhere. We’ll also link to other reliable resources for agricultural information—favorites of ours that nevertheless might not be the first sites that pop up in a Google search.
The mission of our agricultural literacy program is to promote awareness, understanding, and knowledge of modern agriculture in DeKalb County. GrowYoungMinds.org is another tool to help us do just that. Go check it out!