Monday, May 16, 2016

Domestic Study Away Day 4: Learning by Doing #PSUAgEd2TN

Editors Note: The following is a reflective observation from different students participating in #psuaged2TN, our domestic study away program. Matthew Snyder (@snyder6878), a junior and member of #psuaged17, shares below.  This incredible event is made possible by the generosity of the CHS Foundation. 

On Thursday the Penn State Teach Ag! Society and I had the opportunity to visit Cookeville High School. After arriving at the school we were treated with great hospitality. A lunch was served and we shared fellowship with the current Cookeville FFA members.  Building relationships and rapport with students is extremely important, in a one-day visit, but more importantly in our own programs.  As we look at having our own programs it will be important to engage students and consider their viewpoint, this will help us as we create our own programs and class content. The main purpose of this trip is to broaden our professional network and create relationships, so our future students have better opportunities. I believe we accomplished one step of that at Cookeville. 

Facilitating our lesson at Cookeville High School

While at Cookeville, our group was able to do a little learning by doing.  We facilitated one of our lessons on American agriculture by region. We started off by giving the students the needed background information through a fun interactive warm up exercise, and then moved into the “meat” of the lesson. The students were placed in groups that correlated with a region of the United States and asked to research agriculture commodities in their respective region. We then moved to the creative portion, the creation of a commercial to promote agriculture in each region. We were blown away with how creative some of these groups were. One group even created a cow costume in the short time they were given. Every teaching opportunity has helped to develop us as professionally. We also learned a lot from team teaching this lesson. It requires a much higher level of communication when you have seven teachers running one lesson. One thing I took away from the experience was that I need to slow down my instruction and make sure all students understand what is expected of them.

Learning by doing, Matthew teaching part of the lesson.

After teaching our lesson and touring their facilities, we had the opportunity to talk engage in a small professional development training focused on dual credit courses within agriculture. One of the Cookeville Agriscience teachers, Ms. Jackie Vester has been very successful in implementing these types of courses.  Ms. Jackie Vester and Ms. Patrice Watson, Director of Early Post-Secondary Education at the Tennessee Department of Education led this conversation. She explained the differences, similarities, pros, and cons of both programs. This discussion gave our entire group a better understanding of what programs are out there for students and how they can be used to boost college and career preparation. After this meeting, I feel much more confidence in giving students advice on scheduling these types of classes. High school students do not always know what they need to know or what they want. As teachers we need to take them under our wing and point them in the right direction. After having this conversation, I feel much more confident in advising students on what dual credit and dual enrollments they should pursue and what it might be like to teach one of these courses. Students are extremely busy these days so they might need advice on time management as well.

Here is a Day 4 Video created by Rose Cowan!

Follow along with our experience on Twitter by using #PSUAgEd2TN!  To learn more about starting on the path to having a career that makes a positive impact on the lives of students across the globe by becoming an agricultural educator, please contact the agricultural teacher education program at Follow us on Twitter at TeachAgPSU, on Facebook, or on our blog. 

Matthew Snyder
2017 Student Teacher
Agricultural & Extension Education

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