This past June, Belgrade Central teacher Eric Brooks, traveled to the National Agriculture in the Classroom Conference in Kansas City, MO to present a workshop focusing on integrating literacy, agriculture, and technology. The workshop highlighted the work his class did when piloting the new Maine Ag in the Classroom Book Barn.
The Book Barn is a traveling library of agriculture books and teacher resource guides to increase agricultural awareness in schools and provide access to accurate information about farming. Mr. Brooks’ class created book trailers using their iPads after reading and studying agriculture-related books. Creating the book trailers brought in several writing components including writing strong leads, writing conferences, editing, revising, and allowed students to focus on reading fluency as they practiced their scripts to be recorded.
While in Kansas City, Mr. Brooks also attended several workshops focused at integrating agriculture into core academic subjects, was able to visit the Harry Truman Presidential Library, and networked with several other teachers from across the country who integrate agriculture topics into their classrooms. Mr. Brooks represented Maine as the 2017 Agriculture Teacher of the Year and the National White-Rheinhardt Award Winner for Agricultural Literacy. His trip was sponsored by the American Farm Bureau Foundation for Education.
In June 2018, Maine will host the National Agriculture in the Classroom Conference in Portland, Maine! This will be the first National Ag Conference held in Maine and will bring over 450 people into the state for the conference and will feature the theme “Agriculture for ME on Land and Sea!”
For the coming school year, Mr. Brooks plans to integrate more math concepts into agriculture and will also incorporate Maine Wild Blueberries into the curriculum in order to raise more awareness about Maine’s “superfruit.” Students will be creating persuasive writing pieces and artwork to promote the health benefits of eating Maine Wild Blueberries and learn about how wild blueberries impact the local economies in Maine and across the country.
The Belgrade Central School garden is currently being rebuilt as they begin refocusing garden efforts into a new Literacy Garden. Funding for this project is from the Lowe’s Toolbox for Education grant. There will be gazebo area benches surrounded by garden boxes essentially creating a new outdoor classroom space. Staff and students will also be completing a school wide reading of “Only One You” by Linda Kranz, which will tie into the school theme of Be Responsible, Communicate Respectfully, Spread Kindness, and Stand Tall for Tolerance. Students will then paint a small rock to be incorporated into the new garden area.
written by Eric Brooks