Saturday, April 18, 2015

Uno: The Lone Survivor

Throughout the poultry reproductive unit in Animal Bioscience, the students continuously reminded me of all the fun we could have if we had some little chicks in the classroom.  Finally, after days of requesting and hinting at the fact that they wanted some chickens, I gave in to the idea and broke out the incubator.  Ok, that's kind of a lie.... I was the one who had to convince the students that it would be fun but that's only because they didn't know what they had been missing...

I came in the next Monday with 3 dozen fertilized eggs from my aunt's farm (thanks again, Aunt Libby!) ready to put in the incubator.  With any luck, we would soon have 35 little chicks in 21 days! Notice how we were an egg short of 3 dozen... That's why high schoolers don't work in a professional hatchery... Because eggs are breakable...

As the 21 days went by, my students were becoming more and more interested in the hatching process.  One of the students, Austin, became like my second hand man in the process.  Austin came down each day, twice per day, always checking the incubator.  Each day, two different students were on what we called "chick duty" for the day to monitor the incubator and collect all of the appropriate data.  All seemed to be going well.
Poor Uno a few hours after hatching 

I, along with Austin, candled the eggs and determined that there were 12 or so eggs that we were sure had taken.  Not great, but we could live with a 50% hatch rate.

When day 21 came, we looked for any signs of pipping, or little beaks poking through the shell.  But there was only one.  Only one little guy that had started to hatch and, as it turns out, he would be our only one.

We watched the chick hatch for about a day until we noticed that something wasn't quite right.  It seemed as though he had gotten stuck and was no longer making an progress.  So at this point, it was either help him hatch, which is rarely in the chicks best interest, or he wasn't going to make it.

So throughout the rest of the day, I spent a lot of time at the incubator, moistening the chick down to try to continue breaking some of the shell away.  Finally, enough had been removed that the chick was able to break free. Being that he was the only one of 35 eggs to make it, we named him Uno.

Uno had a rough start to life and the trouble hatching was only the beginning.  His feathers didn't look quite right, his left wing is smaller than the right wing, and his legs didn't work well either.  Thinking that Uno wasn't going to make it, I purchased a few more chicks from our local Ag store so that way the student could still continue on with the project.

However, apparently friends were all Uno needed!  After being in with the other chicks for a few days, Uno has made great improvement.  His legs are working great, is feathers are fluffing out, and he is eating and drinking like a champ!

So I believe we can all learn a little something from Uno.  Despite a rough go in life, you can always count on your friends to pick you up when your down!
Uno is the little guy on the left.  Looking much better!

Thursday, April 16, 2015

A Visit Close to Home

Recently for my fourth visit to see a student's Supervised Agricultural Experience program, or SAE project, while at Greenwood, I didn't have to travel far from home.  In fact, I just stopped at my neighbors to meet Ethan while he was out for his evening chores.  Ethan's parents, Heather and Pete, were great blessings in my life these past 15 weeks.  It was because of them that I had a place to live while student teaching and not only was it my own place, but an adorable farmhouse!  But I digress...

Ethan is in the 8th grade at Greenwood Middle School and currently serves as a Middle School FFA officer.  Ethan currently keeps records on a Swine Entrepreneurship SAE for his first year in FFA.

I visited Ethan at his parents' farm, Brummer Farms.  The farm currently houses more than 100 ewes and raises various types of beef cattle.  Ethan is responsible for approximately 10 sows, which have, or are preparing to, farrow (so there were piglets everywhere!).  Ethan’s plan is to continue to raise all of the sows and keep two for showing and send 2 or 3 more to market.

Ethan has shown great involvement with the day-to-day responsibility of swine production.  Ethan has began a great SAE program that offers plenty of opportunity for growth over the next few years of Ethan’s FFA career.

As a point of improvement, I encouraged Ethan to continue to work to build his financial standings and keep his record books up to date.  However, being that this is Ethan's first year keeping SAE records as an 8th grader, it is easy to see that Ethan is going to go on to do great things; maybe even receive a state FFA proficiency award!

Tuesday, April 14, 2015

Our Kids Change the World

A little while back, I came across a YouTube Channel with a few videos.  The videos all stared a young man who goes by "Kid President".  I watched a few of the videos and was taken aback.  This kid was making profound statements about truisms of today's society that many of us are tempted to just overlook.  One of my favorite videos of the Kid President was entitled How to Change the World. Check out the video below.  

I think many of us might choose to keep scrolling when coming across a video or article with such a title, viewing this as a seemingly unreachable goal.  However, it was worth the watch to hear opinions on how to change the world through the young eyes of a child.

It made me laugh a little as I watched the video.  This kid was right, it's not about being the coolest or the richest or having the most connections, its about an attitude change.  It's about a contagious attitude change that fuels a chain reaction of new actions that lead to results.  I've got goosebumps over here!

But not just goosebumps from the video.  I've got them because I've seen the shift.  I've had the opportunity to see my students be those students who know what it takes to start a trend, who are "cool" to everyone without a second thought, who make a difference each day.

So while I had the opportunity to accompany my students to the Pennsylvania FFA's State Legislative Leadership Conference a few weeks back, I knew that they attended this event just thinking its part of what they do.  But what I saw was different; I saw six young individuals who were gearing up to change the world.

The whole purpose of this conference was to familiarize FFA members, who are by nature already cultivated leaders, with the legislative process so that they may soon be actively engaged citizens to fairly represent the agriculture industry.

They were engaged in conversation, actively participating in legislative simulation, just "doing their thing".  I saw them growing right before me but they didn't even know it.  To them, this is what they do.  They learn, they grow, they make a difference.

The Kid President got it right.  Its a change in the attitude, a need for forward thinking.  One of the greatest privileges of my student teaching internship is being a part of growing that mindset within my students, the ones who are the change.

Sunday, March 29, 2015

A Trip Out West

This past week, the Janae's (for those of you who don't know, there are actually two of us...) packed up and headed out west!  In the middle of the spring snow storm and 4 hours later, we arrived at Conneaut Area Senior High School to visit a good friend of ours.

Ms. Laura Metrick is currently student teaching with Ms. Ellen Aurand at Conneaut and is rocking it out!  We had the opportunity to see Laura in her element working with her kids and doing great things.

It was evident that Laura is really stretching herself and growing as a teacher throughout her student teaching experience.  We watched Laura go from instructing her students in the wood shop as they completed their wood stool projects, then move seemlessly into classroom mode where her students continued to learn about plant physiology.

Ms. Metrick's students weren't the only ones learning that day though.  Laura is doing an awesome job incorporating technology into her classroom and gave me a few pointers to take back to Greenwood.  Conneaut students each have an iPad that they are given to use in class and Laura has found creative ways of utilizing those resources.  I had the opportunity to watch her use apps, like Nearpod, to take her accelerate her classroom through a digital platform.

Our 4 hours through the snow was well worth it this past week.  It was great to see one of my closest friends transform from student to teacher, from Laura to Ms. Metrick.

Monday, March 16, 2015

When Passions Combine

So probably one of the neatest things that I have done so far during my student teaching experience happened this week.  This week my students had the opportunity to volunteer at the Keystone National Truck and Tractor pulls.

My students spent two days at the PA Farmshow Complex working with the PA FFA association to help with the truck and tractor pulls.  There were students selling 50/50 tickets, collecting admission tickets, and even students down in the pits and on the track, helping to hook the sleds and run the tube (a large plastic tube attached to the exhaust of the pulling tractor to help funnel the emissions out of
the area).

It was very cool to finally see students who don't usually accompany us to FFA events and competition come a long and really enjoy their time.  Those boys who are usually hard to get off the farm even found themselves having a great time!  My personal experience was a little different, however.  I'm not sure how, but I found myself working security on Saturday night during the championship pull.  I have to say, I think I did pretty well; I even broke up a fight... However, I'm still waiting for my vest that says SECURITY and my walkie-talkie...

But aside from the fun I had chaperoning my kids and playing security guard, the  experience meant something else to me as well.  It was a great chance to spend time being surrounded by tractors; something that I love.  It was refreshing and fun after a really stressful week but what was unique about this stress reliever was that this time I didn't need to step away from my adviser duties.

Usually, when the stresses start to pile up and I feel a little overwhelmed, I try to find something I enjoy and take a break from the wearing my teacher hat.  But this time, I got to wear my teacher hat while doing something that I love (not that I don't love teaching, but ya know....).

Even though this was just a small event in the grand scheme of things, it was a refreshing experience to realize that this is where I belong.  Just by doing my job as an Ag teacher, I have the opportunity to experience things that I love in the process; not instead of being with my students, but while being with my students.

Friday, March 6, 2015

The Student Becomes the Teacher

Recently I had the unique experience of doing my first Supervised Agricultural Experience, or SAE, visit with one of my students as their student teacher.  I stopped by Mrs. Pontius' house, my cooperating teacher, one day after school to see one of our students working during his placement SAE working on the dairy farm.

It was such a neat experience to see one of my students, who is usually shy, working hard in his own element.  A student who is usually quiet in my classes was buzzing around the barn just doing his thing.

I stood back, just watching and observing for awhile as he brought in the cows and put the milkers on and fed the cows.  And then he turned to me and said, "Your turn!"

I may be an agriculture student but I'm no dairy farmer.  I had never milked a cow in my life!  His response, "Nows a good a time as any!"  Good point, my friend...

So I grabbed ahold of the milker and gave him a blank stare.  I had know idea what to do.

But my student was great!  He gave an excellent explanation of which button does what, which teat to hook up first, how to clean the cows, everything that I could have wanted to know.  I helped to finish the milking, feed the calves, and put down the hay for the cows and heifers.  I was so proud of this student!

We took a look at his record books, however, and they simply did not reflect all of the hard work he was putting in at the farm.  I hope to help this student continue to improve his financial records and journal entries for his SAE before the time I leave Greenwood.  I know that he is so capable!

It was just a fun experience overall!  The student teacher went to see the student at the cooperating teacher's farm where the student is the employee.  The student then became the teacher to the student teacher while the other teacher supervised the teaching that the student was doing for the student teacher.  Needless to say that by the end of the night, it was hard to say just who was teaching who what, but I know that I learned so much during my first SAE visit!

Friday, February 27, 2015

A Change of Plans

Why fit in when you were born to stand out?
-Dr. Seuss

This week, I have had the valuable, and slightly less pleasant, experience of rejection. My first job interview was this past week and it did not goes as planned. Well, that is to say it didn't go as I had planned it would go...

I walked into my interview with an ease about myself. I was confident, collected, and ready to roll. I had all 90 pages of my portfolio, each in its proper place between two plastic page protectors, none without their corresponding label. In the pocket of my portfolio was a flash drive, complete with a digital copy of my work and 2 video clips as evidence of my teaching abilities. How could they say no? How?

Well, it was easier for them then I thought. I went through the interview, answering question after question, posing thoughts and ideas, asking questions right back. I was engaged, present in the experience, enthusiastic about the opportunity. I saw myself there. I could go there.... 

But I don't go there, and I won't go there....

I didn't get the call I expected.  A friend of mine received the call.  It wasn't that I couldn't believe that she got the job over me, it was that I couldn't believe I wasn't good enough.  I did everything I was supposed to.  I had the portfolio, I followed up with a thank you, I wore my suit, I researched the community.  But I wasn't good enough...

Those of you who know me know that I can be a perfectionist at times (but only a little, I promise.....).  I was devastated that I did not get the first job I interviewed for.  How could this be?  But having thought about this for a few days now, I realized that it really isn't that hard to understand at all.

Its not that the other candidates were better than me, its that I'm different.  Its not that I don't belong there, its that I fit better at a different place.  Its not that I can't teach well, its that I teach differently.  What I am discovering this week is that this whole student teaching thing isn't about being better or worse, being stronger or weaker, being near or far, its about being different.  Each school is different and each candidate is different, but somewhere there is a match.  The goal is not to be better than the others, the goal is to find the match that is different in the same way as you are.

And so, throughout this process of interviewing for the first time and not receiving that call, I have learned a few things.  First of which is to always pack your own snow plow when driving north, but that's for another story.  I've learned that I am different.  I am different than my 17 classmates and that I am different than the other Ag Teachers.  But somewhere there is a place that is different too, in all the right ways.

So to the candidate who took the job, I know you will do great things there and that your students will be blessed with a teacher as passionate as you are.  And to the school that is different in the same ways as I am, I don't know who you are yet, but I'm coming... and I'll see you in the 2015-16 school year.

Monday, February 9, 2015

23,000 for the 1 in 9

According to the United Nation's World Food Programme, 1 in 9 people in the world are food insecure, or do not have enough food to meet their nutritional needs.  That is the equivalent to about 805 million people who do not have enough food to live an active, and healthy life.

This past week, the Greenwood FFA has been firing on all cylinders to do their part in contributing to the fight against hunger.

Tuesday kicked off what we have been referring to as "hunger week" at Greenwood.  On Tuesday, the Greenwood FFA was joined by other chapters from the Cumberland, Dauphin, Perry Area to participate in a Stop Hunger Now event.  The students, working efficiently in stations, were able to package an impressive
23,000 meals that will be distributed to 30 different developing countries.  These meals not only go to people who do not have enough food each day, but specifically to young students who attend school to receive a free education as well as a hot meal each day.  The students learned an invaluable lesson about the cycle of poverty and how education is the solution to combating food insecurity.

Packaging 23,000 meals was quite a way to get our chapter ready for our next big event.  On Friday evening, with the help of the Perry County Grange and various churches from around the area.  Guests received envelops with different amounts of "money", depending on their assigned socio-economic status; first, middle, and lower classes.  Different social classes were able to afford varying amounts and types of food which included a ham loaf dinner, pot pie, or rice and beans.

The meal, which looked a little different for all 135 guests, was followed by a guest speaker, Kevin Faith from the Bureau of Food Security, and a question and answer session about perceptions and experiences of guests with varying statuses.

After everything was said and done, in addition to the 23,000 meals packed, the Greenwood FFA was able to raise $2,652 to be donated to the local food bank.  Our kids had a big week that was a great display of their even bigger hearts.  The work ethic, ambition, and global dispositions of our students were showcased this past week to kick-start an awe-inspiring initiative of addressing food insecurity by the Greenwood FFA.

Friday, January 30, 2015

It's Elementary, My Dear...

As my third week comes to a close here at Greenwood High School, I find myself amazed at the efforts of our students working toward their upcoming Hunger Banquet event on February 6th.  It seems as my week has been filled with meetings and lessons and events all geared toward supporting Greenwood's anti-hunger efforts... and it rocks!

One of the unique things I have had the chance to do with my students in the short time that I have
been here so far, and is a part of the Hunger Banquet project, is wrapping up this week as well.  In the FFA Leadership class, my students worked hard at developing lessons which they delivered to
elementary students, ranging from kindergarten all the way through 5th grade.  The 10 high schoolers taught the elementary kids about what it meant to be hungry and that not everybody gets to go to bed with their bellies full each night.

After each lesson was over, the elementary students placed their hand print on one of the 3 six-foot posters that will decorate the banquet hall on banquet night.  The handprints are arranged in a total of 18 small circles, each representing a dinner plate that will hold a fact or statistic about food security around the world.

When we began this project, we were hoping that two, maybe three, elementary classrooms would humor us for an afternoon to let us do our thing.  However, the response we had was overwhelming.  We elongated our teaching time from one day to two and ended visiting 8 different classes (and the whole 5th grade at one time!)  It was awesome to see my students getting excited about educating younger students.  I may have even spotted a few potential teachers...

Friday, January 23, 2015

A Black-Tie Affair

As my second week comes to a close, I would say it was a little less than elegant... but stellar nonetheless!! Though I'm still working to find my stride with all my classes, I believe its begun to click with my first period Plant Science crew.

This week we started digging into hydroponics (well, not literally... there's no dirt in hydroponics!  See what I did there...) and were having a blast doing it!  On the second day of class we had the Hydroponics Challenge, where students were asked to take some items that I collected and develop their own system that they believed would support plant life.  We had some great ideas!  I was throughly impressed at the ingenuity of these students; though I was a little shocked when I turned around to find a group using a large piece of spouting that I definitely did not provide.  They say they got it from the greenhouse, but I have my doubts...

We ended the week by hosting our very own black-tie event.  Well, a little less black tie and a little more drawstring hoodie type event, but it was still mighty classy!  Our class became a brand new Hydroponic Corporation that wanted to promote their product, so we hosted a Hydroponic Dinner Party!  The task was for the "dinner committee" and the "dessert committee" to create a dish to serve at the dinner party that was comprised completely of fruits and veggies that could be grown hydroponically.  The committees did a fine job and provided us some scrumptious dishes, that made finishing our guided note packets a little easier.

Weighing fish with Bob,
my favorite custodian
All in all, my week was great, but let's be real, it can't all be fun and fancy parties.  There were some challenges too.  I made it through my first in-service.  The most exciting thing do to on an in-service day, you ask?  Well, we weigh the fish of course!  I'm sure that contributed to professional development... in one way or another...

However, the challenges really fell with the snow.  I experienced my first early dismissal and 2 hour delay, back to back.  It posed a little bit of a problem because the project we are working on in our FFA Leadership class has an outside deadline, but we are flexible and making do.

I look forward to starting my 3rd class next week with the industrial arts instructor.  I will be beginning a metal fabrication unit with his students... his two 4th period students.  I was nervous at first to be in front of only two students but the more I think about it, I'm ready for another set of challenges, so look out Greenwood, Ms. Bisquick is ready to get her weld on!

Friday, January 16, 2015

Introducing the Newest Wildcat: Ms. Bisquick

Introducing the Newest Greenwood Wildcat:
Ms. Bisquick

After just 5 days in to my student teaching experience, not only have I gained a new desk and a new name, but also a whole new set of challenges.  I often go by Ms. Bisquick while at school; its a long story but apparently Bickhart sounds like Bisquick and it just kinda stuck... 

All in all, my first week has been a blast!  What started out as simply a week of observation, has turned into a week of many hats.  I've been a substituting, AET-teaching, copy-making, Moodle-doing, lesson-planning, exam-grading, chaperoning, post-it note-using, FFA Jacket-fitting, Farmshow-going, bonified, first-week approved student teacher.  After all of that, I even had time to fit in a great conversation about scrapple-making with my favorite custodian, Uncle Bob.

But it hasn't all been a frenzy of fun... I've had some stretching experiences this week as well, mainly in the category of classroom management.  Teaching some lessons on record books and AET while my cooperating teachers had substitutes for the day was a lot of fun, but proved to be challenging as well.  Working with kids with only establishing limited rapport is tough and resulted in some frustration.  My goal is to continue working on relationship with my students so that hopefully by the time I begin to teach that particular class, we have established some mutual respect and we both can learn a little something.I have had a great week here at Greenwood!  I enjoy working with the kids, my teachers are great, and I have experienced nothing but hospitality from other faculty and the administration.  But if someone were to ask me which moment was my favorite, it would be tough to choose, but I believe Sun Salutations Plant Sciece during our weekly session of Stretching with Sam would take the cake!

Monday, January 12, 2015

No Days Like Snow Days!

Today is day one of my student teaching internship.  I laid out my clothes, Greenwood FFA windbreaker included,  the night before, packed my bag all up, ready to chaperone my first (official) field trip as a student teacher.  At 5:30 am I am up and moving and ready to get this show on the road!  But wait, just kidding, we have a two hour delay...

Ok, no problems, just a little behind schedule.  But wait, just kidding again, school's closed for the day... Again, no worries... We are Ag Teachers now; do you think we would really let a little (or not so little...) bit of ice stand in our way?!

And so we were off!  Off to the PA Farmshow in our Silver Bullet (a silver van that is the pride and
joy of the Greenwood School District).  Unfortunately, because of the snow day we were not able to take our kids along.  However, we were pleasantly surprised to meet a few of them at the complex when we arrived. ;)

I had the opportunity today to get acquainted with the PA FFA Alumni Foundation's Jacket Scholarship program while working with my cooperating teacher, who just happened to be in charge of making sure that 550 freshman students had jackets with their names on them, sitting on the backs
of their chairs when they arrived.  It was awesome to place so many of the corduroy jackets today, knowing that today was the beginning of 550 new FFA careers.

Also, even after only officially being at Greenwood for one day, I am al
ready so proud of my kids!  5 Keystone Degree recipients, 2 Regional Stars in Agricultural Placement and Agriscience, 1 Washington Leadership Conference Scholarship recipient, Agriscience projects earning 1st place and "Best In Show", multiple freshman members receiving their first Greenwood FFA Jackets, and a super experience with two of the best teachers around!