2008 National Excellence in Teaching about Agriculture Award
Ms. Jo Conrad, Nebraska
With increasing reading fluency in her school's improvement plan, Jo Conrad saw an opportunity to incorporate information about agriculture in the daily timed reading exercises with the Crop and Livestock Cards offered by Nebraska AITC. Each student has a notebook including the cards, seeds, and reading passages Jo rewrote from the information on the back of each card. Each card has two or three passages written at reading levels of 3.2 to 5.6. Daily timed readings are conducted with a partner. Toward the end of the week, each student meets and reads the passage to the teacher who records errors, the number of words read, and finally listens to the student retell, in one minute, what they recall from the passage. The class further expands on the agriculture theme with a visit to a farm, creating "Harvest A Victory" art murals for the school halls, making corn husk dolls from husks collected at the farm, and tasting food made from corn. Worksheets for math, logical thinking and science further bring agriculture to every part of the curriculum. Jo comments, "It is a great way to immerse students with information about crops and livestock. Students look forward to this activity, while meeting a school wide goal and the state standards."
Jo Conrad brings over 29 years of experience to her third and fourth graders. She is a past recipient of the Nebraska AITC Teacher of the Year Award and was a presenter at the 2007 National AITC Conference.