2009 National Excellence in Teaching about Agriculture Award
Ms. Sue Kirk, Oklahoma
Sue Kirk wants her first grade students to not only be literate, but agriculturally literate! The environment she creates feels like being on the farm, with a Big Red Barn at center focus. The Listening Loft is on top the barn so students feel they are in a hay loft. Bronco Corral is where small group learning occurs.
Agriculture is used as the springboard to national and state standards. For example, students learn the characteristics of adult and baby farm animals.Then students connect this learning to analyze characteristics of upper case and lower case letter recognition and handwriting. Ms. Kirk utilizes ideas from the Oklahoma Agriculture workshops and online resources to enhance themes taught from August to May. Some units include Watermelon Welcome, Cycles of Life, Pumpkin Patch, Popping into Popcorn, What's Hatching? and On to Oklahoma! Students learn agricultural concepts at the same time they are learning phonics, measuring, sorting, graphing, and more. Students take objects from the classroom and discover that their roots always link back to agriculture.
Ms. Kirk shares her personal experiences through a poster she created entitled: Everything I know I learned in the Cotton Patch! She shares her enthusiasm with other teachers in workshops, showing them how to integrate agriculture into the curriculum with discovery techniques and playful learning. She knows how agriculture impacted her life to help mold her into the teacher she is today, and wants to pay this gift of agricultural learning forward to her students.