Tuesday, September 23, 2014

Impact Presentation: Woodbury FFA Alumni

On Tuesday, September 9th, I had the opportunity to present to members of our Woodbury FFA Alumni and Parent Support Group.  This organization consists of primarily current student's parents, some of which are graduates of our ag program, as well as recent graduates, and a former ag program director.  Also in attendance were a few current students, who attended along with their parents, and my fellow agriscience teaching staff. In total, there were approximately 50 people in attendance.

I modified the previous presentations that I have done for our faculty and staff and UConn student teachers in order to target this particular audience.  I tried to focus more on the community based involvement that we witnessed at Suwon, as well as the examples of the recent alumni of their programs coming back to teach students skills in the evening.

Unlike the previous presentations, I did not get a lot of questions.  It might have been that it was about 8:20pm when I started to present.  One question that did stand out what the following:

Were you able to ask the community members who were volunteering their time at the schools why they chose to spend that time in the school?  What benefit did they feel that they were gaining by involving themselves with the education of the students?

I thought this was a great question, but I didn't feel as though I had really asked these community members this question myself.  I attributed their desire to be involved with the students as part of jeong, which is the very classic "Korean notion of caring for others and putting others before oneself."  You can read more about jeong, here.

Wednesday, September 3, 2014

Impact Presentation: Nonnewaug High School Faculty and Staff

Today I presented for about a half hour to the faculty and staff of Nonnewaug High School, which included teachers from all subject areas, Guidance staff, administrators, and Library staff, for a total of approximately 80 people.

I started out by asking the staff what came to mind when they heard the word "Korea."  Answers ranged from anything related to K-Pop, to things they had heard in the news regarding North Korea. It was interesting to hear what they had to say, especially since more than one person had confused my trip for having been to Japan.  I think it was useful for me to include a picture of the world map to help them orient themselves.

As far as the general theme of the presentation, I tried to focus on not only what we learned specifically about Agricultural Education, but also about general education in Korea.  I also emphasized the mentoring experience that we engaged in.  It seemed to tie in particularly well with what we had been discussing in our Professional Learning today, since we were going over the new Teacher Evaluation Rubric from the Connecticut Common Core of Teaching. 

One of the areas that we are assessed on is "Professional Responsibilities and Teacher Leadership."  In order to demonstrate an exemplary rating, one must "Participate actively in required professional learning and seek out opportunities within and beyond the school to strengthen skills and apply new learning to practice, as well as taking a lead in and/or initiates opportunities for professional learning with colleagues."  It seemed that what our practice in Korea was doing, was helping to model a method of Professional Learning that could be implemented in the U.S. as well.

Much of our Professional Learning today was centered on "data-driven decision making", "research" and lots of number crunching.  When presented with this information all day, it can be extremely overwhelming and daunting to feel motivated about the craft of teaching.  I emphasized the focus that South Korea is placing on "Happy and Creative Education for All" as a way for us to re-center our learning on the art and passion we all have for teaching.  I felt that the staff responded in a very positive fashion and they seemed to enjoy the presentation quite a bit!

Questions asked include the following:

1. What do people do for recreation in South Korea?
2. With all of the emphasis on intensive hands-on instruction, how many students go on to pursue a college education in South Korea?
3. What is South Korea's stance towards GMOs? (Genetically Modified Organisms)
4. When you were planning your micro-lessons, did you bear in mind the "Happy and Creative Education for All" as a guiding principle for lesson planning?

I really enjoyed the opportunity to present to my fellow staff members.  I had the unique chance to teach fellow teachers about agricultural education through another lens.  We have a lot of new staff at our school, so not only did this teach them about Korean Ag Ed, but also Agricultural Education in the US. 

While I was answering the 4th question listed above, I had the opportunity to share the "nugget" of information that we formulated while at Yeoju: "Good teaching for English Language Learners or other students with learning needs, is good teaching for all students!"  I emphasized the need for planning that doesn't focus exclusively on hands-on activities that are fun just for the sake of making students happy, but also for them to be "hands-on, minds-on."  Frequently Agriscience classes may have the misconception that they are just classes for kids to "go play in" without learning any meaning behind the activity they are performing.  This discussion was the perfect platform to help dispel that myth.

Tuesday, September 2, 2014

Jeremy: Presentation on Agriculture in Korea for Orange County Agricultural Educators

On July 31st, I gave a presentation about my trip to South Korea and the agricultural opportunities that I got to participate in while visiting the country. My audience was all of the agricultural educators of Orange County Florida. I used a photo presentation, rather than words on a screen. While in Korea I took over 1000 photos; what better way to show them off then by using them in a presentation.

Food in South Korea

During my presentation I explained the story behind each photo that I had taken. The look on the audiences faces were priceless, especially whenever it came to pictures of the food that we got to experience. They found it very interesting the way South Korea's educational system differed from ours; specifically agricultural education.

Botanical Garden in South Korea

We discussed many differences in similarities between that of the US and South Korea whenever it came to agriculture and education. We also were able to discuss ways that we can incorporate global agriculture into our classrooms. Overall, I believe that the presentation was a big hit and that the educators enjoyed being able to learn from my experiences in South Korea. I am very glad that I had the opportunity to share my pictures and experiences with a great group of educators!

Thursday, August 7, 2014

Impact: XM Radio Broadcast!

Prior to leaving for our amazing adventure to Korea, I was contacted by a member of the National Association of Farm Broadcasters about doing an interview for their RFD-TV Radio show on FFA Today!  I was super excited to talk with her about not only what was going on in the ag program that I teach in, but also to discuss the things we learned in Korea.  I mentioned this to her, since initially, she wanted to interview me during the time frame in which I would be gone, but she was fortunately very flexible with the interview times and gladly offered to interview me upon my return to the U.S.  Turns out, that she had already heard of the trip!  Very cool.

I was asked a few questions including the following:

1. How long have you been involved with FFA and why did you become an FFA Advisor?
2. Your chapter now raises vegetables for the school cafeteria and the local food pantry.  Tell us about this and how it has impacted your students.
3. You also traveled to South Korea in July to work with the Future Farmers of Korea.  What did you do on this trip?
4.  So why do you think FFA is an important and relevant organization for students today to be a part of?

If you'd like to listen to the interview, check it out here! It originally aired on Saturday, July 26th, and Sunday, July 27th.

I feel like I tried to cram a lot of information into each answer, so perhaps some of the responses came off a bit rambling, but I really enjoyed the opportunity to reach more people with the message of FFA and #AgEd2Korea!

Monday, August 4, 2014

The Korea Room - Studying Abroad at Governor's School

This year during the Pennsylvania Governor's School, hosted at Penn State University, we had the opportunity do offer a week-long course on Global Agriculture.  The week focused on sharing opportunities in Agriculture across the globe with 27 stellar high school students.  Throughout the week students learned a traditional Malaysian agricultural dance, experienced Indian cuisine, and learned about just how far their food travels from field to place.
Students experiencing traditional Korean Hanbok
In addition to these activities, the Governor's School students had the chance to engage in their first study abroad! With their own Governor's School passports in hand, our students traveled to the Korea House to learn  about six different aspects of Korean culture, all of which we experienced first-hand while on our #AgEd2Korea adventure just a few weeks ago.

It was incredible to see our students so involved in each different station; some students were really competitive at the "Chopstick Challenge" and others were so focused on decoding our Hangul message.  Though some of our students had been to other parts of the world, for many this was their introduction to cultures other than our own.

I believe we provided a positive and memorable first experience in International Agriculture, not only with the Korea House, but with each lesson over the course of the entire week.  Each of our students had a taste of what it was like to study abroad and I am confident that they will each enter the global age of agriculture hungry for knowledge of other cultures and prepared to be those positive agents of change.

However, the students weren't the only ones who benefited from this lesson.  For the six 2015 student teachers that contributed to the lesson, this was great practice for sharing our experiences in our future classroom.  All of the brainpower and hard work that went into creating the Korea Room really challenged us to develop a way of sharing the importance of our journey that impacted each student and allowed them to take part in the experience as well.  Though they may not remember just how kimchi is fermented or how to write their name in Hangul, they will always recall that one time when those crazy Penn State people got all pumped about agriculture in other countries.  And maybe, just maybe, our enthusiasm and our stories will inspire those students to take their own global journey.

Want to check out the Korea House? Click on the video below to get a glimpse of our study abroad!

Friday, August 1, 2014

Why should you care what I did in Korea?

Since returning to the United States, I have talked to many people about the trip. Some of the most popular questions include:
  • "What was the weirdest food you ate?"
  • "What was your favorite part?"
  • "What was the worst part?"
  • "Where did you go?"
  • "Who did you go with?"
Many more questions follow, but one that makes me the most excited is "What are you going to do with what you learned?" You may think this is weird, but as an educator, I am always striving for more knowledge. If I can share that knowledge, then I am sharing one of my greatest passions.

Chris Wilder, Kelli Hamilton and Jason Steward
This week I was able to work with Chris Wilder and Jason Steward again to share our experience with fellow Ag Educators at the Florida Association of Agriculture Educators conference. There were about 15 people in the session. We experienced a great open discussion with the teachers that posed many valid questions.

With the assistance of Jeremy Rhoden, we were able to tie in the experience (global education) to Florida Sunshine State Standards of the various agriculture courses offered in Florida schools. This showed them where it was required that they teach about agriculture on a global scale. But we also shared ideas on how to include global agriculture and global economies in all the courses and levels that we teach.

As an introduction for the session I prepared this video. It was a short something for them to see a little bit of what we did and why we went to Korea. It also started their wheels rolling.

We had a lot of positive feedback from the participants. I am proud to say that at the end of the information session, there was an enthusiasm for the upcoming year and including more global aspects to our curriculum.

Dr. Kirby Barrick, Jason Steward, Chris Wilder, and Kelli Hamilton

If we are to help develop globally competent individuals, we need to be able to relate the things we interact with everyday to the world around us. It is not just about our small community, it never was. We are just a small piece in a giant puzzle. As educators, it is our responsibility to start and continue opening the eyes of our students, to help them realize that, no matter what, we are all connected; if by nothing else than agriculture.

Friday, July 18, 2014

Impact on University of Connecticut Agricultural Education

Yesterday, I hosted the Methods of Teaching Agricultural Education class from the University of Connecticut, at my school.  This year, there are 5 students in the one-year certification program class, and their Professor, Dr. Patricia Jepson, holds class at a different ag center each week.  They have class once a week for 6 hours, and while they are at each center, they meet with some of the ag teachers there, and tour the facilities.  Because the certification program has several different campuses at which the classes are taught, this was the first time that all five Ag Ed candidates were meeting all together.  They started out their day by introducing themselves and their background regarding Ag Ed.  Some had been through School Based Ag Education (SBAE) and others hadn't.  I spent a majority of my time giving them a tour of our facilities and then spent about half an hour talking about my experiences in Korea.

Prior to their visit, I sent them the blog link and twitter feed info, and some of them did indeed read it!  During my presentation about Korea to them, I had them engage in the "Simulated Confusion" activity that Cassidy designed for our reflection.  It worked pretty well for the intended purpose of creating confusion with both the "students" and the "teacher," though I had to step in and model some of the communication behavior between "students."  After this activity, we had a conversation about why this activity was done- to simulate the feeling of confusion that some of our students may have in our classes, especially if they are English Language Learners or students with a learning disability.  I think the activity hit home for these teacher candidates.

UConn Ag Ed Master's Students participating in the "Confusion" activity.

After that activity, I posed the question, "What does it mean to be globally competent?".  It was clear that this was something that the teacher candidates hadn't considered much about before, so we broke it down into smaller chunks.  In preparation for my presentation, I did some research and found a great resource for teaching global competency.  According to the Global Competence Matrix, global competence is defined as "the capacity and disposition to understand and act on issues of global significance."  Once I read that off to them, we brainstormed different skills that would be necessary to accomplish that goal of being globally competent.  The Global Competence Matrix identifies 4 major skills or ways that students demonstrate global competence:

1. Students investigate the world beyond their immediate environment.
2. Students recognize their own and others perspectives.
3. Students communicate their ideas effectively with diverse audiences.
4. Students translate their ideas and findings into appropriate actions to improve conditions.

I gave them some resources from the Global Competence Matrix, including some ideas for how you can implement these skills into your classroom. 

We also discussed one of the ideas that we reflected on while in Korea:
"Teaching that works well for English Language Learners is good teaching for everyone!"

I wrapped up my presentation with them by going through a Power Point that I put together highlighting Korean SBAE and the 4 high schools that we visited.  It was very difficult to sift through the some 2,000 photos I took and put only a few key photos in the presentation!

I think these teacher candidates might benefit from more guided instruction regarding the impact points we brought back with us from our trip, but at a later date.  Right now they are still trying to wrap their head around U.S. SBAE.  Great first presentation!

Oh, What an Experience!!

The School-based Agricultural Education Across the Globe program is history for 2014. And oh, what an experience it was!

Eight undergraduate and eight graduate students from the University of Florida and Penn State University and four faculty from UF and PSU began the journey with a 10-week course during Spring 2014, providing essential background in preparation for the in-country experience. Then 28 days in the Republic of Korea provided the culmination to a learning adventure that was a huge success.

Interactions with counterparts at Seoul National University, Suncheon National University, and Gwang-ju National University of Education provided the central focus of the study abroad portion of the program. Programs and activities related to Korean heritage and culture and "seeing the sights" brought a greater understanding to all we had learned about Korean agricultural education as well as US school-based agricultural education programs.

What did we bring home?

First, we know a lot more about Korea, from the ancient dynasties to post-war reconstruction into a major economic and cultural center. We learned about the various ways that agriculture teachers in Korea receive preparation to become teachers, including Practical Arts teachers in the elementary schools. We discovered a variety of delivery mechanisms for agriscience education, including comprehensive high schools that offer a variety of agriculture programs, Meister schools that are heavily supported by industry to provide training in a specific field, and vocational-technical schools that operate their own agriculture enterprises in a self-management scheme. We heard about and witnessed the pressures and concerns regarding production agriculture in a country with relatively little available land and lots of people to feed. And we interacted with education leaders who described the goals of public education within the new administration. And we brought home a lot of souvenirs!

But international activity is more than what we received. What did we leave behind?

In working with undergraduate students at Seoul National University, we left behind a group of students who have experience in teaching high school classes, from preparing micro-lessons to delivering instruction. We left behind teaching activities that high school teachers can use in their classrooms in Korea. Hopefully we left behind a better understanding of US school-based agricultural education and appreciation for the positive relationships between the two countries. And we may have left behind some students and teachers who will come to the US for additional education.

From sharing meals with new friends (Korean barbecue, kimchi, pizza and chicken . . . the list goes on) to lunch with a university president and the Vice Minister of Education, every activity was a learning and growing experience for all. We look forward to hosting some Korean teachers and students at our universities, as we have already begun plans for 2016!

We owe a lot of thanks to all who hosted us, especially the students, faculty and administration of Seoul National University.

Monday, July 14, 2014

What did you learn?

Although we have recently returned to the U.S., we will continue to post thoughts and stories from #AgEd2Korea participants to reflect on the breadth, depth and diversity of our experiences in Korea.  This blog showcases some of the answers to the question, "What did you learn through this experience?"

Deanna teaches at Suwon H.S. for the Agriculture Sciences
"I learned that international travel develops more awareness that I had ever thought it could or would." - Deanna

"I learned that students can get excited about learning all across the world if you just show them that you care and take time to try to understand them and help them, no matter what barriers you are faced with."  - Jason

"I learned that the Republic of Korea is a very open welcoming society that has a lot of advancements and are on the road to keeping their country green and sustainable. I also learned that the relationship between the North and South is far more complicated then I could ever imagine." - Rachel

"Through my experience in Korea, I learned that students will be students no matter where they are from. I have also learned that even with language barriers, that deeper level learning can occur if the teacher is passionate and uses hands-on skills to teach the lesson. I also learned that non-verbal communication is sometimes more understanding and clearer than verbal communication." - Jess

Abby interacts with elementary school students
"I learned that just because there is a language barrier, does not mean you cannot interact with others." - Abby

"I’ve learned why we have to be aware and we have to encourage our students to be aware of what is going on in the world around them because they never know how something or someone from their home can somehow influence the world." - Amanda

Sunday, July 13, 2014

How has this experience helped you grow professionally?

Although we have recently returned to the U.S., we will continue to post thoughts and stories from #AgEd2Korea participants to reflect on the breadth, depth and diversity of our experiences in Korea.  This blog showcases some of the answers to the question, "How has this experience helped you grow professionally?"

"I believe this experience has helped me grow professionally in many ways. I think one of the biggest thing was the relationship that I developed with my fellow travelers. I have hugely enlarged my network of professional agriculture teachers that are specialists and I would feel comfortable contacting them for help or advice if needed." - Abby

Cassidy and her teaching partner at Suwon High School
"The chance to microteach was very beneficial.  Co-teaching, except during workshops, was something I had never done before. During the actual lesson, we ran into problems that might occur in any classroom-lack of time, cultural/language barriers. I think this experience was a good practice for later on. Since we had more people helping us, the support system was there as well." - Cassidy

"I feel like I am much more comfortable in meeting new people and most importantly, my ability to command the attention of a group. Through the few lessons I taught at Suwon and at Yeoju I have felt like I have improved greatly in my confidence level in teaching. If I can teach a class of Korean students who can’t understand much of what I am saying and they still learn, I think I will feel very confident teaching an English speaking class!" - Stacia

"As a professional educator I am walking away from this experience with an arsenal of ideas to implement directly into my agricultural education program as well as a greater sense of social responsibility to develop my students into global citizens through agricultural education. These professional growth takeaways would not have been acquired domestically." - David

Tyler interacts with peers from Seoul National University
"I think I have developed a great deal professionally by adding a large portion of global competency to my skills tool belt. Before this trip, I had little to no experience with other cultures. Now, if I were to work with someone professionally who is from a different culture I believe I would be able to have a much more positive experience. Not only do I believe this would apply to people of different cultures, it would also apply to people of different backgrounds or thought patterns, of which I may be unfamiliar." - Tyler

"This experience has changed me several ways. As a teacher, it has changed me by having me see that I need to be incorporating more global concepts into my lesson plans." - Jess

Janae, Kelli and Sarah taking a Korean quiz
"As a professional teacher, I have become more empathetic towards my English Language Learners. After going through the language course here, where I was the language learner, I had all those frustrations, struggles, let downs, and high points that my students experience as they are learning English." - Kelli

"I feel I am more prepared to teach after this experience. If I can teach a group of Korean students in a different language, I can teach a group of American students." - Rachel 

"As an agriscience teacher, traveling to another country and immersing myself into their culture and studying the agriculture education system has opened my eyes to the global agriculture world. I plan to use this knowledge to share with my students, alumni, community and other agriscience teachers. I know that my students will benefit from this experience as well because it has made me a better teacher." - Jason