An Ag in the Class­room Pro­gram that Con­nects with the Com­mu­nity

The Denver Post - - COLORADO KIDS -

Andy Klatt, the Phys­i­cal Ed­u­ca­tion teacher at Grandview El­e­men­tary, at­tended the Food, Fiber and More Sum­mer Agri­cul­ture In­sti­tute put on by the Colorado Foun­da­tion for Agri­cul­ture. Like all Colorado teach­ers who find ways to earn con­tin­u­ing ed­u­ca­tion or re­li­cense cred­its, Andy had the same in­ten­tions. How­ever, dur­ing the week of class a bright light turned on and Andy found him­self in­spired, un­like ever be­fore. Look­ing at new in­no­va­tive ways of teach­ing cross cur­ric­u­lar in­te­gra­tion through move­ment, Agri­cul­ture was the miss­ing link. "Wit­ness­ing first hand what hap­pens on the land sur­round­ing me - the bag of sugar from the sugar beet that al­lowed me to bake choco­late chip cook­ies or how the milk that is in my ce­real made its way from the farm to my ta­ble, was fas­ci­nat­ing to me." Andy ex­plains. The first time at­tend­ing the class, (he has taken the class more than once) it was lo­cated in Mor­gan County where the em­pha­sis was on live­stock and al­ter­na­tive en­ergy. The sec­ond class in Fort Collins fo­cused on crop pro­duc­tion, man­age­ment and wa­ter. Ac­cord­ing to Andy, “It’s ex­tremely hard to put in words the value of the sum­mer in­sti­tute - wit­ness­ing the num­ber of hats each per­son in the ag in­dus­try wears – busi­ness owner, pro­duc­tion man­ager, tech­nol­ogy IT di­rec­tor, mar­ket­ing, wa­ter con­ser­va­tion, fuel econ­omy, me­chanic, sur­veyor and all while hav­ing a self­less at­ti­tude that is con­ta­gious. Grandview El­e­men­tary Prin­ci­pal, Dave Grubbs, teaches re­la­tion­ships, rigor and rel­e­vance. Spend­ing time with many of our lo­cal grow­ers makes me work more ef­fi­ciently while fo­cus­ing on the 3 R’s.”

Andy's lessons which con­nect these con­cepts are quite unique. For ex­am­ple, Choles­terol Tag has be­come a class fa­vorite. Stu­dents will fol­low the lines in the gym sig­ni­fy­ing ar­ter­ies while LDL (rub­ber chick­ens) tag the cells run­ning on the line. Once tagged the cell sits down, cre­at­ing a block. Stu­dents play­ing the role of HDL carry a red hula hoop. These stu­dents will place the hula hoop over those sit­ting, give them an ex­er­cise to per­form. Then the stu­dents are able to par­tic­i­pate again. Moral of the game – proper fats and ex­er­cise and your ar­ter­ies can play.

Gro­cery Cart is an­other fun, phys­i­cal game. Stu­dents work in pairs with a small sin­gle-seat scooter (ro­tat­ing be­tween who sits and pushes half­way through) to travel from one end of the gym to other. At the far end of the gym are hun­dreds of lam­i­nated clip­pings of food (raw and pro­cessed food) that stu­dents can find in a gro­cery store. Andy will tell the stu­dents to find foods high in a par­tic­u­lar nu­tri­ent and/or vi­ta­min (i.e., pro­tein). Stu­dents will roll across the gym, find the food they think is high in that nu­tri­ent and/or vi­ta­min, and roll back to the start, and re­peat for an­other food find­ing trip (at least two trips). Once all of the stu­dents have fin­ished, Andy will en­gage the stu­dents in a dis­cus­sion of their choices and if they meet the re­quire­ments for their nu­tri­ent and/or vi­ta­min. Andy fo­cuses on the health im­pli­ca­tions of these choices as well. For in­stance, a break­fast high in sugar will cre­ate en­ergy crashes ver­sus a break­fast with the ap­pro­pri­ate amount of pro­tein which will help pro­vide bal­anced en­ergy. He will also talk about where these foods come from and con­nect them to their agri­cul­tural lessons. Andy will then chal­lenge stu­dents to “go back to the gro­cery store” to find other foods that would com­ple­ment their first choices in mak­ing a com­plete, bal­anced meal. Af­ter the sec­ond round of push­ing their gro­cery carts Andy dis­cusses these choices with the whole group. The Gro­cery Cart game is just one ex­am­ple from Andy’s cur­ricu­lum which in­cor­po­rate agri­cul­ture top­ics with in­no­va­tive phys­i­cal ed­u­ca­tion cur­ricu­lum.

Andy has also en­cour­aged his fel­low ed­u­ca­tors to at­tend the Food, Fiber & More Sum­mer In­sti­tutes. Now agri­cul­ture is in­cor­po­rated into sci­ence, math, health and lit­er­acy classes at Grandview. He has also re­cruited ed­u­ca­tors from other schools to at­tend and they too have found the fun in bring­ing agri­cul­ture into the class­room. Grandview El­e­men­tary pro­gram has ex­panded be­yond the class­room into other schools and the com­mu­nity.

Andy Klatt sur­veys the Grandview El­e­men­tary School gar­den. Stu­dents at play in the school gar­den - sam­pling the chives.

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