An Ag in the Classroom Program that Connects with the Community
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.