Texas Agriculture December 4, 2015 : Page 16

A different kind of classroom TFB names Agriculture in the Classroom Outstanding Teacher By Julie Tomascik Associate Editor Curious students fill the class-room where intriguing lessons plans await them. And a teacher, passion-ate and patient, takes them on a “My whole life has been centered around agriculture—growing up on a farm as a child and marrying a farm-er and rancher and moving up here to this area,” Knauf said in an inter-view with the TFB Radio Network. ferent places. They study the perme-ability and discuss what grows in each soil type. And agriculture even finds its way into their reading assignments. “In reading, one of the main chap-ter books that we go through—and we’re doing it right now—is Farmer Boy by Laura Ingalls Wilder,” she said. “It talks about farming in up-state New York during the 1860s.” The book offers a chance to com-pare farming methods then to those now used in modern agriculture. She brings to class her antique butter press and samples of pork crackling—both are part of the book the students are reading. “They love it. They just thor-oughly love it,” Knauf said. “In fact, they’ve asked me to take them to our little town museum to see what they might see there that we have been reading about in Farmer Boy .” Last fall, Knauf even had an aquarium full of tadpoles and a bin full of mealworms. The students watch the life cycles and discuss the roles each play in the environment. But there could be more crea-tures in the classroom at any time. Because Knauf encourages her stu-dents to bring in any creatures they deem appropriate to observe. The learning doesn’t stop there. Two microscopes and boxes of prepared slides are available for stu-dents. But Knauf understands the value of self-discovery. And lets the students study their own items, like leaves, insect parts and even their own blood. At least twice a year, the students hatch chicks in an incubator. But they’re all different breeds, sparking discussion among the students. She’s even brought in cotton plants from her uncle’s South Texas farm. The Cotton Belt, the Texas cot-ton industry and its effect on the economy—jobs, products and more— become part of the curriculum. “I just mainly get a very good feel-ing of helping these children realize 16 journey of agriculture. One that includes field trips, ex-periments and hands-on activities. Opening a new world—of questions and understanding. Because Michele Knauf, a fourth grade teacher at Sacred Heart Catholic School, has a different kind of classroom. With an agricul-tural background, Knauf knows the importance of connecting students with an industry they’re far removed from. Even in the small community of Muenster. Her efforts to incorporate agricul-ture in the classroom earned her the Agriculture in the Classroom Out-standing Teacher award from Texas Farm Bureau (TFB). Nominated by Cooke County Farm Bureau, Knauf will accept the award at TFB’s 82nd annual meet-ing in Arlington in December. She teaches all core subjects— math, science, social studies and reading. And agriculture comes to life in each. From creatures in the classroom to outside activities, Knauf exposes her students to agricultural concepts— soil, life cycles, plant growth and more. And her students inspire it all. “I am always looking for new ideas, and many times it is the chil-dren who find them for me. Then, we experiment some more,” Knauf stated in her application. For many years, the class had a wildflower garden. The students, along with Knauf, worked the ground, applied mulch and plant-ed the seeds. They would water the seeds and anxiously wait until spring to see the fruits of their labor. To better understand soil, the students bring in samples from dif-where we have come from and where we are going,” Knauf said. “They just thoroughly enjoy knowing what life is really like, and not just in their own little area, but elsewhere.” And breakfast cereal is brought to the classroom. Because it offers a lesson in iron. They make an iron cereal soup by adding a large amount of water to the dry cereal. Once the cereal gets soggy, the mixture is placed in stor-age bags. The students, with mag-nets in hand, try to draw the iron particles to the edge. As much fun as the students have in class, they take their excitement outside to a local dairy. Silage, milk quality, biosecurity, storage and the milking process are part of the tour. The projects and field trips co-incide and fulfill standards of the fourth grade curriculum. “The children simply learn the concepts at a deeper and more per-sonal level because of the activities involved,” her application stated. She’s been teaching for 21 years. During that time, Knauf’s stu-dents inspire her, just as she in-spires them. To help fuel her inspiration and further incorporate agriculture into her classroom, Knauf will attend the National Agriculture in the Classroom Conference in Arizona next summer as part of winning the award at the state level. She’ll also receive a $300 cash award, as will Cooke County Farm Bureau. Knauf is excited about receiv-ing the recognition, but even more so about spending a week learn-ing more with other teachers from across the country. And bringing that additional knowledge back to her classroom and her students. “I just hope that they realize that every industry that touches our lives depends on agriculture. That every-thing we do, the products, the re-sources that we use—it all has to do with agriculture,” Knauf said. D ECEMBER 4, 2015

A Different Kind of Classroom

TFB names Agriculture in the Classroom Outstanding Teacher

By Julie Tomascik
Associate Editor

Curious students fill the classroom where intriguing lessons plans await them. And a teacher, passionate and patient, takes them on a journey of agriculture.

One that includes field trips, experiments and hands-on activities. Opening a new world—of questions and understanding.

Because Michele Knauf, a fourth grade teacher at Sacred Heart Catholic School, has a different kind of classroom. With an agricultural background, Knauf knows the importance of connecting students with an industry they’re far removed from. Even in the small community of Muenster.

Her efforts to incorporate agriculture in the classroom earned her the Agriculture in the Classroom Outstanding Teacher award from Texas Farm Bureau (TFB).

Nominated by Cooke County Farm Bureau, Knauf will accept the award at TFB’s 82nd annual meeting in Arlington in December.

“My whole life has been centered around agriculture—growing up on a farm as a child and marrying a farmer and rancher and moving up here to this area,” Knauf said in an interview with the TFB Radio Network.

She teaches all core subjects—math, science, social studies and reading. And agriculture comes to life in each.

From creatures in the classroom to outside activities, Knauf exposes her students to agricultural concepts—soil, life cycles, plant growth and more. And her students inspire it all.

“I am always looking for new ideas, and many times it is the children who find them for me. Then, we experiment some more,” Knauf stated in her application.

For many years, the class had a wildflower garden. The students, along with Knauf, worked the ground, applied mulch and planted the seeds. They would water the seeds and anxiously wait until spring to see the fruits of their labor.

To better understand soil, the students bring in samples from different places. They study the permeability and discuss what grows in each soil type.

And agriculture even finds its way into their reading assignments.

“In reading, one of the main chapter books that we go through—and we’re doing it right now—is Farmer Boy by Laura Ingalls Wilder,” she said. “It talks about farming in upstate New York during the 1860s.”

The book offers a chance to compare farming methods then to those now used in modern agriculture.

She brings to class her antique butter press and samples of pork crackling—both are part of the book the students are reading.

“They love it. They just thoroughly love it,” Knauf said. “In fact, they’ve asked me to take them to our little town museum to see what they might see there that we have been reading about in Farmer Boy.”

Last fall, Knauf even had an aquarium full of tadpoles and a bin full of mealworms. The students watch the life cycles and discuss the roles each play in the environment.

But there could be more creatures in the classroom at any time. Because Knauf encourages her students to bring in any creatures they deem appropriate to observe.

The learning doesn’t stop there.

Two microscopes and boxes of prepared slides are available for students. But Knauf understands the value of self-discovery. And lets the students study their own items, like leaves, insect parts and even their own blood.

At least twice a year, the students hatch chicks in an incubator. But they’re all different breeds, sparking discussion among the students.

She’s even brought in cotton plants from her uncle’s South Texas farm. The Cotton Belt, the Texas cotton industry and its effect on the economy—jobs, products and more—become part of the curriculum.

“I just mainly get a very good feeling of helping these children realize where we have come from and where we are going,” Knauf said. “They just thoroughly enjoy knowing what life is really like, and not just in their own little area, but elsewhere.”

And breakfast cereal is brought to the classroom. Because it offers a lesson in iron.

They make an iron cereal soup by adding a large amount of water to the dry cereal. Once the cereal gets soggy, the mixture is placed in storage bags. The students, with magnets in hand, try to draw the iron particles to the edge.

As much fun as the students have in class, they take their excitement outside to a local dairy. Silage, milk quality, biosecurity, storage and the milking process are part of the tour.

The projects and field trips coincide and fulfill standards of the fourth grade curriculum.

“The children simply learn the concepts at a deeper and more personal level because of the activities involved,” her application stated.

She’s been teaching for 21 years.

During that time, Knauf’s students inspire her, just as she inspires them.

To help fuel her inspiration and further incorporate agriculture into her classroom, Knauf will attend the National Agriculture in the Classroom Conference in Arizona next summer as part of winning the award at the state level.

She’ll also receive a $300 cash award, as will Cooke County Farm Bureau.

Knauf is excited about receiving the recognition, but even more so about spending a week learning more with other teachers from across the country. And bringing that additional knowledge back to her classroom and her students.

“I just hope that they realize that every industry that touches our lives depends on agriculture. That everything we do, the products, the resources that we use—it all has to do with agriculture,” Knauf said.

Read the full article at http://texasagriculture.texasfarmbureau.org/article/A+Different+Kind+of+Classroom/2339743/283639/article.html.

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