August 31, 2011
Done with our workshops! A little relief is off our shoulders and we can fully enjoy the islands now.
Here’s a little recap from yesterday:
Our day started at Gifft Hill School’s upper campus (middle and high schools) at 8 a.m. As a group we met briefly to go over what our plan was for the day and run through roles throughout the day. One thing I learned as an agricultural educator is to roll with the punches and take advantage of opportunities. This is how I would best describe Tuesday’s workshop. We had a schedule planned with activities, discussions and a tour. However, that schedule was just a rough idea for the day. Which is okay, we came down here to help integrate the horticultural concepts into the curriculum and I believe at the end of the day we were able to do that.
Tuesday’s workshop was for teachers who will be involved with the EARTH program this year. They have time set aside in their schedules for EARTH labs once per week. My goal with our workshops was to give the teachers an idea on how to incorporate the experiences of their EARTH labs into their other material. As agricultural educators we incorporate English, math and science into our materials so this is kind of just flipping the idea around in a way. If I have learned anything from school in-service meetings I know that some teachers are very adamant about what they have scheduled, some will do their share of voicing their opinions and others will sit, listen and take it all in. This is kind of how the day went. By the end of the day, we had a lot of ideas thrown out on how they want the program to fit into each of their areas and what needs to be done to make it happen.
One idea, which I think the group favored, is to develop materials to distribute at community festivals. There are two festivals in the spring which they want to be able to set up a booth that will include work from the students in the form of ‘How to’ brochures, data collection and even possibly items they have grown. In addition to that they are also considering a recipe book that includes the Spanish translation and some recipes that are converted for larger amounts. The recipe book has been done in the past.
An idea, which the coordinator, Sarah, plans on implementing, is some stair-stepping where herself and the interns go and teach a lesson, similar to what they taught at the high school, to fourth graders and those fourth graders are able to take the information they learned and teach kindergarten students. A lot of ideas were tossed around and compiled so that now the interns and coordinator get to look at what they have the resources to do.
To wrap up the day we went down to the beach and experienced the extremely blue waters of the Caribbean. We saw some fish and coral and in the process accidentally tasted some of the salty water. If the day thus far didn’t wear us out, we went to supper at a little place in downtown Cruz Bay and visited some of the shops.
Today’s workshop went well. This group of teachers included lower level as well as high school faculty. We had a good mix of new teachers and Gifft Hill veterans. The focus was to bring them up to speed on the program as well as hear their feedback from previous years. Many were interested in learning more about the program and just wanted to be in the loop on what was going on. Communication is just as important in one area as in another. The high school English teacher was more than willing to have her journalism students involved by writing news stories that will be printed in the paper. A couple elementary teachers were interested in starting an afterschool club based around some of the EARTH activities. Many were interested in how the community can be involved. We were able to get a feel for what they believed were benefits of the program through having them write and place Post-It Notes on the wall. They reflected on their morning of learning by constructing a concept map of what they saw as the EARTH program. The invitation was also made by Sarah to be included to receive weekly updates on the program. Ideas were also bounced around for helping students get the credits they need to graduate as well as posing some ideas for possible volunteer hours.
Overall the workshops went well and I hope they are able to accomplish many of the ideas tossed around in the last two days. The program has a great foundation and the teachers are more than willing to help in any way possible.
Now that our workshops have been presented there are a few more meetings that Mike needs to have, otherwise our time on the island is going to be spent on a hike today, maybe some snorkeling tomorrow, and then the trip back to Iowa on Friday.
You can follow Jenny @jlichty30