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Blue Light Special

Posted by Tiffany Morey Oct 22, 2014

From time to time, K-Mart has these great sales called blue light specials. While the blue light is flashing, shoppers can get some fabulous item at a fabulous price. These items are first come, first served, and are only available for a limited time. For some shoppers, these blue light specials are a quick burst of excitement and interest in an otherwise long and tiring day.

Lately, I’ve been feeling quite weary and worn out when it comes to teaching. From tons of new paperwork to grading to observations, I feel like I can barely keep up with it all. Throw in unhappy students and FFA members, 2 new classes, and barely any prep time in my classroom and I am pretty beat. Part of the way I’m feeling is due to the usual beginning of the year craziness and the other part of it is learning to adapt to so many new changes in my instructional routine in a short period of time.

To keep myself focused on the positive, I’ve been searching for blue light specials at school every day. From a student mastering a difficult concept to some of the interesting and entertaining responses that I get from my middle schoolers, I’ve been finding them in nearly every class. Even hall duty has its share of blue light specials when I get the chance to see students that are no longer in my classes, connect with ones that I haven’t taught, or chat with co-workers that I don’t usually get to see. On particularly rough days, these blue light specials are priceless and are what keep me going. Below are some of the best blue light specials that the year has had to offer so far.

The DNA Dance


Who knew that learning about DNA in CASE Animal and Plant Biotechnology could be so exciting? This class is usually quite serious and focused, but asking them to use their bodies to make a DNA molecule brought out the fun and silly side of these students.

Pumpkin Flowers


Learning that pumpkins are a fruit and technically derived from flowers blew my 8th graders minds. We discussed many different vegetables that come from the flower, but pumpkins were the ones that stuck the most, as 14/19 students drew them for this part of their activity in CASE AFNR.

Perfect Plates


The sight of bacterial cultures growing on the plates in the incubator was thrilling for some of my students. The fact that they isolated the colonies from a larger plate and cultured them on new agar plates that they made themselves made it that more satisfying. We are looking forward to genetically engineering the colonies to glow in the dark in a few weeks!

Lettuce Rejoice

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Seeing that the seeds that they planted in September had matured into full grown vegetable and herb plants was a great sense of pride for my CASE Plant Science class. Their first harvest from the green wall yielded enough greens for the cafeteria and culinary arts classes to use.

Chroming Out


At the end of September, my classroom was given 20 Chromebooks to use to go paperless and implement CASEOnline. Having a working computer for every student in all of my classes not only makes instruction easier for me, but makes learning more exciting and engaging for the students.

The Blue Light is On

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After months of not having a working pencil sharpener due to the new one being lost in the mail and backordered, my ag classroom finally has one again. Not only does it sharpen all different sizes of pencils, but when pencils are sharp, the blue light comes on. This blue light special continues to bring momentary joy to my students on a daily basis.

What are some of the blue light specials that keep you going when teaching ag gets tough? Feel free to share in the comments below.

Until next time,


Matt Eddy

What do you do?

Posted by Matt Eddy Oct 8, 2014

Sometimes I wonder about things...


What do you do when it all becomes too much? 

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We all know Ag teaching can be tough - the statistics bear that out without much argument.  Too many wash out before they really get started.


Sometimes just making a place in this world where you don't have to be "The Ag Teacher" can be worth more than you might think.


For me - it's my passion for the Green Felt Monster. (or blue -- pick your poison).

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And some ornately configured trees. Below is some Buckeye Burl in the handle of my break cue - very pleased with how it turned out.  It's an Bruce Johnson Cue's one of a kind.

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Another one that is in the works -- eagerly anticipated too...


The only thing I ask is that in the case I pass early -- Dear Lord - don't let my wife sell them for what I told her I paid.


Whether Ambonya Burl or Ebony points makes you no nevermind - it's nice to have someplace to be able to realize that there is more than grading, judging teams, missed assignments, failed tests and eating lunch in under 10 minutes flat.



[in their $3,000 game, after Minnesota Fats breaks, it's Eddie's shot]

Fast Eddie: How should I play that one, Bert? Play it safe? That's the way you always told me to play it: safe... play the percentage.

Well, here we go: fast and loose. One ball, corner pocket.

Yeah, percentage players die broke, too, don't they, Bert?


[he makes the shot and the spectators applaud]


Fast Eddie: How can I lose?


What's your favorite way to recharge?

6:40am - arrive at school early enough to let a girl get into her locker for her black skirt to make the 7am Rotary meeting across town, where six students received great support to attend the National FFA Convention.

6:50am - delete several emails looking for rodeo/session/concert tickets for a certain October week in Kentucky.

6:54am - appreciate emails reminding folks on how to use technology to connect with people needing/selling tickets for national convention.  Then delete those too.

1st period - reset seven passwords to the AET. Because why would we write them down in our notebook last year when we were told to.

2nd period - convince 28 freshmen they want to complete an activity page defining instruments and controls for operation agricultural machinery.  Marginal success.  But they all do it.

3rd period - run over to the next town to pick up a beef digestive track.  Some re-assembly required.

4th period - re-odorize my shop after 32 kids inspect the inner workings of ruminants.  Still re-assembling.  I've never done a full beef tract in class; usually we do sheep but none were available. A couple hundred awful offal pounds later, no problem.




Leave doors open afterwards.

5th period - spend the first 10 minutes advocating for agriculture with 21 juniors and seniors and a hashtag.  Because you cannot let the other side be the only voice. #AgProvides

Then discuss financial credit and credit scores.  #theydontwanttogrowupyet yet #curious

6th period - meet the Oregon Deputy Superintendent of Public Instruction Mr Rob Saxton in the school office so he can tour our renovated Career & Technical Education programs.  This was possible thanks to a Revitalization grant available last year through the Oregon Legislature and the Department of Education.  Our school was able to receive over $309,000 for our woods, agricultural metals and welding, and technology programs.




Our Revitalization project had over 17 local industry partners sign on to build our CTE programs, and we were excited to have most of them out last week for an Open-House and banquet in the shop facilities (and we even held dinner in the welding shop too ? best dinner they?d ever been to in a shop).  Mr. Saxton wasn't available to attend the dinner but graciously arranged to stop in today and see what our students are doing.


Hope the shop smell has cleared up from the digestion dissection lab two hours earlier. #poorplanning

7th period - unpack two pallets of equipment and materials purchased from Lincoln Electric through their education portal.  Have you seen this yet?  Out-of-this-world prices for education.  If you have a shop and haven't checked this out you are MISSING OUT. We will be styling this year. #christmascomesearly


3:15pm - schools out, jump in the truck so I can take back the barrel the digestive track came in. #heretherebeflies


3:30pm - jump into a conference call for the Search Committee for the Ag Ed department chair at Oregon State.  #GoBeavs


4:30pm - Parent Teacher conferences begins.  Conversation breakdowns:  25% = what's his/her grade???   50% = what can they do next in FFA?  20% = what does it take to raise a market steer/pig/lamb/etc?  5% = who is the social studies teacher?


7:15pm - conference slows down, 27 students' parents later.  Write a blog post.


7:28pm - feel bad about the terribly 'awful offal' pun earlier, but don't edit it.

8:00pm - Not quite there yet.  Stops for a milkshake and gas are likely.  Then go home and chase a little boy as he crawls across the floor.


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Always on the move these days.  And easily amused. Must be genetic.


Happy fall all.  See you in Louisville!


READER RESPONSE:  what's keeping you busy this fall?

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