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Seed Icebreaker.jpg

This ice breaker a contribution that puts a new twist on an old ice breaker. In student teaching at Elizabethtown High School with Mr. Mark Anderson I took on a new semester of students in Greenhouse Management and Landscape Design from day 1. It was my goal to establish a rapport with the students to develop an atmosphere of a community of learners right out of the gate. Given my limited timeline at Elizabethtown I took a conventional ice breaker and developed it into a relevant experience for students enrolled in the class. The objective of this ice breaker activity is to establish a community of learners who know a little about each other and the teacher. A secondary objective is to give the teacher information to build a relationship with their students at stakeholders in the learning experience. I often used the information shared as part of my daily greeting or interaction, inquiring about how their dairying operation was going or whether they had to work the prior evening at the local pizza shop. These brief interactions developed a strong relationship and sense of caring engagement in their lives and the experience we were about to embark upon in the session that day.

Preparation is fairly simple requiring the attached Word document, at least four varieties of garden/crop seeds such as corn, oats, watermelon, cucumber, sunflower, etc. Seeds that might be familiar or are differentiated enough for someone not familiar with seeds to be able to identify similarities and ultimately the variety of seed. You will also need at least that many small plastic cups with a representative sample of seeds in them for display/handling. Final preparation requires small Ziploc baggies with  1-4 individual seeds in each baggie that correspond to the varieties on display and on their worksheet.

Instruct students to line up single file or use a station approach for them to identify the variety of seeds they have. Once completed instruct them to return to their seat and fill out the required information based upon the number of seeds they have in each baggie.

You can modify the attached word document to fit limitless course offerings with a little creativity. It worked great with the students in my class and got us all off on the right foot with engagement and enthusiasm. The benefits for me as the teacher were useful throughout the semester as I used the information to build my relationship with students as individuals in a strong community of learners. Have fun with it!

My student teaching experience with Mr. Mark Anderson at Elizabethtown High School was a tremendous experience that will benefit me for the rest of my life. Mr. Anderson is not only a great agriculture education instructor but, also one of the most authentic men I have known. He is truly a cooperating teacher that approaches the student teaching experience without an ego and the intention to develop an agriculture educator that "can get it done where it counts, in front of the students!" His ability to shape an educator in the period of time we are allotted is inspiring because he allows the student teacher to grow and develop in an experiential fashion that is approached with 22 years of experience when we sat down at lunch and at the end of each day to develop, plan, and evaluate my progress in this experience. He excels at critiquing and complimenting the various parts of lessons in a way that comes across as a chance for improvement and development, not criticism. In trying to change my approach, techniques, methods, and ideas he is able to present options for consideration that give the student teacher the flexibility to implement them without spoon feeding how it should be done. This created for me the opportunity to take his advice and put my spin or style on it to try it out and develop something that worked for me by incorporating his suggestions. His approach to agriculture education and instruction is proven in the results of his students achievements in the classroom, shop, FFA, and later in life's pursuits. I hope someday I am one of those students who reflect well upon him! He gave me every opportunity in the classroom, shop, greenhouse, FFA, and with SAE's that he had to offer, to develop what I hope to become as a dynamic agriculture educator. One of the best aspects of student teaching with Mr. Anderson was the attitude, skills, and awareness of the school as a community that might easily be overlooked. His relationship and standing in the Elizabethtown School District from the District Administrative Office, Principals Office including Deans and secretaries, all the way out to the maintenance department is one of the best examples I could have had to ensure I understand my role, place, and responsibilities in the school community. I was blessed with great students at Elizabethtown demonstrated by the students in the agriculture program, in FFA pursuits, and the general population. I did have the usual challenges with classroom management and individual students but, all that proved to me is students are the same today as when I was in high school. They are there to be educated, socialized, shaped, and molded into the next generation of citizens. Is that easy? No! Is it worth it? Yes! I know because I am a product of public education and high school, especially agriculture education programs including FFA and SAE's are one of the last, best chances to positively influence and impact students lives! I will be forever indebted to Mr. Anderson for the time, wisdom, attitude, influence, and friendship he shared with me! I truly benefitted from over 55 years of teaching experience during my student teaching internship with my cooperating teacher Mark Anderson and Ron Frederick as my University Supervisor. I am humbled and grateful for the time, patience, and effort they shared in furthering my development as an agriculture educator.

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