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Sarah Warren

Apathy vs. Passion

Posted by Sarah Warren May 27, 2020

As agricultural educators, you were probably already familiar with most of the concepts portrayed in Chapter 7 of Marching Off the Map. I know many of you place a huge emphasis on real world experiences and giving students an opportunity to learn in a variety of ways. What Elmore calls for in this chapter, however, is really uncharted territory across most of the American school system. Even in your classroom, you often might find yourself held back by test scores and traditional education tracks. How exciting would it be if we could all pursue the ideals expressed? If we could have EPIC classrooms that encourage passion in an otherwise educationally apathetic Gen Z?


E - Experiential (p. 126)
P - Participatory (p. 127)
I - Image-Rich (p. 128)

C - Connected (p. 129)


Highest Level of Student Motivation: "I get to do something, using my gifts with people I enjoy, solving a problem regarding something that matters." (p. 137)


1) Review the above ways Elmore suggests we frame our curriculum and interactions with Gen Z to build their passion for learning. With these concepts fresh on your mind, pick one of the lesson plans that interest you from either of the previous activities we have had lesson submissions (I have linked them below). It must be someone else's lesson plan, not your own. Using the ideas and concepts from Chapter 7, as well as your own teaching experiences, brainstorm some ways to motivate students and make that lesson EPIC. Post a comment with your ideas under the lesson document, just as you do during our discussions. Think of this as a (constructive) peer review of each other's lesson plans! Try to comment on a lesson that has not already received feedback; if all lessons have been provided feedback, you may add your own comments to a lesson that has already been brainstormed. 



Map Maker #2: Engaging the Natives (Marching Off the Map Chapter 3 Folder)
Map Maker #5: Plumb Lines (Marching Off the Map Chapter 6 Folder)


2) Come back here and post a comment linking to the lesson you reviewed, as well as your biggest "Ah-ha!" moment you got from this chapter!


By the way, if you were curious like I was about the website mentioned on page 133, I have linked it below, along with a companion website that has been launched recently. Check them out, you never know what ideas they might spark!

Free Range Kids and Let Grow








P.S. Elmore mentioned two things in this chapter that really hit home with me, my own "ah-ha!" moments. I student taught at a deaf school, where things are often very different from the mainstream education system. However, I learned a ton of techniques during this experience that I have found would translate well into any classroom, a realization that was confirmed in this chapter! 
1) "Decades ago, Russian psychologists taught that learning occurs best in community; that we learn better in circles than in rows." (p. 132) I know this sentence was probably meant to be metaphorical, however it really hit home with me. In a deaf classroom, students and teachers all sit in a circle so that everyone can see when someone is signing. This facilitates complete communication for all students. I noticed that, when the students were sitting in a circle with me, and everyone was watching each other for the next hand to fly up and sign, they were so much more in tune with the conversation. Everyone had an equal opportunity to participate and be seen (there's no hiding in the back row), and I felt more comfortable sitting in the circle with them than standing up lecturing. It fostered honest conversations and more of a real-life feel - I rarely ever go to a social gathering and sit behind someone. When I'm in a meeting at work, we sit around the conference table, not behind each other. In general, we tend to live in circles, not rows. 

2) On p. 131 Elmore actually mentions sign language when talking about how gesturing makes content stick better. This might seem strange when thinking about how to incorporate it into your lessons, but I can confirm that gestures and drawing pictures can cross many educational boundaries, not just language. Many times there is no sign for very technical agricultural terms, so being able to play a sort of charades using the physical space around me to map out what I was trying to convey helped the students immensely. They might not have known the technical name for a tool, but after watching someone relate how big/small it is, situations where it might be used, the motion of how to use it, etc....they would be able to pick it out of a tool box because they have a mental concept of what the tool might look like and its function, more so than just remembering the name of it. If your students are unfamiliar with a concept or struggle with the technical vocabulary, don't be afraid to act it out, relating abstract concepts to concrete experiences!

*** If you missed the Facebook Live video today, our winners for last Wednesday's Teach Ag Kit Giveaway are:
And if you missed the name of the website I used to draw the names, it is:


Now, on to this week's adventure...


I loved Elmore's retelling of the Home Plate speech by John Scolinos on page 114. Elmore uses great examples throughout the book of the model we try to portray for our students. We swing back into the past for the timeless virtues and values that we want our students to learn and use. As we swing into the future, we must make sure we aren't changing the size of home plate as we work to adapt, but not adopt, Gen Z's world. Elmore also outlines 8 essential life skills on pages 109 - 114 and questions how we are teaching these timeless skills in our classrooms. So, for our first activity today, let us fill out another report card! 


1) Think about your curriculum as a whole. On a scale of 1 - 10, how much emphasis do you consciously try to put on each of these essential life skills when you are designing lessons? (1 = I don't even think about it, 10 = I incorporate this in every lesson I teach)

Problem-solving skills 
Critical thinking skills
Emotional Intelligence
Ethics and Values

Resourcefulness and Resilience

Creative Processing
Analytic Writing



2) Pick the skill you ranked as your HIGHEST when designing your curriculum. If you are tied, pick the one you feel you could most strongly represent in a lesson to highlight. Post a lesson plan in the Chapter 6 folder that you feel does an excellent job teaching this skill, either directly or indirectly. Be sure to put the particular skill you are emphasizing in the document's title to make it easier to sort (I.e. Leadership - Greenhouse Management lesson). Bonus points if you come back here and post a comment linking to your document in the folder!

* For a reminder on how to categorize your document into a folder, see Uploading and Categorizing Files.docx
Adding a comment link to your document: Once you have uploaded your lesson, come back to this post. Click the "Add Comment" button as usual. In the text box, type the "@" symbol. A variety of people, places and content will show up. Start typing the name of your document and it should show up. Simply click on it to add it as a link in the comment. 


3) Check back often as your fellow explorers post their lessons. Humans are strongest when they work together, because one person's weakness is often someone else's strength. So, be on the lookout for someone posting a lesson that specifically teaches a skill you are less comfortable with, or struggle to incorporate into your curriculum. Or, if you would like to gain some ideas from the group on ways you could teach these skills, post a question below! As always, be sure to like and comment on your peers' work. Everyone loves feedback!



As you complete this assignment, I hope you are mentally processing what life skills you value most in a citizen of your community. As you continue to create and assess your curriculum, I hope you will hold a "plumb line" up next to each lesson you teach, as a measurement of the standard you want your students to achieve.  

Before we get started today, please watch this video:

Saving the Art of Mapmaking

If you were wondering, I was born in 1996. This makes me a young Millennial according to Tim Elmore's analysis of generations. I remember playing "Snake" on my mom's first Nokia cellphone when I was in second grade. I knew a time when cellphones existed but they were only good for making phone calls and playing rudimentary games, and my mom was still years away from using a GPS. My earliest road trip memories? Printing out directions from MapQuest and having to read the next turn to the driver. We had a computer that looked like this (and our dial-up internet took at least an hour to complete the request):

I'm sure many of you can trace similar stories back through your memories - a time before MapQuest even. It's overwhelming to think of the technological advances we've made in the last several decades. But one thing hasn't changed: we still need to navigate our way through life in healthy, productive ways. There's a crucial connection that this video has to our journey: "GPS and Google have put traditional mapmakers out of business." The need and relevancy of maps has not changed, but the ways we create them, interpret them, and apply them have. Fascinated by the professor in the video, I looked him up. Here's what he lists as his interests on the University of Wisconsin-Madison Department of Geography website

"I'm interested in cartographic aesthetics. As insensate machines take over more and more mapmaking tasks, how can we restore the human, emotional, artistic touch to our representations of space? Maps are still read by humans, even if they are not 100% human-produced, and we will be more successful if we do not alienate our audience with soulless productions." - Daniel Huffman


I don't know about you, but I think Daniel Huffman and Tim Elmore are really onto something here. Elmore uses the analogy of a swing set to show us how we need to look back at the beneficial components of the past and use them to gain momentum as we are launched forward into the unknown, ever-changing future. 


"He knew the best forward swing includes wise reflection on the past and fresh resolve to go take new land. We utilize both to make progress." p. 105, Marching Off the Map


Discussion Questions: 
1) What can we learn from the past, in terms of agricultural education (or education in general)? 


2) How can we use what we know of the past, to leverage our classrooms to teach students for an unknown future?

2) Review your response from Map Maker #1: Antique Maps. What can you learn from the antiquated practices you wrote down? (Suggestion: Make a pro/con or plus/delta list about the practice)

This week, our Map Maker activity has a fun twist. I reached out to Andrea Fristoe, NAAE Program Manager, and asked her to share some of her thoughts related to Chapter 5 of Marching Off the Map. Please read her guest blog post, and then come back here for today's activity!


Marching Off the Map for the Future of Ag Education


Map Maker:
1) Did you know? The National Teach Ag Campaign has a plethora of resources available on their website! Head on over and locate the "Promote Teach Ag" menu from the left-hand sidebar. Then check out the "Activities, Lessons, Games" page. Which of these activities could you incorporate into your curriculum? (tell us in the comments below!)


2) Teach Ag Kit Giveaway:  Have you ever sent a Teach Ag Kit to someone you know who would be an awesome ag teacher? Here's your chance! This week we are giving away 5 Teach Ag Kits on behalf of our Virtual Book Club explorers. You can enter for a chance to send a free kit to a potential future ag teacher here! The entry form for this drawing will be open until May 20th, and I will announce the 5 winners in next week's Map Maker activity post. 


For more information about Teach Ag Kits, visit this link.

*** Official Drawing Rules:
1) All names who enter will be placed in a random name generator. If you are one of 5 winners, I will notify you via the email address you provide in your entry form. 
2) You must be a member of NAAE and a registered Virtual Book Club participant to win.

3) Winners will then be instructed to provide the necessary information for a Future Ag Teacher of your choice. We will send that person a Teach Ag Kit on your behalf! 

4) Teach Ag Kits are currently on hold as the NAAE office works remotely. We will send your Teach Ag Kit to your student when we return to the office in the coming weeks. Please allow up to one month for your student to receive the kit from the time of submitting their shipping info.
NOTE: If you are a winner in this drawing, we will be contacting you in order to collect information about the person to whom you would like to send this kit. This does not mean you will be getting a kit. The goal here is to encourage more future ag teachers to join the profession!  

Hello Fellow Navigators!


These past couple of months have no doubt been a test of patience and trust in our lives. We are navigating uncharted territory and having to learn new things each and every day. Some days the sun is out and we can see for miles, others are cold and rainy as we face a mountain of uncertainty.


For me, I had surgery to repair a broken femur (that I had apparently been walking on for five months) on March 19th – just as the pandemic was ramping up and everything started shutting down. At one point, I was meeting with my surgeon and he wasn’t 100% certain whether my surgery would be considered “elective” or not. Thankfully, it was considered Level One trauma surgery and I was able to get it done. This was a whirlwind in uncharted territory for me, as I had never had surgery before.


Since my surgery, I have had to learn how to modify my lifestyle in order to accommodate my inability to bear weight on my right leg (I still have at least seven weeks to go), during a lockdown. I’ve had to learn to be dependent on others to do things that I’ve always done with no assistance (like checking the mail and doing laundry). I also have two small children – JW (4 years old) and Rylee (11 months old) – so I have to depend on my mom and my husband to help me care for them. Rylee was also recently diagnosed with autoimmune hemolytic anemia and has had two separate hospital stays so far. To say life has been a challenge the past two months would be an understatement. I’m sure you have had a similar experience within your classrooms – having to depend on technology to be reliable, students to have the motivation to do their assignments, and administrators to understand the importance of clarity and transparency, just to name a few.


Some of you may be wrapping up the school year, while others may still have a month to go. We are all wondering how the upcoming school year will look. I can’t even imagine the stress and anxiety this is causing every educator to have. If I can offer any advice, it would be to take each day hour by hour (or cup of coffee to cup of coffee). We have to find a way to stay positive during this time of uncertainty. Our students depend on us for guidance and support. As ag teachers, we have the unique opportunity to know our students for multiple years, on a more personal level because of the way the three-circle model of instruction is designed. This makes us very lucky because we have the ability to reach our students in ways that most other teachers can’t.


In Chapter five of the book (page 80 if you want to read it again), it says, “approximately 70 percent of the 53,000 faculty surveyed said they are ‘unlikely’ or ‘very unlikely’ to encourage graduates to enter the profession and become teachers.” Now, what does that say about the current morale of the teaching profession? It’s not good and this book was written well before the current pandemic, so we can only imagine what those statistics might say today, as our internet freezes and every face in our Zoom call is staring blankly at us for the third time this week.


Like I mentioned earlier, ag teachers have this incredibly unique opportunity to reach their students in ways that other teachers cannot, so it is of utmost importance that we stay positive and keep pushing on through this uncharted territory, assuring them that we will get through this successfully. When our students see us making the most of the current situation, they will have the motivation and drive they need to continue to grow as learners – some might even surprise you and decide to become ag teachers themselves.


At NAAE, the National Teach Ag Campaign works to recruit and retain high-quality and diverse agriculture teachers. We have many different projects and initiatives that promote the importance of agricultural education and addressing the national demand for agriculture teachers. As a teacher, you can encourage your students to sign up online for the National Teach Ag Campaign, so that they can receive regular, monthly communications from us. You can also nominate students to become future ag teachers, or take a step further and send them a Teach Ag Kit or host your own Signing Day Event (even if it has to be virtual). I encourage each of you to check out the Teach Ag website ( for all of our resources to help us in our mission to recruit and retain the next generation of ag teachers.


Even though we are currently knee-deep in an aquaponics tank full of uncertainty, we are somehow going to make it through all of this and come out stronger and wiser than ever – and that is the message we need to convey to our students. You have the ability to keep them motivated and inspire them to begin their own journey as ag teachers. I encourage each of you and your students who are interested in or are going to be ag teachers to mark your calendars for two upcoming Teach Ag events that celebrate the future of ag education.


Event: The NAAE National Teach Ag Campaign Agricultural Education Declaration Ceremony

Recognizing those who will mentor the next generation of leaders, motivate students through quality classroom and lab instruction, leadership development and experiential learning and make a difference in our schools in communities by being an agriculture teacher. #TeachAg

Cap and gown attire requested for all declaration participants.

Thursday, May 28, 2020
1:30pm EDT
Zoom Link coming soon!


Event: The NAAE National Teach Ag Campaign Agricultural Education Graduation Ceremony

Recognizing those who will mentor the next generation of leaders, motivate students through quality classroom and lab instruction, leadership development and experiential learning and make a difference in our schools in communities by being an agriculture teacher. #TeachAg

Cap and gown attire requested for all declaration participants.

Friday, May 29, 2020
1:30pm EDT
Zoom Link coming soon!


I hope that each of you are finding as much inspiration in this book as I am. I feel that this book could not have found our virtual book club and us at a better time. We may be Marching Off the Map, but at least we are able to do so together. Let’s keep our heads up and binoculars handy as we clear the path for our future ag teachers to have a voice and make a difference in ag education.


If you ever have any questions about the National Teach Ag Campaign, please feel free to reach out to me at I am happy to help you out!


Happy Reading & Reflecting!


"When the winds of change blow, some people build walls, while others build windmills." - Chinese Proverb, p. 79


I am having a hard time deciding which chapter is my favorite in Marching Off the Map, but I think chapter 5 is certainly high up there on the list (though this week's reading, chapter 6, is pretty highly ranked too). This chapter is a call to action, and a time for us to make a decision: will we sail into this new world, or will we surrender to the frustration of it all?


I love that metaphor Tim Elmore used to open chapter 5, don't you? This week marks the halfway point for this book club. We set out on our journey 5 weeks ago, and in 5 more weeks the journey will conclude. Reflect back on how much you have learned since April 15th. Are you surprised? Has your mindset or worldview shifted, even slightly? Imagine, then, the potential for growth in the next 5 weeks. The winds of change are certainly going to continue to blow, so we have to decide how we are going to handle that wind. We can either let it knock us off course, or harness its power and use it to our advantage. Let this be a reminder that you have made it this far - in your career, in this time of uncertainty and pandemic, taking it day by day and minute by minute in your daily tasks. You're halfway there and you probably haven't even stopped to think about how many miles you have covered on your journey! So don't give up now. When faced with the inevitable changes in the younger generations and in our world, we are presented with three choices: 

- Yell at the wind
- Surrender to the wind
- Adjust the sails.


Discussion Questions:

1) Which of these 3 responses do you naturally lean towards, and why? 
2) Think about your day-to-day job. What are some areas you can "adapt" but not "adopt?" (see p. 84)
3) Refocus: reflect on the "Bit Market" story referenced on page 93-95. What is the hole you are trying to drill? (i.e. What is your ultimate goal as an ag teacher?)


And if you're in need of a little inspiration, here are two songs I find fit our sailing metaphor well! Do you have any other inspirational songs on your mind? Share them in the comments!

How Far I'll Go - Disney's Moana

The River - Garth Brooks

Tim Elmore poses a crucial question at the end of chapter 4: "Are you willing to keep your principles, but trade in your pedagogy?" We've learned that our students need us to adapt but not adopt their trends.They need us to adjust to them but not appease them. If we listen and watch closely, they just might tell us what they need. What we are talking about here is communicating with Gen Z (both verbally and nonverbally) to figure out how we can better reach and engage them. Communication is always a buzzword that we toss around -  in professional development events, in skills and standards, and in our own daily lives, we are all working on communicating more effectively with those around us. This week, let's work on our communication muscles with a simple exercise that just might open your eyes in surprising ways!


Do you have an established relationship with someone in Gen Z? Maybe you have a trusted student you have developed a mentorship with in your classroom or FFA chapter, a friend or family member, or even your own children! Maybe you could even pose this as a question to an entire virtual class. Try to identify a member (or members) of Generation Z that you feel comfortable talking to and sharing ideas with. 


Reach out to that young person - Zoom, text message, email, snail mail, etc. As we did in our first Map Maker activity, we're identifying pioneers in our life, but this time we're looking to those we wouldn't normally turn to for guidance. After all, we are the adults! They look to us for answers, right? Step back for a moment and allow them to tell you more about their lives, what they like and dislike about school, their hopes and dreams, etc. Below I will list out some potential interview questions, but the point is more so to really communicate with this Gen Z-er, so let them lead the conversation if they're willing! Where you normally might spend more time talking to this young person, try to be a listener. 


Once you have listened to what they have to say, write a short reflection on what you found out and post it either in the comments or as a document in the Chapter 4 folder (See Uploading and Categorizing Files.docx for assistance). The goal here is not simply to answer questions but to put a face to the generation we are talking about. And if you don't have any Gen Z-ers to interview, let me know! I know some good ones to connect you with.  


Interviewing Gen Z:

1) Identify member(s) of this generation
2) Explain your own purpose for wanting to learn more about their generation, and ask them a few guiding questions if necessary

3) Listen.
4) Reflect. What did you learn about this generation, in their own words?


Ideas for Guiding Questions:
- What issues or problems do you see within our culture today?

- How do you feel about your future?
- How do you view older generations?
- Do you feel supported by the adults in your life?
- Who do you view as a role model/hero?
- How can I make learning more engaging for you? 
- What do you want me to know about your generation?

- Etc....What do you want to know about them?

"We are now at a point where we must educate our children in what no one knew yesterday, and prepare our schools for what no one knows yet." - Margaret Mead (as quoted on p. 69)


Chapter 4 is absolutely packed with facts and figures that nicely tie up the first 3 chapters we have been studying. I have had to really slow down and focus when I read this book, and particularly I've read this chapter multiple times to grasp all that it offers. It leaves me with so many quotes I want to store away forever, and a lot information I want to fully digest. Did you feel the same? I started to think about why the author may have chosen to call this chapter "What Are The Landmarks on The New Map?" A simple search for the definition of "landmark" returned this: 




I was shocked by what I found! In keeping with the symbolism of this book club, a landmark helps you orient yourself in a physical location. Being able to recognize a landmark, even in an unfamiliar place, gives you an idea of where you are. We certainly need to figure out where we are right now on this new map we're making. We need some starting points so we can decide where to go from here. But the term "landmark" could also be used to signify a turning point in history. It can orient us to where we are in the unfolding of events. How fitting in this current world we are experiencing...History is being written today, and we as educators get to play a huge role in how the rest of this story is going to unfold for our young people.


I'd like for this to be a real week of reflection for our team of explorers. As we trek on into May, most of us have been in total uncharted territory for at least a month, if not longer. This book has hopefully shed some light on what you've seen thus far in your students, and I believe it will be invaluable in understanding them as the world around us continues to change in real time. This isn't a world we are looking back on in hindsight or one we are theorizing "could be" one day. What our students are going through today could possibly be the defining challenge of their generation. There will be more challenges to come, if history tells us anything, its that no generation gets one bad trial and then coasts easy the rest of their lives. How relevant is it that we are learning ourselves how to teach them to cope and thrive with whatever the future holds? 


If you're on pace with the reading, you have finished chapter 4 and are in the process of reading chapter 5. After these chapters we'll be moving into Part 2 of Marching Off the Map, where we will roll up our sleeves and focus on creating new ideas within this new world we will have just spent a month learning about. Today I'm going to provide a space to write what's on your mind. There's a lot to digest and identify on this map before we move forward, so take this time to work through whatever strikes you as most interesting. I challenge you to first watch the below Ted Talk (which I believe ties well into this chapter) and then choose at least ONE of the below discussion prompts to reflect on and write about. I have seen and heard many of you talking about choice boards - here is your Cartographer's Notebook choice board!  



Dear Grown Ups....Sincerely, Gen Z


Discussion Questions (Pick at least ONE):

- Have you experienced a moment with a student that has reminded you why your job is so important and critical to developing this next generation?

- How does your life story and the generation you belong to help you connect with Gen Z? Or, how does it hinder your connection with this generation?


- When communicating with your students, how can you relay that you understand what they are going through, but also relay the ideals you believe they are capable of growing into as adults? 


- How can you communicate that you welcome the uniqueness of each student, while calling them to work together in harmony and collaboration?


- What social or emotional muscles seem to be weak in your students, and how can you help them exercise these muscles?


- Or pick a quote, fact, etc. from chapter 4 that really strikes you and discuss what you're thinking about it!



Happy Reflecting, Explorers!