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Has "Content Area Literacy" become a buzzword in your classroom?  It has in mine.  I have attended numerous professional developments in Content Area Literacy in the past 2 years.  As teachers, we are asked to find resources that get our students reading about our content area.  As a agriculture teacher, we are often overwhelmed.  I thought it would be neat to share a resource that I came across and can see using in my class to jump start my lessons on vitamin deficiency. Now, if any of you ever had the pleasure of teaching this unit it can be fascinating or a real bore.  I am ALWAYS searching for a way to get my students to care about how nutrition affects them and the plants and animals we produce.  I also struggle with getting the modern teenager to even consider what it meant to live in an America without the modern conveniences that make our food system safe.  Red Madness by Gail Jarrow may help you to stimulate those kids that have no concept of what it once meant to be poor, malnourished and scared of an unknown disease on American soil. Here is my review.


Red Madness by Gail Jarrow

  • ISBN9781590787328

Red Madness is a fascinating glimpse into a forgotten part of history.  The photo collection alone is powerful enough to jumpstart the unengaged student into learning about this chaotic era and how it affects decisions made today. The home-based struggles of the American people at the turn of the century are often overshadowed in modern history books by the happening of the World-Wars and Great Depression.  Jarrow offers a riveting and graphic view of what it really meant to be in the United States during the time of pellagra.  She follows the disease as it became known, tracks its terrifying progress and affect on the typical American community and then details the battles in the war the medical community fought to cure America.  Jarrow illustrates how pellegra preyed upon people?s minds and left children alone and frightened.  She opens a small glimpse into what really went on in turn of the century sanitariums and medical research programs.  Finally, she offers the story of what it really took to ?cure? the insanity plaguing America in the form of red rashes, melancholy, mental disease and ultimately death for its victims.  I can see using this in my own classroom as a jumping point into discussions of the science of nutrition and medical discovery, the ethics of medical research and the role of agriculture in building America.  History, Science, and Agriculture Educators could all build solid lessons using this resource.


So far, I have read an e-version of an ARC.  These are given out to "professional readers" to provide reviews of books.  This would be an affordable way to preview texts for your classroom.  Ask your librarian at school. They will tell you how that is done.  I am working with my co-workers to get more books like this in my classroom. I will let you know how the lesson turns out next fall.

Atlanta Bound!

Posted by Heidi Davis Nov 28, 2012

Tomorrow I leave for Atlanta!  Can't wait to enjoy a few hours with my peers.  I will be presenting a  workshop on Friday morning on using technology to improve motivation for students in class.  Specifically, I will focus on strategies I have used succesfully to assure participation in litearcy techniques and in communication with students and parents.  I hope tosee some others there that may be interested in learning and sharing in this workshop:

Lit up with Technology!

I am taking a class on using game simulations in the classroom.  Two I am intereste din using are the John Deere American Farmer game and the online based 3rdworldFarmer game.  I will update as I play but I can already see many exciting opportunities for teaching record-keeping and basic farm-management.... any of you ever poll your students? a neat and FREE program is  You can give polls in your class and download slides so students can see results in real time.  Students respond using the web or their ever-present cell-phones.  This is one way you can use those devices in class in a positive way.



If anyone has used these in class...let me know how they came out.

I am never good at keeping New Year's resolutions....therefore  am making a FIRM commitment to this one...I will share an idea a month on my technology blog.  The idea will use technology in some way to engage student learning.  My idea  this month:


Analyze in a screen name.  Students create screen names all the time. It is part of  their culture.  It is also a good way to help them discuss the WHY behind ideas, parts and processes.  For example:  I am reviewing the composting unit with my ag 2 class. I want them to articulate why we do certain things with the compost bin.  I give them the following terms.  I ask them to create screen names and explain why those names relate to our bins.  The way students articulate their understanding of the processes is a great formative assessment.  Here is how I model it for them:


My term is Kitchen Waste.


I chose the screen name  Kitchen scraps are often just tossed away.  They wilt and rot in our garbage cans doing nothing but adding to the organic waste already overloading the American waste stream.  Good compost bins can include these wastes. The wastes feed the microbes and other micro animals that live in the bin.  It also decomposes to rich  and usable Nitrogen for plants to grow on.


"What questions do you have?"


The other terms I gave them were:












You can adapt your list as necessary.


ADAPTATION:  Using a similar analogy:  Have students design license plates for these concepts.


Please share what your students have come up with and how you adapted it to your curriculum. :-)  This is actually a research based strategy supported by numerous  Educational Gurus including Robert Marzano (See Building Academic Background Knowledge)  Good Luck!

NAAE Convention Tomorrow

Posted by Heidi Davis Nov 17, 2009

Getting ready and making sub plans for the next three days!  Can't wait to get to convention.

Day 2

Posted by Heidi Davis Jul 30, 2009

Finally got my cam working again :-)



Here are some pics of me working in the state of the art hydroponics greenhouse at (BYU- Idaho) Rexburg college:









We are also working with lots of LabQuest and Vernier probes...more pics soon.

Day 1

Posted by Heidi Davis Jul 29, 2009

So to start: My plane ride stopped one stop early. Luckily, Robin Johnson from Vernier Technologies was on the same flight and we got a car together. We drove the 4 hours to Idaho Falls and got to see some beautiful scenery (and a VERY LARGE badger).  The town is lovely and man the conference.............


If you ever get the chance to come to this facility please do.  The greenhouse and gardens are absolutely amazing.  Nd oh my gosh, I love the people that work here.  All of our presenters are top notch.  They are innovative and know their stuff. The students running the greenhouse here are absolutely amazing:  today, we learned:


how  a top-notch tomato hydroponic system is run

how to integrate IPM into a greenhouse

pruning and training techniques

and sooooooooo much about the Vernier Labquest and the sensors that are with it.....


So far I have recieved over $500 worth of equipment.


We also got a reat lunch and dinner courstesy of BYU-Idaho (formerly Rexburg college)  will post pics tomorrow...Have issues with my SD card :-(.


Posted by Heidi Davis Jul 28, 2009

Day 1: Travel.......................


It's the summer time and everyone else in the world thinks that ag teachers are on vacation.  We all know differently. :-)  This week I am in the lovely state of Idaho learning about hydroponics systems from a Professional Development sponsored by Agrowknowledge.  I am in the Boise airport drafting this message in the hopes that some of you will follow along as I let you know what went on at this wonderful experience. I would like to start by thanking the sponsors of this event and the Agrowknowledge coordinators.  Times are tight and this exceptional opportunity has been offered at a steal at $150.  Yes, my reimbursement check for the airfare came in no time flat and agrowknowledge is paying for the room and picking me up once I reach Idaho falls.  For those of you who thought the terms of these experiences are too good to be true and hesitated on registering, take advantage next year!  It is what it seems :-)