Badger History Bulletin - Review
Discovering Wisconsin Agriculture: Teacher's Kit
(Wisconsin Farm Bureau Foundation, Madison, WI, 1997.) Activity booklets, Video. $25.00
Originally published in BHB Volume 3, Number 3
There are very few locally produced social studies materials available for fourth-grade teachers in Wisconsin. As a fourth-grade teacher, I decided this year to try Discovering Wisconsin Agriculture. The teacher's kit is available from the Farm Bureau Foundation for $25, and contains a thirty-five minute video accompanied by a guide. It also includes two activity books, entitled "This Business Called Agriculture," and "Fun with Pork." Also included in the teacher's kit are an Ag in the Classroom Resource Guide, a Farm Bureau poster, and several food pyramid and Wisconsin Beef Council worksheets.
My students and I found the activity books fragmented and dry for their level. As an adult I thought the information presented was very interesting. Without having an agricultural background, however, I had a difficult time expounding on the information-packed lessons that were available in the materials. Although the children said that they learned a lot about Wisconsin agriculture from doing the activities, they had virtually no enthusiasm to work on their assignments. This left me with the impression that my students were learning the material by rote memorization and would very shortly forget most or all of this wonderful information.
The brand new video, Discovering Wisconsin Agriculture, is a completely different kind of resource. The eye-catching graphics, action footage, and sound effects rival those of the PBS series Get Real! There is one segment called "America's Dairyland," another one named "Corn& Beans," and a third entitled "Hamburgers to Hot Dogs." This video component of the teaching materials and the accompanying guide are superb. My students enjoyed it thoroughly, as did I. We felt like we were truly on location. They will remember their farm "visits" and information learned far longer than their memories of the activity books.
Because the activity booklet, "This Business Called Agriculture" is available free of charge to teachers through the school sponsorship program of the Wisconsin Agribusiness Foundation, it is difficult to overlook. When compared to the video Discovering Wisconsin Agriculture, however, the difference is night and day. I would recommend fourth-grade teachers purchase only the video and its accompanying teacher's guide for a reduced price [$15.00]. The activity books and other components in the teacher's kit are simply in need of more pizzaz.
Elmore Elementary School