Principles of Forest Management: An Innovative Approach to Agricultural Teacher Education

Article excerpt

Equipped with technical skills and knowledge, new teachers are prepared to enter a classroom possessing the ability to lead students through effective learning activities using efficient teaching methods.

Students enrolled in the agricultural education program at the University of Georgia (UGA) are engaged in such a training program. Integral to this successful teacher education program are the interdisciplinary partnerships that provide quality instruction covering subjects outside of education - such as forestry. This includes the understanding of instructional technology, and its proper use as a teaching aid.

Background

Students earning a Bachelor of Science degree in agricultural education at UGA are required to complete six support courses. Principles of Forest Management (FORS 5730/7730) is one of these six courses.

The innovation of this course is not the course itself, but rather the collaborative process between the Warnell School of Forest Resources, faculty from Agricultural Education, and the Area Forestry Teachers from the Department of Agricultural Education.

First and foremost, it was agreed by all partners that students completing this course must understand what the practice of forestry is all about. It was also agreed that students would develop a basic understanding of tree biology and forest ecology, along with forest conservation and protection practices. We decided to use the Forest Science I course, an approved curriculum under the State Department of Agricultural Education. The course covers a broad spectrum of forestry topics relevant to building a foundation of knowledge and understanding of forestry.

In addition to learning content information, a priority objective was to engage students in learning how to apply content knowledge to successful classroom instruction.

Georgia is the only state to have its entire agricultural education curriculum on CD. Students were provided a copy of the Curriculum Resource and Reference CD set.

Produced by the Georgia Department of Education and updated each year, the HTML-based CD's are designed to be navigated using a web browser, just like a website. Students received the CD set for a couple of reasons: to allow them the opportunity to navigate around the CD, and explore the contents of the CDs and to emphasize and demonstrate the use of instructional technology and how to apply it in their own classroom. Disk #1 contains lessons for both middle and high school grade levels, teachers' resources such as a course calendar and maps, topic-- specific content, field guides for career development events, and tree identification quizzes for forestry. Disk #2 is a collection of photos, clip art, music, free shareware to create crossword puzzles and word search games, and presentations created using Microsoft PowerPoint.

Class Requirements

Remember when you landed your first teaching job, and how busy you were getting ready for the first day of class. You were inundated with unfamiliar tasks. To help alleviate the pressure of starting a new teaching job, FORS 5730/7730 prepares students with tools, skills and knowledge so they can hit the ground running. In an effort to combine forestry content and teaching strategies, students were required to produce two items that would be useful to them when they start teaching: a Tree Leaf Notebook, containing dried and mounted samples of 25 native Georgia trees and descriptive narrative, and a Teaching Portfolio packed with curriculum lessons and supporting materials. For the graduate students in the class, not only did they have to complete the Tree Leaf Notebook and Teaching Portfolio, they were each assigned one of the eleven units and required to complete the following: 1) an "end of unit" exam containing at least 40 questions; 2) a PowerPoint presentation for each lesson in the unit; and 3) a learning game, using software provided by the state agricultural education curriculum specialist. …