Agricultural topics sing poetically with IAITC

By Kay Shipman

Poetry probably doesn’t leap out as an agricultural classroom subject, but you’d be wrong, according to Brad Banning, former Illinois Farm Bureau education manager.

Recently, Banning encouraged county agricultural literacy coordinators to set aside any misgivings about their talents as poets and verbally describe the experience of biting into a fresh lime.

“The idea is how to describe something that doesn’t have facts. They are experiential and use figurative language,” Banning explained, looking at several quizzical faces. 

Banning distributed a new Illinois Agriculture in the Classroom (IAITC) lesson booklet entitled, “Rhyme with a Reason: Exploring Science, Social Studies, Language Arts and Agriculture through Poetry.”

“As a language arts guy, my mission is to get middle school boys to like poetry,” Banning said with a chuckle.

One of the poetry activities uses an IAITC specialty animal Terra Nova reader or an Ag Mag as a resource.

Banning explained groups of students are assigned certain pages to create blackout poetry. Working cooperatively, the group creates a poem by highlighting special words, such as those that describe a season, and blacking out all the other text.

He noted students can be challenged to leave behind words that describe their assigned topic, such as what does a season feel like. They also may be challenged to use a set number of words. Banning suggested students be asked to illustrate their poems and share them with the class.

A demonstration of creating blackout poetry from a newspaper article is available here.

For resources, go to Ag in the Classroom and click on the “Teacher Resources” icon on the upper left of the page.

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