Educators should plan learning experiences that not only align with the instructional goals, but also support the learners in mastering the learning objectives that have been outlined in the lesson plan. Many instructors struggle to find appropriate educational resources because they often lack the knowledge of available materials. Educators often feel overwhelmed while sifting through a plethora of resources because it can become a time-consuming process. However, collaborative teaching and learning efforts have created a number of educational resources that can be stored, shared, adapted, and used within the agricultural education profession. Selecting the appropriate learning resource is vital to instruction because it will help guide learners to meet the instructional goals.
Considering Learning Resources
When first selecting a learning resource, it is important to consider what the learning objectives are for that lesson. Learning objectives should help guide the lesson, rather than selecting a resource and deciding a learning objective afterward. While choosing resources, educators will discover that the resource they have selected may not appropriately align with the content as intended. However, many instructors can be persuaded to use something new when it may not specifically apply to a particular lesson. Educators may also discover that the resource they have selected may not be suitable for the age, emotional development, skill level, and preferred learning styles of the students. It is important to review the resource before utilizing it in a classroom. The resource selected should support the lesson and be consistent with the learning outcomes. This may require the instructor to modify the resource for specific classroom use.
Using biased or slanted learning resources may also be used to meet specific instructional outcomes. This is usually done so that students utilize critical-thinking skills in order to recognize propaganda. Using learning resources that center around controversial issues should be selected with a focus on various views in other resources. Such resources might be chosen to show how stances on issues may vary based on belief. Using varying resources on controversial issues helps learners to gather a wide stance on issues relating to policy, social interaction, and moral viewpoints.
Learning Resource Methodologies
When utilizing instructional resources in a classroom, it is suggested that the resources fit to the preferred learning styles of the learners (Department of Education, 2008). Typically, the learning resources should be mostly activity-based rather than lecture-based. However, an instructor may find a resource that utilizes both effectively. Great learning resources also utilize co-operative learning, as well as provide the opportunity for individual growth through feedback. Some of the best resources available in agricultural education utilize hands-on learning activities for an applied method to learning. Great learning resources should also engage students in classroom inquiry by encouraging students to question, think, reflect, and create connections from scientific knowledge in ways that develop critical-thinking and decision-making skills. Finally, a learning resource should offer flexibility to meet learners' needs. The individual abilities, learning styles, multiple intelligences, and interests of students should be considered.
Information-based resources are resources that are simply content-related resources. Some examples may include online library resources, databases, and professionals in a given field. When considering an information-based resource, it is important to consider what information is being presented and how that information will translate to the learner. There are not always lesson plans created for information-based resources, so it is the instructor's responsibility to take the content and create effective learning activities.
Examples: UF/IFAS Website, Florida Farm Bureau
File Sharing Resources
File sharing resources are a useful resource because educators who use these resources are often able to modify the resources for their specific learners. File sharing resources usually include a lesson plan and appendices for teacher use. Educators use these resources because they are accessible, easy to modify, and are typically proven to be effective instructional materials because they have already been used in a classroom.
Examples: NAAE Communities of Practice, Ag Education Discussion Lab, Georgia Agricultural Education, U of I AGED Curriculum Materials
Lesson Plans Provided by Organizations
Lesson plans provided by organizations are created so that they are not only available to educators, but that they also advance their organization. While these types of lesson plans are typically free, they may have supplemental materials that an educator can purchase through their website if they do not already have it in their classroom. Lesson plans from organizations are often created through grant funding or through educational outreach projects that the organization serves. Organizations create lesson materials to help advance awareness in content areas in which the organizations serve.
Examples: National FFA, AET, National Agriculture in the Classroom, Florida Agriculture in the Classroom, American Farm Bureau, America's Heartland
Fee-Based Instructional Materials
Fee-based instructional materials are created by organizations who seek to gain profit on curriculum materials. These curriculum materials are typically of high quality. Fee-based resources provide lessons that can be used throughout the school year, and often have other features that an instructor may access and utilize through their website. Unfortunately, the instructional materials from fee-based resources have significant costs for the educator. An educator could gain access to these curriculum materials through funding from external sources, such as school administration or scholarships, offered through the organization.
Examples: CASE, MyCAERT
Web-Based Inquiry Resources
Web-based inquiry resources are often modules, simulations, and demonstrations that are offered online to students. These resources can best be utilized in courses where each student has access to a computer with internet access. While there are other ways these resources can be used without individual student access to a computer, these resources offer students access to hands on activities that might not be available otherwise. These resources integrate technology with student learning modalities. Web-based inquiry resources may or may not be accompanied by a lesson plan.
Examples: WISE, Sketchfab, Labster, National Science Digital Library
Learning resources help instructors create a series of lesson plans that help learners master the learning objectives. It is important to utilize a variety of learning modalities when selecting learning resources so that you tailor the learning needs to a variety of learners. When selecting a resource, it is important to consider your specific learning objective. Certain resources are more suitable, depending on the lesson. The resources shared within this publication are not endorsed by the University of Florida and the Institute of Food & Agricultural Sciences (UF/IFAS) because they share conflicting views.
When selecting a resource, it is important to use a resource that is beneficial to your classroom use and need. Information-based resources are utilized to help students gather information on issues affecting agricultural and life sciences. File sharing and organizational resources can be used and modified for an instructor's specific use in a variety of content areas. Web-based inquiry resources offer a wide variety of activities that integrate technology for effective instruction. Learning resources help students master the course material. Learning resources also help instructors create effective pedagogy for learners. Using effective resources helps learners master content while efficiently helping instructors create meaningful instruction.
American Farm Bureau Foundation for Agriculture. (2018). Free resources and lesson plans. Retrieved from http://www.agfoundation.org/free-resources/.
America's Heartland. (2018). Education- teachers. Retrieved from http://www.americasheartland.org/education/teachers/index.html.
Career and Technical Education Online. (2018). Lesson plans. Retrieved from https://www.cteonline.org/.
Curriculum for Agricultural Science Education. (2018). Home. Retrieved from http://www.case4learning.org/.
Department of Education, Prince Edward Island. (2008). Evaluation and selection of learning resources: A guide. Retrieved from http://www.gov.pe.ca/photos/original/ed_ESLR_08.pdf.
Florida Farm Bureau. (2018). Education and outreach. Retrieved from http://www.floridafarmbureau.org/education-outreach/.
Georgia Agricultural Education. (2018). Curriculum and SAE. Retrieved from http://www.gaaged.org/aged/.
Heuristic. (2018). Ag education discussion lab. [Online forum]. Retrieved from https://www.facebook.com/groups/400575410137621/?ref=bookmarks.
Illinois Agricultural Education. (2018) Educator resources. Retrieved from http://www.agriculturaleducation.org/Educator-Resources.
Labster. (2018). Home. Retrieved from https://www.labster.com/.
MyCAERT. (2018). Home. Retrieved from http://mycaert.com/.
National Agriculture in the Classroom. (2018). Teacher center. Retrieved from https://agclassroom.org/teacher/index.cfm.
National Association of Agricultural Educators. (2018). Communities of practice. Retrieved from https://communities.naae.org/welcome.
National FFA Organization. (2018). Educator resources. Retrieved from https://www.ffa.org/resources/educators.
National Science Digital Library. (2018). Home. Retrieved from https://nsdl.oercommons.org/.
Sketchfab. (2018). Home. Retrieved from https://sketchfab.com/.
The Agricultural Experience Tracker. (2018). Teacher Help. Retrieved from http://learn.theaet.com/default.aspx?ID=7450.
University of Florida. (2018). Institute of food and Agricultural Sciences. Retrieved from http://ifas.ufl.edu/.
WISE: Web-Based Inquiry Science Environment. (2018). Home. Retrieved from https://wise.berkeley.edu/.