Our September Teacher Feature is Melinda Littrell from Bartlett Elementary School in Bartlett, Kansas. Littrell has been teaching for thirty-three years and currently teaches third grade homeroom, along with fourth and fifth grade science classes. Littrell firmly believes that the best things in the world are children and animals. Teaching allows her to be around both while helping her students gain an appreciation and love for animals.
Littrell hails from southeast Kansas where she lives on a small farm. Her own children were involved in the 4-H program and have raised a variety of animals, such as cattle, goats, pigs, rabbits, pigeons and ducks. With her agriculture background, Littrell believes that in small rural communities, students may one day grow up to have a job and career in agriculture. It’s critical that she exposes her students to the industry at a young age and for her students to understand the importance that agriculture has in their daily lives.
With the help and support of Frontier Credit and Master Gardener, Christina Beeson, Bartlett Grade School is able to have its own greenhouse. Littrell’s students are able to learn about farm production while they plant, grow, and sell their own plants.
Littrell’s favorite KFAC lesson plans are “Growing Tomatoes” and “Tomatoes Farm to Table.” Both lesson plans are designed to teach students about the life cycle of a tomato, as well as the processes it undergoes to get from the farm to our tables. The lesson plans also discuss the adequate environmental conditions for tomatoes to grow, tomato varieties and the plant parts of a tomato.
By implementing an embryology unit with both chicks and ducklings, Littrell is able to integrate agriculture into her classroom in a more hands-on approach. During this unit, the students are able to see the different stages the chicks and ducks are going through in the egg. Many of the class’s birds have been taken and shown at their local county fair. One duck that the students named Lucky even won grand champion!
“Our students love watching living things grow, whether it is observing our eggs hatch and the baby chicks emerge; or seeing a seed grow into a plant. They enjoy the hands-on, real life aspect of our projects,” Littrell says, and with all the programs that she is implementing in her classroom, it is easy to see why her students enjoy her classes. “It is amazing to see how each child will enjoy a different part of the experience. Some like the growing, while others like to build, or to sell.”
Fortunate to work with a group of supportive teachers that are willing to help, give advice and contribute to their school with projects like chick and duck embryology and their school greenhouse, Littrell believes that a positive school atmosphere is crucial to a student’s development. Her advice to other teachers is to surround yourself with wonderful helpers!
Congratulations to Melinda Littrell, our September Teacher Feature.