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TO THE TEACHER

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THE reading period is the country teacher's opportunity. Country boys and girls have had the advantage of coming into intimate touch with the great fundamental ideas which underlie science and literature, but they are handicapped in their studies by a limited vocabulary. To remedy this defect is the greatest duty and privilege of the country teacher. It must be done largely through the reading lesson. During the reading period the unfamiliar words of the text must be translated into the familiar experiences of daily life and given a meaning in the context. The teacher with insight will frequently discover that even words which are pronounced without hesitation are meaningless to the pupil. To look up these words in the dictionary usually throws little new light on the subject, since the synonym found there is frequently as unfamiliar as the word itself. The dictionary is useful to people who already command a reasonably large vocabulary; for the untrained boy or girl, colloquial discussion of unfamiliar words and expressions is necessary to any clear conception of their meaning.

The following general suggestions are applicable to all the selections of this book :

1. Endeavor to awaken in the class a sincere desire to know and use the new words.

2. Have pupils write down or mark in some way the words in each lesson whose meaning is not clear to them.

3. When an unfamiliar word is reached in the recitation, turn the class into a “guessing" contest as to its meaning, having always in mind the question: "What must it mean to make sense in its context?The teacher or the dictionary will decide who has expressed the meaning most clearly.

4. Frequently have new words used in original sentences by the pupils.

5. Teach the correct spelling and pronunciation of new words. Teach the pupils how to use the pronunciation key in the dictionary.

6. Do not hurry through the reading lesson; it is the most important period of the day.

The development of the language sense under this method will surprise both teachers and pupils.

In teaching these lessons, pursue, when possible, the laboratory method; that is, illustrate the truths discussed with the actual objects described, and perform the simpler experiments. Read in advance of the class and collect specimens of plants, soils, etc., for discussion. Invoke the aid of the children in this work of collecting. Full recourse should be had to the fields and the forests, and specimens should be gathered or observations made of animals, plants, and soils. As has been wisely said, every bird, insect, flower, tree, rock, and stream in the neighborhood surrounding the schoolhouse should be made a part of the school museum.

In conducting the recitation, question the pupils on the subjects discussed. It will often happen that one of them will know something about the lesson that will be of vital interest to every pupil in the class.

To aid the teacher in conducting the recitation and for the help and guidance of the pupil in the preparation of his lesson, a list of important words for study and a series of carefully correlated questions have been prepared for each selection.

Correlate the work with drawing and with language study. The simpler illustrations and the plants analyzed in class will furnish good models for the drawing lesson.

Your attention is called to valuable sources of help in this work. In each state in the Union there is a state college of agriculture and a state experiment station. Each institution employs a large corps of men and women who are always glad to help the teacher. Get in touch with your state college of agriculture, and ask the help of these students of science who are devoting their time and thought to the subject of better farming. Make an application for whatever free literature the institution is offering.

In almost every county in the Southern States there are a local farm demonstration agent and a girls' canning club agent. Find out who are the agents in your county and call on them to visit your school and help you with your work in agriculture. Have them talk to your pupils and help you in other ways. They will respond gladly.

The United States Department of Agriculture, Washington, D.C., has become an important branch of the Government service, and employs a large number of experienced men and women in agricultural work of all kinds. You can have the advice and assistance of this Department by simply writing and asking for it. A large amount of agricultural literature is published by this Department, and much of it may be had for the asking.

One of the chief factors in the development of a better agriculture has been the agricultural press. Many valuable farm journals are now published. If possible, subscribe to one of these periodicals and keep it on your desk.

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