Foundations of Food in Fifth Grade

In preparation of creating lessons and unit plans, I have been doing some analysis of various outcomes in the Saskatchewan Curriculum in my education classes. We have looked at outcomes for a variety of reasons such as:

  • Do I understand what this outcome means?
  • Do I have questions about this outcome?
  • Could I find a way to teach this outcome?
  • Could I connect this outcome to one from another subject area?

This week, we’ve been looking at understanding outcomes and brainstorming activities and assessments for them. Let’s look at a Health outcome from grade 5; Understanding Skills and Confidences USC5.1.

The purpose of the outcome is for the students to be able to analyze personal eating practices, or in other words, examine the world of what we eat. Students can look at why some people eat differently depending on culture, location, or preference, and what foods are better for people to eat and why.

Using the list of indicators, a teacher could create many great activities to help students understand this outcome. Here are a few of my ideas:

  • Keep a food log and take pictures of the labels (when available) of the foods you eat for 1 week. Analyze labels, and find out what each section means. Calculate the daily intakes of calories, fat, sugars, sodium, and mineral contents based on the photos and compare with recommended amounts. Create a plan to adjust any overages or shortages for the next week, repeating the food log process to see if there is improvement after learning about labels and nutritional values.
  • Research via the internet, videos, etc. how fast food and processed foods affects people’s nutrition. Students could do this as an inquiry project to see what types of food are the worst and what makes them so bad.
  • Read about and analyze different diets such as vegan, vegetarian and paleo and compare them in a chart or diagram.

Photo Credit: Rafa from Brazil via Compfight cc

To assess this outcome, students could:

  • Create a brochure to explain about what foods are healthy and which foods are not
  • Do a presentation of their findings about which foods are the worst for people to eat
  • Produce a music video about the dangers of processed and fast foods
  • Create an advertisement to help people make better food choices by reading labels

Photo Credit: Jaclyn Auletta via Compfight cc

There are a lot of fun activities and assessment methods that could be included for this outcome! You could also make many more indicators to expand upon the students’ understanding of eating practices, such as:

  • Examine how media influences (advertisements) and social, cultural and geographical settings (e.g. Canada vs. France vs. Japan) affect food preparation and consumption.
    • In this indicator I think that students could look at how the Canadian lifestyle differs from that of other countries and how that affects how people eat. After my travels to Europe, I know that it is a much different lifestyle where it is often easier to eat more healthy as fresh food is often more available and the pace of life is more relaxed. I would imagine that in other parts of the world this would also vary and would influence how and what people eat.

The bottom line is that through this indicator students should be able to analyze how and what people eat, and what is healthiest for their lives. Sounds like it would be a lot of fun to create a unit for this!

Photo Credit: Enokson via Compfight cc

If you’ve read this much, you deserve a fun video! I really enjoy the Kid Snippets videos as they show such an interesting side of how young kids think and see our world. Here’s one about fast food. It doesn’t talk much about the actual food that’s being purchased until the end, which could be an interesting point to bring up with your students. Is. Dr. Pepper for kids? Enjoy!



If all else fails, then I haven’t done my job

Taylor Mali, a poet,  spoken word performer, and educator from New York City, presents an interesting vision of who teachers are in his poem, “What Teachers Make.” Below, is the version we watched in our ECS 301 class, posted in 2012, but I also found a version from 2009 (or so it would appear, based on the comment dates) of it here.

These two takes on the same poem bring up very different thoughts for me.The version that we watched in class comes across as very aggressive, authoritarian, and even condescending. Though the comments on these videos would suggest that many teachers find this poem inspirational, I find it very forceful. While Mali’s words have good intentions, trying to defend a profession that many people look down upon, by using the word “make” he instead creates an images of teachers who are demanding, and frankly, kind of mean! I do not believe that this was the intention of this poem, and I think that is more evident when comparing the two videos, as the tone is quite different in the older one even though the words remain the same. In the older video, the performance is much more laid back, even conversational, which the poem itself suggests, as opposed to confrontational, which is the feeling of the first video.

In the end, does the poem speak a message about teachers? Sure it does. It suggests that our society places far too much value on financial wealth a person possess and very little on the value of a whole person. The double meaning of the word “make” is what drives this message home. While yes, it can come off as making teachers look forceful, especially in the tone it is delivered in the first video, I think that Mali’s intentions are good, because I would imagine that this poem was intended to be presented to adults, and not necessarily to be reflective of the way teachers really act in a classroom, but to represent the power that they do have over students they teach. The problem is that the majority of society, including the lawyer in the poem, looks at “what do you make” as a competition about who earns more money, whereas I think that if you were to ask a group of teachers, the majority of them would say that they do not teach for the paycheque. Teachers teach for the opportunity to “make” good people. That’s why I chose this field! I wanted the opportunity to work with young minds, and help them become successful learners and knowledgable and active members of our community. Didn’t we all get to where we are today with the support of someone else? Perhaps it was a parent or friend, but I bet that for many people it was one or more influential teachers in their lives. As the poem says in the end, teachers make a difference.

So now what?  I already knew that teachers make a difference. Honestly,  I think that if I don’t make a difference in a child’s life then I’m not doing my job. If all else fails, and I can’t teach a child what  the Pythagorean theorem is, or how to write an essay, I can at least be a positive role model in their lives. I can be a real person who learns along with them, supports them, and appreciates them. Lisa Lee, an educator from the United States, really gets this and speaks about this in her TEDx talk, and I encourage you to watch and/or listen to it. She makes it clear that the best teachers reach out to the heart and soul of students, because that is where learning begins. Teachers certainly can make a difference, and Mali’s poem speaks to that, but there are many ways to do so, and they all start with the student, and they start with real connections.