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Food For Thought (Middle School)

Middle

Description

  • Students are introduced to the environmental, social and economic implications of our current global food system.
  • Students examine and compare the various sources of our food from a systems perspective to appreciate the environmental, health and economic benefits of buying local and supporting local farmers.
  • Through various activities students will explore what plants need to grow, grow their own food, identify what foods are local throughout the year, learn where common foods in their grocery store come and get acquainted with the concept of ‘food miles’ by making their own pizza.
  • Students are challenged to examine their own behavior as they carry out a food audit that reveals the countries of origin of their foods of choice.
  • Students are introduced to the "Triple Bottom Approach" in systems thinking to analyze the environmental, societal and economic impacts surrounding food issues.
  • Extending the learning activities include: interviewing an inter-generational audience about how food choices have changed over time; auditing the produce section of the local supermarket and based on the findings, writing the store manager to acknowledge successful practice and to recommend changes where necessary.

General Assessment

What skills does this resource explicitly teach?

  • critical thinking through a systems approach
  • mapping skills
  • lab skills in measurement
  • group work and consensus building
  • group presentation skills
  • how to do an audit
  • letter-writing

Strengths

  • The resource is very interesting and engaging. It can be modified for higher grades easily.
  • A key strength of this resource is that it introduces the concept of "Triple Bottom Approach" - a systems perspective of considering all of the impacts with food choices on the environment, economy and health (society). These are found throughout the activities.
  • Background information for both teacher and students is thorough and the presentation is suitable for the grades intended.
  • Teachers are encouraged to do some background research of their own area to be aware of the local foods available, and to get relevant information highlighting regional agricultural concerns to share with students.
  • The resource content is clear and well organized with support offered through website links
  • It is current and up-to-date.

Weaknesses

The activities are highly structured - there is room to have students take more initiative in identifying and taking ownership of problems they have concerns with in their own community - and design ways to creatively problem solve and try to address these.

Relevant Curriculum Units

The following tool will allow you to explore the relevant curriculum matches for this resource. To start, select a province listed below.

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  • Alberta
    • Step 2Select a grade level
    • Grade 7
      • Step 3Select a subject
      • Science
        • Step 4Relevant matches
        • Interactions and Ecosystems
        • Plants for Food and Fibre
  • British Columbia
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    • Grade 7
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      • Science
        • Step 4Relevant matches
        • Ecosystems
    • Grade 8
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      • Home Economics
        • Step 4Relevant matches
        • Food & Nutrition: Nutrition and Healthy Eating
        • Food & Nutrition: Social, Economic, and Cultural Influences
  • Manitoba
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    • Grade 7
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      • Science
        • Step 4Relevant matches
        • Interactions Within Ecosystems
      • Social Studies
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        • People & Places in the World: Global Quality of Life
  • New Brunswick
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    • Grade 7
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      • Science
        • Step 4Relevant matches
        • Interactions Within Ecosystems
    • Grade 8
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      • Social Studies
        • Step 4Relevant matches
        • Atlantic Canada in the Global Community: Interdependence
  • Newfoundland & Labrador
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    • Grade 7
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      • Home Economics
        • Step 4Relevant matches
        • Home Economics Intermediate: Foods and Nutrition
      • Science
        • Step 4Relevant matches
        • Earth's Crust
        • Interaction of Ecosystems
    • Grade 8
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      • Home Economics
        • Step 4Relevant matches
        • Home Economics Intermediate: Foods and Nutrition
  • Northwest Territories
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    • Grade 7
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      • Science
        • Step 4Relevant matches
        • Interactions and Ecosystems
        • Plants for Food and Fibre
  • Nova Scotia
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    • Grade 7
      • Step 3Select a subject
      • Science
        • Step 4Relevant matches
        • Science 7: Interactions Within Ecosystems
  • Nunavut
    • Step 2Select a grade level
    • Grade 7
      • Step 3Select a subject
      • Science
        • Step 4Relevant matches
        • Interactions and Ecosystems
        • Plants for Food and Fibre
    • Grade 8
      • Step 3Select a subject
      • Science
        • Step 4Relevant matches
        • Interactions in Our Environment
  • Ontario
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    • Grade 7
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      • Science & Technology
        • Step 4Relevant matches
        • Interactions in the Environment
  • Prince Edward Island
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    • Grade 7
      • Step 3Select a subject
      • Home Economics
        • Step 4Relevant matches
        • Intermediate Home Economics:Food
      • Science
        • Step 4Relevant matches
        • Interactions Within Ecosystems
    • Grade 8
      • Step 3Select a subject
      • Home Economics
        • Step 4Relevant matches
        • Intermediate Home Economics: Food
  • Quebec
  • Saskatchewan
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    • Grade 7
      • Step 3Select a subject
      • Science
        • Step 4Relevant matches
        • Science 7: Earth and Space Science: Earth’s Crust and Resources
        • Science 7: Life Science: Interactions within Ecosystems
    • Grade 8
      • Step 3Select a subject
      • Social Studies
        • Step 4Relevant matches
        • The Individual in Canadian Society: Power & Authority
  • Yukon Territory

Themes Addressed

  • Citizenship (1)

    • Community-Building and Participation
  • Food & Agriculture (1)

    • Local Food
  • Human Health & Environment (1)

    • Quality of Life
  • Land Use & Natural Resources (1)

    • Transportation

Sustainability Education Principles

Principle Rating Explanation
Consideration of Alternative Perspectives Good
  • The resource explores the implications of food consumption, hidden costs relative to the local economy and the health aspects and the environment - particularly with regard to transportation of food.
Consideration of Alternative Perspectives:
  • Satisfactory: absence of bias towards any one point of view
  • Good: students consider different points of view regarding issues, problems discussed
  • Very good: based on the consideration of different views, students form opinions and  take an informed position
Multiple Dimensions of Problems & Solutions Very Good

The resource introduces the concept of "Triple Bottom Approach", a systems perspective that in this case considers the impacts that food choices have on the environment, economy and the health of a society.  This approach is taken throughout the activities.

Multiple Dimensions of Problems & Solutions:

Effectively addresses the environmental, economic and social dimensions of the issue(s) being explored.

  • Satisfactory: resource supports the examination of  these dimensions
  • Good:  resource explicitly examines the interplay of these dimensions
  • Very Good:  a systems-thinking approach is encouraged to examine these three dimensions
Respects Complexity Very Good

The entire resource is based on systems thinking and takes a multi-dimensional approach to strategies applied to food - where does it come from, what are the impacts, what choices can be made, how do these choices affect the local economy, impacts on local growers, aspects of health, quality of food, etc

Respects Complexity:

The complexity of the problems/issues being discussed is respected.

Acting on Learning Very Good
  • Students explore the concept of "buy local" and learn about "food miles" and how this affects our food choices.
  • Students are encouraged to keep a food journal to document and assess their food choices and to educate their family about the benefits of buying local foods.
  • Students are encouraged to do an audit of their local supermarket, and to address their findings by communicating with the store manager.
  • Students grow their own vegetable, learn about the needs of plants and consider these relative to their own area and growing season - ie. what can and cannot be grown in their region.
Acting on Learning:

Learning moves from understanding  issues  to working towards positive change — in personal lifestyle, in school, in the community,  or for the planet

  • Satisfactory: action opportunities are included as extensions 
  • Good: action opportunities are core components of the resource
  • Very Good: action opportunities for students are well supported and intended to result in observable, positive change
Values Education Very Good

Students explore and clarify their own values by:

  • keeping a food journal
  • interviewing an elder
  • taking care of their own planted vegetable
  • examining the sources of their foods
  • completing a reflective journal
  • completing the "Life Story of My Lunch" activity
  • doing a supermarket audit and examining how it implements and/or supports local food initiatives - and giving feedback to the store manager.
  • Students are encouraged to make a pledge about their food choices and support for local foods.
Values Education:

Students are explicitly provided with opportunities to identify, clarify and express their own beliefs/values.

Empathy & Respect for Humans Poor/Not considered

This is not addressed in this resource.

Empathy & Respect for Humans: Empathy and respect are fostered for diverse groups of humans (including different genders, ethnic groups, sexual preferences, etc.).
Personal Affinity with Earth Satisfactory

While the resource does not focus directly on outdoor experiences, students are encouraged to look at the advantages and disadvantages of food production and its impact on plant and animal life, particularly from the perspective of climate change, habitat loss and emissions from excessive transportation.

Personal Affinity with Earth:

Encourages a personal affinity with -the natural world.  

  • Satisfactory: connection is made to the natural world
  • Good: fosters appreciation/concern for the natural world
  • Very Good: fosters stewardship though practical and respectful experiences out-of-doors 
Locally-Focused Learning Very Good
  • Students explore the contents of their lunch and consider how far their food has traveled.
  • Students make a pizza based on locally grown foods and compare the differences from a "traditional" pizza.
  • Students conduct an audit of their local supermarket(s) and assess how well the food store supports buy local initiatives and local farms.
  • Students can make suggestions/recommendations to the store manager(s).
  • Students can encourage their family to buy more local foods and perhaps even grow some of their own food.
Locally-Focused Learning:

Includes learning experiences that take advantage of issues/elements within the local community. 

  • Satisfactory: learning is made relevant to the lives of the learners
  • Good: learning is made relevant and has a local focus
  • Very Good: learning is made relevant, local and takes place ‘outside’ , in the community 
Past, Present & Future Good
  • Students conduct an interview with an "older" member of their family/community to learn how food choices are different, why they are different, and how food systems have changed.
  • Students become aware of the interconnectedness between economy, environment and society/health - and how changes now can have a huge effect later - especially with regard to transportation issues of food and climate change.
Past, Present & Future: Promotes an understanding of the past, a sense of the present, and a positive vision for the future.

Pedagogical Approaches

Principle Rating Explanation
Open-Ended Instruction Good

While the overall message is to support local food sources and buy food as close to home as possible there are many perspectives introduced which encourage a range of considerations and responses.

Open-Ended Instruction :

Lessons are structured so that multiple/complex answers are possible; students are not steered toward one 'right' answer.

Integrated Learning Very Good

This is truly a multidisciplinary resource, covering aspects of health, social studies, math, science, food studies, language arts, art and geography.

Integrated Learning:

Learning brings together content and skills  from more than one  subject area

  • Satisfactory: content from a number of different  subject areas is readily identifiable
  • Good:  resource is appropriate for use in more than one subject area
  • Very Good:  the lines between subjects are blurred 
Inquiry Learning Good

Through questions, peer discussions, exploring the seasonal availability of local foods by a variety of methods, experimenting with plant growth and making pizza with local only ingredients, students can extend their learning into an "ah-ha" moment.

Inquiry Learning:

Learning is directed by questions, problems, or challenges that students work to address.   

  • Satisfactory: Students are provided with questions/problems to solve and some direction on how to arrive at solutions.
  • Good: students, assisted by the teacher clarify the question(s) to ask and the process to follow to arrive at solutions.  Sometimes referred to as Guided Inquiry
  • Very Good:  students generate the questions and assume much of the responsibility for how to solve them.  . Sometimes referred to as self-directed learning.

 

Differentiated Instruction Very Good
  • Accommodations are not specifically mentioned in this resource but the teacher should be able to adapt these activities easily for a variety of learning needs and challenges.
  • The activities range from group to individual activities and draw on many different ways of learning - including the cognitive and affective domain.
Differentiated Instruction:

Activities address a range of student learning styles, abilities and readiness.

  • Satisfactory:  includes a variety of instructional approaches
  • Good: addresses  the needs of visual, auditory &  kinesthetic learners
  • Very Good: also includes strategies for learners with difficulties
Experiential Learning Very Good

There are several authentic experiences related to the primary objectives of this resource from planting their own plant and taking care of it, to making pizza with locally grown foods, to assessing their own lunch and auditing their supermarket.

Experiential Learning:

Authentic learning experiences are provided

  • Satisfactory: learning takes place through ‘hands-on’ experience or simulation
  • Good: learning involves direct experience in a ‘real world context’
  • Very good: learning involves ‘real world experiences’ taking place’ beyond the school walls.
Cooperative Learning Very Good

Co-operative group work and learning skills are part of most activities and as such are explicitly taught, practiced and assessed. Students are required to reflect on group activities and decide how effectively their group works together, what could be improved, what is working well, etc.

Cooperative Learning:

Group and cooperative learning strategies are a priority.

  • Satisfactory:  students work in groups
  • Good: cooperative learning skills are explicitly taught and practiced
  • Very Good: cooperative learning skills are explicitly taught, practiced and assessed
Assessment & Evaluation Very Good

Most activities have suggestions for assessment:

  • Assessment is done by the teacher and the students both through peer evaluation and formative and summative evaluations.
  • Rubrics are provided
  • Questions are suggested
Assessment & Evaluation: Tools are provided that help students and teachers to capture formative and summative information about students' learning and performance. These tools may include reflection questions, checklists, rubrics, etc.
Peer Teaching Satisfactory
  • By exploring their own lunches, students discover how far their food may have traveled and can discuss food choices with family members to try to reduce the foods from "away" and use local alternatives.
  • Through sharing the results of interviews with their families, other students and/or community members, students can teach others about their findings and the advantages of buying local foods.
  • The murals can be displayed and act as a medium to facilitate discussions with others about what the students have learned.
Peer Teaching:

Provides opportunities for students to actively present their knowledge and skills to peers and/or act as teachers and mentors.

  • Satisfactory: incidental teaching that arises from cooperative learning, presentations, etc.
  • Good or Very Good: an opportunity is intentionally created to empower students to teach other students/community members. The audience is somehow reliant on the students' teaching (students are not simply ‘presenting')
Case Studies Good
  • There is a skit in the initial activity that is good for introducing students to the concept of how far food may have to travel from its place of origin to their grocery store.
  • Teachers are requested to provide newspaper clippings and/or other related media discussing the issues of locally grown foods - these would be relevant case studies for the area.
  • It would be very interesting for students to see the cultural differences of "local foods" from other countries, especially tropical ones, and the differences between countries that are "wealthy" versus countries that are struggling.
Case Studies:

Relevant case studies are included.  Case studies are thorough descriptions of real events from real situations that students use to explore  concepts in an authentic context.

Locus of Control Satisfactory

The resource is well planned with a progression of activities to lead students on an exploration of food. However, there is not a lot of choice within each activity so far as students taking ownership.

Locus of Control: Meaningful opportunities are provided for students to choose elements of program content, the medium in which they wish to work, and/or to go deeper into a chosen issue.