This week students approved the final draft of the letter we will be sending to local chefs to invite them to visit our school to serve as experts on nutrition, healthy eating and hunger. We are modeling this call to action after the Healthy Not Hungry campaign created by the World Food Programme, Project Everyone and UNICEF, where chefs are challenged to create meals with meaning that will inspire action and raise awareness of the importance of diet diversity.
Through our research, students have learned that 60% of all calories eaten in the world are from wheat, maize, rice, and potatoes. We are hoping to create a recipe with our chef that he or she will showcase in their restaurant to raise awareness on the issues concerning our students. This menu item will be based on those four major food staples but also with ingredients from the 29,996 other foods not regularly consumed by the global population. Students are concerned that people are not getting the nutrients that they need! We know that local chefs will be willing to join us in this mission to learn more about hunger and what we can do to help our community.
Watch this video below to learn more about the Healthy Not Hungry campaign, and talk to your students about which chef we are hoping to work with in their grade!
November is Native American month, and with all the images that are inundating our students about “pilgrims and indians,” I have been so pleased to find some Native American and First Nations authors and illustrators who can give students a more authentic view of what their cultures are all about, both in the past and present. Talking to students about what Native American life is like now is crucially important, because if you ask most kids, they think that “Indians must be really old,” because they think they only lived long ago. Stories like Bow Wow Pow Wow show Native Americans wearing contemporary clothes, riding in pickup trucks, and doing things that kids can relate to, which can help lessen the impression that they are all still living in teepees wearing loincloths today.
If you’d like to learn more the American Indians in Children’s Literature website is an incredible resource. Reading their reviews of supposedly authentic Native American voices is really helpful to ensure I am not propagating stereotypes to the best of my ability.
After last week’s Chalk Talk, where students generated all the things they know about malnutrition and hunger, we took the time in every class to determine what it is we need to know to begin our research and discuss the Students Rebuild Challenge. These are just two of the six large scale webs we created that illustrate what students have learned and already know about this topic, but even with all this prior knowledge they had a lot of things they still wanted to know.
I learned about Project Walls at PBL World and I have to say that I love how clearly all our expectations are laid out. One major element of the Project Wall is what we still Need To Know, generated by the students, which will direct our research throughout this unit.
I have to admit, what the students Need To Know is NOT where I envisioned this unit heading when I planned it! I am having to be really flexible in my thinking and allow my students’ voices and choices to be heard as we move forward. My initial plan to focus on mostly researching healthy foods is not where my students passion lies–they mostly care about the issue of hunger, and their desire to be involved, help others, and call others to action is the direction we are headed. I trust my students’ instincts and know that engagement will be high–now I just have to go find some resources to support this learning!
This week, all students continued on our journey to research and understand more fully hunger in our community and the world. Every class used a protocol called Chalk Talk, where the students’ words create a web of vocabulary, statement, questions, emphasis, and communication among the students of every grade about what they already know about hunger, hunger in our community, and malnutrition. Before we did that, we watched two videos and, in grades 4 and 5, looked at an infographic from the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations to continue to reactivate students’ prior knowledge on these topics. Take a look at these videos and discuss your thoughts with your students!
Students then got to work on the Chalk Talk activity. It was a really interesting way to determine what they already know!
The final step was for students to then share what they are still wondering and want to know after communicating all that knowledge. To my surprise, what the students really want to know is about the activism and humanitarianism side of hunger. Many of them want to know what they can DO, with the emphasis on putting their research into action. My intention was not to go in this direction, but to do something a little more simple and Vermont-specific, but I have to acknowledge my students’ voice and choice, and this weekend I will be doing a few changes in my upcoming lesson plans! My students do not take call to action lightly, and we are going to do the work to make sure we honor that! It’ll be very interesting to see where this goes!