Teaching "Food for Thought": A Middle School Interdisciplinary Unit
This Educator Mini-Course provides a background for teaching the “Food for Thought” Middle School unit at your school. “Food for Thought” is a service-learning unit for the seventh grade that engages students in thinking about how food is grown and harvested, the challenges of meeting the basic need of food, and the issue of food insecurity in the world. Its curriculum is available for free on Learning to Give. This three- to four-week curriculum occurs mainly in English (during the study of the Steinbeck novel, Of Mice and Men), and also during Advisement, History, and Bible classes. At Westminster, the unit can be taught across these classes and in advisory because the entire seventh grade participates.
Teachers and advisors meet before the topics are introduced and share ideas and best practices for incorporating the unit’s themes into their curriculum. Advisement is used to continue and deepen the learning, to have guest speakers, and to provide time for off-campus, experiential exploration of the topic. Students participate in service by working on a local farm and harvesting food. The unit also incorporates two service-learning projects, one in English and the other in Art. Through readings, research, site visits, local speakers, and service, students are challenged to think about food in a new way and connect to their local community.
Mini-Course Author: Luana Nissan
Upon successful completion of this course, the learner may request a certificate suitable for a professional development portfolio, or as proof of educational clock hours that can be used toward continuing education credit in most states. Please contact your State Department of Education for specific information.
In this learning module, you will
- gain a basic understanding about food insecurity,
- review best practices related to the growth and harvesting of food,
- describe how to advocate for a cause,
- identify how philanthropic action can be used to address food issues.
- learn about the core elements of the “Food for Thought” unit. This can help you:
- prepare to teach “Food for Thought”; or
- incorporate some of the unit’s concepts, content, and approaches into existing classes.
The interdisciplinary approach of "Food for Thought" helps the learner connect themes and skills to their life and community. It helps them see a real-life purpose in their learning. This section provides an overview of expectations and ways to connect to community resources in preparation for teaching the “Food for Thought” unit. The unit provides information and experiences to teach the following:
- understanding basics about food, including food insecurity, the relationship between poverty and nutrition, and how food is grown and harvested
- learning the stories of effective advocates
- developing skills of advocacy
This section provides a brief introduction to food and poverty themes, as well as sources to explore community gardens and farming. Some of the many topics that may be taught related to these themes include hunger, food insecurity, nutrition, cost of different foods, food choices, obesity, farming, food deserts, community gardens, farmers markets, federal hunger-relief programs, food pantries, and soup kitchens.
What is the purpose of advocacy, and how can advocacy be related to nonprofit organizations? We explore the different forms of advocacy in this section.
This quiz has four multiple-choice questions based on the mini-course "Teaching Food for Thought." If you answer 75 percent correctly, you will have the opportunity to download a personalized certificate. You may revisit the course and retake the quiz, if desired....