A Person Is Judged On The Way He Treats Animals Food Show Lesson Plans

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Food Show Lesson Plans

Just as our nation is experiencing a major obesity attack, millions of viewers are tuning in to television shows focused on food. There may be some irony hidden in this phenomenon. Think about it. There’s actually a show called “Man vs. Food,” where a rather strict individual seeks to eat everything he can in a variety of locations around the country. This show plays even as the Centers for Disease Control issues a clarion call on the obesity epidemic and movies like Forks over knives present the scientific evidence that our diets are killing us. Sadly, Michael Pollan (The Omnivore’s Dilemma) has, in all likelihood, fewer fans than Adam Richman, host of Man Versus Food. Not much is politically correct about food shows.

Teachers can turn food craze into effective lesson plans with homework that students won’t mind doing. Students can learn something, practice writing skills and maybe develop some career interests while having fun with shows like Iron Chef, Copped, No Reservations, Restaurant Impossible, or Diners, Drive and dive.”

I tried such an assignment in both a freshman and a senior class last year. A child’s opinions about which shows are best are stable; their loyalties run deep and they have no problem following story lines and characterizations of different personalities. They are alert to the nature of the competition and become adept at predicting which judge will appreciate a particular cook and which of the prepared meals will win praise. They learn about spices, herbs and how to choose a particular ingredient for a particular recipe or how to substitute each other when the occasion calls for some creativity.

Youngsters who watch these food shows quickly become food critics themselves, even without the opportunity to taste the exotic foods prepared. They even become alert to the metaphorical value of what these plays call “presentation.” I’ve had kids talk about poor handwriting in terms of poor presentation and job interviews in terms of presenting yourself as a worthy candidate for employment. Hmmmmm. What could this mean?

It means teachers can use cooking shows as teaching tools in their ELA lesson plans. I created a worksheet that I distributed to my students asking them to identify elements similar to those found in literature, such as conflict, complication, and resolution, and to evaluate the play for pace, drama, suspense, emotional appeal, and themes. Extra credit, I said, when I first started using the worksheet. Pretty soon, almost all the kids were writing essays, reviews, and even formatting their plays with their own age-based themes. Some children created a play based on veganism in which they suggested using live animals to increase the element of compassion that is so important to people who refuse to participate in killing animals for food. The assignment was no longer for extra credit, but a serious part of my effort to meet standards and practice my writing skills.

Some children actually prepared their own plays. One was in the preparation of fried bread. The students were reading Sherman Alexie’s novel, The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian and decided to produce a fry bread contest. Everyone enjoyed it, although some of the results were better used as Frisbees than food. The judges played their roles beautifully and the critiques written by the audience, their classmates, were brilliant. With the right lesson plan, education can often be fun.

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