Course 1: Food Production, Nutrition and Health Project: Food for Thought Essential Question



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Required Materials for Daily Lesson

  • Computers

  • Projector

  • Journal articles about nutrition

  • Internet access

  • Nutrition texts (books, magazines, etc.)

  • Research Notes – Appendix 4 (make additional copies as needed) – One per student

  • Project Management Log – Appendix 5 – One per student

  • Flip chart

  • Markers

Estimated Instructional Time: One 50-minute period

Opening – 5 minutes

  • Read the Bell-Work question and solicit responses from the students.

  • This is meant as an opportunity to check progress and answer any questions the students might still have.

  • Then, have students share questions within the team and develop a list of search terms for today’s work.

  • Make research assignments for the day and have students record them in the Project Management Log Team Tasks (Appendix 5).

Middle – 40 minutes

  • Create a class list on the board of sources that the teams have decided are trustworthy.

  • Students will continue to work on their research.

  • As part of their research, students should include a summary about the expert whose advice they are noting. Information about the expert should include a career summary with the following information:

    • Job title

    • Brief job description

    • Educational background

    • Any other career related information they can find about the person

  • Once they seem to have enough information, students should develop a summary about the experts who provide the recommendations they gathered.

    • Teacher TIP! Students can determine the best way to create the summary (e.g., written, bulleted list, etc.)

  • Then, they should create a bulleted list of the eating recommendations they have found. Each bullet point should include the citation for where the information was found.

  • This list will be used as a guide for the class for the remainder of the project. Students will refer to this list when they begin to develop their food diary.

  • Once students are finished building their summaries and lists, have each team select one expert and one recommendation to share with the class. Be sure they share the career background for the expert.

  • Have a discussion about the recommendations and whether or not they came from people who should be giving nutrition advice.

    • Highlight the point that not all recommendations are credible. It depends upon the source and whether or not the person is qualified to be giving such advice.

Closing – 5 minutes

  • Students will turn in their Exit Slip for that day. They will respond to the following prompt:

“What is one eating recommendation you will try to follow this week?”


Day Five

Key Question of the Day: How do we categorize food?

Bell-Work (Each day the Bell-Work question should be prominently displayed and used to open the lesson)



  • Provide students with the weekly Bell-Work sheet (Appendix 1)

  • “What are the main categories of food?”

Learning Objectives:

As a result of this lesson, students will be able to:



  • Define fruits, grains, dairy, vegetables, and proteins.

  • Assign foods to the categories used in USDA MyPlate.

Required Materials for Daily Lesson

  • Samples of foods or their packaging from each category (e.g., protein, fruit, vegetable, grain, dairy – and foods that aren’t in the categories – oils & fats, sugars)

  • Internet access or printouts of the MyPlate graphic – Appendix 6 – One per student

  • Pie Chart Pre-Test – Appendix 7 – One per student

Estimated Instructional Time: One 50-minute period

Opening – 5 minutes

  • Read the Bell-Work question and solicit responses from the students.

  • Guide the direction of the discussion towards the main food groups.

  • Distribute samples of food items around the room. Ask students to share a brief description of the food item that’s handed to them on a scrap piece of paper.

  • Students should share their descriptions of the food item with the class, along with the food group they think the food item belongs to.

  • Explain that, “Now that we know the recommendations for eating different categories of foods, we need to know which foods belong in each category and how much a serving is.”

Middle – 40 minutes

  • Ask the class, “So, how can we classify these foods?”

  • Use a flip chart to create a poster of the MyPlate categories without labeling what the categories are.

    • Teacher TIP! If you have a larger class, make two flip chart posters and divide the class into two teams. The teams can compete to see who can categorize the foods the fastest with the most correct.

  • Organize the food packages/samples on tables around the room.

  • Have students work together as a whole class to organize the foods/samples into the MyPlate categories where they think they belong.

    • Students would be categorizing the foods at this point based upon their prior knowledge of food groups and the size of the MyPlate categories.

  • Once they are done organizing all of the foods, students should develop a definition and description for each category.

  • Post the MyPlate graphic and ask students, “How do your categories fit with the USDA’s?” Don’t provide definitions yet, just provide titles.

  • Distribute copies of MyPlate (Appendix 6)

    • Students can write category definitions on this sheet.

  • Share the USDA definitions of the categories and see if any adjustments need to be made to the ones the students created.

    • Fruit: Any fruit or 100% fruit juice (e.g., fresh, canned, frozen, or dried)

    • Vegetable: Any vegetable or 100% vegetable juice; sub-groups include dark green, beans and peas, starchy, red and orange, and other (e.g., fresh, canned, frozen, or dried)

    • Grains: Any food made from wheat, rice, oats, cornmeal, barley, or other cereal grain; sub-groups include whole and refined

    • Proteins: All foods made from meat, poultry, seafood, beans and peas, eggs, processed soy products, nuts, and seeds

    • Dairy: All fluid milk products and many foods made from milk; calcium content is the key to being part of this group

    • Oils: Fats that are liquid at room temperature (e.g., from plants and fish)

  • Next, students should reorganize the foods as needed into the MyPlate categories.

  • Ask the class, “What foods are left?” and discuss why some of the foods do not fit in the categories and what that means for their eating habits.

  • After the discussion, distribute the Pie Chart pre-tests (Appendix 7).

    • Teacher TIP! Do not “grade” these. Read them for correct concepts, procedures, and answers. These should not be returned to students; they will fixate on getting the right answer instead of developing understanding.

  • Use the pre-tests to create homogenous pairs of students for tomorrow’s activities based on shared misconceptions.

Closing – 5 minutes

  • Students will turn in their Exit Slip for that day. They will respond to the following prompt:

“Refer to the MyPlate graphic and explain what it suggests about how we should eat?”

  • Collect the Exit Slip for the day as students leave the classroom


Day Six

Key Question of the Day: How do we represent data? How can we show numbers graphically?

Bell-Work (Each day the Bell-Work question should be prominently displayed and used to open the lesson)



  • Provide students with the weekly Bell-Work sheet – Appendix 1

“What is a pie chart?”

Learning Objectives:

As a result of this lesson, students will be able to:



  • Create pie or circle charts based on given data.

  • Compare personal eating habits to those suggested by the USDA.

Required Materials for Daily Lesson

  • Copies of MyPlate – Appendix 6 – One per student

  • Internet access

  • Pie chart pre-test – Appendix 7 – One per student

  • MyPlate Pie Chart Exercise – Appendix 8 – One per student

  • Pie Chart Traditional Math – Appendix 9 – One per student

Estimated Instructional Time: One 50-minute period

Opening – 5 minutes

  • Read the Bell-Work question and solicit responses from the students.

  • After students share their responses, review the definition of a pie chart and explain what they are used for. “What do we know about creating pie charts? How are they made? What decides how big each piece of the pie is?”

Middle – 40 minutes

  • Ask students to sit with the partners assigned the previous day.

  • Give each pair a fresh copy of the pie chart pre-test (Appendix 7) to work through together.

  • Circulate to monitor groups’ progress.

  • When you feel that most of the misconceptions have been addressed, bring the class back together as a whole group.

  • Have students work through Pie Chart Traditional Math (Appendix 9) individually.

  • Review the problems when everyone is finished.

  • Next, students will create a pie chart based on MyPlate.

  • Distribute MyPlate Pie Chart Exercise (Appendix 8) and allow students to work with a partner to check their work. Boys and girls will have different pie charts.

Closing – 5 minutes

  • Students will turn in their Exit Slip for that day. They will respond to the following prompt:

“Summarize what you learned about using pie charts for organizing data.”

  • Collect the Exit Slip for the day as students leave the classroom

  • For Homework: For the next three days, students will keep a food diary on the chart “Food Diary.” They will record each meal using the chart and measuring foods by cups. Tomorrow they will work with their team to develop simple visuals to represent the correct amounts of foods.

Day Seven
Key Question of the Day: How much is a serving?

Bell-Work (Each day the Bell-Work question should be prominently displayed and used to open the lesson)



  • Provide students with the weekly Bell-Work sheet – Appendix 1

“How do you decide how much of something you should eat?”

Learning Objectives:

As a result of this lesson, students will be able to:



  • Measure servings of foods from each MyPlate category.

  • Compare serving sizes to the sizes of foods commonly served.

Required Materials for Daily Lesson

As a result of this lesson, students will be able to:



  • Food serving containers from a variety of restaurants or food products (e.g., cups, bowls, plates, chip bags, etc)

  • Measuring cups and spoons

  • Water

  • Rice (or other dry food product such as cereal)

  • Scales

  • Post-It notes

Estimated Instructional Time: One 50-minute period

Opening – 10 minutes

  • Read the Bell-Work question and solicit responses from the students.

  • Put out serving containers from a variety of restaurants or packaged foods.

  • Have students measure how much liquid or dry food fits in the cup or package.

  • Give each team a few serving containers and have them measure how much the containers hold.

  • Students should write the amount the container will hold on a post-it, attach the post-it to the container, and put it back in front of the room.

  • Ask students to share their reactions to the test they conducted.

Middle – 35 minutes

  • Each team will take a few of the containers and determine which category of food each container holds.

    • For example, cups at fast food restaurants usually hold soda which is considered sugar, french fries are a starchy vegetable and oils, etc.

  • Compare the amount of food the containers hold to the amount of food suggested by MyPlate.

  • Each team will present their containers to the class and explain how many servings they contain and of what category.

    • For example, if it contains three cups of grains, how many meals worth of grains is that according to MyPlate?

  • After each team has presented, allow each team to create a meal from the food options given. The meal does not have to come from the same establishment (if using containers from local restaurants).

  • Teams should research the calories in their meal and drink. Some restaurants print the calorie counts and nutritional information on the packaging while others have it available online.

  • Each team will create a display for their meal that shows the packaging, a pie chart of the meals categories (as done yesterday), and a calorie count.

  • Once each team is done, have students rotate so that they are working with a new food display. They will respond to the question, “Is this a good meal? Why or why not?”

  • Bring the class back together and discuss their findings. Take a poll to determine how many of the meals were good (healthy) options and how many were not good options.

  • Allow the discussion about the meals options that aren’t healthy lead to the question, “What is a calorie?”

  • Explain that, “We’re going to learn how to measure calories scientifically. We know that food labels list calories per serving and we hear people talking about calories but what are they and why do they matter?”

  • In their research journals, students should take the last few minutes of class to write a reflection on the following prompt, “What do we overeat? What do we under-eat? Why do we overeat some foods and under-eat others?”

Closing – 5 minutes

  • Students will turn in their Exit Slip for that day. They will respond to the following prompt:

“What does fast food do to our diet?”

  • Collect the Exit Slip for the day as students leave the classroom



Day Eight

Key Question of the Day: How do diet and lifestyle contribute to energy balance? How do we calculate caloric needs?

Bell-Work (Each day the Bell-Work question should be prominently displayed and used to open the lesson)



  • Provide students with the weekly Bell-Work sheet – Appendix 1

“What is a calorie? Make a list of everything you know about calories.”

Learning Objectives:

As a result of this lesson, students will be able to:



  • Calculate calorie requirements for a variety of people in order to maintain energy balance.

  • Describe how different factors impact energy balance.

Required Materials for Daily Lesson

  • Flip chart

  • Markers

  • Energy Balance Lab – Appendix 10 – One per student

  • Calculators

  • Scales (students to weigh selves)

  • Energy Balance Scenarios – Appendix 11 – One per student

  • Concept Map Rubric – Appendix 12 – One per team

Estimated Instructional Time: One 50-minute period

Opening – 5 minutes

  • Read the Bell-Work question and ask students to swap with a neighbor and add to each other’s list (1 minute).

  • Swap back and discuss the findings as a class (1 minute).

  • Share the definition of calorie: A calorie is the amount of food having an energy-producing value of the amount of heat required to raise the temperature of one kilogram of water one degree Celsius. In other words, it’s a measure of the energy in a food item.

Middle – 40 minutes

  • Transition to the “Building a calorie balance equation” activity:

    • Post the definition of calorie balance on a flip chart somewhere in the room

      • Calorie Balance = The mathematical summation of your caloric intake and energy expenditures

    • Working with a partner, students should list all of the ways that they expend calories in a normal day.

    • Have students share their responses with the class and create a master list.

    • Ask the class, “How can we account for all of these?”

    • Write the following words on the board. Students will use these terms to create an equation:

      • Calorie balance

      • Food ingestion

      • Basal (or resting) metabolic rate

      • Work or exercise metabolism

    • Have students work in their project teams to create an equation on a sheet of flip chart paper.

      • Remind them that equations can include addition, subtraction, multiplication, and division.

    • Each team will post their equation on the wall somewhere in the room.

    • Take a few minutes for students to look at them for similarities and differences.

    • Ask students to think of their calorie balance as a bucket of calories. What pieces of the equation would add calories to the bucket and what pieces would subtract? Revisit and revise the equation to arrive at a class equation:

      • Calorie Balance = Calories Ingested – Basal (resting) Metabolic Rate – Working or Exercise Metabolic Rate (cardiorespiratory endurance ratings)

    • Students remain with their partners while you distribute Appendix 10 and give students a few minutes to weigh themselves.

    • Walk through the first calculation – converting pounds to kilograms – with students. Students work with their partner to complete the rest of Part I.

    • What does a resting metabolic rate mean to us? Watch: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OJOIXjrV4qo. Discuss:

      • Why are we using a calculation instead of a test? Is an approximation ok?

      • What is a resting (or basal) metabolic rate? What does it include?

      • What isn’t included in a BMR (or RMR)? Evoke a list of things that students do that are not considered in a basal metabolic rate.

      • What happens if we only eat enough calories to meet our needs for a basal metabolic rate?

    • Students will complete Part II on their own over the next few days. They should keep it in their research journals.

    • Review the directions for completing it with the students and ask them to keep track of their levels of activity the next few days.

  • Next, students will create a concept map on a sheet of flip chart paper to summarize what they learned about calorie balance. It should include the concepts discussed in the equation.

    • Students may work with a partner for this activity.

    • Teacher TIP! Use the concept map rubric (Appendix 12) to evaluate the concept maps.

Closing – 5 minutes

  • Students will turn in their Exit Slip for that day. They will respond to the following prompt:

“How do basal metabolic rate and working metabolic rate relate to a person’s calorie balance?”

  • Collect the Exit Slip for the day as students leave the classroom


Day Nine
Key Question of the Day: How do we track our eating?

Bell-Work (Each day the Bell-Work question should be prominently displayed and used to open the lesson)



  • Provide students with the weekly Bell-Work sheet – Appendix 1

“How do people know how much they have eaten in a day?”

Learning Objectives:

As a result of this lesson, students will be able to:



  • Compare systems for tracking eating.

  • Develop a system to track food consumption.

Required Materials for Daily Lesson

  • Computers

  • Internet

Estimated Instructional Time: One 50-minute period

Opening – 5 minutes

  • Read the Bell-Work question and solicit responses from the students.

  • Have a discussion about the importance of serving sizes and portion sizes. Discuss the impact that the size of dishes and silverware can have on the amount of food a person consumes.

  • Explain that, “Today we are going to explore different methods or systems available to help with food tracking. This will be the first step your team will take in creating a food diary.”

Middle – 40 minutes

  • Explain that, “As we start thinking about how to create an effective food diary system, let’s start by making a hypothesis about how many calories we consume in a day. We’ve done the background research, which has given us a better idea about diet and nutrition, and the meaning and purpose of calories.”

  • In their research journals, students should make a hypothesis about how many calories they believe they consume in an average day. They will refer to this throughout the remainder of the project.

  • Next, each team will research existing food tracking/food diary systems based upon the knowledge they have gained over the past few days about what foods we should eat and American eating habits.

  • As they research the food tracking/food diary systems, they should document the following information for each in their research journals:

    • One to two sentences describing the system.

    • Who is the system sponsored by? (e.g., is it from a credible source?)

    • Is it free to use or do you have to pay for it?

    • What is the means in which it can be accessed (e.g., mobile app, downloadable, software tool, web access, etc.)?

    • What are the user and/or dietary guidelines for the tracking method? (e.g., Weight Watchers uses a points system, My Fitness Pal uses calorie counting, etc.)

    • List the pros and cons of the tracking system.

    • Citation of where the information came from.

  • Teacher TIP! Keep an eye on the information students are gathering so that they aren’t compiling information on diet or weight loss plans. While many tracking systems may be intended for weight loss, this exercise should focus specifically on the act of tracking food intake.

  • Each team will compile a list and of resources, which will be used as a base to create their own tracking system.

Closing – 5 minutes

  • Students will turn in their Exit Slip for that day. They will respond to the following prompt:

“Based upon the research you conducted today, list the components of a good food diary?”

  • Collect the Exit Slip for the day as students leave the classroom


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