Nourish at Chico Country Day, California
School: Chico Country Day School, Chico, California
Subjects: Social Studies
How does Nourish fit into your teaching goals?
I teach sixth grade social studies and language arts. I use the Nourish curriculum to supplement our ancient civilizations curriculum; specifically in our unit on the agricultural revolution. Additionally, I use the different activity themes in the Nourish curriculum to jump-start, model, and reinforce lessons in reading comprehension and writing strategies.
What Nourish videos and/or curriculum activities did you use?
I have used all of the Nourish curriculum. I especially like the first lesson “The Story of Food”, and the fifth lesson “Analyzing Food Ads”.
How did Nourish help build new understandings and inspire action?
I use food as the great leveler in language arts and social studies. Everyone eats, so everyone has a connection to food. This buy-in engages all students, including those who may be turned off by the language-heavy subjects of English and history. In language arts, the consistent practice of food-based writing allowed students to focus on the writing strategy itself, while at the same time maintaining choice in subject matter.
In social studies, learning about an ancient civilization or culture through the lens of how and what they ate gave students a direct and current connection to the curriculum. I found that students retained more of what they learned, and they had a greater ability to conceptualize how the past has brought us to the present and leads us to the future.
The Nourish motto of “Food + Community” started the conversation about food and sustainability in the classroom, in the community, and at home. Students talked to each other and their parents about what they eat and why, where food comes from, and how food choices affect our local, state, national, and global ecosystems.
These conversations brought parents into their student’s learning, brought students together, and raised awareness of the inter-connectedness of our communities; small and large. Students participated in action projects that included teaching younger students about healthy food choices, growing a school garden, and interviewing farmers at a local market to create QR codes for farmers to post on their stalls.
What did you learn from the experience?
I personally learned a great deal about where food comes from, how to pay attention to what I’m eating, and the importance of healthy food choices! The two main concepts in my sixth grade language arts/social studies classes are “survival” and “stewardship”. Through Nourish, I learned how to connect and deepen these themes.
Food is, of course, one of the most basic necessities for human survival. Civilization as we know it began when we learned how to manage our food sources. Survival (or not) of an ancient culture was often directly related to its ability to regulate food production in a way that maintained a balance with the natural resources in an environment (stewardship).
In every culture we study, we begin and end with their creation of agricultural systems and the impact those practices had on the environment and ultimately the civilization. These are issues that have been around literally since the beginning of time, and that we still wrestle with today.
The Nourish curriculum places great emphasis on making food choices that are good for the survival and stewardship of our own bodies, as well as choices that are good for the survival and stewardship of the environment. That’s a meaningful conversation!