Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Getting Ready For The Next Cooking Project

We aren't just cooking; first my students need to understand the significance of whatever dish we're preparing. This week, that is Maryland Crab Cakes.

This afternoon I shared a slightly revised version of this article with my class. Knowing there are a wide range of reading levels in my class (between second grade and seventh grade), I gave the option to read this alone or in a small group with me. About a third of the class joined me in the meeting area while the rest read on their own. As we read, we stopped to record new information about mid-Atlantic foods on a Venn diagram I provided at the bottom of the article. Students quickly learned that most foods grown, raised or harvested in New England are also grown, raised and harvested in the mid-Atlantic region. A few foods popped up as being specific to the more temperate weather south of us: peaches and soft shell crabs, for example. I chuckled to myself when kids asked me if kale and eggplant grow down there. They know I got those veggies locally in September and were wondering how widely available they are. I even stumbled upon two of the independent readers Googling “Does kale grown anywhere besides New England?”!

Everyone took this assignment seriously, which I was glad to see. Afternoons are not always the most focused time for this class. Was their focus because they knew this was leading into our next cooking project? Or was it more simply the fact that I told them I'd be grading their Venn diagrams?

In our wrap up conversation as a whole group, it came up that most foods grown in our region are also grown in points south. Then, proudly, several students realized that maple syrup is primarily produced in New England. Our claim to fame!

One point I wish I had better made was that avaible foods are only part of the equation in determining what dishes are eaten in a region. The people cooking them are the other important element. Regional foods have a strong background in the cultural traditions of the people who immigrated to that region. This is a point we'll have to revisit as we continue to learn about new parts of the country.

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