Turning Vegetables You Want to Serve into Vegetables Kids Want to Eat

Anyone seen the new series of commercials from Birds Eye Vegetables yet?  Featuring talking animals completely jazzed about Mom’s dinner plans, they’re ridiculous enough to catch my attention every time they roll across my television screen.

Here’s a sample:

What I love about the commercials is the tagline:  Turn the vegetables you want to serve into the vegetables that kids want to eat.

That’s a lesson teachers can learn, isn’t it?

Just like our dinner tables are full of vegetables that our kids aren’t all that interested in eating, our curricula are full of content and concepts that our kids aren’t all that interested in learning.  Our job is to find ways to package that content and those concepts in ways that will capture the imagination of the students in our classrooms.

I call that hiding the aspirin in the applesauce.

Need to see an example of hiding the aspirin in the applesauce in action?  Then check out the #sugarkills blogging project that my kids are tackling this year.  Inspired by a study of the New York City Soda Ban, we’ve decided to raise awareness about the amount of added sugar found in the foods that teens and tweens commonly eat.

Since January, my students have written over 60 posts.  They’re learning to communicate through visuals.  They’re learning to judge the reliability of online sources.  They’re drafting and proofreading and editing and revising.  They’re crafting Tweets and engaging readers and responding to comments.

And they’re not being graded at all.  Read this interview that they crafted for Middleweb magazine and you’ll see that they’re motivated by the notion of having a voice and changing the world.  Grades are irrelevant when you care about your work.

That’s cool, isn’t it?  They’re eating vegetables, y’all.  A TON of them. And they’re doing it because they WANT to — not because they HAVE to.

Moral of THIS professional story: Good teaching depends on your willingness to use the causes that KIDS care about as opportunities to practice the essential skills that YOU care about.

Any of this make sense?

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Related Radical Reads:

Introducing Our Newest Cause: #sugarkills

Doing Work that Matters

Making Good Technology Choices

Digital Immigrants Unite

 

 

2 comments

  1. Derek Hatch (Hatcherelli)

    This is a fantastic post, Bill! I love the vegetable analogy. Also, kudos on the work that you and your class are doing. You are truly creating an authentic learning opportunites for your students. I will bet that your students are creating some of this learning themselves with this amazing project. You hit the nail right on the head when you say that good teaching happens when the teacher creates experiences that their students care about.

  2. jdlayman

    Don’t forget to mention that it’s not as easy as wrapping a pretty bow around an ugly box. What you do is good teaching, what others often do is candy-coated terribleness that causes kids to hate the content AND the candy.