Monday, December 8, 2014

Tasty Field Trip and Teachable Moments

Last week, I had two half-day field trips with a total of four primary division classes to our local mall to visit some restaurants as part of our media literacy unit. What I witnessed was some great "incidental teaching" by the classroom teachers that came with me as well as some generous franchise owners that welcomed us with open arms.

Let me begin with the restaurants - I want to thank Avinash from Saravanaa Bhavan and Alpesh from Subway, both located at Woodside Square (1571 Sandhurst Circle, in the McCowan Avenue and Finch Avenue East area) for allowing forty children to "invade" their spaces. We had originally arranged to visit four restaurants that week (two locations for the Grade Two classes and two different ones for the Grade One classes) but one establishment never returned our phone calls/emails and the other place asked us not to come in because the manager wasn't on the premises, even though we had a phone call confirming our visit. Having fewer restaurants to compare and contrast was disappointing, but the sites that did allow us to come were so generous with their time. We were able to peek inside the back areas and kitchens where regular customers never get to venture. They answered many questions cheerfully. For simplicity's sake, we ate at Subway and they provided juice free of charge.

Here are some of the photos our students took themselves using the iPads we brought along.

Wall art at Subway

Menu at Subway

Wall art at Saravanaa Bhavan

Chopping green tomatoes in the kitchen

I must also thank the classroom teachers and parent volunteers that accompanied us on the walk and supervised the children during their tour and meal. I especially admired how the teachers used every moment for imparting lessons. On paper, this was a media trip but it also became:

  • a social skills trip (as Mrs. Morgan did a "think-aloud" to prepare the students on how to order their lunch themselves and the necessary steps)
  • a math trip (as they supervised the children as they paid for their meals and ensured they gave enough money and received the proper change, and estimated how long it would take to walk to our location)
  • a geography trip (as we walked through the neighbourhood, turning the right directions to lead us there and back)
  • an ergonomic, environmental education and design trip (as Ms. Chiu asked questions while the students waited for their turn to go into the Employees Only area such as "Why is the garbage can located here near the door?")
  • a language arts / oral communication trip (as both Ms. Chiu and Mrs. Morgan encouraged their students to speak loudly and clearly enough for the Subway employee to understand their order)
  • a visual arts trip (as we examined the art on the walls and the colour choices)
  • a social studies trip (as one of our adult supervisors, a student's grandfather, explained the cultural significance of the music, the food options, and the eating methods in the South East Indian vegetarian restaurant)
  • a critical literacy trip (as we saw how businesses try to get consumers to buy and continue buying from their establishments, from the smells to the survey with the free cookie on a return visit, to the kids' menu "toy")
I'm sure I'm forgetting some of the other curriculum connections (like equity, physical education, and more) that came out of our visit. Everyone that went enjoyed themselves and the students are inspired to create their own restaurants after seeing real-life examples. 

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