Lesson: Rice Across the Globe
Rice Fields Provide us with More than Sustenance, Artwork Abounds
Rice Across the Globe
In every culture you'll find a consummate rice dish. Whether you've stumbled upon a curry infused rice selection, a Biryani in an Indian restaurant or assorted Asian rice dishes like Thai fried rice with coconut, traditional Chinese fried rice with pork, chicken or vegetable, or perhaps you might opt for a yellow Saffron rice from the Hispanic culture? MMM, how about the tasty rice ball from the Italian culture?There are even phenomenal Persian rice dishes that heighten your olfactory system as well as your palate. No matter where you travel across the globe, rest assured, you will find a rice dish that suits your fancy.
However, consider this, rice can also be used as a tool for learning. It makes a great thematic unit that can take learning across the entire curriculum in a very tasty way. So come aboard and sail across the curriculum with me to see how rice can generate learning in many content areas.
Our First Stop: Mathematics
Math is a subject that generates a lot of stress. I know this quite personally; however, when I decided to become a teacher and taught multiple subjects on the elementary level, I had to relearn math. As a result of that revisiting, I also learned new pathways that could guide my students should they encounter high stress from this content area.
How I achieved this was to take ordinary objects and turn them into learning tools. For math, we call these tools, manipulatives. For this example, we will use rice as a manipulative.
1.Fill rice into a jar and use it for estimation.
2. Fill rice into various measuring cups to visualize fractions.
3. Use food coloring to distinguish different rice amounts that have been filled into bags. Then have students weigh the rice pouches to determine weight.
4. Count grains of rice (use grains as a measure) toward a calculation=computation.Even cogitate about the math involved in the paddy rice art. What math was used to create each pictorial?
5. Literacy and Mathematics- Conduct an interactive read-aloud using the great mathematical folktale, One Grain of Rice by Demi
Second Stop: Social Studies
Social studies is the study of people and a great way to understand other cultures is through food, and in this case, rice. Use the commerce of rice as a basis to learn about the economics of each culture, the geography (how it is grown), the weather, ecology (soil conditions and farming it), harvesting the rice and who does it and how it is prepared along with traditions that are attributed to each culture.
Also, since we teach students about citizenship and there is an expectation regarding service learning, have students run a program that assists the homeless using the study of rice.
A great place to start is with the site, www.freerice.com having students generate answers that will accumulate points and for every correct answer, 10 grains of rice is donated to the World Food Programme .
The students can also create cultural rice delicacies and serve them up at a local shelter. This is a beautiful thing because not only are they feeding the hungry (the marginalized sector), they are also honoring their cultures in a very positive way.
Third Stop: Science
An important study here can be disease prevention and nutrition. Rice is a complex carbohydrate and essential to the body. The scientific method can be used to study this important query for a lack of this nutrient in the body.
Also, gardening science. A study of rice paddy fields would be nutrient rich learning.
Fourth Stop: The Arts
The opening pictorial I presented was rice paddy art . These murals created from the growth of rice can be observed and students can dialogue about the various techniques, the history--origin, the cultural contexts associated with this art, the training involved and so on.
How about creating burlap bag art that could be used as a container for the rice that will be donated to homeless shelters for cooking?
And, how about music? Have students who play instruments get involved with a concert series that will raise money for your service learning program. You might want to include the music department in your schools. It is a great way to model interdependence on the domestic front.
Fifth Stop: Phys-Ed
How about creating balls with rice stuffed into them like a hacky sack? They can be used to hone hand-eye coordination (throwing and catching). They can be used to sell and also raise money for your service-learning program.
Sixth Stop: Technology
Always attempt to use apps as tools for learning. You will galvanize the students to want to seek data and of course, relevance is always key.
1. Evernote for notes
2. Sticky notes
3. iPad picture taking with folders that require labeling for each part of the unit
4. Some sites-
Seventh Stop: English Language Arts/Literacy
Last, but clearly not least is literacy. We discussed earlier, the book selection, One Grain of Rice, a mathematical folktale, but don't forget all the prerequisite reading necessary to carry out this study. Reading should include the following sources:
1. Library selections (fiction, non-fiction), use of microfiche as well
2.Online Sources (e-zines, sites, journals)
Use of graphic organizers should be used to compartmentalize data and other information.
Letter Writing Campaigns
Letters need to be written to various organizations in order to spearhead a program for service-learning. Fliers need to be created and distributed and this takes writing, creativity and initiative.
Presenting data, communicating with group members, galvanizing communities to come aboard, this takes the honing of communication skills and necessary to the achievement of this project-based learning.
The Importance of Drawing Connections and Project-Based Learning
Human beings learn best via connections. Using a thematic umbrella is a great way to achieve this goal. And, project-based learning makes the learning palpable and authentic. The skills used will serve students well as they enter society one day and the global markets. It helps them to understand interdependence of one another and how it extends into the universe they live in.
We must make learning utilitarian and authentic.