Annie Kwong's Story

"We are at an urban school with learners from the ages of 13-18 years old. The socioeconomics and demographics include working- class to middle-class families. Majority of our students are of Asian and South-Asian descent. The most important experience for my learners is that they were able to exercise their critical thinking skills."

The classes I teach are Home Economics, more specifically Food Studies 10 and Food Studies 12. For my 84 grade 10s, I focused on the driving question of “What is sustainable meat?” and for my 50 grade 12s, I asked the question of “What is Oceanwise?” and “What role do we play in sustaining the ocean?” I came up with these questions because these are pressing concerns about our food industry and food chain. I felt that students knew very little about these topics. I wanted to drive them to ask more questions about where their food is coming from and the impact their decisions have on the food system.

In order for me to get the most from the resources, I had the staff from Be the Change Earth Alliance come in on a collaborative morning and talk to myself and three other teachers about how to best utilize the resource. As well, they came in and facilitated a class for a colleague the week after.

I personally used two of the sections from the resource:

• Oceanwise

• The Story of Meat

I used the questions, surveys, and videos from these units.

For my Foods 12 class, I started with a discussion about the importance of the ocean. I showed a TED video with Sylvia Earle, who is a well-known American scientist of the ocean. Her talk is empowering and passionate. Then I showed parts of Disney’s Ocean movie. It’s beautiful and full of life. After this intro class, I began the next class with concerns around oceans. I had students fill out the surveys to see where they stood with their role around Oceanwise. Following they worked on the questions independently with the links attached to the questions. We came back as a class to talk about the driving issues and what other options we have to sustain the oceans. After all the learning and discussions, I began by doing a tasting of two Oceanwise salmon products. Then I demonstrated a steamed mussels dish, complemented by showing an Alton Brown video about mussels and how they are sustainably farmed. As well, I purchased Oceanwise mussels from Lobsterman on Granville Island for the lab.

For my Foods 10 class, I used a similar format with The Story of Meat, except we worked on the questions and watched the videos as a class. I felt they could use more guidance through the videos to fully grasp the concepts. Some of the images were a little disturbing so I wanted to view them as a class rather than independently. I also introduced them to a couple of local farmers who raise meat responsibly (through the internet). Furthermore, I went online to show them the different options they have as consumers as to where they could purchase more sustainable meats. After this lesson, we began our protein unit. We made dishes such as beef stew, sweet and sour pork, oven bbq chicken and sea burgers.

Everything went very well. Students were very receptive to the lessons. Students were genuinely concerned about the well-being of animals and how this may impact their decisions around meat consumption and purchasing.

In terms of reflection and evaluation, I believe everything will change for the good in little steps. I like working collectively as a class to have discussions with students. I like to pose questions to the students and have them critically think about all the “whys” and “hows”. I evaluate them based on their feedback, and the type of questions they ask. For my grade 10s, I have them tell me three interesting things they learned from the lesson.

After all is said and done, I feel it’s very important to believe in the cause as the instructor to hope for change in the future. I enjoyed these lessons as it made me take some time to do some more exploring and learning. I already understood much of the concepts but now I am taking even further actions around sustainability of meat production/consumption and the ocean. Recently I went to visit Urban Digs to see their animals. I hope to one day have a field trip out at the farm with my students. As well, I personally only buy and consume Oceanwise food products.

My advice to others would be to use the community as support. The people in this community are extremely supportive and friendly. 

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