Article of the Week - School Lunch - A comparison of viewpoints

What kid DOESN'T love discussing how much they hate, no, loathe school lunch? No matter what is served, the students find reason to complain, and why not? It's a rite of childhood.
That was the basis for using the Time For Kids article "What's Cookin'?" as our next Article of the Week.
Students received the article on the first day of the week and we immediately covered some of picked out vocabulary like "state health official" and "USDA" which would aid in their comprehension of the article. Students were then given the rest of the week to close-read, which to them means, pick apart, ask questions, and cite evidence for text-based questions.
Amazingly, as the week went on, some more recent news came out; schools across the nation were dropping out of the National School Lunch program because they were losing money. Articles like this one stated that the new healthier choices simply aren't passing the "kid test" and that kids are left hungry.
I used coh-metrix (my go-to for analyzing text complexity) and found that the stories were pretty high in reading level, but luckily some news segments began popping up on Youtube.

In this one, the anchors speak about why schools are opting out of the program and show a snippet of a video some high school students from Kansas did spoofing the video "We Are Young" called "We Are Hungry." The video was done by high school students waaay back in the beginning of the school year in 2012.

I showed students the newscasts and then the video spoof. We watched the song a few times through, once to listen to the gist of it then once to analyze the lyrics. Those high school students make some pretty hefty political statements!  "Set the policy on fire" is only one of them. Around 2:20 or so a  "lunch policy guy" comes in to educate the students on what should be eaten and how much should be eaten during lunch... the scenes later depict the students beating up on the policy guy further demonstrating their dislike for the whole business. I give props to the educators of these students and can only hope to encourage my students to make their own political statements with a chance for such viral popularity.

Our crowning activity, as always with Article of the Week, was the debate. Students were given two choices (The Healthy Hunger-Free Kids Act of 2010 is beneficial to schools or The Healthy Hunger-Free Kids Act of 2010 should be banned) to sit on either side of the room to debate Philosophical Chairs style. (If you aren't sure what that is, check out this post to learn more.) After a wild debate, students were given a prompt to write (the prompt was "Taking everything into account, how do you feel about the government mandates on school lunch and nutrition?") Students were reminded to cite evidence and examples from the article, the song, and the debate. My understanding of the CCSS for middle school is that lots of chances for argument and writing should take place so that students are getting ample opportunity to hone their ability to make and prove their point. The world is full of opinions and one cannot stand on the shoulders of giants without being able to prove their point using credible evidence.

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