|Reviewers Comments: ||Choice, Control & Change is a wonderful curriculum for educators looking to teach middle school age students how food and activity contribute to the health and well-being of the human body. Students participate in hands-on activities related to their own food choices and preferences and those of others. The curriculum includes 5 units, each with its own driving question. The first unit looks at what influences our food and activity choices. The second and third units explore energy balance and guide students on how to make healthy choices. The fourth unit looks at why healthy choices are important for our bodies and the final unit helps students maintain their changes and celebrate what they have accomplished.
The curriculum is designed to promote student exploration and inquiry. Educators are encouraged to carefully construct the questions they ask the students, using open ended “how” and “why” questions. Sample questions for the educators to ask the students are placed throughout the text, Educators are encouraged to set up full class and small group discussions, and have students present their work to the class. Students learn collaboration, teamwork and shared responsibility. This method of learning, used in this and other LiFE curricula, is called QuESTA: Questioning, Experimenting, Searching, Theorizing, and Applying to life.
It would be helpful for an educator to have a background in nutrition education, but not required as background information and teacher notes are provided for each of the lessons. Lessons should be reviewed thoroughly before being taught. Some activities require advance preparation. Some lessons require additional materials to use in the experiments and activities. Both general and lesson-specific materials are summarized in a helpful, easy to ready chart at the beginning of the curriculum book. Lesson time is provided for each component of the lesson, and total lesson time is about 40-55 minutes for each lesson.
Each lesson includes a central activity designed to help students understand and investigate the answers to the driving question. These help students explore topics like taste theories, portion sizes, community food environments, digestion, calorie balance, label reading, making healthy choices, and nutrition-related diseases. Activities are designed to connect food to everyday life and the student’s own personal food choices. Student pages, which are designed to be copied for use as handouts are provided. Several student pages include basic illustrations, charts, and graphic representations to help promote student understanding. It would be helpful to have student handouts and materials on a CD or in an electronic format for ease in duplicating. Student progress can be assessed with completed activity sheets and logs.
This curriculum is designed for students in grades 6, 7 or 8 and includes a matrix that maps Choice, Control & Change to the National Science Education Standards and Benchmarks for Science Literacy. The curriculum could be adapted for different ages/grades, however some advanced concepts covered would make it challenging for younger children. It is designed to be completed in a series in its entirety, but different lessons and activities could be used on their own.