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Level 6 and 7 snapshots

Learning programme design

Level 6/7 snapshots

Health ed snapshots:

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Physical ed snapshots:

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Home economics snapshots:

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Combined HPE and home economics snapshots

Home economics snapshot 4

Eating well: Student-focused learning and teaching practices


Two years ago our level 6 programme was planned around the revised achievement standards, and the learning process was driven by the requirements of assessment. Student engagement and learning was poor and results reflected this. The programme did not meet the needs of our culturally diverse group of students. Our class was 35% Māori/Polynesian students and 15% new immigrants (Somalian, Indian, and Chinese), for whom English was their second language. 

The school community is from a socio-economically deprived area and students generally display poor health and well-being. Although they enjoyed the cooking and eating aspects of the subject, they did not connect with any of the formal assessment, which was primarily based on written responses within a pre-determined scenario or context. No attempt had been made to make the context relevant to the students’ experiences or to offer choice in presenting their work in a personalised way that supported the different types of learners, for example, log books, e-learning logs, mind maps, diaries, Powerpoints, role-plays. 

Focusing inquiry

We needed to shift the focus away from assessment driven courses to student-centred programmes, supported by relevant learning and teaching practices. The plan was to develop a year's programme around the concept of healthy food choices for each student. (See:  Snapshot 1 - The big picture.)

The cultural diversity and learning needs of the students were the main priority in selecting an appropriate authentic context, resources, and assessment tools to support the programme. The programme would encourage students to develop a healthy lifestyle by recognising and understanding the personal and societal influences on their food choices, and the implications for themselves and others. 

Teacher inquiry

We began with a circle discussion on the floor around a large sheet of paper and coloured pens. 

We asked the following questions: 

  • What does “healthy” look like? Students could write words, draw or speak (everyone was encouraged to contribute). Discussion followed, and a consensus was reached on the best answers. 
  • What does “healthy food” look like? Some interesting foods were mentioned; lots of ethnic foods presented, which provided a good opportunity for these students to proudly share an aspect of their culture. 

What affects your food choices?  They came up with a long list, for example, cost, where you live, access to supermarkets/dairies, cooking skills, facilities, climate, likes/dislikes, peers, allergies, religion, traditions, advertising, and packaging. 

We then discussed what the students needed to know in order to make appropriate food choices. We used a post box activity to establish some key ideas that could form the context for our learning programme. These were the suggestions they came up with (with a little help from the teacher): 

The influences on individual food choices

The factors affecting their health and well-being

Safe food practices

Nutritional knowledge 

We then looked at the relevant learning objectives (stated above) and the possible food practices that would meet those objectives. For example:

  • application of nutritional knowledge    
  • traditional foods commonly consumed
  • cooking methods used
  • portion size   
  • expectation of shared food
  • ways of sourcing food.

From this we were able to make links with relevant assessment standards in the process of developing the year’s programme. By involving students in the whole process, they felt personally involved in the decision-making and therefore more prepared to commit themselves to the programme and learning activities.

The teacher wanted to be inclusive of individual strengths, which included the cultural diversity of the group, their values and beliefs about food selection, preparation and service, and to challenge any unhealthy perceptions or misconceptions about food and food practices. In order to do this the students needed to be given some flexibility in how they approached the activities and learning opportunities they were presented with.

Real-life contexts were developed by the students for use in assessment tasks (for example, AS90956, AS90957), and food choices reflected the cultures and traditions of the families. Students used individual learning logs to record and self-evaluate their activities and demonstrate their understanding. With the teacher providing feedback and feedforward these logs created the evidence needed to successfully fulfil the assessment requirements. Improved student engagement and better results were clearly evident.

Achievement objectives that could be used as a basis to develop learning intentions

  • 6A1: Investigate and understand reasons for the choices people make that affect their well-being and explore and evaluate options and consequences.
  • 6A4: Demonstrate an understanding of factors that contribute to personal identity and celebrate individuality and affirm diversity.
  • 6C1: Demonstrate an understanding of how individuals and groups affect relationships by influencing people’s behaviour, beliefs, decisions and sense of self-worth.
  • 6D1: Analyse societal influences that shape community health goals. 

Possible assessment links to achievement standards

  • AS 90956 Demonstrate knowledge of an individual’s nutritional needs.
  • AS 90957 Demonstrate understanding of societal influences on an individual’s food choices and well-being
  • AS 90958 Demonstrate understanding of how cultural practices influence eating patterns in New Zealand.
  • AS 90959 Demonstrate knowledge of practices and strategies to address food handling issues.

Learning inquiry

Some comments recorded in student log-books: (See below in ‘learn more’ about setting up learning logs.)

  • One student found that the dish they cooked in class and then took home on the bus later that day had not been correctly stored. This was noted in their learning log, including the changes they would make in the future to prevent the same thing happening again.
  • A second student recorded in his log that they had a discussion at home with Mum about using the non-stick fry-pan, which she had been given for Christmas and wasn’t sure how to use.
  • Another student recorded in her log that she looked at the food labels on products when she went to the supermarket with Dad.

The log worked really well as some student responses showed that they were really thinking about and justifying the influences on their personal food choices, and this provided the evidence that I needed. 

Student feedback was positive about this programme. The students enjoyed receiving regular feedback from the teacher and felt that their own cultural beliefs were valued and contributed to the enrichment of the class’s learning. Teachers expressed how much more they learnt about their students and welcomed the closer relationships developed during the year. 

The classroom was a more positive learning place with better focus and involvement. The more reticent students gained confidence in sharing their customs and food practices, from sampling Chinese dumplings to a chilli–eating contest, a visit to the local Indian Bollywood restaurant, and an insect-eating Fear Factor experience. Students also learnt the significance of halal, kosher, and other religious taboos affecting some student's personal food choices. They learnt how to eat curry with their fingers, sushi with chopsticks, and to politely slurp some Singapore noodles.

We also received comments from some families that the students were becoming more involved in the decision-making around food choices for the family meals. “My son told me off for putting so much food on his plate”.

With ongoing review of this unit we have already noted for next year the potential of this unit for our department, in terms of increasing our connections with the students' families and local community. The Somalian families are keen to come to school and teach us how to prepare traditional food, another parent has offered to set up an umu, and we have plans to create a community cookbook using the recipes we have tried and enjoyed. All these experiences would provide opportunities to widen student understanding and appreciation of the diversity within our community.

Learn more

  • The WebMD Portion Size Plate
     A useful visual tool to show what a serving size looks like.  
  • The Healthy Food Guide
    Recipes, nutritional information, and tips for healthy living. 
  • The resources below assisted us in understanding about our priority learners and how to set up learning logs as a way of tracking and feeding information back and forward to our students:

Last updated June 8, 2018