|Breads from around the World:
How to Plan a
Five Lesson Curriculum for Primary Grades
Tobey Cho Bassoff
In this article, I take you on
a journey of my planning and decision making process as I developed
a thematic unit on bread for all of my students. Bread provides
multiple entry points for teaching and implementing ESL strategies;
therefore I focused the following five lessons around the unifying
theme of international diversity and multiculturalism. For the purpose
of this article, I have organized the process as follows:
Through each step in my plan, reflection will be evident. As I
adapted to the needs of the students, I learn that revision is an
inevitable part of reflection and what I do naturally as a teacher.
When I set out to design integrated lessons around a unifying theme,
I know that I have to identify the context and scope of the lessons
first. The decision to pursue a mini-unit within the larger thematic
unit of bread was obvious for me. I had a set curriculum around
bread and I decided to deepen the content of the unit with three
lessons developing a particular aspect of bread. Given the rich
diversity of my class, it was clear to me that I wanted to connect
their own experiences with bread to a global notion of bread.
What remained unclear, although I did not know it at the time,
was the scope of the lessons and what was feasible given the limited
time I had. At this stage, I felt somewhat confident that I could
plan three lessons that would introduce students to the questions
of "what makes bread different?" and "why was that difference important?"
They would then be able to answer those questions and apply their
new knowledge by the end of the third lesson. However, the unit
took me five lessons to lead the students to the threshold of their
own understanding, and I was still in the process of refining it
during the fifth lesson. Nevertheless, we will push on with how
I made this discovery later, for now I will go to the second stage
of the planning process.
When I began the mini unit, I started off by having the students
complete a daily bread log for one week. At the conclusion of their
recordings, I brought them into a whole group discussion and asked
them to share their results. I used
Bloom's Taxonomy of Thinking Levels to guide me through
their development of fully answering the question of "what makes
breads different?" They were supposed to observe the breads (knowledge)
and recognize differences (comprehension). After this lesson, I
was going to use the model of inquiry to have them apply and analyze
what they recorded in their logs. Finally, through the metacognitive
model, I would get the students to synthesize the information.
The first lesson taught me that I needed to have a separate lesson
on how to make observations and give detail, before sending the
children off to do a bread tasting where this skill was a prerequisite
for the exercise. Hence, I developed a lesson that adapted the model
of Question and Answer relationships (Zarrillo 191). In this lesson,
I gave the children a scenario in which they had to describe M&M
candies to a friend of mine, from a different country, who didn't
know what they were. They children were encouraged to think and
search (connection to the QARs reading strategy) for answers that
would help my friend know what they were. The exercise worked exactly
as I had hoped. Students were inclined to take the easy way out
and say go buy a pack of M&Ms, but I told them that this was
not possible. After the initial laughter, my scientists came up
with great descriptors. I was prepared, after their responses were
given, with M&Ms so that they could look at and feel the M&Ms
and decide whether they wanted to keep the list they had, or add
to the list. Once I experienced the success of this lesson, I thought
I was ready to proceed with my second planned lesson, but I thought
of yet another snag: I did not formally introduce that breads from
around the world were indeed different. Although we had been studying
breads for three months, the subject of breads from around the world
had not yet come up. The students had the language to discuss the
differences (leavened or unleavened, etc.), but they had not had
a formal lesson where they could apply (Bloom's Taxonomy) their
The next lesson in my unit involved a reading of the book Bread,
Bread, Bread by Ann Morris, an author of whom we happened
to being doing an author study. Planning for instruction involved
using the integrative model for teaching reasoning with content
(Zarrillo 147). I wanted to present the students with information
about different breads from around the world (Describe), then I
would have them compare the breads (Compare), explain the differences
and similarities (Explain), guess why they were alike and/or not
alike (Hypothesize), and finally summarize their thoughts (Generalize).
Morris' book provided many entry points for students to share their
prior experiences with the class, as well as observe new details
from the photographs from around the world that Morris uses to illustrate
her books. I even brought out the globe and showed the students
where each picture was taken in the world.
My students were ready for the "fun" lesson in the unit - the bread
tasting. Bread tasting involved the model of inquiry. I wanted to
give the students a chance to problem solve and experience for themselves
whether their hypotheses about why breads are different from one
another were true or not and why (Zarrillo 120). This lesson was
videotaped and it went very well. I integrated several content areas
to include language arts, science, writing, and geography. Every
student was engaged in the exercise and I could see how each student
was experiencing revelations for his or herself. The lesson was
set up as a whole group discussion, then a think-pair-share, and
finally a whole group discussion. In the first whole group discussion,
I reread Bread, Bread, Bread by Ann Morris and we defined
the problem of how do we really know how breads differ from each
other. Students speculated on possible answers to the question and
we gathered information about how we could find out the answers.
Next, through the bread tasting, students tested their thoughts
about what made breads different in pairs as they sampled each bread
and recorded their answers on a sheet. In the second whole group
discussion they shared their results and the answers to the mystery
breads were revealed. Overall, I was happy with the lesson. Next
time, I will look at how I can differentiate the lesson better so
that all learners can experience the same feelings of success.
The next lesson in my mini-unit went very well. For this lesson
I adapted the metacognitive approach to teaching critical thinking.
In this teaching model, students are led through a process of developing
higher order thinking skills. I used a read aloud entitled Breads
from Around the World by Newhill to get the students to
think critically about what makes bread different. Drawing on their
in class experiences, I challenged them to think about what they
learned about the breads they tasted and how they new they were
either different or similar in taste, touch, feeling, etc. Student
response was high. They were able to link what they were seeing
in the pictures to what they experienced in the bread tasting. Students
extrapolated why it is important to inquire about things learned
from a book, and why it is important to ask questions like "what
makes breads different?" As a result of this unit, students also
had the satisfaction of solving a problem and seeing the benefits
of multiculturalism and diversity. The students were able to tell
me that without diversity we would not have the many varieties of
breads that we tasted in class. This really brought our diverse
community of language learners together. I used this final lesson
in the mini unit as a way of assessing the students' comprehension
of what makes bread different and why it is important to have different
kinds of bread.
I could not maintain the authenticity of this mini-unit without
revising it multiple times. This statement goes without saying that
the goals of the unit would not have been met if I did not reflect
after each lesson. The most important element of developing and
implementing this unit was ensuring the quality of education that
the students received. Bloom's Taxonomy was invaluable in helping
me to organize my thinking as I led the students through their own
understanding of what makes bread different.
Listed under the Appendix is a complete set of the lesson plans
that I used to carry out this unit. These plans include the models
of teaching used, as well as other pertinent information regarding
pre-requisite knowledge and assessment tools employed. (See Appendix
- Lesson Plans).
Teaching the five lessons in this mini-unit reconfirmed the importance
of my job as a teacher in being reflective and flexible. Reflection
ensures that I hold myself accountable for meeting the objectives
I set in the planned unit. As I became aware that the students needed
certain skills before I proceeded with the next planned lesson,
I realized that I had to be flexible enough to meet my students'
needs, while maintaining the goals I had for the unit.
During the videotaped lesson on bread tasting, I saw the significance
of being flexible. No matter what the students said, I used their
responses to redirect conversation on a course towards our goal.
At the same time, I saw how engaged my ESL learners were and what
presentation styles and lessons they did not and did responded to
best. The lesson went well, in the sense that students were engaged
and learned about what actually makes breads different and how we
go about describing those differences.
At the conclusion of the unit, I was amazed at the students' responses.
Many of them said that it was "great to have so many different people
who speak so many different languages, because without them we wouldn't
have good breads to eat and knowledge to share with each other."
Their responses were a pretty powerful validation that the lesson
did indeed meet its objective.
To see my unit plan, go to First
Grade or ESL Unit: "Breads from Around the World."
To see my lesson plan, go to: Breads
Around the World Lesson Plan.
Questions or comments? E-mail