What you have just read is an extract from a group presentation with the driving question “How do we encourage 12-18 year olds to make healthy choices?” During Term 1 of the school year, students in 7 Purple created a healthy chocolate alternative, a task that combined English, TAS, ICT and Art.
At Doonside Technology High School, we recognised the need to change our teaching and learning practices if we are to prepare students effectively for a life after school in the 21st century. As a result, the middle school program was created. The middle school program was designed to better support students in the transition process to high school, prepare students for the workforce and to equip them with enterprise skills; such as, collaboration, critical thinking, digital literacy and problem solving.
Stage 4 students do not experience a traditional classroom; instead, we have implemented an integrated curriculum (otherwise known as Middle School) where different subject areas are connected across themes. In other words, traditional subjects are not taught in silos; instead, students are exposed to an integration of units where they can see cross-curricular connections between all subject areas.
Our Term 1 driving question was: How do we encourage 12-18 year olds to make healthy choices?
For this project, we wanted our students to develop invaluable 21st century skills which would empower them to be lifelong learners. The skills would be linked to not only the 4c’s of 21st Century learning, but the ACARA Capabilities, such as literacy, numeracy, information and communication technology, ethical understanding, critical and creative thinking and personal and social capability
With this project, students in 7 Purple engaged in the Design process. In groups, students created their own healthy chocolate alternative, developed a company name, a product name, tagline and logo, designed the packaging for their chocolate, a website and created a 8-10 minute pitch to be presented to an authentic audience. Students completed the entire design process in 6 weeks. The project was not only a success, but students were able to see how elements of design, art, ICT and literacy are all linked.
The Design Process
In this phase, students worked in their groups to understand what is the problem. What are the groups assumptions, perspectives and knowledge around the problem. In order for students to understand the problem, they also needed to ask themselves and within their group if they do/ do not make healthy choices, why or why not, what influences their choices- taste? Packaging? Aisle in the supermarket? Price? Convenience? Not important in their family? Advertising? Addiction?
In this phase, students gathered research into the problem. Students interviewed each other, created google surveys, surveyed other classes, including the whole Year 7 cohort and tried to understand the real reason why people make healthy choices or not. In this phase, students tried to understand the big motives, small motives, behaviours and barriers that prevent people from making healthy choices. They also conducted fieldwork in the school, which is a critical Geography component. Students collected rubbish from different areas of the school, and recorded and evaluated their findings, which would be integrated into their pitch.
3.Point of View
Once students had gathered the research, they shared the greatest insights and placed them on the empathy map. Then, they formulated the real reason behind the driving question and transformed the problem into a question starting with: HOW MIGHT WE…?
This was the best part of the project. Students created ideas to solve their problem. They were taught essential rules of brainstorming, such as building on the ideas of others, staying on topic and deferring judgment. Students then selected the best, the most practical, or the most innovative ideas from the options they’d come up with
Students evolved their idea by creating a prototype of their chocolate. Students received feedback from teachers and peers. Each group created 3 batches of their chocolate before their final pitch.
6. Test and refine
Students tested their solution on students and teachers at Doonside Technology High School during Harmony Day. Each group set up a stall, and students and teachers tasted their chocolate, and voted for the best company name, product name, and tagline. This part was crucial, as feedback is an integral part of the design process! Once feedback was given, students refined their product.
In their groups, students pitched their final product to an authentic audience, which included Principal Donna Loughran of Doonside Technology High School, Jayne Hayes, a nutritionist, their peers and their class teachers. Students received immediate feedback on their products and each group had the joy of tasting each other’s chocolate.
Although the task concentrated on the 4 subjects of English, TAS, ICT and Art, students engaged in learning connected to Chocolate and healthy choices across all subjects. In Geography, students looked at the Cacao plants, rain forests and Indigenous uses of the rain forest. In History, students learnt about the history of chocolate, the Mayan and Aztecs uses of it and analysed historical sources. In Science, they carried out a range of experiments that looked at changing variables and different constants with relation to chocolate and looked at the chemical composition of chocolate and their effects. In Mathematics, students costed their chocolate they made and looked at ingredient quantities needed to make bigger or smaller batches. In PDHPE, students examined healthy lifestyles and healthy choices. In English, students were equipped with the skills of creative writing, persuasive writing and advertisement deconstruction associated with unhealthy eating.
What students said about the unit:
“I enjoyed making chocolates with my group and learnt how to work together. I also enjoyed creating a pitch and advertisement.” Pooja Sharma, 7 Purple
“I learnt how to create a pitch and integrate visual and literary techniques to persuade people to buy my product.” Jodi Sagum, 7 Purple
“Working in groups was the best part of the project. I worked collaboratively with others, exchanged ideas and created a product from scratch.” Briana Beaver, 7 Purple