Lesson: Restaurant Review 1: Student as Contemporary Restaurant Critic
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This first lesson is designed to help the teacher assess student prior knowledge about food criticism, uncover student conceptions (and misconceptions) about reviewing, and motivate students to research, write and publish their own review. It is our hope that the teachers will adjust the remaining lessons in this curriculum as necessary based upon the discussions and activity in this first lesson.
- To introduce students to key concepts of this unit: the food critic, the restaurant review, value of reviews to the public, conventions of restaurant reviews
- To make clear to the class that the upcoming unit will involve them writing a real restaurant review – one that could be published – based on their own first-hand experience. (The reality of this experience is an essential part of the assignment, what offers an authentic assessment experience — not a standard classroom — experience.)
- To give students a window into what they’ll be expected to do in the coming weeks, so they’re in a better position to make use of what they’re exposed to along the way.
- Discuss: “Have you ever read a restaurant review? Under what circumstances? What impact did it have?
- Discusss: “Under what circumstances might they be most useful?” (traveling away from home; new restaurant opening in town)
- Discuss: “Where are good places to look for opinions on restaurants? How has this changed in recent years?”
- Discuss: “What about a restaurant review assignment might make it valuable to students in an English class? How are they aligned?”
- Introduce the restaurant review curriculum and a brief outline of the anchor task. Explain that it will involve visiting a restaurant — or an alternate location for students who prefer not to visit a restaurant. (See teacher note below.)
- Some teachers may want to preview the restaurant review rubric (Appendix G) to give students a glimpse of what they’ll be held responsible for at the end of the unit.
- Does the discussion indicate whether students understand where this unit is headed?
- Do students understand the purpose of this unit?
- Do they understand the value a restaurant review might have not only to members of the public but also to the student producer of such a review?
- Do the students understand the general goals of the anchor task?
- Do students seem enthusiastic about the coming assignment?
Connections to Standards:
- This lesson builds on the Web Search curriculum from Unit 1.
- You should familiarize yourself with the curriculum goals and anchor task before this lesson. Much of the information that will help the discussion is in the Appendices.
- The strength of this lesson depends in part on the authenticity of the publishing opportunity you can arrange for your students, and with the plethora of self-publishing online review sites, there should be little reason for them not to be able to publish their reviews. If successful, efforts on your part to assist in publishing students’ work — whether that be in a campus news publication, a local professional publication, a class blog, or an online travel/restaurant critique site (eg. tripadvisor.com, yelp) — may provide students with motivation beyond that usually experienced in the classroom.
- Be very sensitive to the likelihood that some or all of your students may not have the financial resources to eat at restaurant or that they (or their parents, or administrators) might object to the idea that financial wherewithal should dictate who gets to participate in a school assignment. Assuming you’re not at a private school with unlimited funding, and assuming you don’t have a student whose parent owns a restaurant who will invite the whole class, you probably need some options to make this work. In general, you may want to explain to students that they should aim for less expensive options rather than more expensive ones, that the meal needn’t cost any more than they do for a school lunch. Indeed, they may review the school cafeteria, although it may be hard for them to have an open mind about it. Another option is to downscale the project even more and review a café, ordering just a drink. Yet another option is to open up the subject of your reviews to the wide variety of public spaces in most spaces. Plazas? Parks? Best places to have a BBQ? Go hiking? Ride a horse? Hold an outdoor birthday party? Students who review such spaces can still keep pace with the class in all of the other lessons of the unit but veer off to review such spaces at the end. It’s important that the teacher publicly embrace such options.
- Coordinating all the details of this project may be complicated. Encourage but don’t require students to go to a restaurant with a group of their peers from the classroom.
Time needed to teach:
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