This summer in my freshmen composition class, I have used the theme of “food.” We have explored our food cultures, written about food choices, watched movies about food (Super Size Me and The Miracle of Food), and read about food in Kingsolver’s Animal, Vegetable, Miracle. The experience has been wonderful, mostly because these students have been diligent and invested in the topic.

So far, I’ve heard the following in class:
“I am eating a lot less (or no) fast food now.”
“I am thinking about growing my own tomatoes next year.”
“I had never thought about how important it is to eat dinner with my family.”
“I had no idea how bad corn syrup was for you.”

And the list goes on and on. Somehow, maybe because it’s summer, maybe because of the student make-up, maybe because of something that I didn’t consciously know I was doing, this class has been the most rewarding in terms of seeing students really beginning to engage with what their learning. It’s that critical thinking piece that we teachers are always craving to see, and this summer, I am seeing it.

Tonight is our last class, and I have told the class that they can bring food to share. I made baguettes last night and hope to pick carrots from my garden to share, and I can’t wait to see what they bring.

And tomorrow, I start reading their research papers and portfolios where I’m sure I will see more and more of their growth. I am so proud of them.