This activity is intended to get students to classify a carrot, and be able to defend their criteria with clear reasoning. Carrots are much simpler to define than sandwiches are so this allows students to slowly advance their thinking.
Students enter the room and respond to the prompt:
“Picture a carrot in your mind. Write as many observations about a carrot as you can.”
When students are done writing their thoughts, I show them a real carrot (greens attached) and ask, "Do you think this is a carrot?" I use "hands up" to indicate agreement (hopefully everybody!).
Next I show students a baby carrot and ask the same question. After getting their response, I then call on a few students to explain how these two objects, which look so different, can both be carrots? If I hear an illogical answer, or unclear response, I question for clarification (e.g., What is the same? How do you know this? What is different? How do you know this?). Most students say "both are orange" or "they both taste the same" or "both have the same nutrition".
Next I show students a toy carrot. This time there will be students who don’t consider this a carrot. I have those students share their reasons why they don’t consider this a carrot, and record answers on the board. Next, students who do consider this a carrot support their response and these answers are recorded on the opposite side of the board. The class debates these points for a few minutes in an attempt to develop consensus. Most of the time, students agree to call this a toy, not a carrot.
I repeat this using a picture of a carrot and/or the word carrot (in orange font). Have students answer the question, “What makes a carrot a carrot?” in their science journal, this should reflect what they learned from this activity.
I explain to students about the What is a Sandwich? The NY State Dept. of Taxation Enlightens Us that I had found and how deciding to tax sandwiches forced governmental officials to define exactly what a sandwich is. I do not show this article to students as I want them to develop their own definitions.
Next, students work in their lab groups to develop a definition of what constitutes a sandwich. This work is helped by having them include non-examples of sandwiches. Groups must justify their decisions for both sandwiches and non-sandwiches. Students use the Frayer model, which was introduced and used for vocab development in their ELA class throughout middle school. The use of both examples and nonexamples help push students thinking about the term and help build a deeper understanding of the concept. Additionally, contrasting allows us to see the differences more clearly and will help students develop a strong opinion on what constitutes a sandwich.
As groups are working, I walk among the groups asking students to explain and/or clarify thinking. I then have student groups should write their definition of sandwich on butcher paper so it can be posted for the class to see and refer to during the discussion.
I then have each group present their definitions and examples of sandwiches and non-sandwiches ensuring that each group states the reasoning behind their answers. Other groups are allowed and encouraged to ask questions or to respectfully challenge ideas. After all groups have presented, as a class we then use the group answers to develop one class definition of what we believe constitutes a sandwich that we all agree upon.
Next I show this video clip from Shepard Smith Reporting on Fox News in which the reporter discusses what is and is not a sandwich. I like this video as the reporter seems a little angry and sarcastic, reminding me of an eighth grader so I am pretty sure students will connect with him. After viewing, I have students share their thoughts on the report, again being sure that each student justifies their opinions.
NOTE: Due to our district PBIS plan, students are well educated in what respectful discourse entails as our slogan "Mustangs are respectful, responsible and involved" is reinforced daily. In short respectful discourse comes down to treat others as you would want to be treated and is typically not an issue for 8th graders during class discussions (though we still work to improve small group communication!)
As an exit slip, I have students complete a claim/evidence/reasoning chart addressing whether or not the classify a buttered roll or taco as a sandwich. Again, I am looking for students ability to justify their thinking and as long as they are able to do that there are no wrong answers for this activity.
The claim/evidence/reasoning chart is something that we will be using often during class. Because this is the first time we use it, and because it is being used as an exit slip, this form is a bit more guided than we will be using in the future.
Students will choose either taco or buttered roll and circle the claim with which they agree. Students will then write three reasons why the food they chose is or is not a sandwich. Finally, students will state their reasoning which should state why the evidence proves the claim to be true.