The story of chocolate inspires new K-8 classroom lessons
Throughout the next year, participating UW-La Crosse School of Education students will be developing and implementing innovative lessons using the story of chocolate as a vehicle to teach a variety of K-8 subject areas such as mathematics, science, art, social studies and food science.
The UW-La Crosse School of Education received a $7,000 Forrest E. Mars Jr. Chocolate History Research Grant from the AMERICAN HERITAGE® Chocolate brand, plus a generous donation of Mars Wrigley chocolate to bring these lessons to life with area elementary and middle school students at over 17 surrounding schools.
While this project is in the developing stages, a key goal is to create an online repository for teachers across the country, so they can utilize these resources to teach a variety of subjects using the context of chocolate — from a historical, cultural or scientific perspective.
Ashley Cree, the School of Education academic services director and certification officer, located the grant in an internet search and was intrigued by the possibility of connecting teacher candidates with this innovative experience in lesson plan writing.
“Teacher candidates can take a subject area like math and creatively integrate the story of chocolate through a global heritage, cultural, historical or scientific lens,” says Cree.
The grant, which was awarded in January 2019, is a collaboration between individuals with subject area expertise in UWL’s School of Education including: Mai Chao Duddeck, Ashley Cree and Lindsey Butts, SOE Office of the Dean; Jennifer Kosiak and Jenni McCool, Mathematics and Statistics; and Lisa Lenarz, Art.
The group is working with UWL School of Education students, faculty and area teachers to create and pilot a variety of lessons to be shared via an online repository. Lesson ideas range from melting chocolate for painting to helping students understand the concept of volume through a historical journey of chocolate packaging.
“Teachers are always resourceful in helping students make connections by using things that are meaningful to them,” notes Cree.
Celebrating Wisconsin’s Chocolate History
The grant is also a way of increasing awareness about the impact of Wisconsin, and specifically La Crosse, on the chocolate industry, says Cree. Milk is a core ingredient in different types of chocolate and Wisconsin has long-term tie to the industry with its history and reputation as a dairy state. La Crosse was home to three candy companies at one time, including the recently renovated former candy factory turned hotel, The Charmant.
For more information on the history of chocolate, visit www.AmericanHeritageChocolate.com.