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New Teachers Online: How-To Articles:
Adjust Your Teaching Styles for English Language Learners (ELL) in ESL/Bilingual Classrooms
First Grade or ESL Unit: "Breads from Around the World"
Tobey Cho Bassoff

Unifying theme:
International diversity and multiculturalism

Part I:
Organizing framework

NCSS Thematic Strand (1): Culture
(e) give examples and describe the importance of cultural unity and diversity within and across groups

Culture defines who we are as people and enclaves in society. According to the NCSS, "human beings create, learn, and adapt culture." Because education about diversity in society begins at a young age, a first grade social studies unit structured around the theme of international diversity and multiculturalism could not be more appropriate. "Breads from around the World," is a unit that uses breads as the vehicle of study for the theme of diversity. Students will be guided in their understanding by the teaching model of inquiry. Each of the three lessons that follow will build on itself as a part of the inquiry process. Step one will be identifying the problem: There are so many different kinds of bread. Why? Step two will involve speculating possible answers, gathering data and analyzing data, and testing a hypothesis through a bread tasting activity. This step will lead students to make assertions about why breads are different. Step three will engage students in making connections between their own cultural heritage and the bread that comes from their cultures.

Model of Teaching: Inquiry

In this unit students will learn that breads, like people, represent many different cultures and traditions from around the world. The focus in the unit is to connect the international diversity represented by the children in class to the diversity in their neighborhood, as represented by the different types of bread available in the community.

Lesson 1: What makes bread different?

(I) Introductory Activities
Unit Introduction: Have children keep a log of what breads they ate during the week. Then have each student draw pictures of what breads they ate during the week.

Content Objectives: A few students will be asked to share their pictures, and I will note that each picture seems to show some kind of bread. They will be asked, "What do you know about bread? What is bread made out of? What are different kinds of bread? What makes the breads different?"

Process Objectives: Students will recall what they know about breads, make observations about breads, and discuss the content and unit questions.

  1. Have students keep a bread log of what breads they eat in a week. Students will then draw a picture of what breads he/she kept track of in their bread log. Thus, each student will relate a personal experience with bread to the discussion of what makes bread different.
  2. Bring the students back to the rug (big meeting area) and have each one share what she wrote. Make a list on the dry erase board. Ask for a volunteer to say what he/she notices about the list. He/she should point out that each student seemed to have thought about bread for either breakfast or lunch. Elaborate on the connection of bread and its presence in almost every meal. Ask children to talk about the sight, sound, smell, and taste of bread. Tell the children that all bread is made of at least flour and water. Ask the children if all bread tastes alike. Then leave them with the question of what makes bread different.

Students identify themselves in relation to the daily use of bread. Due to the fact that the class represents 28 different cultures, students will begin to wonder what makes bread different from one culture to the next.

Lesson 2

Bread Tasting: Sampling of breads from around the world purchased in neighborhood community.

Content Objectives: Children will expand their knowledge of different types of bread and focus on what makes the breads different.

Process Objectives: Students will recall why they thought breads were different, share their responses, taste different breads from around the world, write down comments about each, and identify and differentiate the different tastes, look, feel and smell of the breads.

  1. Students will begin by remembering what the class discussed yesterday about what makes breads the same and what it was that made breads different. They will turn to a listening partner and share. Each partner will then tell the class about what his/her partner said.
  2. The students will then get up and sample breads purchased from neighborhood bakeries that represent breads from around the world and from different cultures. They will take notes about what differences they see, touch, smell, and taste.
  3. Students will come back together and share their discoveries. We will talk about how breads, like people, make up our diverse neighborhood. Through our differences we have much more to offer and share with each other.
  4. Ask children to take note of what kinds of bread they eat from now until tomorrow.

Link to NCSS Strand and Unifying Theme
Through the process of investigation, children will discover on their own what makes bread different. They will then be able to answer this question: Could we have all of these different kinds of bread if the culture's that created them were not there to make them?

Lesson 3

Teacher Read-Aloud: Breads from Around the World

Content Objectives: Students will connect their experience from the second lesson to their knowledge of different types of bread that come from around the world. They will continue to draw comparisons between the bread and the diversity of people in our world and our community.

Process Objectives: Students will listen to the book being read aloud, share their personal responses, and identify and distinguish among different types of breads they have tasted.

  1. Read aloud the fantastic book Breads from Around the World (Newhill, 1992). Then, ask the children for comments about the book. What did you notice? What did you see?
  2. Read the book again and point our different types of bread. Ask the students what makes these breads different and why is it important to have different types of bread.
  3. Ask the students: "Are any of the breads you've tasted or seen over the past couple of days reflected in your background?"
  4. Have the children go home with an index card and ask their parents what type of bread or breads is symbolic to their heritage.

Extension: Lesson 4 will link the students' response to breads from their heritage to the diversity represented in the classroom culture. We will make miniature flags of the countries from which are bread comes and then make a paper quilt of the flags represented by the breads from our different cultures.


In assessing the students' progress in this lesson, I want to learn as much about the students as possible, and provide them with multiple entry points for learning (Goodwin 1997). The focus of these lessons is on inquiry, and leading children to believe that they have control of their learning and discovery of knowledge.

Each activity is designed to allow children to build on previous knowledge and apply it to a new activity. To this end, as an assessment tool, I will chart the responses of the children to see if they are internalizing what they learned from one activity to the next. I will also use the children's science logs as a way to gauge whether or not they applied written and/or pictorial comprehension to their ideas.

For information on how I planned and revised this unit, go to my article,  How to Plan a Five Lesson Curriculum for Primary Grades

Click here to see a lesson plan based on "Breads Around the World."

Questions or comments? E-mail Tobey.


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