Beacon Lesson Plan Library

You Are What You Eat (Middle School)

Debra Harris


Students research and prepare 20 cards regarding nutritional needs, obesity, and health issues. Students determine their ideal weights and how many calories should be consumed daily to obtain the ideal weight and/or maintain it.


The student knows how to apply a decision-making process to health issues and problems individually and collaboratively (eg., nutritional food choices at home, restaurants, and school).


-Written instructions on seven different colors of paper (classroom set of 35 copies: 7 colors with 5 of each color)
-List of suggested Internet sites (35 copies)
-Food Log worksheet (See Preparations #2) (35 copies)
-Individual Checklist (See Associated File)
-20 Note cards per student (700 note cards per class of 35 students)
-Group Checklist (See Associated File)
-Chart paper for 7 groups
-Colored markers for 7 groups
-Pens and pencils
-A very large, clear bowl
-Numerous healthy and unhealthy foods in a brown paper bag (so that students do not know what is in the bag)
-Computer lab with Internet access


1.Prepare classroom materials (refer to list).
2.Prepare Food Log worksheet in advance. (Worksheet should include various heights/body styles for students to research and questions addressing the student’s height/body type, ideal weight, and calorie consumption.)
3. Prepare written instruction sheet in advance.
4. Research and prepare written list of suggested Internet sites for student research.


1. Begin class with a very large, clear bowl sitting on top of an otherwise empty desk or table.

2. Suggested dialogue: “Students, what have you eaten today? What is in those stomachs?” Students respond. Then begin pulling things out of the bag such as cooking oil, cereal, sugar, ketchup, and toss or pour the items into the bowl. “Pretty disgusting, huh? Well, we are what we eat.”

3. Tell students: During this week, we are going to write down everything that we eat. I will provide a worksheet for you to record your food journal on during the week. During class we will use the computer lab to research nutrition, obesity, the health consequences of obesity, diet, exercise, ideal weight, and calorie intake. Think of this lesson and your research on the Internet as an opportunity to learn and present information about eating healthy and making wise nutritional choices. Refer to the Individual and Group Checklists (See Associated File) while you are performing your research so that you will be sure to meet all of the requirements on this week-long project.

[Individual Research]: You are required to make 20 note cards based upon your research. On at least two of your note cards you should address obesity and health problems associated with obesity. The note cards will be turned in at the end of this project. You should do a good job on your note cards as this information will be used to assist you and your group in preparing the group presentation for Friday. Be sure to refer to the Individual Checklist (See Associated File) while preparing your note cards. I will use the same checklist to assess them.

[Group Work]: You are going to work with a group of 4 or 5 students, combine your research, and produce healthy menus or food choices for a week of healthy eating.

[Presentation Requirements]:
-Your group is expected to provide information to the class regarding ideal healthy weights for 3 body types at specified heights, and the number of calories needed for a person to maintain these weights.
-Your group presentation should address obesity and health problems associated with obesity.
-Your group presentation should also include information regarding healthy dieting to lose weight, suggested calorie intake for weight loss, and a week of menus and suggested foods for a person wishing to lose weight in a healthy way.

[Timeline]: Individual research takes place on Monday and Tuesday. Group presentations are prepared on Wednesday and Thursday. On Friday, each group will be given six to seven minutes to present their research and suggested menus including tips for healthy weight loss.

[Performance Criteria]: Be sure to refer to the Group Checklist (See Associated File) while preparing the group presentation. I will use the same checklist to assess the presentation.

4. Distribute written instructions to students, and ask students to read the instructions silently. Check for comprehension of the instructions and assignment. List the components of the assignment on the board or overhead:

[Monday and Tuesday]: Individual Research--refer to both checklists, and complete the Individual Checklist. Twenty (20) note cards should be completed and ready to turn in on Thursday.

[Wednesday and Thursday]: Group Work--complete the Group Checklist and prepare a six- to seven-minute presentation that addresses all items specified on the checklist. Twenty (20) note cards and Individual Checklists collected on Thursday.

[Friday]: Group presentations

As students work, circulate and offer feedback and assistance.


Use the Individual and Group Checklists (See Associated File) to formatively assess the student's ability to apply the decision-making process to health issues and nutritional food choices. The student's ability to make healthy decisions regarding nutrition and food choices will be evidenced in the note cards and Food Log worksheet.


1. Students may continue the Food Log weekly and meet in groups to determine if what was learned is being applied by students in making changes in their eating habits and food choices.
2. Students may be asked to turn in a weekly written assessment of their eating habits and nutritional/health goals for the following week.
3. Students may become involved in community service projects regarding health and nutrition and form alliances and partnerships with community health agencies.
4. Students may partner with the school lunchroom manager/workers and provide a healthy meal festival, including health professionals, displays, blood pressure stations, etc. for the entire school or celebrate in their own classroom with each student contributing a healthy food or snack.
5. Students may collect recipes and produce a healthy cookbook.

Attached Files

This file contains the Individual and Group Checklists.     File Extension: pdf

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