Lesson:
1/9
Standards Aligned:
Yes
Fried Rice
Place of Learning: 
Kitchen Classroom
Duration: 
90 minutes
Grade Level: 
Grade 7
Contributor

ESY Berkeley Teaching Staff
Edible Schoolyard Project
Berkeley, CA

Tags: 
Rice
Food History
China
Staple Crop
Urbanize
Knife Skills
Summary: 
In this seventh-grade humanities lesson, students make Vegetable Fried Rice and learn about the agricultural innovations during the Song Dynasty in China that led to a surplus of rice and resulted in major cultural, technological, and scientific developments.
Student Learning Goals & Objectives: 

After this lesson, students will be able to:

  • Describe how technological and agricultural advancements during the Song Dynasty in China resulted in the ability of Chinese farmers to grow surplus rice.
  • Explain why the ability of Song Dynasty farmers to grow surplus rice resulted in major cultural, technological, and scientific developments during that time period.
  • Give examples of cultural, technological, and scientific developments that occurred in China during the Song Dynasty.
  • Explain the connection between time, money, and cultural development.
  • Give examples of components of their own cultures.
  • Cut vegetables at an angle.
Assessments: 

During this lesson, students will:

  • Describe how technological and agricultural advancements during the Song Dynasty in China resulted in the ability of Chinese farmers to grow surplus rice.
  • Explain that rice was the staple crop in Song Dynasty China, and describe why the ability of Song Dynasty farmers to grow surplus rice resulted in major cultural, technological, and scientific developments during that time period.
  • Name cultural, technological, and scientific developments that occurred in China during the Song Dynasty.
  • Describe how they spend their time and money, and how those choices impact their “personal culture of one.”
  • Reflect on attributes that define the cultures of Berkeley, King Middle School, their families and friends, and their “personal cultures of one.”
  • Cut vegetables at an angle.
Materials & Prep: 
Ingredients
  • Olive oil
  • Garlic
  • Fresh ginger
  • Seasonal vegetables
  • Rice
  • Sesame oil
  • Eggs
  • Soy sauce
  • Salt
  • Pepper
Equipment
  • Stove
 
Tools
  • Crinkle cutter
  • Wooden spatulas
  • Chef’s knives
  • Paring knives
  • Cutting boards
  • Measuring cups
  • Measuring spoons
  • Mixing bowls
  • Wok
For the Chef Meeting
  • Vegetable Fried Rice recipe – PDF 
  • Ingredients and tools for demonstration
  • Visual aid – PDF
  • Lesson placemat (optional) – PDF
 
BEFORE YOU BEGIN
  • Collect all the ingredients and tools, and then distribute them to the tables.
  • Gather supplies for the Chef Meeting.
  • Create the visual aid.
  • Copy the Vegetable Fried Rice recipe to hand out.
  • Cook and cool the rice.
Procedure Steps: 
FULL GROUP, 7-12 MINUTES
1
AT THE CHEF MEETING

Welcome students back to the kitchen, introduce the recipe for the day: Vegetable Fried Rice.

  1. People cook different styles of fried rice all around the world. Today we're going to cook a version based on the traditional southern Chinese style, and we'll be looking back at a time in history when rice became China's staple crop.
    • Believe it or not, until around 2,000 years ago, most people in China ate wheat or millet for every meal. But starting with the Song Dynasty, rice became a staple crop.
    • Ask students to define “staple crop.”
  2. Describe how time- and labor-intensive it was for people at this time to feed themselves, and how droughts or storms could often mean a year’s entire crop might be lost because farmers could only grow one crop per season.
  3. Explain how advancements in technology (the chain pump, the harrow) reduced the manual labor required to grow rice, and how agricultural developments (quick-growing, drought-resistant rice introduced from the Kingdom of Champa, or modern-day Vietnam) allowed farmers to produce more crops of rice in a year and to successfully grow rice in a wider variety of conditions. Describe how these innovations combined to create a surplus of rice during the Song Dynasty.
    • Ask students to define the term “surplus.” Encourage students to “do some research” by referring the visual aid. Wait until every hand in the class is raised to call on someone.
    • Describe how the surplus of rice led to a population increase, along with the emergence of trade, commerce, urbanization, and leisure time. All these things, in turn, led to the advancement of Chinese culture, technology, and science.
  4. Share some examples of the innovations that occurred during the Song Dynasty in China, including paper money, the compass, mass production of steel, gunpowder, and major advancements in understanding magnetism, optics, and that the sun and moon were round, not flat. Describe how the ceramics, poetry, and paintings from the Song Dynasty are still some of the most admired artistic artifacts in the world today.
    • Emphasize that all of these innovations occurred as a direct result of agricultural advances that allowed Chinese farmers to grow a surplus of rice.
  5. We’ve been talking about culture, but that can be a big concept. What is culture?
    • Facilitate students in generating a list of components/aspects of culture. This may include things like music, greetings, clothes, food, religion, etc.
  6. Transition from the list of components of culture to a share out by naming that aspects of Song Dynasty culture are still present in our culture today.
    • One example of a cultural element from Song Dynasty China that is still widely present today is that most Chinese people started eating rice and drinking tea instead of eating wheat and millet and drinking wine during the Song Dynasty—these traditions persist today and form the foundation of what most of us know and recognize as traditional Chinese cuisine.
    • Another example is that the Song Dynasty was the first society in world history to institutionalize a “merit bureaucracy,” or “civil service,” in which government officials were selected for their moral qualities and performance on the civil service exam, not for their wealth or social status. This concept—that the state was responsible for ensuring people’s welfare through moral, judicious, and just rule—was one of the founding ideas of American society.
    • Even though almost one thousand years have passed since the time of the Song Dynasty, the agricultural developments in China during this time that allowed farmers to grow surplus rice were a big deal! Developments and ideas that are still very important in our lives today originated all the way back then.
  7. Our culture today is a big collage of aspects and influences of many other cultures.
    • Ask for students to share elements of their own cultures based on the categories on the class-generated list. Thank students for their input.
  8. Ask students to wash their hands and join their table group. 
TABLE GROUPS, 60-70 MINUTES
2
AT THE TABLE

Demonstrate how to cut vegetables at an angle before students prepare the fried rice recipe. 

  1. Small-group check-in: What is your favorite way to eat rice?
  2. Demonstrate how to cut vegetables at an angle and explain to students that we are cutting at an angle to make the vegetables easier to pick up with chopsticks, and also to increase the surface area and decrease cook time.
    • Explain that short cook time over high heat is characteristic of the stir-fry method that we'll be using to prepare the rice.
  3. Divide students into cooking jobs.
  4. Prepare the recipe and set the table.
    • Provide chopsticks for students who want to use them, and facilitate a skill share between students who know how to use chopsticks and those who don’t.
  5. Eat. While eating, have students share aspects of the culture they identify with. If they need prompting, have them refer to the class-generated list of components of culture.
  6. Clean up.
FULL GROUP, 10 MINUTES
3
AT THE CLOSING CIRCLE

Students rate the recipe and reflect on what they learned. 

  1. Ask students to rate the food on a scale of 1 to 5.
  2. If there is time, ask students to share one aspect of a culture they identify with.
Flipped Classroom

We produced a series of flipped classroom videos to save time during kitchen classes and ensure that all students could be engaged by the content typically presented during our classes' opening Chef Meetings.

Students watch the videos before they arrive in the kitchen classroom. This means that the opening Chef Meeting can be a quick recap, with students explaining what they learned – gaining more time for discussion, cooking, and cleaning. 

ALTERNATE CHEF MEETING 

Use this version if students watched the flipped classroom video. 

  1. Welcome students and introduce the recipe for the day: Vegetable Fried Rice.
  2. People cook different styles of fried rice all around the world. Today we’re going to cook a version based on the traditional southern Chinese style, and we’ll be looking back at a time in history when rice became China’s staple crop.
  3. Think-Pair-Share: Before coming here, you all saw a video about some agricultural and cultural developments that occurred during the Song Dynasty in China—if you’ll recall, rice was at the center of that story.
    • Take a moment to think back on what you remember from the video. Use the visual aid for reference.
    • Give students 10-20 seconds of silent reflection. 
    • Now turn to a neighbor and take about two minutes to recall as much as you can from the video.
    • See how much detail you can use to explain the historical processes represented on the poster.
    • Facilitate a full-class summary of the historical content from the video: With a raised hand, who can share one or two points from their conversation with their neighbor?
  4. We’ve been talking about culture, but that can be a big concept. What is culture?
    • Facilitate students in generating a list of components/aspects of culture. This may include things like music, greetings, clothes, food, religion, etc.
  5. Transition from the list of components of culture to a share out by naming that aspects of Song Dynasty culture are still present in our culture today.
    • One example of a cultural element from Song Dynasty China that is still widely present today is that most Chinese people started eating rice and drinking tea instead of eating wheat and millet and drinking wine during the Song Dynasty—these traditions persist today and form the foundation of what most of us know and recognize as traditional Chinese cuisine.
    • Another example is that the Song Dynasty was the first society in world history to institutionalize a “merit bureaucracy,” or “civil service,” in which government officials were selected for their moral qualities and performance on the civil service exam, not for their wealth or social status. This concept—that the state was responsible for ensuring people’s welfare through moral, judicious, and just rule—was one of the founding ideas of American society.
    • Even though almost one thousand years have passed since the time of the Song Dynasty, the agricultural developments in China during this time that allowed farmers to grow surplus rice were a big deal! Developments and ideas that are still very important in our lives today originated all the way back then.
  6. Our culture today is a big collage of aspects and influences of many other cultures.
    • Ask for students to share elements of their own cultures based on the categories on the class-generated list. Thank students for their input.
  7. Ask students to wash their hands and join their table group.
Digital Chef Meeting: Song Dynasty

Vocabulary: 
  • Staple crop 
  • Surplus 
  • Culture 
  • Urbanize 
  •  
Teaching Notes: 
  • Think-Pair-Share as an equity strategy: If students have seen the flipped classroom video before class, we like to do a “think-pair-share” as a way to review the video content. The “think”—giving students a few moments of quiet reflection with the visual aid before they articulate concepts they remember from the video—allows students who take longer to verbalize their thoughts to participate more fully in the “share” portion of the activity. The visual aid offers an excellent access point for students who have a harder time internalizing information from just hearing it. The “pair” portion creates space for every voice to be heard in a context that can be less intimidating than in front of a whole class. The “share” portion gleans the collective wisdom from the room and establishes that all knowledge is shared, placing value on every student’s contribution to the collective understanding of video content.
  • Knife safety reminder: This was the first lesson back in the kitchen for our seventh graders. As such, we included a brief reminder of knife technique and safety when demonstrating cutting on a bias at the small tables.
  • Cooking in two batches: Cooking the fried rice on high heat yields a vastly more delicious flavor and superior texture. In order to ensure even cooking and prevent burning, we cook our fried rice in two batches, reserving half the ingredients for each round of cooking. We divide our groups into two cooking teams. While the first cooking team cooks, the second cooking team finishes collecting ingredients, cleans up the table, and begins to set the table. While the second cook team cooks, the first cook team finishes setting the table and washes the last few dishes. One huge benefit of this two-team system is that every student has the opportunity to work on the recipe from start to finish. We also often appoint one student from the first cook team to stay by the stove as a guide to the second cook team. In this case, we give them explicit instructions to help by explaining, not by doing.
  • Eating with chopsticks: Many of our students were not familiar with eating with chopsticks. If a student in the group was skilled with chopsticks, we often had them teach other students how to use them. If not, we offered a brief chopstick tutorial at the table just before eating or while the second cook group was finishing the second batch of rice. If we had downtime at any point during the class, chopstick challenges, in which students were challenged to move uncooked grains of rice and other objects between bowls, were a big hit.
  • Cultural context for chopsticks: We ate our fried rice off plates. Some students became frustrated at how difficult it was to pick the last bits of rice up with chopsticks, which sometimes prompted them to deride chopsticks as an illogical and difficult eating utensil. We shared with them that eating rice with chopsticks is typically done out of a rice bowl that is brought up to your mouth.

Academic Standards

California Academic Content Standards

History – Social Science, Grade 7

7.3.2

Describe agricultural, technological, and commercial developments during the Tang and Sung periods.

 

Common Core State Standards

English Language Arts and Literacy, Grade 7

SL.1.

Engage effectively in a range of collaborative discussions (one-on-one, in groups, and teacher-led) with diverse partners on grade 7 topics, texts, and issues, building on others’ ideas and expressing their own clearly.

 

SL.2.

Analyze the main ideas and supporting details presented in diverse media and formats (e.g., visually, quantitatively, orally) and explain how the ideas clarify a topic, text, or issue under study.

 

RST.7.3.

Follow precisely a multistep procedure when carrying out experiments, taking measurements, or performing technical tasks.

Edible Schoolyard Standards

In the Kitchen Classroom, Grade 7

Concepts

3.11

Make connections between the diets of historic cultures and the foods we eat today. 

 

Tools

1.3

Select correct knives from the Edible Schoolyard Toolbox. Refine knife skills by using different cuts and sizes while demonstrating knife safety and care. 

 

Contributors: 

All lessons at the Edible Schoolyard Berkeley are a collaboration between the teachers and staff of the Edible Schoolyard and Martin Luther King Jr. Middle School.