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Constantine Christopulos

"There are so many standards that teachers have to cover, but they can be taught in the most creative ways," says Constantine Christopulos. "The more fun the project is, the more passionate your students will be. This was one of those great teachable moments that I will remember for life."


Second graders sample a vegetable smorgasbord.

Christopulos refers to a reading of the book Frindle by Andrew Clements that prompted an unusual letter-writing campaign among his students at William V. Wright Elementary School in Las Vegas, Nevada. The second graders were inspired by the character of Nick who creates a word that causes chaos in his town.

"There is a part in the book in which Nick is planning a boycott of the cafeteria food, but he decides not to do it because he doesn't want to cause any more problems," Christopulos told Education World. "I asked the students in my classroom if boycotting the food was a good idea. They replied that it was not. So I then asked them how they could voice their opinion about something they were not happy with. It was very important for me to teach my students that their voice counts, but they need to use their voice in a respectful way."

The resulting discussion brought out a major cafeteria issue for the students -- the green beans. Apparently, they were less than impressed with the quality and frequency of this particular vegetable offering. The kids wrote friendly letters that had to state their concern, give a compliment, and provide alternate suggestions. Those notes were forwarded to the head of the school cafeteria, who passed them along to the dietician.


The students respond to a survey about the vegetables they have tasted.

"I was very impressed with my students," Christopulos shared. "They were so passionate about writing those letters. They all remembered how to set up a friendly letter, and their wording was really impressive. Some of my students wanted to see lobster, chicken cordon blue, and filet mignon on the menu!"

The second graders were invited to attend a taste testing in the cafeteria and provide feedback about different vegetable dishes that were canned, frozen, cooked, or served raw. Much to their chagrin, the green beans weren't able to be replaced due to budget constraints, but Christopulos and his students report that they do taste better this year.

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If you're a teacher who has completed an interesting or unusual activity with your class -- or if you know of a teacher who has -- please let us know about it. E-mail a brief description of the activity, along with your contact information, to [email protected]

Article by Cara Bafile
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