I don't give tests in social studies. Instead, I do exit slips as a form of assessment. This year I am focusing on a variety of genres, and today my students finished up recipes. They typed up a favorite family recipe and had to determine if the ingredient originated in the Old or New World. After that, they had to explain whether or not the Columbian Exchange was the most important event since the death of the dinosaurs. I expected a thorough explanation using the information we talked about in class.
A student in my second social studies class came up and asked for help finding where Cool Whip originated. We did a little research and found it came from the New World. I was intrigued by the site we were looking at, so as this student went back to work I kept reading. I was appalled by what I found.
I quickly asked the kids in class how many of them liked and ate Cool Whip. I was surprised but not surprised by the amount of hands that went up. One girl even said, "I put Cool Whip on everything."
"Well, you might change your mind after you hear this." As I looked around, I noticed I had the attention of a lot of students. "Of the 12 or so ingredients in Cool Whip, there are only two that aren't toxic to humans-and water is one of those" (www.organicauthority.com).
I am not sure how many of them will be eating Cool Whip anymore.