The Great Chocolate Milk Debate

Michael Porter
Should chocolate milk be served as a healthy option for school lunch? Our 5th graders have taken up the idea as part of their Writing Workshop and are hard at work forming their opinions and backing them up with facts.
Should chocolate milk be served as a healthy option for school lunch? That question has been debated around the country for years. Our 5th graders have taken up the idea as part of their Writing Workshop and are hard at work forming their opinions and backing them up with facts.

Ms. Katie Bono, 5th and 6th grade language arts teacher, has presented the students with a challenge. They are to read published articles encompassing different viewpoints on chocolate milk, decide what side of the argument they agree with, and write a 5-paragraph essay based on their research.

"Some think chocolate milk should be served with no restrictions, others think chocolate milk should not be served at all," said Ms. Bono. "Some others think chocolate milk should be served but with limitations - such as serving it only on non-dessert days, or limiting it to one chocolate milk a day per student."

Some students have found research that claims no cow's milk is beneficial to humans and that there are alternatives such as soy, rice, and almond milk. These students have pointed out that there are other foods from which students can gain the necessary vitamins and minerals needed for a healthy diet such as leafy vegetables, beans, lentils, and more.

Their essays will begin with a thesis statement (chocolate milk should or should not be served) and three arguments to support their claim. Three subsequent paragraphs will support their opinions with research-based information. The fifth and final paragraph will state their conclusion.  It's a standard writing format, only made more interesting to the students since it involves a topic that many have strong feelings about.

To make the research process easier for the students, Ms. Bono placed a number of published articles on mySharkHub so they have immediate access to information in one place. This gave the students more time in class to work on their writing rather than filtering through search results on Google. Ms. Bono pointed out that mySharkHub has become a useful resource for all learners - both on-campus and hybrid.

In this unit, students developed their research skills, including evaluating and citing reliable sources. A variety of note-taking skills were taught, modeled, and practiced. They learned the format of a 5 paragraph essay including an introductory paragraph, three body paragraphs, and a concluding paragraph. In addition, students practiced how to decipher and compare nutritional information on a variety of beverages. 

"Students learned how to validate their opinions by backing them with research-based evidence," said Ms. Bono.

The next segment of this unit will be a live debate, in which teams of students will state their opinions and be prepared to back them up with facts. In the debate, students will learn how to present an argument and a rebuttal and how to work collaboratively to present their point-of-view based on research and facts.

Finally, the students will present their completed essays to the school administration with a request for consideration and feedback. So if chocolate milk appears on the menu in the near future...we will know why.
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Located In Jacksonville, FL, Jacksonville Country Day School is a private school for Pre-K 3 through 6th grade. JCDS prepares students for a healthy and productive lifetime of intellectual exploration, character development, and social responsibility.