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Good grub
Good grub
Posted on 05/07/2018
A seventh-grade student holds a mealworm in Katharine Zamarra’s third-period English Language Arts class at North Buncombe Middle SchoolThree cricket lollipops sit on a desk. A seventh-grade student holds a mealworm in Katharine Zamarra’s third-period English Language Arts class at North Buncombe Middle School. By Tim Reaves
BCS Communications Department

Would you eat a cricket? How about a grub? Mealworm? Cockroach?

For the students in Katharine Zamarra’s third-period English Language Arts class at North Buncombe Middle School (NBMS), the answer was a resounding “yes.” After a two-week study about edible insects around the world, the seventh-graders were excited to taste the creepy crawlies. They sampled crickets, grasshoppers, mealworms, silkworms and more in Zamarra’s classroom on Monday.

“It was a really fun way to learn,” said seventh-grader Abby Wilson. “A lot of people all around the world already do this, and we learned about what they eat.”

It might seem unusual for an English Language Arts teacher to dedicate a unit to entomology, but Zamarra said bugs are a perfect choice to get seventh-graders interested in global issues.

“When I was trying to come up with a fresh way to teach persuasive and descriptive writing, while also focusing on globalizing my classroom, I thought the idea of eating insects might resonate with middle schoolers,” she said. “Bugs allowed us to explore the topic of world hunger — including causes and solutions — and discuss how cultural differences influence the foods we eat.”

Zamarra and her students started by learning about the lowly cockroach, “one of the most reviled household pests,” she said. “We read poems about roaches and discussed how word choice affects the author's tone. We moved on to other edible insects and read nonfiction articles, identifying the central idea and assessing the quality of the authors' claims and supporting details.”

The seventh-graders designed infographics, using their new knowledge of entomophagy (the practice of eating insects) and persuasive techniques, to try to convince fellow Americans to eat more insects. After researching how cultures around the world include insects in their diets, student teams created food truck concepts and menus full of delicious… grub. How does “cricket pot pie” sound?

“The texture could be kind of weird, but you just think about it as something you would normally eat and it’s not as bad,” Wilson said. “Bugs can solve a global problem, because they reproduce really quickly in mass production, so they’re really easy to raise. And so anybody can do it.”

“I was inspired to create this project for several reasons,” Zamarra said. “I lived in China and Thailand for around seven years, and I grew accustomed to people eating insects on a regular basis. Bugs are fun. I'm also interested in the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals, which include ending world hunger. Eating insects is one of the recommendations for bringing about an end to hunger.”

"Ms. Zamarra is an excellent teacher who is dedicated to growing the natural curiosity of her students," said NBMS Principal Dr. Jamie Johnson. "Monday's activity is just one example of the interesting, engaging lessons that she plans daily. We are very proud of her achievement of earning the Global Digital Badge. She is committed to continued professional development that increases her content knowledge and allows her to successfully transfer that knowledge and her love of learning to students."

The NC Global Educator Digital Badge (GEDB) is a micro-credential established in 2014 by the NC State Board of Education as an Action Item of one of their five Global Commitments. It recognizes educators who have participated in 100 hours of global professional development and designed/implemented a Capstone Project -- a curriculum instructional unit based on their state content standards and global competencies. Learn more about the GEDB.

RELATED: Another BCS teacher earned her GEDB after studying the barriers to educational access around the world. Her students shared Valentine's Day cards to other students 1,500 miles away in Guatemala.
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