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Getting Started

In the FoodSpan curriculum, you will find three units with 17 total lessons for Grades 9-12. Each lesson features an introductory warm-up, activities that facilitate a rich exploration of the lesson topic, optional activities, and lesson extensions that can serve as homework assignments or projects.

The curriculum contains elements found in all typical lesson plans, such as learning objectives, essential questions, time required, handouts, slides, supplies required, and a glossary. Read on to learn about additional elements that make the curriculum engaging, relevant, and easy to incorporate into your classroom.


The curriculum is aligned to national education standards: Next Generation Science Standards, National Council on Social Studies Standards, Common Core English Language Arts Standards, National Health Education Standards, and National Standards for Family and Consumer Sciences Education. A standards chart for each lesson can be found here. In addition, the activities cultivate critical 21st Century skills, such as systems thinking, problem solving, and effective reasoning.

Pacing & Sequencing

Lessons are designed to be taught within a 45- to 55-minute class period. The curriculum can be taught in sequential order, but each lesson also stands on its own, so teachers can pick the topics most relevant to their students’ needs and interests.

The first lesson (Lesson A) lays the groundwork for an integrated understanding of the food system. Even if teachers only cover a few of the other lessons, we recommend starting with this lesson. The lesson also introduces the FoodSpan Infographic, a roadmap for the entire curriculum. Each subsequent lesson will revisit the infographic and focus on a specific part of it.

Optional Activities & Lesson Extensions

Where applicable, lessons contain optional in-class activities that typically explore the lesson topic through the lens of subject areas not covered in the main activities. If teachers choose to include optional activities, they may want to split the lesson between two class periods. Optional activities vary in length from 10 to 30 minutes.

Each lesson also ends with several lesson extensions: longer activities and projects that provide students with an opportunity to dive deeper into the lesson topic. Extensions are ideally suited as homework assignments or longer-term classroom projects.

Food System Primer

The Center for a Livable Future has created a series of primers on key food system issues, which are referred to throughout the curriculum. Teachers can use the primers to familiarize themselves with a lesson topic before teaching it and to provide students with introductory background reading. The primers also provide resource lists that students can use as a starting point for research projects.

Social Media

The FoodSpan curriculum integrates social media connections into every lesson so that students can explore, share, and discuss their ideas with others. Look for the “Share Your Knowledge” boxes in each lesson for prompts to use social media. The lessons focus on using Twitter, but teachers can also encourage their students to share their work on Instagram, Facebook, blogs, or YouTube. If there are concerns about student privacy, teachers can create a single account that students share. Teachers and students should tag all their posts with #foodspan, which will allow classrooms across the globe to see their work and connect.

Food Citizen Action Project

In this culminating project, students will apply what they have learned by identifying a food system problem and designing an intervention to address it.