CRANBERRY — The power of choice goes a long way with pre-teens. This holds true in friendships and entertainment, but also in their education. The sixth graders at Cranberry Middle School have experienced the power of choice this year in their English Language Arts classroom. Each nine weeks, they have been provided the experience of a “Book Tasting.”

The “Book Tasting” experience provides them with much more than just the power to choose their own books in the upcoming unit they are going to study. Their classroom is transformed overnight into a themed restaurant, complete with table settings, reservations, background music and menus. As students are lined up anxiously awaiting their “party” to be called for reservations, there is a buzz of excitement in the hallways about which books they will get to “taste” this time.

Students are invited to sit down at the decorative tables, pick up their menus, and begin the work creatively embedded into this experience. Throughout the “four course” book tasting, students experience different book titles that are available to them specifically catered to their interests and reading levels. They “taste” the front cover, the first few pages, and follow it up with a glimpse at the reviews that particular book has received on Amazon. They finalize the course by giving it their own rating before moving on to the next course.

While Molly Bredens’ students are hard at work, she is busy wearing the hat of a server. She creates a themed menu of small appetizers to serve to the students as they are reading and responding to their menu. Last week’s Greek Mythology tasting included foods such as “Odysseus Olives”, “Cupid’s Arrow Spiraled Apples, “Poseidon’s Pita Points” and “Cintar’s Skewered Chicken.”

As the final course of the book tasting was served, students were treated to an unexpected teachable moment. Each student was provided with a variety of seven sauces from Chick-Fil-A to taste with their chicken bites. After tasting each sauce, the sixth graders took the time to “rate” the sauces on their menu.

There was a discussion facilitated by Breden about their favorite sauces. Her students were surprised to discover that not everybody had the same favorite sauce. She then led the class into a deeper discussion about how that relates to life and relationships in general.

Some like their friends “sweet” and others may prefer them to be “wild and tangy.” The point was, some people may be 12 people’s “favorite sauce” while others may only have two people as their favorite sauce. They were taught not to change who they are just to fit in and not to try so hard to be “everyone’s favorite sauce.” It is a lesson that Breden hopes will leave a lasting impression on her students beyond the classroom walls.

A special thank-you is extended from Breden and her students to the Wilkesboro Chick-Fil-A and the donors involved in making this lesson come to life. It is instilled in the hearts and minds of the sixth graders at Cranberry. Middle School.

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