Not So Fast: The Influx of American Fast Food in Italy and Its Effects on Italian Youth

A Project Prototype by Daniela Busciglio

not published

This project examines the increasing quantity of American fast food chains in Italy and the increasing consumption of fast food by Italians, particularly by Italian teenagers. Today, roughly 33% of Italian children are overweight, and overall obesity rates are projected to rise by 5%, according to the OECD. Combined with this is that due to economic decline in the last decade and in the increase of women in the Italian workforce in the past 20 years, women are working outside the home but are still the primary caretakers of the family so their time is much more limited and therefore kids are eating less home-cooked meals and eating more fast food and processed food. The product is for students to produce a social media campaign to present to the high school students in Arezzo, Italy (just outside Florence), where my university has a thriving campus and organizes internships for American university students to work with Italian high students. In this project, students will first examine what is available to them gastronomically on their campus here in Oklahoma, in the campus surrounding areas, their own eating and health habits and compare to a traditional Italian (Mediterranean) diet. Many of the students are planning to study in Arezzo and several have returned from studying in Arezzo for a semester or a full year so there is a variety of useful viewpoints students will be able to contribute to inform this project. They will then examine what types of fast food chains are available in Arezzo and the surrounding areas, conducting interviews of Italian high school students to see what they prefer to eat and their health habits to foster cultural comparisons through cultural connections.

Overview files comments

Preparing for the Project

Task 1 Entry Event

Launching the Project

Task 2: Local U.S. Fast Food Culture / Food Log

Managing the Project

Task 3: Fast Food Research & Comparison in Italy and the U.S.

Task 4: Interview Protocol and Data Collection (Phase I)

Task 5: Data Results Processing and Summarizing (Phase 2)

Task 6: Comparing US students' food log with data results from survey conducted

Task 7: Semi-structured Interview with Partner School in Italy via Skype (Phase 3)

Task 8: Social Media Campaign

Assessment

Task 9: Project Epilogue and Reflection

Implementation Info

Implementation information not specified.

Preparing for the Project

Task 1 Entry Event

 

1.         Video activities for three short videos (language) and cultural (content) comprehension which includes pre- and post-video activities for students to do individually, or in small groups, as homework and then to discussion as a whole in class.

2.         Scaffolding: depending on your curriculum, your pace, and your textbook the activity can include terms (vocabulary, phrases, verbs) that have to do with food habits, eating, restaurants, and loaner words that Italian use (i.e. hamburger) that they might need at the teacher's discretion to accommodate students. Teacher can also build in a 10 minute activity where students brainstorm together (as a class or in small groups) a list of phrases/terms they might want to know, and then use some time to search online and in their textbooks for the terminology they need. If the teachers chooses to implement this brainstorming activity for lexical and phrases, it is highly encouraged that the Teacher use this time to teach students a.) how to correct use an online dictionary (looking for the correct parts of speech as well as the correct example to pick that fits the usage of the word or phrase) and b.) how to use Google Translate accurately and include examples of how Google Translate does not work well for the language classroom (e.g. picking a verb that has myriad definitions and Google Translate only provide a single translation, and it may not be the correct word that the students need but the Ss don't know that because they don't have examples to see the word in use.)

Launching the Project

Task 2: Local U.S. Fast Food Culture / Food Log

Before beginning the food log task, the students will as a class examine and determine what constitutes fast food. They will be asked by the teacher which restaurants in town or across the US are considered “fast food” and which are not. Ss can decide to put them on a spectrum of fast food on the board (or do in groups and then present to class to see varied results; this can depend on class size) that is not terrible for you health-wise v. fast food that is probably never healthy. Teachers can leave that up to the students and have them make a two-column chart or a spectrum on the board or do a person bar graph where they have to stand under the sign that states their opinion on the matter (e.g. standing under the following signs: strongly disagree, disagree, neutral, agree, strongly agree).

Now, ongoing during week 1 of the project, students will keep a log about their daily food intake in Italian—specifically a) what they eat, b) when, and c) where and d) with whom (with whom because in Italian culture it's incredibly important to eat communally, at a table, at certain times of the day.) They can design the logs however is visually pleasing to them, or the teacher can provide a template, as long as they have the initial information on a) through d) previously mentioned. On the last day of Week 1, they will share their logs with their classmates and their classmates will determine how “healthy” their food habits are, determining what they deem as healthy food and healthy habits and perhaps fostering a discussion or even a debate on what constitutes health food choices and health food habits. For example, some students might say it’s okay to eat fast food one meal per week while others might say it’s never a good idea to eat fast food. This food log is also content and grammar- oriented because they will not only use food terms but vocabulary/phrases that involve time, places, transportations (in America it's okay to eat in the car, on the bus, on the subway, while walking, etc) and prepositions.

 

Task Extension

Scaffolding: If needed, the teacher can prepare a sample handout for the log with helpful words/phrases/verbs that have to do with routine (time of day), location (at home, at X café, on the go, on the subway, in class), how long they spend preparing and eating food, with whom they eat, the type of food (fast food, homemade, etc) they eat, including phrases that will help the classmates talk about the health habits, e.g. “_____ is (not) a healthy choice.” 

Managing the Project

Task 3: Fast Food Research & Comparison in Italy and the U.S.

Task 3: Fast Food Research

In this phase, students begin deeper and more detailed research into the iterations of culture through fast food, helping them to understand the proposed driving question or begin to formulate a driving question of their own. This project is designed with immense flexibility such that the class can work on a project that answers a single driving question with various public products addressing that question or they can have different driving questions with different products. I have done both in the past and it depends on the goals of the teachers, students as well as the class size that should determine which path is taken and how the project(s) is designed.

1.     Since our partner high school is in Arezzo, located in Tuscany, students will research what fast food chains are in Italy and then focus on one region (Tuscany) to see what’s available in three cities in Tuscany: Florence, Siena, and Arezzo.

2.     Students will then focus on the US, then the state of Oklahoma and then Norman, OK (where the university is located), and then the campus. They will make a chart and find out what fast food chains are ‘sponsored’ by the university or investigate what types of deals universities make with food chains/coffee chains if they wish. For example, they might begin to questions such as why there are so many Starbucks chains on university campuses and not any other chain or local chains? But here the point is to foster awareness of campus and capitalist politics to help them understand campus and American universities as businesses whose product they sell is higher education.

3.     Ss will compare two fast food chains (likely McDonald’s, but not exclusively) in the US and in Italy with respect to the following:

a.     the menu McD’s offerings in the US v. the menu offerings in Italy;

b.     the differences in design of the actual restaurant;

c.     logo design (is it different or similar? why do you think that might be? what does that say about the cultures?);

d.     whether or not there are drive-thrus in Italy; (there aren’t, thus this can foster a dialogue of population density and seeing how small Italy is in comparison the US— this is a neat tool to contextualize how big or small a country or state is: http://overlapmaps.com/ Italy is smaller than California!

e.     the actual presentation of the food (packaging, boxes, happy meal toys, etc).

 

            So, teachers can work with students to form questions that they will then answer together or the teachers can prepare a worksheet detailing these questions for them and send on their digital treasure hunt and have them report back or even make it into a game where whoever gets the information first for each set of questions wins something (an Italian cookie perhaps? Some type of junk food!?)

            Student can initially search the US McD’s website and the Italian McD’s website and glean differences/similarities there and then try to see if they can find other websites with information and photos that can help add additional information. This website is very helpful for students to see McD’s growth or decrease in Italy by region for the past 11 years: http://www.statista.com/statistics/208917/revenue-of-the-mcdonalds-corporation-since-2005/. Interculturality is examined in particular in these activities because corporation marketing can provide a lot of insight into the local/national culture since it’s catered to particular demographics. This task can also be an oral activity using a variety of adjectives for descriptors as well as comparatives and superlatives depending on the level/course/class.

f.      Examples of hypothesizing questions students can come up with before, during and after their research and then respond to are:

                                               i.     Why is the US logo yellow and the Italian McD’s logo x color?”

                                             ii.     What are the differences between the US menu and the Italian menu?”

                                            iii.     How much do comparable meals cost? (Ss put together a potential meal they would order and perform a currency conversion with a website such as xe.com). If there are difference in prices for similar or same items, they may also question why that is.

                                            iv.     How come Italian McD’s don't have drive-thrus?

Asking these sorts of questions (or fostering student engagement to ask these types of questions) is especially important because teachers should have students recognize how dynamic culture is and how cultures borrow from one another all the time and increasingly so in a globalized world. So what is/was considered uniquely American (e.g. McDonald’s) has now been Italianized or reinvented for Italian culture. Thus, the teacher here can have a short lecture or scaffolded, interactive lecture or discussion on how culture is blurry, dynamic, constantly evolving, not static, iterative, just as language is.

In terms of language usage, these types of questions and the question content is still at a first or second semester level, and need-to-know and/or just-in-time grammar lessons can be dedicated to examining the use of question words, and gender and number agreement, and syntax (since in Italian, the syntax for asking questions without question words is the same as statements.)

4.     Grammar/Vocab Assessment: at this point in the project, I would recommend an assessment that actually incorporates the very students’ research findings into a homework worksheet or a quiz they need to do online or in class.  

Task 4: Interview Protocol and Data Collection (Phase I)

1.     Now that students have had ample time and hopefully an assessment or two on question words and question forming, in groups of 3 or 4, students will be beginning forming interview questions to send to the partner school in Arezzo, Italy. Similar to their own food log, the survey will ask the students about what they eat on a daily basis, where they eat, when, and especially if they eat fast food (including processed foods outside of fast food chains) and where and how often, with whom, etc. A lot of the questions should be questions that were based on the questions they continually answered in their own food log. If you have a large class, you can split up the students in small groups and then have their share their initial questions to see where there are similarities and differences in the types of questions asked. Additionally, you may ask the students to peer edit/review their partners' questions for grammar, spelling, syntax, etc. This part can also be a type of small assessment to in their projects and keep on task, since peer pressure and presenting public work can be a positive force in keeping them accountable to high quality work. 

2.     Forming questions for the initial interview protocol will occur in Google Docs (one Doc per group) and then the survey will be entered into Google Forms to be disseminated in the target language to the partner school students (sample size is around 50 students).

3.    Before dissmeination of survey, students will need to predict answers from the interview protocol based on sample population size. E.g., Students might predict: “50% of Ss eat fast food at X chain on a weekly basis because X fast food chain is close to the high school they attend.” or “20 out of 40 students eat fast food at X chain every week because they live close to home and their parents prepare food often." 

4.     Scaffolding that may be necessary: a handout for just-in-time or need-to-know grammar and content and function words to talk about statistics if student are not familar with this language.

Technology Tips

Google forms is a great tool to put together a survey and aggregate survey results in a way that is visually pleasing. 

Task 5: Data Results Processing and Summarizing (Phase 2)

 

1.    After survey results come back, Ss will act as data crunchers to tabulate and sort the data collected. Ss will be divided into groups to processing and summarize data from various interview protocol questions and present the processed/summarized data to the class.

Task Extension

Students then will formulate a PowerPoint/Prezi/Keynote in which to present their data to their audience-- their audience is not only their partner school but also other teachers of Italian, potential speakers of Italian in their community or in their family, as well as other Italian classes/courses at their school/institution. There should be one slide for each question and the subsequent survey result. A template slide will be produced by the teacher so that students can follow more or less the same format for high quality, continuity and visual ease.

Task 6: Comparing US students' food log with data results from survey conducted

Ss will compare theirs with the partner school’s ideas with a survey interview protocol and write a follow up on what they discovered in comparison to their group’s food habits. This will lead to a discussion on time and investment in meals and communal aspect of food and eating. One item that may be of interest will be talking about eating in classrooms and in other places that are not typically thought of as places to eat by Italians (e.g. in the car, while walking, on the bus, etc.) The teacher here might also process and sort the US food log data to find some trends and correlations (or the Ss can do this, depending on how much time you have available to you) in food consumption, locations, time spent preparing/consuming food, etc. This task can proceed as follows:

1.     Students will return to their food log in order to compare with the partner school’s survey results. They will complete a worksheet (created by teacher) asking them to narrate about similarities and differnences. The handout may include simple introductory cloze phrases such as "While  _____ % of Italians eat ____ food ____, I noted that I eat ____ food ____ times per week. This is because ___________" in order to distinguish and help scaffold differences. In order to help scaffold similarities OR differences, the worksheets might have a sentence that looks like "It is interesting to note that ____ % do this while _____% do this because ___________."

      After compiling and comparing results, the teacher should attempt to foster to a short lecture or discussion on time and investment in meals and communal aspect of food and eating in Italian and American culture. One item that may be of interest will be talking about eating in classrooms and in other places that are not typically thought of as places to eat by Italians (e.g. in the car, while walking, on the bus, etc.) The teacher here might also process and sort the US food log data to find some trends and correlations (or the Ss can do this, depending on how much time you have available to you) in food consumption, locations, time spent preparing/consuming food, etc. The teacher can also scaffold this lecture/discussion by having student answer (on paper or aloud) short questions such as "Is this a good place to eat in the US? How about in Italy? Why is that?" while teacher shows a picture of the inside of a car, and proceeds to ask the same questions with a picture of a park bench, the inside of a subway car, a couch, a dinner table, a cafe, a person walking on a sidewalk, etc.

Task Extension

This would take some extra time but if the teacher and/or students wanted to, they could also compile the results of their food logs into a google form so that they can take the aggregate results to compare with the Italian school survey results. I would suggest aggregating the survey result of the American students' food logs at the end of week 1 / beginning of week 2 while the data is fresh in students' minds and logs. 

Task 7: Semi-structured Interview with Partner School in Italy via Skype (Phase 3)

If students' level of language proficiency supports this, students can follow up on phase 2 by formulating at least follow up questions (this may also be considered a Task Extention of Task 6.)

  Scaffolding processes: because this will be more of an informal conversation, students should take the time to practice small talk conversation before engaging into the actual skype conversation. Teacher can organize a "speed chat" where desks are organized in two rows facing each other and students chat with each other for sessions of 5 minutes per round before one whole row moves to the right (or to the left) for partner rotation (the person on the end must go to the start of that row.)

If students need scaffolding, half a class period may be needed to get students to write on the board potential questions, correct any grammar errors together as a class. During the first few rounds of speed chatting, the questions remain on the board. Then after 2-3 rounds, the teacher erases the questions (and student also may not have any supporting materials such as textbook or notes to help them as conversation is spontaneous in nature.)

      For an intermediate class, the teacher can also split up the class into groups of 3-4 students and ask them to interview groups of students at the partner school, provided the partner school also has adequate devices and decent internet bandwidth to support multiple interviews at one time.

      The semi-structured interview here consists of questions that follow up the survey results and reflection, such as "What did you think of the answer to #5?" and "We think the answer to number 2 is very interesting. Can you say more about this?" This will need scaffolding and need-to-know worksheets that include information gaps for the students to co-construct their questions. I would recommend only doing 5-6 questions or this can be too overwhelming for the students to ask, and to listen to and to remember the interviewees' answers. 

 

Task Extension

Students can aggregate the answers of the students they interviewed and compare and contrast results with another class group.

Task 8: Social Media Campaign

1.     Each student group will produce a social media awareness-raising campaign about the ways fast food is different and similar in the US and in Italy, why they think that is (e.g., brand marketing, consumer attraction, monetary value, taste and satisfaction, efficiency/speed of meal delivery, etc), describe potential correlational relationships between the growth of fast food chains in Italy with data on childhood obesity in Italy, and talk about types of food offered at McD’s in Italy (and nutritional information if available) compared to that offered in the U.S.

This public product can be produced by using a number of different infographic creation websites available here: http://www.creativebloq.com/infographic/tools-2131971 

The class can/should create a free website (wix.com for example) in order to display their products (they can then email the website link to the partner school) OR they can create a public or private Facebook group in which to upload/display their public products to the partner school and their partner school can comment on their posts.

Technology Tips

http://www.creativebloq.com/infographic/tools-2131971 

wix.com for free website creation

Assessment

Task 9: Project Epilogue and Reflection

Students may create a short blog in which they reflect on their experience in their home language of the project and creating these public products, how useful (or not) it was, what was surprising (or not) and a narrative commentary on what grade they thought they deserved as an individual and what grade their group deserved. The teacher should provide at least 3-4 guiding questions and also allow for students to have a section where they can write freely about their experience as well. Sample questions:

1.  List 5-6 words/phrases you learned here. 

2.  Were there any language difficulties for you? What were they?

3.  Did you have any technological difficulties? What were they? How did you (and/or your partners) resolve them?

4. Name two things you learned about yourself during this process.

5.  Name two things you learned about your partners during this process.

6.  Did you incorporate some or most of the feedback that your peers gave you? What type of feedback did you incorporate and why? How helpful was the feedback process? Did it encourage you, motivate you, or discourage you? Why?

7. What did you learn about American culture and Italian culture through this project? 

8. Would you do another project like this, but with a different focus/theme? Do you have any ideas you'd like to suggest here? 

Implementation Info

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