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In my years of teaching, there was always fodder for a good story. The students were often up to something or interpreting lessons in a way I never would have imagined! I'm also interested in hearing your perspective: what keeps FACS Alive? I've started to collect a few of these silly, fun, and amazing stories from other FACS teachers and am sharing them with you. Let me know if you have anything you'd like to submit, it's what makes our lives as teachers even more interesting!


Why FACS is needed...

FACS is the common thread that pulls together all academic areas and puts "life" meaning to education. Throughout all of our FACS classes, we build and strengthen customer service skills, social skills, and the people skills students will take into their careers and personal lives. FACS provides the understanding about how all the pieces of life fit together and contribute to happiness and life success. FACS provides the support that most students don't have (parents working full-time) at home to make sense of life's demands. A student in my Personal Financial Management class said, "I'll never need to write a check."

Julie Mundahl FACS Teacher, Buffalo High School


Nutrition & Food Science class
Home Cooking Project
By Clarissa Marchalk from Keller ISD in Dallas-Fort Worth

The day after a conversation with a student about his inability to complete his home cooking project because he said they never use their kitchen and have no cooking utensils, pots, measuring equipment. He insisted they eat out all the time and have not cooked at all since they moved into their new house a few years back. I recommended he go home and talk to Mom and if it was still an issue Mom could give me a call.
Next day he returns with this response. “Miss….I talked to my mom and she opened the cabinets and showed me what we have. You should see all the cooking stuff we have! We even have a brand new set of pans my mom says she has never used. She said I can use anything I want. I am cooking dinner tonight. I never knew we had all that stuff. We even have one of those cool, big white machines like you have in the kitchens, the ones we made bread and cookies with.”

Gotta love it!! Best part he far exceeded the project and cooked multiple meals that week. Hopefully he is still cooking.


One of the craziest, and really unsafe, experiences this year: a group of 7th grade girls used a brown plastic serving tray as a cookie sheet! I use the blistered tray as an example of what happens to plastic in a hot oven.

Leanne Homa
Family & Consumer Science Teacher
Levi P. Dodge Middle School



Stories of the Importance of FACS to Teach 21st Century Skills 
By Lynda Mead, Middle School Instructor

I teach 7th and 8th grade FACS at a middle school where we base our curricula on what is known in the educator’s world on the “21st Century Skills”. I can’t help but believe that these, and so many of the skills that we need in this modern day world -ie. how to prepare a healthy meal on a busy schedule, how to be environmentally conscious consumers, how to replace a button instead of discarding the garment - can be found in a FACS classroom on a daily basis. I frequently remind my colleagues of this during lunch when we share “you can make these things up” stories. Here are a few of my contributing stories and they clearly speak as to why students need FACS to learn 21st Century skills.

Global Awareness During a discussion of serving size and portion control, I was showing students how even our dinnerware and glassware has been made larger to fit our desire for larger portions. I explained my china couldn’t fit in the cupboards of my older home until I had had new cabinets installed. A student raised his hand and asked, “How can you own a country and why are you putting it in a cupboard? I thought we were talking about food!”

Critical Thinking  Keeping in mind that each food lab is prefaced with a description of each individual’s tasks and a review of vocabulary or cooking terms; we were drawing to the close of our first lab when I approached a group of students standing around their dirty dishes. I remarked, “There are only 10 minutes remaining, you better start running your water!” About three minutes later, I returned to observed the same dirty dishes on the table and water running in the sink without the drain plug and asked, “Why is the water running in your sink?” They quickly replied, “Because you never said to turn it off!” 

Collaboration While preparing the last food lab of the unit, I explained we would be making two recipes and “combining” many of the cooking principles learned that quarter. The students made Surprise Pancakes and Frothy Orange Drinks. As most kitchens were putting their pancakes in the oven, a shy student came up and quietly asked for a larger pan. “Why won’t ours fit in the pie plate like everyone else’s?” It didn’t take long to see what had happened. I asked, “Where is your Frothy Orange Drink?” The students looked down and then explained that at first they had thought they should drink the beverage separately, but then they wouldn’t  be “combining” anything, so they mixed the two recipes together.

Creativity and Invention When making a pasta dish, one kitchen group failed to use the colander and poured the pasta water, including the pasta, into the sink. Seeing that the recipe wasn’t clear to the novice mind, I explained to the next class what had happened and asked, “What should you use so this won’t happen to you?” A bright young man went to fetch the colander. “Great!” I said, ”Now go to work.” A short time later, I turned around to see what was causing the screaming and laughing. The same young man had poured his pasta water into the colander as suggested, but it was sitting on the counter, not in the kitchen sink.

Communication  To clarify the difference between dishrags and dishtowels, I showed the class where to find the stored squares (dishrags) and rectangles (dishtowels). “The squares will be stored on the lower shelf and the rectangles on the top and you’ll need to collect two of each. One set will be for the dishes and the other for the surfaces.” The students set to work, but towards the end of the lab, three came exclaiming, “We only have five more minutes! We know where the squares and rectangles are, but how should we wash the dishes?”

Self-direction  During a demonstration for understanding nutrient density, I prepared toast with jam for students to taste. They compared the nutrients and calories in a serving to those of a serving of pop tarts. The students also tasted oranges together with sugar cookies to reveal how the unhealthy foods when eaten with healthy foods, make the healthy foods taste bad. At the end of the demonstration, one of the students approached and said, “This may blow your mind, but I have never eaten an orange before and I have to admit they were quite good. So was the toast with jam. The next day he returned to proudly announce the he and his family went shopping to buy toast, jam and oranges. The pop tarts were being kicked to the curb and he was a changed man!

Information and Technology Literacy  As these stories unfold, the students often feel embarrassed by their lack of abilities to complete tasks they quickly realize are basic and practical. I am careful to explain that they are not foolish, just inexperienced. I also confess to them that this is often how I feel in their world of information overload and technology.  I mean, how many times do they need to say, ”Just put the mouse here or there” and I ask,  “Should I use peanut butter or cheese for the trap?”

SOME OF MY MANY STORIES!       from Marian Dombrock

-  When using the microwave to heat ingredients 1 student using a metal bowl and the microwave was "smoking"!

-   2 gifted and talented students left the plastic wrap on their food product (a coffee cake) when it was being reheated and it was covered with shards of gunk and the smell was awful--Couldn't eat their spectacular creation.

-    An 8th grade student thought the back pattern pieces of his boxer shorts should be the same size as the front pattern pieces so he hand cut them smaller (teacher sewed on the cut fabric to have a project that was wearable).

-   While teaching interior design and housing--students have designed floor plans with mostly hallways, another with an 8 foot by 8 foot master bedroom, another with no clearance to open kitchen cupboards or the oven or dishwasher, another placed a sofa in front of the closet so there was no access to the closet, another placed a tv in the center of the room because he didn't consider the need for electrical hook up--he only thought of using the remote control.

-  When teaching an 8th grade Money Matters unit the following occurred--in a simulation of real life money management life skills-- ...Check book skills/financial management--forgetting to sign checks, wrote checks in pencil, didn't know what to do with ATM & out of network fees, Auto Payments, debit card transactions--many didn't record these in their check register or didn't know what to do with them when using an electronic checkbook.  Students forgot to complete deposit slips, even though the teacher offered a $100 bonus if the deposit slips were completed.  During the "Shopping Survivor" (where students actually shopped for merchandise in the classroom mall) students would forget to pay for the merchandise (they became a shop lifter) and several spent more than they had in their checking account--one student spent $6000 over their actual dollars available! Teaching the concept of SAVING money for short and long term goals goes against the mind set of many teens--they want it now, media has inundated them with materialism (much of the television programming makes you feel poor), and peer pressure (want to be a fashionista).



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