Making School Lunch Periods A Better Experience For Students

Michele Lambrech, PS/MS 278




Lunchtime is frequently a rushed, chaotic experience for many students at PS/MS 278. Students often do not have sufficient time to eat, depending on their place on the lunch line when getting school lunch, as well as other factors. Although the lunch period is also meant to be a time to socialize, students often face difficulties in doing so productively. Class 401 will act as consultants to PS/MS 278 administration to analyze the challenges facing students at lunchtime.




Students will work in 6 groups of 5 to research various factors that contribute to lunchtime being too often a rushed, chaotic experience that leads to frustration for both students and teachers. They will consider how this research reflects what is happening during lunchtime at PS/MS 278, and brainstorm alternative solutions to alleviate the problems. Within each group, the teacher will assign the following roles for students to provide a differentiated experience that best leverages a variety of student strengths:


Manager/Facilitator: manages the group by helping to ensure that the group stays on task and everyone participates

Encourager/Questioner: uses probing questions to facilitate deeper thinking and other ideas (playing ďdevilís advocateĒ)

Recorder: restates and writes down key findings of the group on the worksheet

Timekeeper: ensures that group stays on track within the assigned time

Spokesperson/Presenter: shares worksheet findings with class (and at a later time to administration with other group spokespeople)







1)      Your group will read and discuss 1-2 articles (or parts of an article, to chunk longer ones into sections) about the impact of national and/or local lunch policies on student behaviors, and ideas about ways to improve the lunchtime experience at schools.


2)      Your group will work together in your assigned roles to complete the attached worksheet (to be created by M. Lambrech to map to the 6 PPA steps linked below).


3)      Your group will prepare a brief presentation to share your findings and worksheet results with the rest of the class. Afterwards, at a later time soon, all group spokespersons will come together to present the classís findings and ideas to PS/MS 278 administration.


Student Worksheet



1)      Write 1-2 sentences to define the problem: (Ex: Lunchtime is too often a rushed, chaotic experience for many students at PS/MS 278. Many students have difficulty balancing both eating and socializing in a relaxed manner within limited time constraints.)

2)      What is the evidence that this problem exists? (according to your article, what statistics or facts support the existence of students feeling rushed or chaotic during lunchtime?)

3)      According to your article, what are the causes of this problem?

4)      Think about how your findings reflect whatís happening at PS/MS 278. What solutions or policies currently exist that aim to make lunch a better experience for kids at our school?

5)      What more could be done to make lunchtime less rushed or chaotic at PS/MS 278?How could existing policies be changed? List three ideas.

6)      Which of your ideas in #5 seems the most reasonable (feasible) to propose to PS/MS 278 administration? What might be an effective (likely to work) idea to try at our school?


OPTIONAL: you may wish to click on the following hyperlinks to further explain the 6 sections of the worksheet above.


1)      Define the Problem


2) Gather the Evidence


3) Identify the Causes


4) Evaluate an Existing Policy


5) Develop Solutions


6)†† Select the Best Solution


Lunchtime as a rushed, chaotic experience may result from a combination of factors, such as students feeling pressured to eat quickly, the lack of or limited opportunity for physical activities (especially during winter months), a lack of other structured activities that foster positive collaboration, a lower adult-to-student ratio to help manage behavior, and an overall larger group of students together in one physical location.



3) Your group will prepare a brief (3-5 minute) report to share your findings from your article, how they relate to your experiences, and your ideas for making positive changes at PS/MS 278.



Resources -- General Background on Lunch Periods in Schools:


Why Lunch, Exercise, Sleep, and Air Quality Matter At School


Rethinking Lunchtime: How To Make School Meals An Integral Part of Curriculum


How Students Would Improve Their Lunch Experience


Recess Makes Kids Smarter


Lunchtime Is So Short In Some Public Schools, Students Are Going Hungry


Letís Do Lunch!


Order in the Cafeteria: Tips For Improving Behavior and Supervision


Lunchtime Activities at School



Evaluation (Rubric):








All 6 worksheet sections are complete with relevant, accurate information from resources

Most (at least 5) worksheet sections are complete with mostly accurate, relevant information from resources

Some (at least 4) worksheet sections are complete with mostly accurate, relevant information from resources

Few (3 or less) worksheet sections are complete with mostly accurate, relevant information from resources


Worksheet is very neat and easy to read, with no errors

Worksheet is reasonably neat and easy to read, with few errors

Worksheet is somewhat neat and easy to read, with some errors

Worksheet lacks neatness or is difficult to read. with many errors


Spokesperson presents the groupís findings with high accuracy, speaking loudly and clearly; teammates are quiet and supportive during share out

Spokesperson presents the groupís findings with reasonable accuracy, speaking mostly loudly and clearly; teammates are mostly quiet and supportive during share out

Spokesperson presents the groupís findings with some accuracy; may need to speak more loudly or clearly; teammates are somewhat quiet and supportive during share out

Spokesperson does not present the groupís findings with accuracy; he/she is difficult to hear or understand; teammates have difficulty being quiet or supportive during share out


Group members support each othersí understanding of the texts and stay highly focused on the task; everyone is responsible for a specific role

Group members support each othersí understanding of the texts and are mostly focused on the task; most group members assume responsibility for a specific task

Some group members support each othersí understanding of the text; some group members are unfocused or do not contribute fully to the task

Not all group members understand or can speak to the task at hand; some members may need additional focus or do not contribute to the task




Congratulations! PS/MS 278 administration will hear and review each groupís findings to develop and refine school policies that impact studentsí experience at lunchtime. You have learned how to participate as part of a research team by reading sources of information to find facts that help explain your problem and support your ideas for creating solutions. You are now ready to apply these skills to any non-fiction topic you wish to study! You have also increased your background knowledge of lunchtime and recess issues that impact students nationwide. Being informed empowers you to make better decisions and act for positive change!




RI.4.1: Key Ideas and Details: refer to details and examples in a text when explaining what the text says explicitly and when drawing inferences from the text

RI4.2: Key Ideas and Details: determine the main idea of a text and explain how it is supported by key details; summarize the text

RI.4.3: Key Ideas and Details: explain events, procedures, ideas, or concepts in a historical, scientific, or technical text

RI.4.4: Craft and Structure: determine the meaning of general academic and domain-specific words or phrases in a text relevant to a grade 4 topic or subject area

RI.4.5: Craft and Structure: describe the overall structure (i.e. chronology, comparison, cause/effect, ideas, concepts, or information in a text or part of a text)

RI.4.7: Integration of Knowledge and Ideas: interpret information presented visually, orally, or quantitatively (i.e. in charts, graphs, diagrams, timelines, animations, or interactive elements on web pages)

RI 4.8: Integration of Knowledge and Ideas: explain how an author uses reasons and evidence to support particular points in a text

RI. 4.9: Integration of Knowledge and Ideas: integrate information from two (or more) texts on the same topic in order to write or speak about the subject knowledgeably

W4.4: Writing: Production and Distribution of Writing: produce clear and cohesive writing in which the development and organization are appropriate to task, purpose and audience

W4.7.: Research to Build and Present Knowledge: conduct short research projects that build knowledge through investigation of different aspects of a topic

SL4.1.: Comprehension and Collaboration: engage effectively in a range of collaborative discussions with diverse partners on grade 4 topics and texts, building on othersí ideas and expressing their own clearly

SL4.2.: Comprehension and Collaboration: paraphrase portions of a text read aloud or information presented in diverse media and formats, including visually, quantitatively, and orally

SL 4.4.: Presentation of Knowledge and Ideas: report on a topic or text...using appropriate facts and relevant, descriptive details to support main ideas

SS 4.10.10: Local and State Governments: citizens can participate in political decision making and problem solving at the local, state, and national levels