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Students improve writing skills
by creating mock restaurants

By Staff
RESTAURANT ENTREPRENEURS Heather Reed, left, Sam Daniel, Ta'Neria Williams and Bonnie Bennett sixth-graders at Magnolia Middle School discuss their plans for a hypothetical restaurant in Meridian. English teacher Katrina Garrett watches in the background. The discussion was part of an exercise in Garrett's class. Photo by Kyle Carter / The Meridian Star
By Georgia E. Frye / staff writer
March 7, 2004
If Magnolia Middle School sixth-grader Ashley Deen owned a restaurant, she said she would call it "Kick Me, I'm French" and probably serve steaks.
Deen's restaurant was one of many hypothetical Meridian eateries students in Katrina Garrett's first period English class created all part of a classroom assignment last week.
Garrett had her students design a restaurant and menu to teach them about workplace data, one skill set students will be tested on when they take the Mississippi Curriculum Test, or the MCT, in May.
The Meridian Star visited Garrett's class last week as a part of an ongoing series of stories that looks at what students are being taught in schools across Meridian and Lauderdale County.
The MCT, a statewide, standardized test, is given to second- through eighth-graders. Results from the test are used to help determine public school accreditation levels across Mississippi.
Magnolia Middle School and other public schools in Meridian and Lauderdale have worked on similar exercises to help improve MCT scores. Garrett said she believes the restaurant exercise will help students become better writers.
She divided her class into groups and also instructed students to write a commercial promoting their restaurants. Students came up with such restaurant names as, "Bob's Crackers," "The Hanky Panky Steak Out," "The Cuddly Crab" and "Joey Bob's Italian Food."
The class was enthusiastic about the restaurant exercise, and Garrett brought sample menus to the class to help students get an idea of what menus look like.
Garrett also had her class develop rules for their group in order to make the exercise run smoothly. Among the rules: students had to respect others' opinions, stay on the task and use their inside voices.
Garrett's second period class also worked on the restaurant exercise. Even though some of the class time was spent disciplining students, they also came up with creative ideas for restaurants like "Wack Donald's" and "The Ball and Blocker."
Sixth-grader Ayana Williams said her group wanted to create a restaurant like Red Lobster. She said she thought the exercise was helping her "become a better writer because it makes me practice."
Williams, however, said she already likes to write; she spends a lot of time writing in her diary and writing letters to friends.
Garrett said she enjoys these types of activities with her students, and she hopes their efforts are reflected in their MCT scores.