Saturday, March 17, 2012

Tip #5: Have fun!

I have come to the conclusion that my love language is food, and over the years one of the things I’ve most enjoyed doing at school is sharing my amateur culinary skills and products with my students.  When I sat down, though, to think about specific memories I have of making and devouring food with my classes, the first one that came to mind was mixed with tragedy. 

Several years ago my school hosted a “club day,” where students were sent to activities instead of their regularly scheduled classes.  I hosted the cookie-making club, and at the end of the day my students happily walked away with plates of cookies.  When school reconvened, I learned that one of the students that attended my activity had passed away suddenly during the interim.  Shortly thereafter I also learned through one of the counselors that the student had gone home that last day of school and told her mother about how much fun she had making cookies.  To be certain, knowing she enjoyed her last day of school did nothing to soften the aftershocks or diminish the loss of her passing.  I will say, though, that I am glad that her last day of school was spent doing something fun, something worth going home and talking to her mom about instead of worksheets, lectures, tests and the like.  
I am not trying to preach a message of carpe diem in this blog entry.  School is not and should not merely be one big party.  The boring stuff has its place too.  But, that story reminded me that on those occasions when I have planned to have fun with my students, I have never regretted it.  We are teaching in an age of number crunching, and there is so much pressure on so many of us to focus all of our time and attention on the measurables: test scores, attendance, etc.  It is easy to forget to have fun with our students too.  The students who are showing up to school every day, ready to learn, appreciate it.  The students who are not, need it.  So, whatever it is you enjoy doing, I encourage you to find a way to share it with your students. 

For all fellow teachers/foodies out there, here are a few sites I've used.  Hopefully at least one of them can inspire a culinary arts curriculum infusion in your classroom… 

1) Have your students make their own fruit bouquets.  Just beware that they should be eaten shortly after they are made, as they don’t stay beautiful for very long.

2)  I teach Spanish, and I like to have students make their own handmade tortillas.  They mix the dough in small groups.  I cook them on a hot plate and they top them with cheese and salsa.  Delicioso! (Note: I use shortening instead of lard.)

3) I make bake-less cookies with my students.  I have a list of Christmas cookie recipes posted online for free.  They can easily be changed to spring cookie recipes if you swap out the green and red sprinkles for yellow, purple and pink ones.

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