I know it's been a while and believe me, I have been teaching for the past two weeks. We've been reading graphic novels and finishing science experiments and learning new vocabulary. And I've just finished that three-times-a-year-gift-of-joy otherwise known as report cards.
But we haven't been cooking.
When I first started cooking with my class, I challenged myself to do at least one cooking/food related activity each week. Partly to make sure I didn't slack off and turn cooking into a once in a while special activity. But also, once I got started, I saw how jazzed many of my students were about cooking. And I figured if I could hook them with regularly occurring cooking projects, I could keep more of them jazzed about learning, via the cooking. Not to mention the eating. This year, my school has been focusing on how to reach and effectively teach boys who struggle with school, and the interest my boy-heavy class (11 boys and 5 girls for most of this year) showed in cooking seemed to be a good starting point.
One fifth grade boy would come in every Monday, and by mid-morning you could count on the fact that he'd ask, "What are cooking this week?" He loves cooking at home and has been a faithful follower in the learning-through-cooking focus throughout the year.
Here's the funny thing: he hasn't asked me what we're going to be cooking in the past few weeks. But he has taken on an interest in Alaska, checked out a bunch of books on the topic, and spent time reading about the far north when he's caught up on classwork. And he did decide to capture his entire science experiment on video and then work with our technology teacher to edit the video, dub in his voice, and put captions on the four and a half minute finished product. I never had to remind him when he was supposed to get down to the tech lab; he just got there and stayed there until the job was done. Even if it meant missing some of his P.E. time. Repeat: an active, social, fifth grade boy voluntary missed P.E. to work in the tech lab.
Maybe there's no connection, but I'd like to think that this particular student has deepened his interest in learning this year. And maybe, just maybe, this deepened interest started when we began cooking in the classroom.