Saturday, October 27, 2012

Two Words That Go Great Together

Have you ever tried to simplify something and then realized that your actions have only complicated the situation? Friday was a perfect example of that. But the day ended so well that I let it go...

We're starting to study a handful of human body systems but I started the unit with a couple of days of lessons about the concept of systems in general. Input, process, output. If one step in the process doesn't happen right, then things might go kerflooey. Cue foreshadowing. You get the idea.

So I thought it would be cool to make a recipe assembly-line style so kids could experience being part of the process of a working system. The raw food would be the input and the finished dish would be the output.

I went searching online and found a recipe that I will definitely make next spring. But since it featured asparagus, it didn't exactly feel like an October kind of project. I asked Emilyinthekitchen and she said she thought the same breading and baking process would work well with broccoli and cauliflower, almost reminiscent of tempura but without the deliciously unhealthy deep frying.

Friday afternoon I was all ready. Materials were all set out; directions were written for each stage of the recipe. One set of kids would prep the veggies, another group would learn how to separate eggs with Su, and the last group would mix up the parmesan breading. My plan was to divide the class into four groups of five, ask each group to decide who was going to do which job (some jobs would have to be shared within a group because of numbers), then have them break off from each other to do the prep work. Groups would reconvene with their prepped ingredients and together do the "assembly", following designated roles depending on if they were veggie preppers, egg separators, or breading mixers.

This was way to complicated for most of the kids to grasp on Friday afternoon. Or, possibly, I didn't explain things clearly enough.

No sweat. I stopped and repeated directions a couple more times than I would have liked to, and then the process started to work...

Twelve choppers chopping...

Eleven separators separating

Su took two loaded pans of vegetables down to the kitchen to bake and I worried we'd made too much.

I've noticed a pattern that kids love to handle the food, but then are less interested in actually eating it. We spent a few minutes talking as a whole group about what it was like being part of a process, but many kids look as glazed over as I was feeling. Also, there was a pile of dishes but no clear picture of who was responsible for which dishes since kids had been moving around according to my cockamamie directions. Let's call this a failing in the system design! I called for half an hour of silent reading, and did the dishes myself.

Su returned with two bowls of fragrant veggies and we packed up for the end of the day. I set out plates of broccoli and cauliflower and almost every kid sampled some. Even one student who is very reticent about trying new foods decided to try it, then reported to me that he didn't like it. "That's great that you tried something new!" I gushed.

 Here's the crazy part: It was 2:50 on a sunny Friday, and most of my twenty students were sitting around plates of broccoli munching it and talking about how good it was as if we were surrounding a bowl of popcorn. I made a comment to that effect, and one of my sixth grade boys said without a hint of irony in his voice, "Two words that go great together: broccoli and Friday."

Cue happy ending.

No comments:

Post a Comment