Today was one of those days. For no particular reason, even with the sun shining on a beautiful Autumn day, I felt blue. Insecurity, doubt, and fear had it's grip on me and I couldn't shake it. However, as the day went on I continued to receive encouraging and kind words from my friends even though they didn't know that my day had been clouded. Slowly my perspective began to shift and comment by comment I felt my discouraged spirit lifting.
As I was on my way back from an afternoon run, I looked up and saw a formation of beautiful silver rimmed clouds in the sky. They immediately made me think of my cloudy day. It was my encouragers who were the "sun", lining the clouds in silver. I stopped and stared at the clouds for quite some time pondering the priceless value of those in my life that I hold close to my heart.
They are the people that...
congratulate me on each small victory.
challenge me to leap.
lift me up when I feel defeated and alone.
cheer me on when I take new risks.
speak truth into my life when I need it.
pray for me.
and most importantly....
BELIEVE IN ME!
Life can be difficult and we all need encouragers in our life that believe in us, especially when we are struggling to believe in ourselves. It's amazing how a simple word of encouragement and kindness can truly brighten an otherwise gloomy day and bring hope into the darkest of circumstances. Today my heart was full of gratitude for the amazing people in my life. It was also a powerful reminder that I need to be continuously looking for opportunities to be a silver lining in other people's life as well.
To all my encouragers....you have no idea how incredibly special you are to me. I am so very grateful for the impact you have on my life. Thank you for believing in me, it truly means the world!
I love to give students multiple opportunities to amaze themselves with that they are capable of. One of my favorite ways to do this is by giving them unexpected challenges. In anticipation of our upcoming MasterChef Challenge at the end of the unit, I decided to add in an unexpected twist to get them ready for what was to come by surprising them with a Mystery Challenge! It was one of my favorite challenges yet! Let me share with you how it all unfolded!
Setting the Stage!
As students came in the classroom, there was epic adventure music playing and on the screen it said, "Get ready! Your first Mystery Challenge is about to begin!" Anticipation and excitement immediately fills the room as the class begins to unravel what is to come. I love the questions they throw at me as they try to figure out what I'm about to reveal. There is electricity that fills the air with this unexpected twist!
The Challenge Revealed!
When the final bell rings, I reveal what is about to take place. I have 8 fanned out papers that have been folded in half displayed on my table in front of the students. I tell them that on each paper is one of two formulas for yeast bread; a rich dough and a lean dough. Each team will randomly choose one of the papers to reveal which dough they will be making for the challenge. However, there is a catch! These formulas do not include instructions. They will have to collaborate as a team to prepare the dough according to the straight dough method that they've been taught without having the instructions to rely on. Not only that, but they will be making this dough into something AMAZING and all their own!.
An Unexpected Twist!
Wait! There's more! Once all teams have selected their formula, I unveil an assortment of ingredients I have displayed on the counter and reveal another twist to the challenge. As I hand each of them foam dice, I explain that each team will roll the dice in the center of the room to determine how many mix-in ingredients they get to add in to their dough. If they roll a 2 they get 2 ingredients....4 they get four, etc. It's so fun to observe my students expressions! They are so "IN"! The wheels are turning, and each team is beginning to strategize their plan of action. As each team rolls the dice, you can hear a pin drop. They can't wait to see what the dice will reveal!
The Challenge Begins!
Once all the teams have rolled, the challenge can begin! I display a timer on the board and students enter their kitchens ready to AMAZE! The energy and excitement is palpable. Students can't wait to begin! Students spend the rest of the period preparing their dough and planning out their creation. Tomorrow they will have half of the period to shape, bake, and present their creations. I love walking around the room hearing all the chatter and learning in action. The room is buzzing with creativity, communication, collaboration, and critical thinking as students are completely immersed in learning. Each member of the team is critical in the success of this challenge and they know it!
Mystery Challenge~Part 2!
Students practically run in on the second day of the challenge. They can't wait to get started shaping and baking their dough into something that is mind-blowing! I give students about 45 minutes to finish their preparation before the judging begins. For this challenge, I have my student aide "sous chef" and a former "MasterChef" student who is on my "Legacy Wall" help in the judging. We set up a judging table and will be evaluating their creations based on taste, texture, appearance, and creativity according to a 5 point scale. We will tally the score sheets and the first place team will earn 1000 XP, second place 750 XP and third pace, 500 XP.
They Empowered Learner
As students bring up their creations one by one, their faces say it all. They are so proud of what they've created. They are empowered learners who just took what they learned and made it their own in the most epic way. They were challenged beyond what they thought they could do and they not only did it, they CRUSHED it! This is the ultimate form of assessment and yet they never thought about it that way. By creating an experience that was challenging and fun, they were so immersed in the process they didn't realize what was really happening here....they were demonstrating to me what they had learned!
Challenge your Students to Blow your Mind!
Time after time I am amazed by my culinary kiddos; they are truly incredible. When we challenge our students to do something amazing and they absolutely will! They want to learn. They want to be challenged. They want to astonish us with what they are capable of. Transform classroom experiences into magical opportunities for students to truly shine and blow our minds and they will....every time!
For the past few months I have felt like a part of me has been emotionally paralyzed. As my friends sent their kids off to college one by one, I remained numb. I wouldn't allow the reality to sink in. My first born was heading to college and I didn't quite know how to process that an era was ending. Now as we drive away from Portland State with an empty seat in the car, the tears are flowing like a river. I feel like they've been building up just waiting to break loose.
Our girl is more than ready to fly. She's been dreaming of this day for a long time and I couldn't be more excited for her. She is a girl born for adventure and she has so many passions to pursue. Yet, my heart is breaking. All of those daily moments I too often have taken for granted, are no longer; the late night talks, the laughter, and the sibling banter. Then, I think of all of the things I wish I would have done; more girl nights, more talks, more hugs, more belly laughs. How could 18 years go by so fast? Could I have done more? Could I have done better?
All those questions aren't going to turn back time, and I wouldn't want them to. My heart knows that she is exactly where she should be and that it is time for her to spread her wings. We've prepared her for this; she's ready. However, I will let the tears flow because I know that there is no stopping them anyway. Today I will mourn an end of an era....tomorrow I will celebrate the beginning of a new one.
Team building is a huge part of how I begin the school year. My culinary classes are team oriented so establishing trust and community right from the get-go is critical. This year, I decided to kick it up a notch with some inspiration from my friend and author of Explore Like a Pirate, Michael Matera.
First off, let me say that if you have not yet read Explore Like a Pirate....click HERE and order it now! Michael's brand of gamification is much more than points and badges and all about the power of play and immersive learning! It's changed the way that I teach and look at education forever. Most definitely a game changer!
Over the past few years, I've heard Michael share his awesome ideas for choosing teams and I've pondered how to best make them work in my class. Click HERE for his awesome vlog post on Creating Perfect Groups! One idea that I especially liked was setting up a football style "draft" to pick teams! When talking to him a bit more about it before school started this year, I had an epiphany! Why don't I set up a MasterChef Bootcamp! I could have team challenges planned every day that focus on employability skills such as: communication, collaboration, resilience, critical thinking, etc. To make it even better, I'd hand out Mystery XP badges to the winning teams that they'd collect over the course of the 2 week boot camp. The top 8 XP holders would be selected to be in our MasterChef draft to pick teams for the semester! To add a bit more intrigue, students couldn't scratch off the stickers until the last day! No one would really know who was leading because there were differing point values under each one! This was a shift from what I normally did, but I was so excited about this idea that I had to go for it!
The first day of class I showed my Masterchef Launch trailer to get the students excited about the semester ahead. Then we started right into sharing our Favorite Things lesson! Read my blog post about it HERE! Each day during boot camp I mixed teams so students could all get to know everyone in the class. I made it a side challenge that anyone who could memorize all class member's names by the end of the bootcamp would get a bonus Mystery XP! This encouraged students to really take time to remember names each day.
Some of the challenges I included were the Rice Krispy Favorite Things Challenge, The Marshmallow Challenge, A Digital BreakoutEDU, Mystery Box Challenge, and Culinary Code Names (Read about it in my On The Fly blog post HERE) It was fun to see the interaction between students as they got to know each other. Bringing in an element of play and challenge, established a feeling of community right away. Students loved collecting Mystery XP and the feeling of curiosity that came with unknown XP values hidden underneath.
The day of the last challenge I started class by having students fill out a Masterchef Resume' that would be used to determine the draft picks the next day (though they didn't know that) Included were their 3 strengths, an area of growth, their player type from Bartle's test, and what they looked forward to learning in the class. I used the Save As Doc Chrome extension and had each printed out on a separate piece of paper. Each student on my roster was given a number and then I wrote their numbers on the resume'. Once all resumes' were numbered, I cut off the names so no one would know who they belonged to when making their selections.
The next day, it was time for the draft! Students came in to the sound of dramatic music playing and a message on the screen to get out their Mystery XP and scratch them off to reveal the amounts! I went around collecting XP and writing down how much each student earned on my class roster. It took me just a few minutes to determine who my top 8 XP holders were! When there was a tie, I brought out my foam dice and had a roll off. Once the draft leaders were determined, I sent the rest of the class to kitchens to prep for an upcoming recipe and we began the draft. I had all of the resumes laid out in a grid in the center of the room on two pushed together tables. I had the team leaders gather around and spend about 5 minutes reading them. I explained that they wanted a balanced team, so they needed think about which resume's would best compliment each other. Before they began their selections, I allowed them to choose one classmate that they wanted on their team that would be a known. I had them write it on an index card and I slipped those resumes off of the grid since they were out of play. Then, starting with the top XP holder each team leader chose one resume from the grid. As they made their pick, I took the resume' and matched it to the number on my roster. I let them know who they chose and wrote it down on a paper to start building teams. Once all made their first selection, we went back to the top XP holder again and repeated until all students had been selected. Once the draft was complete, I made an announcement to the whole class as to who was on each team. I let them know that the following class period, students would be cooking with their new teams. The ingredients that they had just measured out would be used by the team assigned to that kitchen the next day to make Cheddar Biscuits! This would be their first cooking lab with their new teams!
Wow! I must say I was a little apprehensive trying this new approach to team building. I was taking a big risk and wasn't entirely sure how it was all going to play out! I couldn't have been more happy with the results. This is definitely the best start I've had. Students have already begun to bond and they are pumped to launch into the MasterChef themed semester! This was the perfect way to build excitement and establish a community right from the start! It truly was a MAGICAL beginning!
Some days you feel like all the stars have aligned and a sprinkling of pixie dust landed on your classroom because everything goes just as planned. Those days are magical! Then there are those "other days". You know...days where nothing quite goes as planned. You keep pouring cup after cup of coffee thinking you may just need a little more caffeine.
This week I had one of those days. One mishap turned into another mishap and no matter how hard I tried to recover, the mishaps kept coming. So I should have known when I began my 4th period class that it wasn't likely things would go as planned. Sure enough, they didn't. I had planned an amazing Digital BreakOutEDU orchestrated perfectly with ipads ready to scan the QR code that would bring them to the Digital BreakoutEDU site. I had tested them, all were good to go. When students came in, I hyped up the game and they were all chomping at the bit to team up for this challenge. I started the timer and off they went. Well, until they scanned the QR code to find out the wifi was down. Yep. None of the ipads connected and the Digital BreakoutEDU couldn't be accessed. To make matters worse, my sophomore son was in this class. He looked at me with his big brown eyes and I immediately knew what he was thinking, "How is she going to recover from this? I really don't want to see her fail...my reputation is on the line here."
That's when my teacher mama powers went into overdrive. I had to think "ON THE FLY" and I had to do it quick! I glanced at my counter and saw the game "Code Names" and remembered an idea that I had tried at a workshop I facilitated but hadn't yet tried with my students. As I began to give instructions, I was literally formulating a plan in my brain as I spoke, "Class, we are going to create a game called Culinary Code Names" Did I know this was going to work? Absolutely not. But, I was going to give it my best shot.
Not only did it work, but students loved it...including my son! I adapted the original Code Names game to match my content and you can too! You can find the original Code Names game on Amazon and a youtube video of the original rules HERE. Think about how you could you change the player titles, card names, and game scenario to match your content.
CULINARY CODE NAMES
Two restaurants have been temporarily shut down due to a failed restaurant inspection. The Executive Chefs are on a race against the clock to find the source of the failed score and save their restaurant from closing forever.
1. Divide class into teams of 3 or 4 students.
2. Pair teams up so 2 teams are playing against each other; one red team & one blue team.
3. Select one player from each team to be the Executive Chef (Spymaster in original game), all other team members will be employees.
4. Pass out the following to each team:
6. Teams will set out cards randomly in a 5 X 5 grid so all line up in straight rows.
7. The Executive Chefs from each team will be given a map card that identifies the cards that are on the grid. The red and blue spaces identify the supplies that belong to each team. The tan spaces are neutral spaces and the black identifies the contaminated card. Use the small plastic stand to keep the map card upright for only the Executive Chefs to see.
8. Each map card has four small rectangles, one on each side of the map grid, that indicates which team plays first. The team that plays first has one more supply to uncover than the other team.
9. The Executive Chefs will take turns trying to get their team to find their supplies before the other team finds theirs. Each will call out a one word hint to describe the supplies that they are trying to get their team to identify followed by the number of cards the hint relates to. Ex. tomato 2.
10. Line cooks must make at least one guess, after Chef gives the hint. If they guess the card(s) correctly the Chef covers it with a token of their team color. If it is wrong, it must be covered by the the token that it belongs to according to the map card. If they pick the contaminated card, the game is immediately over and the guessing team loses.
11. The game ends when a team wins by guessing all of their supplies on the grid, or loses by guessing the contaminated card.
I'd love to hear your ideas for adapting this game to match your content! Tag me on Twitter @tishrich !
Culinary teacher & Discovery School Lead. Passionate about finding innovative ways to make learning come alive for Ss. Love to gamify! Host #XPLAP chat WED 5 PST