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!
Tech Integration Specialist in Southern Oregon and author of Make Learning Magical. I'm passionate about finding innovative ways to transform teaching and create unforgettable experiences in the classroom.