Finally after the final lesson with my 9B4 and their science of cooking, the time had arrived for the ‘Big Dawlish Christmas Cook off’.

We spent two glorious lessons researching some of those amazing Christmas Dinners that were produced by the great chefs of our time, Heston, Jamie, Delia, Gordon and of course Nigella.
The kids had great ideas as a result of the seasonal inspiration; however the practicalities of a one hour lesson to produce three courses seem to be lost on them, it was as if we had all the time in the world, which was wonderful as they were so keen and excited about the whole venture.

So, with some careful encouragement and gentle prodding, they managed to create three courses in their groups and then generate some menus to go along with the food. These menus consisted of not only the delights but the science behind the menu. Which they seemed too managed without too much trouble, my goodness they had learnt something! and so much, never underestimate the powers of the learner I said to myself quietly – they’re very good actors and actresses pretending they hadn’t learnt much!

Strangely enough ice cream featured heavily on the menu, wonder why? And we had ‘mains’ ranging from Chicken wrapped in bacon to turkey pizza with a seasonal twist.

After many reminders sent home in planners and letters to parents, the day arrived. It was a lot like waiting for Christmas. The excitement and trepidation of wondering how it would all go nearly gave me a ‘funny turn’ in a nice way. Would they manage to control themselves in the kitchen? Work as a team? Manage their outbursts and produce something that would be remotely edible?

Period 3 arrived and they queued up outside bags at the ready, cooking ingredients and a lot of excitement. (I optimistically thought they had deposited their cooking ingredients at the Food Tech room.)

But sadly the disappointment that so often comes with Christmas happened; only 5 out of 11 had brought the ingredients, the excuses ranged from “I forgot”… “Mum said it was too expensive and didn’t see the point for science”! It’s bad enough we have to bring the stuff in for food tech” too. “I had a row with Mum last night and she threw me out and I stayed at a friend’s house”. This was my reformed lad who was completely gutted and almost in tears when he was talking to me. So now here is the dilemma, what to do? Sadly there wasn’t really much I could do but give those who didn’t have their stuff book work to complete while I managed the other 5.

I came to a compromise as my EAL lad had brought everything for his ice cream so I let reformed lad manage his group. This allowed him still to be involved with a position of authority and he once again stepped up to the mark, kept both the mains and pudding makers on task and he excelled in this role of responsibility. Commenting on how hard it was to keep everyone on task. (Welcome to my world I wanted to cry out) but I just told him what a brilliant job he was doing and don’t give up.

The other two who were also some of my more ‘literally lively’ characters who worked tirelessly to produce chicken in bacon, all the trimmings including Brussels and an amazing attempt at Baked Alaska.

 

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My reflection on this experiment is one of highs and lows. The end cook off didn’t quite go to plan but that is what happens when we are dealing with kids whose lives aren’t as stable and secure as we would like.

Their feelings on this has been that they have enjoyed it more than normal science lessons, they have learnt that there is much more to cooking than they realised, they also noticed that the lessons are calmer and more focused.

So where do we go from here that is the question for the New Year? How do I create project that links the content that I have to cover in order to meet the requirements of the exam but in a way that they will engage with it or do I stick to the current scheme of work, but will this break the relationships I have forged with one or two of the group?

Next year is a beckoning, my mind and body is tired now but I am sure with a rest I will find away to keep their interest, our journey isn’t over we still have a long way to go, and I am sure there will be a few more twist and turns, with some dead ends and one way streets to go down, but it’s the learning journey where the inclusivity aspect takes place and the fun happens rather than reaching the final destination.

Upon reflection I am very proud of my ‘upside down, inside out curriculum of inclusion’ so that I could build effective relationships with my learners, build trustful and respectful learning environments and getting me to think things in a different way. I think I shall reward myself with an apron which says…..’Keep Calm!’ and Rock on with Science Cooking’. To New Beginnings in January.