Let’s cook! (in class??)

Maria Niechwiadowicz


I have to admit, I have been in a bit of a rut with my teaching. I have found it incredibly easy to whip out lesson plans, implement them in class, and move on…which also makes it very easy to go into auto-pilot. So with midterm exams out of the way, I was excited for new material and units to present…most importantly, beginning our unit on Food!

Those of you who know me well, know that food and cooking are a passion of mine! I love to cook new recipes and experiment in the kitchen. I love to learn the history behind cultures and their food. And I love to share meals with others–from classy wine dinners to ethnic street food! In a word, I am a gastronome in every sense :)

You can only imagine my excitement as I prepared my lessons, picking out what to teach and how to teach my students. However, as I began to teach food vocabulary and preparation, I couldn’t help but feel a little discouraged. There is so much to cover and so little time in class! I mean, I could teach an entire semester on food! I felt incredibly rushed during my first class on food identification, and found I really had to revise my material and pick out important essentials for my students to practice rather than presenting it all, and then I found reward!


I told the students to bring in items that they did not know the English word for…can you identify them?


In presenting basic methods of cooking preparation (frying, boiling, baking, etc) and appliances (stove, oven, pot, etc), it occurred to me that most of my students have never seen an oven before, let alone eaten anything baked freshly out of the oven. While I present pictures via Powerpoint in class, I figured why not bring my oven to class–its small and a demonstration would be fun! (Side note: my students were shocked at the picture of an American oven, with the stove on top, guessing it to be a washing machine when I asked!)

So I packed my oven with a mixing bowl, measured flour, 2 eggs, sugar, oatmeal, a jar of oil, a very brown banana, fork, knife, and spoon, and baking pan. Then lifted the oven back into its box along with a towel, apron, napkins, and extension cord. I felt a little silly carrying the box across the street, boarding the school bus, and then climbing up to the 5th floor to my classroom, but the experience was worth it! My students loved the demonstration (only 4 out of my 70 students have a small oven in their home) and learned quite a few terms I had not incorporated into my presentation, like “crack the egg.” When the soft ‘ding’ of the timer interrupted table discussions 25 minutes later, the entire classroom gasped, anxious to see what had happened to thick batter in the pan. And as the students tasted a mere bit of banana bread, smiles of delight were on every face.IMG_8939


So this is an oven!




Mix it all together

So with all this new information about ingredients and cooking methods, Lesson 3 challenged the students to created a Cooking Show Role Play, a.k.a present their own cooking demonstration (mimed of course). With my oven back at home, this time I brought in a pot, pan, wok, spoon, knife, and peeler (the bus driver must think I’m crazy)! After giving another (mimed) cooking demonstration, I placed the students in groups and instructed them to do the same. Since food terminology is so difficult and hard to translate, I was not sure how this would go, but I was wonderfully surprised! My students did amazing, displaying knowledge of ingredients, cooking methods, and expressing taste. I left class on Friday feeling uplifted and proud! But to make it even better, I received a text message from of one my students later that night…”Hello, Miss Niech. The class today was very interesting. I am a shy person, it made me confident.” My heart leaped with joy! #goalaccomplished #classroomvictory


“screambled” eggs – haha


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Tasting and giggling :)


So now I have a new challenge for myself…how do I find energy within the subjects that I am not as passionate about? How do I continue to find ways to challenge my students and build their confidence?

In the meantime, contact me if you would like to sit in on the next cooking lesson :)