Monday, March 16, 2015

Enhancing Food Prep Time

Regardless of whether the Animated Step-by-Step recipe is being displayed on an interactive whiteboard (IWB) as a large group collaborative project, or displayed on a laptop/iPad (Microsoft Powerpoint app; see previous blog post) at an activity center, there are numerous strategies for making the food preparation activity run smoothly.

The following suggestions have proven to be extremely helpful in the classroom setting:  
  • For the younger grades, choose simpler recipes with fewer steps, e.g., brownie mix, cookie mix, orange/apple juice from frozen concentrate, macaroni & cheese boxed mix, instant pudding (Snowdrift pie) or instant oatmeal.

  •  Consider adopting a Primary-Secondary Facilitator model when conducting your large    group cooking lesson.  In this model, the Primary Facilitator and the Secondary Facilitator have very distinct roles.  The Primary Facilitator (the person leading the cooking lesson at the IWB) has a group responsibility, i.e., he/she is responsible for keeping the entire group engaged at all times. In direct contrast, the Secondary Facilitator(s) are responsible for assisting designated students when they are called upon to perform specific tasks (e.g., opening the box, measuring the water, pouring the milk, stirring the batter).  Time consuming tasks are always passed on to the Secondary Facilitator thereby freeing the Primary Facilitator to go back to the IWB to perform activities designed to keep the group engaged.
Here are some activities that can be used by the Primary Facilitator to ensure ongoing group engagement.

a)     in the younger grades (PreK, Early Kindergarten), the Primary Facilitator can point out text on the Interactive Whiteboard (IWB) as he/she leads the group in singing about the actions being performed by a target child, “ Put the sugar in the bowl (repeat 3 times). Put the sugar …. in the bowl (tune: Skip to My Loo). Teachers typically ‘borrow’ tunes from familiar preschool songs. (Note: try not to touch the IWB when doing this as it will trigger the next animation)

b)    in the older grades (Grade1 & 2), the Primary Facilitator might lead the non-target students in preparing the next step rather than waiting for the full completion of the previous step.

c)     the Primary Facilitator can also use the pen tools to highlight literacy concepts on the IWB  (e.g., “How many syllables do you hear in the word, cinnamon?)  or explore other language constructs such as “What are some other words that we could used instead of the word big? We are looking for some synonyms for the word big”.

d)    It is also a great time to hone observational and safety skills. “We need to be very careful. I bet you know why.”

e)     In Grades 1 & 2, the Primary Facilitator may wish to conduct the cooking activity using a symbol display projected large on the IWB. The class would have reviewed the recipe as a literacy activity the day before and are now recalling that previewed information to guide them in directing the Primary Facilitator. As the corresponding text for the symbols also appears in the message window of the displayed software, students can collaboratively build sentences to describe what is happening, “Rayhana … is pouring …. the milk …. into the bowl”

f)     consider adding suspense to your lesson by using a literacy cube (Don Johnson Equipment) to determine who will be assigned the task of performing the next step.  Hook Velcro is used to attach ‘dual=representation’ cards to the cube. One side of each card has the photo face of a child; the flip side has only the printed name. Depending upon your academic focus, some teachers start with the photo face side, then flip the card to the printed name side to denote that the child has already had a turn (e.g., “This person has already had a turn.  Mmmmm I wonder whose printed name this is?”).  Sometimes teachers prefer to heighten the literacy agenda by starting with the printed names, then flipping the card to the photo faces to confirm that students have read the print correctly.

g)     to maintain engagement actively minimize the amount of time that you spend
‘talking to the IWB’. Make a conscious effort to face the class when speaking as eye contact tends to enhance engagement.

                 The act of measuring ingredients can add considerable time to a cooking activity,
creating deadly ‘down/wait time’ for ‘non-target’ students, i.e., students not actively involved in performing that specific step. To alleviate this problem, consider pre-measuring dry ingredients. If you put the pre-measured ingredients into individual zip lock bags, each labeled with large print (e.g.,  ¼  cup sugar, 2 cups flour),  the cooking lesson becomes a much quicker assembly task. This strategy has the additional benefit of adding a functional layer of literacy to your cooking activity. Students must now problem-solve which bag contains the flour.  “ffflour. Okay we are looking for a word that starts with the letter ___”

If the occupational therapist wishes to more fully and therapeutically target functional motor skills with a specific student (e.g., two-handed opening, pouring using the second hand to stabilize the bowl, crossing midline to reach, practicing the use of adaptive equipment), he/she may wish to do so as a separate activity conducted in the therapy room earlier in the day or conducted in the classroom at an OT-supervised activity center. During the actual cooking activity, the Primary Facilitator constantly credits the student who was helpful in pre-measuring all the dry ingredients, “ Joey you’ve really saved us so much time!  Thank you! ‘.

May all your food preparation activities run smoothly!

… ’til the next post’…

© 2015 Carol Goossens’, Ph.D.