This mixed-ability group of first-year catering students were coming to the end of their WBQ classes for this year. With many having completed the assessment criteria, it seemed an ideal opportunity to something a bit different.
This one hour session was an additional session following successful completion of the assignment-based project as documented in my scheme of work. A lesson plan was provided.
Several participants had come to the catering course from Bridging. The teaching methods for this group therefore referred to Reuven Feuerstein’s (1980) bridging theories on experiential learning. A link was drawn between the planning of a competition menu and how this group would handle such a task in the light of the information they were being given in this session.
Some of this group had been involved in helping second year students prepare for a cooking competition using local produce and a limited budget. It seemed there was a place for introducing first years’ to the concept of local produce, to improve their knowledge of this important aspect of catering planning using the Bridging model.
A session was therefore planned, based upon introducing Welsh and Pembrokeshire products as highly-relevant to them asPembrokeshireCollegestudents; using some Welsh words and asking for their meaning; and by stimulating learning through sight, sounds, smells and tastes. Basic information about what local produce is, what Pembrokeshire produce is available, how to access it, and the pro’s and cons of using local produce were to be learned during the session.
Prior learning had been assessed through teaching this group since January 2007 and gleaning some awareness of their catering curriculum. Having conferred with the WBQ project co-ordinators, this session was designed to be relevant to theWalesand the World element and be of use to the students in their second year, and indeed in their professional lives as caterers of the future. Their catering course tutors were also contacted to confer on content.
The teaching style was influenced by the OFSTED guidance (Fforwm presentation 2007) which defined effective teaching as
‘characterised by knowledgeable and enthusiastic teacher; inspiration; high expectations; purposeful atmosphere; good discipline in a friendly learning culture; learning and achievement of student is a core value; planning related to detailed knowledge of learners’ prior attainment and potential acquired through initial assessment and induction; strategies for differentiation’.
The lesson began with an ice-breaker to establish interest in the learners by showing them a plant and a very large egg and asking them to identify what they were. Throughout the session, learners were introduced to a large variety of local products, fromAngleseysea salt to Welsh Brew tea, including Pembrokeshire potatoes: freshly picked in Angle, and purchased at a farm shop. Pembrokeshire spring water, locally-produced farmhouse cheeses, Welsh cakes, honey and honeycomb from a riverside village and more commercial products such as local milk, milk shakes, crisps and waffles were critically considered. The students were able to handle the products, their packaging, their website information and also consume them by the end of the session.
The learners also enjoyed watching a short documentary film about a local Pembrokeshire food festival, where again they had the opportunity to experience local produce and how it is sold and marketed. The film had an upbeat sound track to create an atmosphere of wellbeing and enjoyment to be associated with the message that local produce could be fresher, healthier and more enjoyable than mass-produced food. The room was decorated with books and leaflets about local food.
Motivation in this group had proved poor. By offering novel learning experiences of which this session was one example, motivation and attitudes had improved dramatically: ‘change their experience of learning and their motivation will also change’. (Petty 2004, p479)
As well as the large number of resources provided, students had the benefit of the information being presented verbally, on a PowerPoint presentation, in a worksheet handout and in a coloured booklet format. This allowed for the broad range of abilities and learning difficulties of the group, provided extension material, references for future study and evidence of learning. Learning Support staff were briefed prior to the lesson on the proposed outcomes and learning strategies, and supported during the session with feedback and reassurance given.
Formative Assessment of learning took place throughout the session by informal questioning, group work. Summative assessment included writing answers on their worksheet and then reviewing the learning objectives at the end of the session.
Students were encouraged to discuss their own personal experiences, opinions and prejudices around the subject, with contributions critically examined and expanded upon. Students were encouraged, once they had gleaned some basic information, to research information for themselves using the resources given.
Students were invited to participate in the tasting, by assisting the tutor in sharing the food out and critically appraising what they were tasting. Immature responses or inappropriate comments were challenged and students invited to share their professional experiences of local food in their catering jobs and how the information they had learned would help them make more informed choices in their catering work, such as menu planning around seasonal produce.
‘it is by the flow of information transmitted to the individual by a process of mediation through channels produced by mediation itself that higher mental functions are developed..’ (Feuerstein.1980. p.xvii)
Key skills were embedded in the session and identified on the lesson plan. The main focus was on improving one’s own learning, communication and working with others.
With such a highly-differentiated group, the ability to evaluate and synthesise was introduced by analysing the benefits and disadvantages of local produce.
It had been planned to allow some interaction with the smart-board, by inviting students to write or draw their ideas. The roll-down projection screen prevented this, but students were instead supported in filling in their worksheets, with corrections and advice given by the tutor, and they shared their answers with the group. While the session was tutor-lead in terms of the tasks and pace, students were encouraged to contribute and listen to each other’s contributions.
The assessor quite rightly pointed out that a paper flip-chart would have made an excellent contingency which was not provided for the learners. The assessor also suggested that the review of the learning objectives at the end of the session used questions requiring yes or no answers instead of asking the students for the information.
On reflection, this could have been carried out better. Having kept this group on-task for an hour, by negotiating forgoing a break and being allowed to leave early, and having obtained written evidence that learning had taken place in addition to the questioning, it was considered that they were ready to go and to let them leave on a high.
Students requiring additional support were advised and supported after the session had finished in the extra time left and this window for one-to-one tutoring had proved an effective opportunity in previous sessions once the less-committed students had left.
The very high level of attendance, lively contributions, co-operation, evidence of learning and up-beat atmosphere more than paid off for the hours (and expense) incurred on behalf of this group. The lesson plan may be used as a resource for future teaching with other groups in the future, taking on board the suggestions made.
Feuerstein, R. 1980, Theory of Structural Cognitive Modifiability
http://www.newhorizons.org/trm_feuerstein.html [accessedMay 22 2007]
Petty, G 2004 Teaching Today Nelson Thornes Cheltenham
FFORWM 2007 Why Colleges Succeed Ofstead November 2004
1200 words. Sh may 22 07