blend

Hybrid, blended, flipped no matter the eduwash, all speak to a shift in curricula delivery that has already arrived, but seems newish to some.

I remember reading an article back in 2011 The Flip: Why I Love It – How I Use It -it started my own learning journey into flipping my classrooms. The exploration ultimately did not arrive in a place where I felt that the students and the moments within the journey had any deeper value than what I had already established, my reality was better than the brochure.

I did not stop using tech tools or developing social media options or differentiating at all. In some ways my attempt to shift core curricula outside of the class time revealed similar sensibilities as Sheryl Nussbaum-Beach presented when she wrote about her flipped experience several months later The Flip: End of a Love Affair and I gotta admit, I agree with the all of her assertions – post flip.

She, luckily, arrived at an enlightened destination where student agency evolved out of her experiments. For others, including me, this actualization of student-centeredness is still out of focus – though critical to my modern learning realities.

My current path is chasing several big challenges:

  • homework bugs me – collaborative and connected learning must continue beyond the class walls and personal learning pursuits should be ‘personal’, %20 time makes sense, but I have not yet made peace with it in my pedagogy
  • core curricula is rigid – a friend of mine is going to explore a radical approach, bolstered with her mastery of content area and a bit of pedagogical bravery, she is going to ask her students ‘What do you want to do/learn /make this semester?’ Wow… what if?
  • curation is not creation – my class website has many resources that I have put there, my learner’s journey is robust and obvious, my students not so much…

The blended classroom will not fade anytime soon. The fact that we even speak of it is less a result of innovative teaching, but rather consumer gravity. Any learner attends class with social media expectations, learning skill toolkits, tech tool savvy, and an awareness that the learner should exist at the center of a classroom.

Throughout all of this, the relational connections, not transactional, are what keeps education social. The tech and the tools are secondary to this current iteration. The tech and tools are interesting and sometimes necessary accelerators, but are dead things without human mediation.

food is ..?

I start this course in a similar fashion every semester. I poke and prod the students with survey questions designed to explore their rules and beliefs that surround food.

A large portion of the first week is spent in discussions surrounding favourite flavours, and shapes, and the ‘whys’ behind systems of thought that support the fact that ketchup is better than fresh tomatoes and that muffins are actually cupcakes without icing.

All the while I am slowly cataloging the pre-knowledge of my students.

All the while I am engaging them in some pretty lofty debates- ‘Be it resolved that nobody should buy bread from a gas station..’

All the while I am assessing Learning Skills and the critical analysis tools that each of my new, young chefs employ.

And all the while I am nurturing the open opportunity to build rapport and lure the students into an open mindset or growth mindset. By challenging their assumptions, discussing their beliefs, and sharing their experiences the class slowly gels around a common pursuit- deeper appreciation of the course material and of each other’s contributions.

This mindset ultimately serves more useful than the handouts, the slide-decks, and the summative tasks. Students that give themselves permission to explore the ‘why’ behind their food rules and food knowledge, usually experience a deeper satisfaction in their learning. And, more concretely, are able to demonstrate their skills clearly and articulate their qualifications without leaning on any marking scheme.

The open minded student leaves this course being able to explain what they could not do when they walked in, what they can do by the end of the course, and confidently replicate the effort it took to arrive at success.

This kitchen/classroom space is an amazingly, deep learning zone for me. Every semester that I am able to continue teaching this course I try to add more depth and density. By adding flipped videos, blogging, and maintaining a virtual classroom I hope that the students will appreciate a Modern Learning approach to a ‘cooking course’ In the least, by openly documenting my learning process and including the class community in the development of class resources, the students will see the reasonable risks that I am taking. And maybe, in turn, the students will be willing to do the same.